Category Archives: Relationship with Family

TIME TRAVEL

photo-1430760814266-9c81759e5e55Yesterday I set out to visit a former coworker in the hospital who had hip replacement surgery the day before and stopped to pick up some flowers for her on the way. As usual, I was in a rush. My husband was with me and he was going to wait in the car while I visited with my friend. I swept into the lobby which had undergone a recent renovation and asked the gal at the desk for direction to the elevators and, of course about that time, I saw them on my own and rushed to catch the lift. I punched the three for the third floor, but as elevators have a way of doing, it stopped on the second floor. As the doors opened, I stepped off assuming that was my destination. And suddenly I’d stepped back in time about 15 years. I stood frozen, my chest felt full, tears pressed against my eyelids and ran down my cheeks. You see, the last time I was in this particular hospital, my mom was a patient on the second floor–third room on the left. While the lobby was new and unfamiliar, this floor was untouched. It’s a rehabilitation hospital and she was there for about three weeks recovering from a hip fracture. If only I could walk to that third room on the left and my mom would be there. I found a vacant hallway where I could lean against the wall and try to regain my composure and come back to the present and ultimately head to my third floor destination.

As I lay in bed last night my mind kept going back to that hallway. I so wanted to go to that third room on the left. What would it be like to talk to mom? Our paths have taken different directions these many years since her passing. Would we laugh at the wrinkles and pounds that have joined my journey? She’d love to see pictures of the kids and grandkids and we’d have so much to share–videos of Lorelei and tales of the children’s successes and adventures. Would she be excited about my book? I know she would love to hear about what I’ve learned about God, but no doubt she would be the one with the real knowledge of who God is. She would have so much to tell me and I’d want to hear every word. I know she’s happy there with dad where they are without pain and they are enjoying the fellowship of so many loved ones. But I miss them; I miss our times together. I took them for granted. Per my usual rushing, no doubt I didn’t realize the treasure of each moment spent in their presence. Who would have thought those high pressure days of trying to juggle a job, a home life and deal with all the issues of mom being in the hospital would bring such poignant and sweet memories? I’m so grateful we had a good relationship. Oh we had the typical mother/daughter differences in viewpoint on many topics, but there was love and commitment, acceptance and encouragement. We enjoyed many years as coworkers where I got to know my parents as adults and to share in their passions and pursuits–this was a particular blessing that not all children are given. We became friends and I respected them for who they were as individuals and as contributors to society apart from just being my mom and dad.

As I look back on those days she was in that hospital, I realized I’d rushed in after work each day to grab her laundry and deliver clean clothes, a book she wanted, the crocheting needle she thought might be helpful with her current craft project, etc. There were hugs and kisses, questions about her day and mine. And again I rushed off so I could get home, fix dinner for the family and do her laundry so I could get up and do it all again the next day. Busy. If I could truly go back in time, I’d pick up chicken or pizza so I could grab some extra minutes just to be with her.

I can’t go back, but I can slow down and enjoy the precious minutes that I take for granted with loved ones. Looking back, it was the simple pleasures–a shared meal, a talk on the sofa, our playing a piano/organ duet, a cup of coffee, a shopping excursion, a stop at her favorite–Taco Bell. I took all of those moments for granted. Today they are my precious memories.

So today, I’m slowing down. I’m savoring the every day kind of moments with family and friends. Moments in time that I’m sure will travel with me over the years to come.

 

 

God, please help me find unconditional grace & mercy in my heart.

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PSALM 145:8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

Oh how I love this beautiful description of my Savior. These attributes invite me to draw closer to Him. Even though a sinner, in the presence of one filled with grace, mercy and compassion, I feel wanted, loved and safe. I’m given the opportunity for a second chance.

Now I have to be honest here and tell you I don’t always find my heart is full of these things. In fact, sometimes my heart is closed and hard. Why? When I’m hurt I withdraw and hide–push others away lest they hurt me again. I’ve had to find a place on my knees where God and I take out my heart and examine it. As I compare my heart to these words about His heart in Psalm 145, I find my heart does not always mirror His. And after all the grace and mercy He has given to me, how can I give anything less to others? But it’s hard. It must be hard for the Savior, too. When we reject His love, His plan, His sacrifice, His Word, etc., how is He not so wounded that He looks at us and says, “Enough of you.” But instead, He invites us to come to Him, admit our failures and experience His forgiveness, grace and mercy–made possible because of His compassion–His love. Love is the game changer of the heart. So I have to reach deep inside and find the love that is there and allow it to refill my heart’s reservoir of grace and mercy.

 

Question: “What is the difference between mercy and grace?”

Mercy is God’s attribute that does not punish us even though we deserve it; Grace is God granting us a blessing even though we are undeserving. By mercy I’m delivered from the punishment I deserve. Through His grace I’m granted favor and a home in heaven I do not deserve. The key word here is undeserved. Grace and mercy are not deserved. They specifically come into play when deliverance, forgiveness and blessing are undeserved. Not only are they undeserved, we cannot buy them–they must be given. So if I’m ever going to show grace and mercy, there has to be an undeserving recipient.

It’s easy to show love to someone who loves you, enjoys being with you, lavishes their affection and attention on you, believes in you and celebrates you. But when someone rejects you, talks about you and is critical of you, let’s just say it is anything but easy to respond with grace and mercy–they don’t deserve it. Clenched teeth and caustic retorts probably aren’t going to cut it if I’m supposed to mirror God’s grace and mercy.

Being a visual person, I need a picture of what grace and mercy look like?

GRACE: When I think of grace I think of Princess Diana. She was beautiful and always smiling, doing good deeds, kind–even to the media. She seemed to exude love through her eyes, her smile and her touch. It’s hard to imagine her angry. I think our Lord was like that. People were drawn to Him, they had confidence He would heal them even though they had done nothing to deserve it. They pressed on Him even as they did her. If we want to gather people to us, we must be people of great grace.

MERCY: When I think of someone who is merciful, I think of a judge I watched recently.  A wide variety of individuals presented themselves before Him. You have to know this man sits on this bench day in and day out. He’s heard case after case. My guess is he’s heard it all. In his place I would become impatient. I would tend to prejudge many of these individuals based on dress, demeanor, attitude, educational level (or lack thereof) or state of incarceration. And heaven forbid you end up in my courtroom more than once. No doubt I’d give them a Judge Judy tongue lashing for not learning the first time. Now that may make for great television but is not a picture of mercy. This judge, however, had an amazing demeanor. He even treated the man brought to him in chains with dignity and respect–both in his tone and choice of words. He honored each person and their rights. I was mesmerized just watching him. He was full of mercy and justice was safe in his hands. No doubt Jesus was like that. Whether it was a blind man, a woman with an issue of blood, a leper, a cripple . . . Jesus treated them with dignity and mercy and then He added a heap of grace on top–He healed them.

The only time we see Jesus acting in anger was when He overturned the money changers’ tables–those who were crooks pursuing their own selfish agendas under the guise of religion–in God’s house. So, yes there is a time when grace, mercy and compassion should be set aside. Jesus did so to preserve the sanctity of His Father’s house. He said the Father’s house was to be a house of prayer–a place where all could come and commune with the Father. You could come in just as you are with all your faults, failures, fears and frustrations and find grace and mercy. Likewise our homes should be a place where love invites each family member to come in just as they are–to share their thoughts, needs, hurts, frustrations, victories or failures, knowing they will be heard and find acceptance, understanding and encouragement. Love reigns supreme in the Father’s house. Don’t taint the Father’s house with your personal agendas, bad attitudes or critical spirit. It will be met with intolerance. But when you come to the Father’s house in humility, desiring relationship, asking for grace and mercy–it will be given.

It comes back once again to the heart of the individual. If our hearts are humble, and we come to Him seeking a relationship, He runs to meet us with open arms, prepared to set a table full of mercy, grace and compassion. God has definitely taken me up short and reminded me of His expectation of the way I show His loving and compassionate heart of grace and mercy to others–even though undeserved. So today I ask God to fill my heart’s cup with His love from which flows grace and mercy. Praise God He hasn’t given up on me yet.

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ENTITLEMENT–A RELATIONSHIP KILLER (Part 2-the spouse)

photo-1429277158984-614d155e0017“Everybody deserves love, but nobody is entitled to it.” ― Katerina Stoykova Klemer

Christ gave us the perfect example of love–undeserved, sacrificial, unconditional. Unfortunately, when we walk down the aisle and say our “I do’s,” each of us has a picture of how we think this marriage thing is going to play out. And somewhere along the line those dreams become expectations.  And when those dreams and expectations are not met, hurt and disillusionment set in. . .hearts harden and attitudes become demanding.

For example, he may be envisioning someone who has dinner ready when he comes home. He just wants to sit and relax in front of the TV and read the paper. He wants physical fulfillment. His mom did all the housecleaning and he doesn’t know how to start the dishwasher or how to sort clothes and start the washing machine. She had dreams he would bring her flowers, say loving things and take her nice places (on their budget, of course)–romance her. She dreamed of cooking great meals together. She came from a home where chores were shared. She expects him to provide well for their family.

The settling-in routine of the day-to-day of marriage is not a fairy tale; it’s real life. Real life with people who get tired and can become irritable, short-tempered. Real life where money can be tight and views about spending priorities will most likely differ. Jobs can disappear and long bouts of unemployment may occur. Differences in parenting styles are sure to be evident as children arrive in the home.

Each partner also comes to the marriage with habits and preferences they have acquired over their lifetime. Little things the other one does can be irritating and the expectation is they will stop doing things their way and adopt our way.

And imbedded deep within the word Entitlement is the world TITLE. “So because I am his WIFE or because I am her HUSBAND, I’m entitled to _____________(fill in the blank).” If you could easily fill in that blank, it’s time to step back and assess the damage entitlement has done to your marriage.

BUT LOVE. . .love actually does the exact opposite. It lays down its rights and prefers the other. Christ laid down His title and rights to meet the needs of His bride–the church. Love draws, invites relationship, acceptance and intimacy. It creates security and trust. Love is not demanding, but with kindness waits patiently for the other to learn to love in return.

Your marriage started out with love as its foundation. The enemy’s weapon to destroy your marriage is a sense of entitlement. Have your dreams and desires become demands and expectations? Dig deep–give no place to the enemy. Set your affection on your beloved. Offer love. When each comes to the relationship with a willingness to do things the way the other prefers, there will be no problem finding compromise and common ground.

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ENTITLEMENT–A RELATIONSHIP KILLER–Part 1 (the child/parent)

“Mphoto-1429277158984-614d155e0017an is not, by nature, deserving of all that he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something, that is when we start walking all over others to get it.” Criss Jami, Diotima, Battery, Electric Personality

Relationships–it seems the ones that really work are the ones that in some way supply something we need either physically, emotionally or financially. But what happens to the relationship when your expectations are no longer being met? Disappointment, disillusionment and discouragement set in. Since you are no longer getting what you bargained for in the relationship, you become critical and begin to consider separation. It’s time to move on to someone who gives you what you feel you want, need or deserve. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario between children/parents, spouses, friends and coworkers, etc. So over the next few posts, let’s look at how this plays out in our various relationships.

“It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it.” Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

I grew up in East Texas where it is very hot and there was no air conditioning. We didn’t go to grocery stores and buy everything we wanted; farmers in our church brought us produce and meat out of love. My afternoon’s entertainment was shelling peas or snapping beans to help prepare dinner.  We didn’t have swing sets or playhouses. We didn’t go to city parks to play. The only amusement park was Disneyland, and it was in California, so it might as well have been on the moon.  We played outdoors with a neighbor or our siblings. Our parents would never have considered it their responsibility to coordinate play dates, sleepovers and fantasy excursions. Birthday parties meant a homemade cake with the family and maybe some crepe paper streamers. We got our first TV when I was almost eight. I never had a store bought dress until I was in my mid-twenties and made my own money. Christmas meant one toy and a stocking with fruit and candy. Family vacations were few–I remember one at a cabin owned by a church member that was truly in the middle of nowhere. We swam and fished in the lake and played dominoes or checkers for entertainment. The annual rodeo was big entertainment–I’m not sure why as I’m terrified of bulls. There was no college fund–I worked and put myself through college. While in college, a three-minute weekly phone call was my contact with home–there were no parent weekends because they were too far away and they couldn’t afford to travel to see me.

Never once have I considered myself deprived. My parents (and grandparents) survived the Great Depression when food was a rare commodity and shoes always seemed to have holes in their soles. I have always been grateful for everything my parents did for me. Yes, as I got older, I realized others had more in material things than we did, but I didn’t cop a mindset of entitlement–feel my parent’s owed me more. They gave me life. They gave me what they could. It was a good era to be a child. I was blessed. Today my home is filled with many treasures and luxuries we never dreamed of in those East Texas days. But never once have I looked back and held the lack of anything against my parents. I thank God for their sacrifices for our family. They did the best they could; and I was blessed.

For better or worse, we usually get our parenting patterns from our parents. When my children came along, life was beginning to change. We found a few city parks and a putt putt course or two. We even got to take the kids to DisneyWorld. We didn’t have money for the circus when it was in town, but I prayed and someone gave my parents free tickets so they took the children–and I rejoiced over answered prayer. We sacrificed to put the kids in Christian school and I got involved in cheerleading to be with my daughter. Little league baseball, soccer or basketball teams for children were becoming in vogue and if/when mine wanted to play, we made that possible. We gave my daughter ballet and gymnastic lessons for as long as they held her interest. I hosted birthday parties as we could for family and friends. We spent summer weekends with the kids at my in-laws trailer at the lake where the kids learned to ski and hunted for arrowheads with their dad. We discovered timeshares and sacrificed so our family could take vacations together. My husband would take the children down to the game center so they could play Ms. PacMan. Times were hard but we enjoyed our children greatly and supported each child as best we could in their educational and career pursuits. Certainly we would have loved to write the big checks for college, but that wasn’t it the cards for us. So I prayed and prayed. And God provided for each of the children–they are well educated, highly motivated, hard-working, successful men and women. God definitely took up any slack from our part.

I see our children going the extra mile for their children–giving them everything within their ability. It’s what we parents do. Technology has added a new dimension to entertainment and communication, but it comes at a cost. I love the opportunities set forth for my grandchildren to grow and develop their minds, relationships, careers and future. From my humble home in East Texas it would have been impossible to imagine the world my grandchildren would grow up in and enjoy. And I thank God for His blessings upon my children and grandchildren.

Each generation can look back and be grateful for the sacrifices each made so they could have a better future or they can look back with criticism and a sense of entitlement–we deserved more. Unfortunately having everything we desire handed to us can be detrimental. For example, a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly. It stays in the cocoon and presses against it so that it develops and becomes strong enough to fly when it breaks free. If you cut the cocoon open to set it free, it will perish and die. There is something about working for what they want, sharing in the cost of their personal growth and development, that strengthens a young person. So parents, don’t feel guilty if you can’t give your children everything the neighbors can give their children. Do what you can, but most of all teach your children values, morals, right from wrong, discretion and fairness, truth and justice, modesty and morality. . .and teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and mind.

One of the greatest gifts each generation can pass on to the next is an attitude of gratitude. What attitudes are you teaching your children?

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” Brené Brown

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REJECTION–IT HURTS

Vgu1RUfKT3WN1ZYxSWaR_14672519443_13d8873062_kREJECTION. It can be something as simple as an idea or as complicated as the rejection of a dearly loved one–regardless, when you experience rejection, it hurts. Wikipedia describes rejection as a verb, as in “to throw back.” When fishing with my husband, he will often catch a fish that he decides is not something he wants to keep, clean or cook. So, he throws it back into the water. In essence, this is what rejection feels like–you’ve not measured up in some way and have been thrown back. In most cases we internalize rejection as being thrown away–determined to be unsuitable. In social circles, rejection is often manifested by excluding someone from the group. It’s hard to be the one left out. Your heart hears, “You are not good enough.” There are few of us on this earth that get by without feeling rejection from one source or another. Rejection can come from any direction or place, e.g., the rejection of playground playmates, a job or college application, parents, spouses, children, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. The deeper you love, the greater your dreams or expectations for the relationship, the more it is going to hurt.

I listened to a TED talk recently describing some of the research into the brain surrounding romantic love. It is visible in pictures of the brain. Romantic love triggers that obsessive need for another person. Interestingly enough, pictures of the brain of someone going through rejection show stimulation in that same part of the brain. Just as you cannot stop thinking about someone you are falling in love with, so rejection is similarly treated in the brain. You can become obsessive over the other person or situation, willing to do anything to regain approval, acceptance or love. Basically, it’s physical, your brain is driving your thoughts and the hurt you are experiencing. It’s real; it’s physical. In essence it will drive you to turn thoughts inward and place blame at your doorstep–you are unworthy. There is something wrong with you. And depression begins to surround you with its cloak.

So how do you get past rejection and the pain associated with it? It’s not easy. You have to take control of your brain. You have to stop remunerating thoughts (those thoughts that put you down; thoughts that you play over and over like a broken record). You have to intentionally replace those thoughts with positive thoughts. My guess is that there are many wonderful things in your life and many people who love you, care about you, and see you for who you are. But somehow the pain of rejection is clouding your real view of life. So together let’s find a way to move on.

1. Take an appropriate time to grieve. If this was a relationship you cherished, it is going to hurt. It is ok to cry. Find some time alone to inventory the good and bad of the relationship and to feel the loss of your dreams and expectations. Proverbs 3:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Your hope has been crushed. It’s normal to feel heart sick. But we don’t want this sickness to destroy us. Determine to take some medicine and to find a place of healing. Begin by comforting yourself with a walk through a park or garden, some comfort food, a bath with essential oils that uplift the spirit; e.g., lemon, lavender, jasmine, rosemary, cinnamon or peppermint. Remind yourself that you are worthy–besides, pampering feels good.

2. Talk to a friend–one trusted friend. This should be someone who cares about you but will tell you the truth. Stay off social media and avoid sharing your pain with others. Try not to put the offending party down. Having your friend agree that they are an ogre won’t help–you’ll both just wallow in ugly things. Focus your attention on your pain and their support in helping you find ways to heal.

3.  Accept the rejection. Whether it’s a rejection letter for a job, college application or manuscript you’ve submitted or the overwhelming loss of a significant relationship, step away from the rejection itself and analyze what you might do better next time. The only person you can change is yourself. Determine to learn from this situation and to improve your resume/application or to become a better person. Don’t beat yourself up, we all make mistakes. Some are costly mistakes, but we can take steps to correct our mistakes.

4. Don’t take rejection personally. This is the hardest step of all. It was personal-it hurt YOU. Unfortunately, relationships must be mutual. If you’ve received a rejection letter from a job application, it wasn’t that there is anything wrong with you–they simply found someone who better met their specific needs. If the rejection comes from a close friend or family member, it is probably more about something they are going through than anything to do with you. Pray for them. Show love and grace if given the opportunity. Trust God with the relationship. Maybe restoration will happen someday, but for now you need to let them process their feelings and wait. Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles.” Maybe it’s your time to soar in another direction.

5. Don’t pile on. Don’t hoard your hurts and keep piling each rejection on top of the last. Everyone experiences rejection in some form or another. We aren’t entitled to a “yes” from every situation. This is just one rejection. Face just this one and move on. God does not pile our transgressions on top of each other and condemn us. He deals with each sin as we bring it before Him and then removes it and remembers it against us no more. You can’t live life to its fullest if you are burying yourself under every mistake or rejection. Use these circumstances as stepping stones to your bright future. Trust that God is leading you even in these times. He has a plan for an abundant life for you. Focus on finding it as you hold fast to His hand. (Jeremiah 29:11)

6. Don’t allow it to control your view of yourself or your future. Stop the tapes. Remind yourself of the wonderful person God created you to be. Focus on your gifts, talents, interests, skills, attributes, etc. that make you unique–for you were fearfully and wonderfully made. And when God made you, He said, “It is good.” Maybe you need to frame a list of all the good qualities/attributes that God gave to you–ask a friend to list what they see in you if you are blinded. Read the list daily until you remember who you are–who God made you to be.  

7. Focus on all the good in your life. It’s time to up your thanksgiving before the Lord. Make an inventory of all your blessings and read over them often. 

8. Determine to try again. This doesn’t mean you continue to hound that employer or a former lover or even a loved family member. It’s time to move in a different direction. So spiff up that resume, manuscript or wardrobe. Upgrade/update–and try again. You are a winner. You will win. Proverbs 11:30 says “When the desire comes-when the object of the longing is obtained-it is a tree of life.” So get out there and plant a few seeds and expect your tree to grow and blossom. There are so many hurting people in this big world who need love and care. Open your eyes to them. Luke 6:38 reminds us that if we give, it will be given unto us. So find someone on whom you can bestow grace, mercy and love and get ready for your own cup to overflow. 

9. Reach out for life. Matthew 6:34 encourages us to look to the future. You never know what God has for you just around the corner. So run to Him and let Him show you the path of life. Lean into hope.

10. Believe in yourself. You can do this. You will succeed. You will find happiness. You will experience love and acceptance. Time to try again.

It you are hurting from the sting of rejection, I want to pray for you before we part. “Oh, Father, you said that all that come to you, you will in no wise cast out. I praise you that in you we find acceptance, love and security. We belong. We are safe. We are secure. We are home. Comfort those who are reading these words and hurting today. Envelop them in your love and reassurance. Encourage them to find the right next step toward healing and give them the courage to take that step with you. In your precious and Holy name I pray. Amen.”

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When’s the Last Time you Told Your Mom she was BEAUTIFUL?

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I saw a video clip on Xfinity asking people on the street,”When’s the last time you told your mom she was beautiful?” There were pauses, ho’s and hum’s, as each one came up with the same answer, “Probably never.”

Years ago we were playing cards with another couple and our three boys and their three boys were playing together. Suddenly they burst into the kitchen and our card game. It seems a serious and somewhat heated dispute had arisen. Their sons thought their mom was the most beautiful. And my boys thought their mom was the most beautiful. Slightly embarrassed, we calmed the heated dispute and assured them that we were both beautiful. Secretly, it warmed my heart to think my little boys thought I was beautiful to them and were willing to fight for my title. It was the best feeling in the world. Had People Magazine plastered my picture on their cover declaring I was the most beautiful woman in the world, it couldn’t have held a candle to their love and admiration. My boys loved me (and I cherished them beyond measure).

Now as they aged, they forgot their passion for my beauty. Soon it was an embarrassment for mom to kiss them goodbye as I dropped them off at school. There would be no hugging in public, especially if their friends were present. Friends became their confidants instead of running to me with every trial (but apparently it was still cool to let me do all the laundry). Snuggles were replaced by rolling eyes. And the cute girls at school or down the street stole their hearts. Being a mom is hard. You fall head over heels in love with your little boy(s) only to watch them grow up and move away. I think it is the mom that should stand at the altar and give her son away at his wedding. This person you have cherished and nurtured, protected and loved like none other, leaves you behind and moves forward in their life with their bride.  You are no longer the most important person in their world. Now what?

But for a little while they held my hand and I held their heart. And it was good. I’m thankful for each of their brides who are great wives and moms, but I’ll always cherish the memory of the day when my boys were ready to fight for my title as the most beautiful.

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FIGHTING FAIR

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Couples who say they have lived together for 50 years and never had a disagreement are either lying or fooling themselves. The only other option is that one of them is not thinking or sharing their thoughts with their spouse. So let’s get real. Couples get married thinking they have everything in common only to wake up and find that they are total opposites. God intended that a wife complete her husband and vice versa. That definition means she is everything he isn’t, thinks in ways he doesn’t. This is a good thing. As the old saying goes: ‘Two heads are better than one even if one is a cabbage head.” In order to navigate the obstacles life throws at a couple/family, it’s almost imperative that both partners be able to think and articulate their perspectives and solution ideas. As long as both partners see the same path forward, things move along smoothly. But let’s just say that is not always the way this marriage thing works for most of us.  WHY?

1.  We come from different backgrounds, maybe even different parts of the country/world.

2.  Our family dynamics were different which means our expectations and indeed parenting styles will differ.

3.  Our education backgrounds may vary.

4.  Our ages may involve a “gap.”

5.  We process information differently.

6.  Our communication styles differ.

7.  Face it. . .one of us is from Venus and the other is from Mars.

 

So what do couples do when they find they are on opposite ends of a spectrum?

1. Take a time out. HALT–first check point–is either party Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? If so, postpone the discussion until these things are remedied.

2. Embrace the conflict. It’s a good thing that together you are able to view all sides of an issue.

3. Set a time and place to talk–after the kids are in bed, at a private restaurant, etc.

3. Prepare your case. I can assure you there are merits to each side. Consider you are a CEO and President of your family and take time to prepare your case for your family’s advancement. It’s time to think logically, not emotionally.

4. Listen respectfully to your mate’s perspective. Be curious. Ask questions.

5. List advantages and disadvantages of both sides. Find points of agreement.

6. PRAY TOGETHER

7. Look for options. Make concessions. Make a joint decision. If none can be reached at this point, the wife should let her husband lead–he has heard her case. God will hold him accountable and bless his leadership when you are supporting him.

 

But what happens when things just break down? You’ve forgotten the rules and emotions take over. Maybe one party has hurt the other party and the issue isn’t about making a decision, it’s about an open wound. Now what? There are still rules of fair play. You can ask forgiveness for your words but you can’t erase them, so choose them wisely during these times. It’s still best to HALT.

1. Never. . . EVER. . . NEVER call each other a name or label each other. This destroys the soul of your mate. The disagreement may blow over but harsh words go deep into the heart and no excavation will bring them back out. Just don’t do it. NOTHING is worth it.

2. Be specific. Avoid words like ‘always’ and ‘never.’

3. Talk softly. Have a whispering contest.

4. Keep the discussion about the issue, not each other. And stick to the issue at hand–don’t use a bait and switch tactic.

5. Express your feelings.  “I feel ________when you ________ because_________.” Do not use the word ‘angry’ as your feeling of choice.

6. Never ridicule the other person’s feelings or thoughts. NEVER put the other person, their ideas or feelings, down just because you don’t agree with them or cannot see their viewpoint.

7. Be the first to say you are sorry.

 

When my husband and I got married we set some ground rules.

1.  We would never go to bed angry. We’ve sat up really late a lot of nights until one or the other of us decided it wasn’t worth losing sleep over.

2.  When one of us makes a concession to the other, the ‘winner’ must buy the other one a gift of appreciation.

3. Touch gently. We would hold hands when we have a serious issue to discuss. Our favorite way was to call a tribal meeting and sit facing each other cross-legged as we held hands. In other words, we gave up our defensive position and came to the meeting with love.

4. Keep it private. Don’t discuss our disagreements with others.

6. Always honor each another publicly.

7. No violence of any kind permitted.

 

Have we always kept the rules? No, but we took them seriously so we remind each other of them from time to time. And since we know them and agreed to them, we have tools to help keep us on track and to get us back on track. God teaches us how to make this marriage thing work with two words.

Gals, your word is HONOR. Figure out all the ways that you can show this word to your husband–determine you are going to be the best ever at this.

Guys, your word is LOVE–God says as much love as you would lavish on yourself. Go before God and understand how to love. Even when those Christ came to save rejected Him, He forgave and chose to die for them/us. This is the model you were given for the depths of your  love. Your wife expects you to demonstrate it by laying down your way for her good from time to time.

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I’d Rather Do it MYSELF

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The word AUTHORITY brings a mental and physical response to us all. Face it, none of us likes to be told what to do. We want to steer our own ships. We have rights.

Unfortunately, rights come with responsibilities. And authorities come in all shapes and sizes and have a variety of flavors–some we find savory and some not so much. Throughout life we each have several authorities in our lives. Obviously parents start us on this journey and no doubt we’ve all kicked against them at some time or in some way. You remember: the rolling eyes, the sassy retort, the slammed door…just a little way of saying “No way do I like you telling me what to do.”  Then there are teachers who insist we sit still, do homework, etc. . .and the ever so dreaded principal’s office. Doctors and nurses can do their share of insisting we say “AH” so they can put a stick on our tongue and peer into the abyss of our throat; and heaven forbid they decide to give us a shot. No way did I want that. Surely I have rights and can say no. In these early years, we had to do what we were told–others were bigger than us. But as we aged, we became physically equal and we assumed that made us equals in every other way. Unfortunately responsible decision making is not embedded in our DNA so that it grows as we do.

We are told to submit to authorities whether they be God or His Word, governmental rule, the family authority or work authorities. These rulers are appointed by God as protectors over us. I was taught to think of an authority as an umbrella–a protection from the storm. As long as we stay under that umbrella we are safe. For example. As long as a child stays under his/her father and mother’s authority, they provide for and protect them. God holds the parents accountable for the child and deals with the child through the parents. Once we move out from under their umbrella of protection, we stand before God on our own and He deals directly with our sin. Unfortunately, most of us do not view our authorities as a protector, which means we move ourselves out into the storm unnecessarily.

When one does not understand the role of an authority, rebellion takes place. In simple terms, that means you refuse to do what you are told to do–you think you know better and take the reins of your future into your own hands.

Five evidences of a spirit of rebellion: are bitterness, stubbornness, an unteachable spirit, undisciplined living, and argumentation.

1. Bitterness. Deuteronomy 21:18,“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him. . .” In Hebrew, the word for “rebellious” is “marah” which is translated as “bitter.” Following are some evidences that a root of bitterness may be at play.

  • Difficulty in resolving conflicts
  • Acts of vengeance
  • Withdrawal
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Subtle attacks
  • Condescending communication
  • Criticism
  • Suspicion and distrust
  • Intolerance
  • Impatience
  • Disrespect
  • Misuse of authority
  • Depression

2. Stubbornness. The literal meaning in Hebrew for stubborn is “to turn away.” A stubborn person refuses to open his/her heart because their position will collapse under the light of truth.  Signs of stubbornness are:

  • People would describe you as independent–standing alone against authority.
  • You insist on handling things yourself.
  • You would sacrifice the best to say you did it your way.
  • When confronted with truth you become angry rather than repentant. 

3. An unteachable spirit.  Deuteronomy 21:18 tells us a rebellious son will not listen to teaching from his parents (and no doubt their boss, etc. as they mature).  The word “listen” means “to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc).” If you have a teachable spirit you will be an intelligent listener or one that makes an extra effort to understand what someone is trying to teach you.

Proverbs 15:31-33 says, “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility. The signs of a teachable spirit are:

  • Hearer
  • Humble
  • Wise
  • Honored

4. Undisciplined lifestyle. “They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” (Deuteronomy. 21:20) Profligate means to be loose morally which is undisciplined activity. Drunkenness, over spending, over eating, no regard for time or appointments, slothfulness, laziness, etc. are just some of the indicators of a lack of self discipline.

5. An argumentative spirit. Proverbs 26:21,“As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.”

Manifestations of rebellion in our lives will place us in a position of bondage or slavery. Sometimes that may be an emotional or financial bondage; other times it may be a physical bondage. But rest assured, an authority will give you wings when you line up under their authority but will take measures to restrict your movement if you are kicking against their umbrella of protection. This is easy to picture when we think of someone breaking a law and having to stand before a judge in chains. Obviously they have rebelled against an authority. While you may be obeying the laws of the land, if you are in rebellion to the other authorities in your life (e.g., a husband, boss, etc. you will feel the pinch of bondage). When this type of rebellion enters in, the relationship begins to crumble. If you have a relationship that is crumbling, look to these five areas in your life and see if there is any correction needed.

I was taught “Foolish children bring grief to their father and bitterness to the one who gave them birth” (Proverbs 17:25 & 10:1). This is a good standard for making decisions. If it would make your parents proud of you–it is the right path. If it causes them grief or bitterness, you are on dangerous ground.

Unfortunately rebellion and its attributes have strong roots that wrap their tentacles around our hearts and minds. They direct our actions in inappropriate ways. We’ve all fallen victim at one time or another. They are tools/weapons that Satan forms against us because He desires we be in emotional, spiritual, mental and physical bondage. Determine before God that you will humble yourself and make amends where you have allowed rebellion into your heart and life (your relationships) and watch the chains fall away. 

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Things your mom never told you . . .

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They call it an empty nest. The sneakers are not left where you’ll trip over them and the laundry isn’t piled sky high. Loud music isn’t blaring. They took the squeaky violin with them when they left for college. And, praise God, their rooms stay neat and don’t reek of dirty smelly socks. Bottles of milk and cereal actually go past their expiration dates. And miracles do happen: you get up in the morning and find things exactly as you left them when you went to bed.

In the days when the children were underfoot, I used to dream of a time when I could go to the bathroom or shower—alone. Surely the day would come when ALL the laundry and dishes were done. Were there people who actually got more than four hours of sleep a night? EVER? When will tired cease to be the answer to “How are you?” Will there be a time when their eyes don’t roll back in their heads when you won’t let them do what they want to do because, of course, all the other kids are doing it? Will there be a time when the phrase “because I said so” doesn’t leap to mind?

Yes, aging has some advantages. And I look back and realize my mom was there to coach me through childhood, my youth, the early days of marriage and child rearing. But now that’s she’s gone and I’m traveling this stage of my life without her beside me, I find there are things she didn’t tell me. They were no doubt things she wanted me to know, but there were no blogs in those days where people shared their thoughts or gave advice. And I was too busy dealing with raising my family to stop and listen to advice about my “golden years”– we’d get to that when the time came. But as I look back on these last few years, I wish I’d known then what I know now. So here’s the blog I wish my mom had written.

Holidays are special to them. Holidays are a day when they can hold their memories just a little tighter if only for an hour or so. You’ve moved on and are now creating your own memories in your own home with your own family. Trying to get to see all the parents adds an element of crazy into your holidays. Slow down and remember that the greatest gift you give is your presence. They treasure the gift of you more than your friends ever will. Make them a priority. They’ll be gone soon and you’d give anything if you could have just one more of those Christmases with them.

They dream of all their kids under one roof, around one table or for a few days at the beach. With everything on your plate, their dreams feel like impossible expectations. Face it, it’s a hassle. Just do it. It’s how the best memories of your life will be made. Some day you’ll decorate your tree and pray the kids can make it this year. Then you’ll understand and wish you’d taught and modeled these principles for your children.

Sharing is hard. They are thrilled you have a spouse and are happy to share you with others. But they treasure moments with you, too. They don’t want to compete for your time and attention with in-laws. They want you to love and respect your spouse’s family—after all, they raised you to be that kind of person. And they will love your spouse the more for making sure that holidays and quality time are spent with both sets of parents.

When you said ‘I do” to our son or daughter, we dreamed of a great relationship with you. Oh, we won’t do things the way your parents did. You’ll be more sensitive to the things we say and will take offense even though none is meant. We’ll give advice when none is wanted, be too eager to help with the cooking, and may even buy you things for your house you wouldn’t even hang in the garage. We’re just trying too hard; you are important to our family. We are trying to turn loose. But it’s hard. Our enthusiasm will be mistaken for meddling. Differences will open the door to misunderstandings. Be a peacemaker. Open your heart. Love fiercely. Forgive. Say I’m sorry. Embrace your new family and the traditions important to them with joy. Work together toward understanding and appropriate boundaries.

Grandkids make it all worthwhile. The grandkids are the light of their lives. They love doing ANYTHING with and/or for them, but won’t push. Birthday parties and sleepovers, special activities and learning opportunities from swim class to gymnastics will crowd your schedule. They’ll wait; they can’t compete with the attractions of this world. Make time for grandparents in your child’s weekly schedule. Your children will thank you for their memories with their grandparents and it will model for them how you want to be treated. And just so you know, pictures are priceless.

They still celebrate you. Call them when you get a promotion or a raise. Tell them how your presentation went or that you made your sales goals this month. They love to hear of your successes. You can’t brag to someone who dreams bigger dreams for you than you do for yourself. Your successes are made possible by their sacrifices. Let them share in them with you.

They still pray for you. They see you take steps that will hurt you and your family but hold their tongue and wait to be asked for counsel. So when faced with the challenges of life, find time for coffee to lay out the decisions that keep you awake at night. You just might get some great advice you’ll treasure forever. Those moments with my parents spent over a cup of coffee are priceless memories and saved my behind on more than one occasion. Turns out they knew more than I thought they did.

They need help with technology. They thank God for technology so they can be connected with you in any small way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come naturally to them. It’s frustrating. Help them.

You will age, too. All those supplements they take that you make fun of now. . .guess what, there will be a day when you (and all your friends) start scouring the internet to find advice on how to feel better. You’ll actually change your diet and have your own pill box filled with supplements. WHY? Your body stops making all the good stuff that makes you feel good and you will need to buy it from a shelf and ingest it. So make sure your mom and dad bequeath that big health book to you and not your siblings because they’ve marked up all the good stuff. My sister and I now copy and send each other pages from mom’s book. We would have sworn this wasn’t even a remote possibility when we were in our 40’s and it’s only by the grace of God that we found her book.

Car doors are heavy. I took for granted I could run up and down stairs, jump in and out of cars and drive at night. If you can still do these things without a passing thought, be thankful. Time changes that all too quickly. Be sensitive. Joints give out, muscles lose their flexibility—stuff just happens. Maybe it’s gravity or maybe it’s age—doesn’t matter. It’s hard. Show up to help them with chores some day just because you can make a memory. They won’t ask, but you might just find it will be a memory you’ll treasure throughout your life.

They want you to care about what’s going on in their lives. As my mother aged, she would regale me with the details of everything she had cooked for the entire day via a long distance call (a call that cost me big $’s in those days). I would hold the phone and think, “I’ve fed a household today and moved worlds. I cannot sit here for 20 minutes and actually pay to listen to how you prepared your eggs for breakfast (which is exactly as you prepared them yesterday and last week and last month), how you made your soup or sandwich for lunch and how you put the foil on the baked potatoes tonight—and how you will peel an apple for snack.” I’m glad I bit my tongue, listened as if it was the best story ever, and paid those phone bills anyway, because now I’d give a lot just to have her tell me her stories—even if it was only about how she prepared her meals for today. You won’t have your parents much longer. Time flies by. Slow down. Cherish the moments. Learn their stories. Tell them yours. It’s the stuff relationships are made of.

Respect their decisions. Parents will do things you don’t approve of. Try to understand them and their decisions. If you are still baffled why they do what they do, at the very least, respect their decisions. They have traveled some roads you have not even turned on to yet. Values and priorities have deepened. Give them your support and encouragement.

Don’t be critical; be thankful. You’ll have children and feel that you are so much better at this parenting thing than they were. And then you’ll have teenagers and all the drama they can bring to a household. And then. . . you’ll have an empty nest. And your children will begin their journey as parents. They’ll read a book on parenting and learn to change diapers and sing lullabies and make lists of all your mistakes they won’t make with their children. And the cycle continues. Your parents gave it their best shot. Oh, they made their share of mistakes they wish they could change, and–drum roll–so will you. Children don’t come with instructions and what works for one won’t work on the next one. Human beings are complicated and you will be able to fill a library with the things your children will teach you. Parenting will be your greatest challenge. So do your best and leave the rest to God.

Phone calls are the best part of their day/week. Oh, the person wanting to help them refinance their home, give them a fabulous vacation or remind them of their doctor’s appointment will provide a jingle or two. But it’s not the same as when you call. Every word you say, every story you tell, every ‘I love you’ uttered before hanging up is sweet music to their ears and fills their hearts with joy–until the next time you call. Who else hangs on your every word—call them–often.

Mom and dad are walking streets of gold now. I wonder what they’d tell me about dying and my new life in heaven. So would someone up there please hand them the phone. There was a time when I cringed when someone said I was just like my mom–she was old (probably in her 40’s) and I was young (and thought I knew it all). Now I see life and the world as they saw it. Now, my sister and I laugh when we open our mouths and mom or dad’s words come flying out. We chuckle when we look in the mirror and see their faces shining back at us. I couldn’t have been more blessed than to have these wonderful people for my mom and dad. Please tell them I love them to the moon and farthest stars. Tell them I’ll see them soon.

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GOD’S FORMULA FOR A HAPPY HOME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Ephesians 5 & 6 God sets up His formula for a happy home. The players and their key words are:

Husbands – head; love

Most of us think that the key to a happy home is everyone loving one another. And indeed it is for love comes down from the head of the home. When that love is raining down, just as God extends His love to us even when we are unlovable, then everything else seems to fall into place. Paul goes into great lengths to explain this kind of love. He compares it to the love that Christ has for the church–the bride that he loved and gave Himself for. He did this so that He might set us apart and cleanse us through the Word. Husbands, are you teaching your wife the Word so she will be usable by God? Is your goal that she will be glorious and have no flaw? Paul goes on to explain to husbands that you should love her as much as you love your self–he particularly says as you love your “body.” Now let me tell you, men love themselves–love their bodies. Paul didn’t just say “love your wife,” he drilled down to make sure men understood clearly just how much they were to love their wives. He continues, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church.” Oh, yeah, we women can all agree with that statement. This kind of love enveloping a woman, particularly a woman who agreed to marry you in the first place, will cause her to respect (honor or reverence) you.

I Peter 3:7 says “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” I find it interesting that God didn’t say to dwell with your wife according to understanding, righteousness or wisdom–probably because it would be impossible. But He did say you should know her–EVERYTHING about her. She will translate this as love. And, guys, if you want God to hear your prayers, you need to be loving your wife. What would that look like TO HER? Would you take out the trash, help with the house cleaning, fix dinner, bring her flowers, say kind things to her? Time to get your LOVE on (I Cor. 3:14).

God goes on to tell men that they should not provoke their children but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord–teach them about God’s love. Talk to them of things of God; model God’s love and ways to them.

Now guys, get this right because you are going to give an account for your wife and your family before the Lord.

Wives – submit; reverence

Girls, our part is to submit to and reverence (honor and respect) our husbands. And as much as I’d like to tell you that IF he loves us, THEN we will honor him, the passage starts with us. We are instructed to kick off this whole happy home environment by submitting to our husbands. Would you believe every time God talks about our role to our husbands/families, He starts off by saying we should submit…FIRST! I asked my husband why he thought God said it this way and in this order. He explained, “Carol, when I tell you what I want done and you argue with me, it makes me dig in my heels and I can become unyielding and make decisions based upon exerting my control vs. what is right. This can be dangerous for our family. When you tell me you see my point and will abide by my decision, but you have something you’d like for me to consider as I make my final decision, it helps me maintain my role as leader of our home and allows my spirit to become open to your ideas. Your willingness to follow me allows me to let you be my helper.” Girls, your husband is going to give an account for your family. When he stands before the throne, you want to be beside him as a jewel around his neck that he can show off to His Heavenly Father, not as a thorn in his side he must explain. 

Children – Obey; Honor

And children, your role is obedience when you are young. And as you age, your role is to honor them. This means including them in your life, going out of your way to show them that you love them in word and deed. Oh, no doubt you’ve got a laundry list of things they did that you will do better now that you are an adult/spouse/parent. Trust me, your kids will have their own lists as they take on their adult roles, too. It’s time to lay those things down in your relationship to your parents. You are entitled to learn from your parent’s mistakes; indeed they hope you do. They will be aging. They won’t be as cool as you are. They may not know as much as you think you know. Some of their little quirks may irritate you. You’ll be busy and have a thousand things pulling at you. But before the Lord, your role is to honor. . .HONOR. . .your parents. After all, the life you enjoy today is because they sacrificed to raise you and help you take the first steps into adulthood. You’ll find that when your heart is filled with gratitude and honor, your relationship with your parents will flourish. And God promises you a bonus for doing so–your days will be long upon the earth. 

I’m not sure what role dogs play in our home except that dog backwards spells god. In early communications, men used stick figures and symbols. The symbol for dog was “ALL HEART.” I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from this.

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