Monday, December 17, 2012

MARRIAGE MINUTE #5: Laugh With Each Other

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;  Ecclesiastes 3-4

Marriage Minute #5:  Laugh with each other!

My heart still aches for those 20 precious little souls lost on Friday in that horrific tragedy.  I really can’t stop thinking about it.  I’m still asking God for direction, because I feel like there’s so much more that can be done, but for now, I’m just praying—for ways we can change, for guidance, for wisdom, for peace, for fear to melt away, for an increase in faith and for joy.  Even though I have no idea how a mother could ever recover from something like that.   And I certainly don’t have a clue as to how a mother could ever laugh again or dance again, but God does, and I will pray that God will abundantly bless those families with unexpected joy and laughter at unexpected times and bring upon them a glimpse of hope and normalcy.  God did this for me and my husband when we were going through a very difficult time.  And if anyone ever told me that I was going to find something to laugh about in the midst of having a miscarriage, I would have thought they were crazy.  But it’s not crazy…it’s God.      
I had been trying unsuccessfully for a baby for years and when I finally got pregnant in 2007 after over 4 years of trying, I was so excited.  I couldn’t believe it.  This was it.  This baby was such a huge answer to prayer.  At 6 weeks, I began to bleed.  Just a little.  I kept telling myself that it was nothing.  Just some spotting.  I called my doctor on my lunch hour and she said to come in right after school.  I still had to teach 2 more classes which was very difficult to do, but as soon as the bell rang and I waved good-bye to my students, I flew out the door…in tears.  I was driving to the doctor’s office…in tears.  I walked in to the waiting room…in tears.  I filled out some paper work…in tears.  I was asked to pee in a cup…in tears.  I had to get an ultrasound…in tears.  There was nothing there.  No baby.  No heartbeat.  Nothing.  Dr. Stephanie tried to be hopeful and said that it may just be too early to see anything, and that I would need to wait to determine if it was a miscarriage or not.  She told me to go home and rest but if the bleeding became heavier or I experienced cramping, I was to head straight to the emergency room.  I left the doctors office…in tears.  I drove home…in tears.  I hugged my husband…in tears.  I sat on the couch all night…in tears.  I knew.

Supporting former Illini Player, Deron Williams, at the Utah Jazz Game
Just a couple years before this night, Brad and I realized that we needed to have something in common.  Something that we enjoyed doing together.  So we started watching basketball together which happened to be the year that Illinois was amazing and ended up making it to the championship game—Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Roger Powell, Luther Head…you know the team.  Brad and I have bonded over basketball ever since.  And when Deron Williams got drafted to the Utah Jazz, we became Utah Jazz fans.  Big ones.  We even bought the NBA Ticket and watched every game together (we didn’t have kids yet).  We even flew out to Utah to go to a game together.  It’s just what we needed.  To have something that we could do together…to talk about…to get excited about…to laugh about…it was great.  And it still is (too bad Illinois has stunk since then—maybe this year will be different, we’ll see).  So how does basketball fit in with this story? 
Skiing in Utah

Because as I sat on the couch after coming home from the doctor…in tears, Brad and I turned on the last Utah Jazz game of the season.  The game was not going in our favor and in the meantime, my condition got worse.  The bleeding became really heavy and I had severe cramping, so Brad took me to the emergency room… in tears.  They did blood work to find out if I indeed miscarried and we waited…in tears.  And waited…in tears…and waited…in tears.  Finally we were waiting so long to find out something that I already knew the answer to, so I asked Brad to turn on the Jazz game…in tears.  I sat there watching it for a while…in tears.  Then suddenly, out of nowhere…laughter.  Brad looked at me funny… wondering why after hours of tears…knowing that I most likely had miscarried…why would I be laughing?  He didn’t say anything to me at first.  Then, I started giggling to the point that I couldn’t stop.  Brad had to ask what was so funny.  And through the laughter, I told him…

“If anyone came in the room right now, they would think, ‘Poor lady, she’s having a miscarriage and all her husband cares about is watching the basketball game!  What an insensitive jerk.’  They would have no idea that I was the one who asked you to turn on the game.  They would totally blame you and feel so bad for me.” 

And the laughter continued.  Soon, we were both laughing.  Now, Brad couldn’t stop laughing either.  I wanted to see our team play, so we sat in the emergency room watching our team together…holding hands…laughing.  And in that moment, we found peace.  Peace in that no matter what happened, we had each other.  We were there for each other.  This bible is right...there is a time for everything.  And that night was a time to weep together and a time to laugh together.  The Jazz lost the game that night.  We lost our baby that night.  But in the midst of our pain, our sadness and our tears, God provided us with a very unexpected moment of laughter that we could share together. 

~Obviously, going to the ER that night, Brad and I didn’t think we would have ANYTHING to laugh about, but God was there through the agony to shine a glimpse of His light in and gave us a reason to laugh.  It’s something we still laugh about today.  That night bonded us together forever—because of the loss of our baby and because of the laughter we shared.  This week, I pray that you, too, will find unexpected bursts of laughter and joy in your marriage and in your life no matter what’s going on around you.  No matter what’s going on in our country right now.  No matter what’s going on in your marriage right now.  There is a time for everything, and I know we've all experienced weeping and mourning for this tragedy and for other things throughout our marriages and our lives, so I will be praying that it will soon be our time to laugh and to dance together!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Be the Change: A Mother's Heart Breaks for Connecticut and for this Nation

**Written 4 years ago right after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shootings...
“Be the Change You Wish To See in This World” Mahatma Gandhi
I am in tears.  My hands are shaking.  It took me 45 minutes longer to put my kids down for a nap today because I didn’t want to stop hugging them.  My 16 month old kept saying “nuggle” (snuggle) and so I did.  Every time she said “nuggle”, I hugged her a little tighter.  Tears were welling up in my eyes.  While I was snuggling with her, my 4 year old came over and asked me to put my arm around him while he hugged my leg.  It was then that I broke down crying.  Tears of sadness and heartbreak for all the moms who will never hug their child again.  Tears of joy for the gift of being a mother.  It was if they knew what had happened today in Connecticut.  It was if they knew that I needed to love on them a little more.  I love my kids so much that it makes my heart ache.  What can I do to change this world for them? 
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I cannot imagine how it must feel for the moms who lost their babies in the tragedy today.  I can’t even fathom the pain they must be going through.  As mothers, we are given such a special gift to hold our babies inside of us for so long.  And we love these gifts from God from the time we find out we’re pregnant.  No, I take that back.  We love them even before that---we love them from the time the desire is put into our hearts to be a mom.  And the love grows and grows as the baby grows.  We carry them in our wombs.  We endure sickness, pain, discomfort, weight gain, and we love it!  Why?  Because we are their mother even then and no other person can have that same closeness with them as we do.  We feel their every movement.  We take every little punch and kick.  We smile at every roll and twist and hiccup.  The bond that forms between a mother and her unborn baby is indescribable!  And then we give birth and we get to meet the little one who has been so much of a part of us for so long.  The little one that we have so much love for already.
Benjamin:  A Mom totally in love!
And I remember after my son, Ben, was born feeling overwhelmed with fear.  When he was inside of me, he was safe.  I knew that he was getting enough food and fluids and that he was totally protected from everything.  I just wanted to keep him in there.  But as soon as he was out, he was so exposed.  He was so little.  He was so helpless.  And it was now my job to protect him, and it scared me.  All the things that could happen to him flooded my mind.  And it hit me just how big of a responsibility being a parent is.  My husband and I were so surprised that no one from the hospital checked in on us to make sure that we were doing ok as parents.  But then I felt so much more secure when my motherly instincts kicked right in and I realized how strong and capable I was and how strong and resilient Ben was.  And, oh, how the love grows.  And you love your first child so much, you wonder if there's enough love in you for a second?  And there is....and then some!!! 

Abigail:  A Mom Realizing How Much Love She Has

With every inch they grew, my love grew.  With every inch our babies grow, a mother’s love grows.  And with every inch our babies grow, a mom’s protective instinct grows as well.  We want to protect them from harm; from illness.  We want to keep them safe.  I still struggle with fear about the safety of my kids---at the park, on playground equipment, riding in the car with someone else, staying with a babysitter or even at my parents’ house and just pretty much whenever they are away from me.  And as they grow, you realize how much more their lives are not just in your hands.  And when tragedies strike like the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, I go back and forth from complete empathy and sadness to total fear for the safety of my own kids.  “I am never sending my kids to public schools.”  “My kids are never leaving the house again.”  “They are always going to stay in my sight.”  None of which is possible.  None of which is the answer. 

Hear my prayer, Lord, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping.  Psalm 39:12
But, what is?  We have enough to worry about in dealing with the safety of our kids growing up in these dark times so what CAN we do to feel safe in this country?  What can we do to ensure that our children, whom we love so dearly, aren’t going to be shot just going to school or going to a movie theater or going to a Safeway to meet their Senator or going to the mall?  It’s starting to feel that no place in this country is safe for us or for our kids.  I don’t want to live in a country where everyone is afraid to tell the truth to someone for fear of being shot.  I don’t want to live in a country where a Principal or a teacher is too afraid to give a detention to a student for fear of being shot.  I don’t want to live in a country where a boss is too afraid to fire someone for fear of being shot.  I don't want to live in a country where a parent can't lovingly discipline their children for fear of being shot.  I don’t want to live in a country where you can’t do anything without the fear of being shot!   Why has the violence in our country gone to this level?  What is happening?  I’m just mad.  I’m frustrated.  I’m incredibly heart-broken.  I’m so fearful.  I’m anxious for what the future holds for my precious kids---for all of our precious kids.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6

So, what is the answer?  I don’t know.  Do we have metal detectors everywhere?  Armed guards in every school, movie theater, grocery store, mall and restaurant?  Or better yet, what is the cause?  I don’t know that either.   Is it violent video games?  Is it violent movies?  Is it over-medicating our kids?  Is it over-medicating ourselves?  Is it parents working too much?  Is it moms not being at home like they used to?  Is it the desire for money over family?   Is it that God isn’t at the center of every family? Or better yet, who do we blame?  I don’t know that either.  I’m sure all of our minds are scrambling to find something or someone to blame.  The shooters?  Their parents?  The guns?  The person who sold them the guns?  Our President?  Our country?  Ourselves?  And there may even be some of us blaming God. 
Something has to change, America!  We cannot live in fear.  I do not want to be the mom who wakes my son up for school for the last time.  I do not want to be the mom who helps get my daughter dressed for the last time.  I do not want to be a mom who eats breakfast with my kids for the last time.  I do not want to be the mom who kisses my boy for the last time.  I do not want to be the mom who waves good-bye to my girl on the school bus for the last time or drops her off at school for the last time.  And it’s just not right that any mom should have to experience the last time with a child!  It’s just not right that any mom should have to experience the loss of a child for any reason but especially not for this reason---a senseless, heartless, violent act of evil. 

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1
My heart breaks for the Connecticut moms who had to experience the last time today…the last moment with their child…the last memory…the last smile…the last hug…the last kiss…the last wave.  It’s just not fair!  A mother shouldn’t have to go through that.   No parent should.  And my heart breaks for this nation. 
Because I am so full of heart-break, anger and fear right now and because there are so many questions that I don’t know the answers to…I have stop my head from spinning for a minute to seek the truth.  And the only truth that I know and the only thing that gives me any peace at a time like this is to remind myself that God loves us.  God is saddened by what happened today.  And even though it’s hard for us to imagine, God loves our children even more than we do.  And if you’re a mother, that’s a lot of love!  So, instead of choosing anger or hatred or fear which come so easily when a tragedy like this happens...I am choosing to focus on two things:  God’s love and change.  I am going to pray for God's love to surround every mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, husband, wife, brother, sister, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, friend, or neighbor who was affected by this shooting in prayer, and ask God to surround them with His peace and comfort.  I am going to pray for God's love to surround our country and unite us all.  And I am going to pray for change!  All of us—together—have to focus on change in this country.  Positive...Godly...Change!!
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,just as in fact you are doing. 
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Love the Lord your God with all your heart; with all your soul; with all your strength; with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.  Luke 10:27
Every single one of us needs to work together and seek God’s wisdom on how we, as individuals, can change to make ourselves better, our families better, our country better, our world better!  WE have to be the change that we want to see in this world!  I don't care how much we've heard the phrase, be the change, it is time for us all to live it!  To really, truly change.  To really, truly love.  To love more.  To pray.  To pray more.  To hug more.  To kiss more.  To encourage more.  To uplift more.  To appreciate more.  To laugh more.  To spend more time with family.  To have more joy.  To love our God more.  To be more content.  To make things simple.  To appreciate the little things.  To love our neighbor more.  To spend more time with our kids.  To be more forgiving.   To love ourselves more.  To be committed to making this world full of God’s love!  To be committed to being His Light in this world of darkness!  You need to be the change.  I need to be the change.  We all need to BE THE CHANGE!!!


Monday, December 10, 2012

MARRIAGE MINUTE #4: Respect Each Other in Your Words and Actions

“However, let each one of you love his
wife as himself,
 and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”   Ephesians 5:33


Respect Each Other in Your Words and Actions

I have to admit when I saw that “Respecting each other with your words and actions” was my marriage topic this week, my first reaction was “Ugh.  I was hoping for an easy one.”

Then I thought, why is this is such a hard topic for me?  Probably because I am incredibly guilty of not showing my husband respect in my words and actions.  Probably because it’s never easy to share the things that you have struggled with in the past and even still struggle with now.  Oh well, here we go…

Being married for over 12 years, and knowing each other for over 16 years, there is a level of comfort that goes along with knowing someone for so long.  That’s a great perk of marriage, right?  That your spouse is with you for everything no matter what?---the good, the bad, the ups, the downs, the best of you and the worst of you and even the gassy side of you, the no make-up, the unshaven legs, the feet that desperately need a pedicure (if you can ever afford it), the unwashed hair…well you get the point.  But when does being comfortable around one another cross the line from being comfortable and just being yourself and being disrespectful?

I hope you don’t get tired of hearing about the challenging times that Brad and I faced in our marriage, but I had a good conversation with a great friend today about how important it is to not always put our best foot forward especially when it comes to marriage and parenting, and so I’m putting my ugly, unpedicured foot forward for a minute to be real.  I crossed the line so many times from being comfortable with my husband to being just plain disrespectful in my words and in my actions.  

Brad and I had been married for 8 years before I got the wake-up call from God at how much of a snot I was to him (sorry, that’s really the best way for me to describe myself at that time.)  I complained a lot about his job and how little time we spent together.  (Hello?  See how important Love Languages are?)  Because of my frustration with him, I disrespected him.  I pointed out everything he didn’t do well or at least what didn’t meet my expectations.  I was ungrateful and condescending towards him in every possible way.  Some of it was said in sarcasm, but you know that most things said in sarcasm have a lot of truth behind them.  And frankly, I just said way too many things that just didn't need to be said. (I'm still working on that).  Oh, and the wonderful fights sparked by too much alcohol were just ugly.  I would wake up the next morning just fine and wonder why he was so mad at me.  Could it be that I said some really mean things to him and didn’t even really remember it?  Praise God for freeing me from this!

There were a lot of other factors that I was dealing with in our marriage like infertility, depression, insecurity, lack of trust, but that was no excuse for the lack of respect I showed my husband.  Even though we didn’t have kids at the time and we both worked as teachers, I didn’t really help him much with the house work.  I was too tired or I needed to grade papers or lesson plan, so he ended up doing a lot of it.  I remember one time, he was on his way home from a band concert that I didn’t go to because I didn’t like them (Hello? What about going to support your husband?).  Anyways, he called me on his way home saying that he didn’t have anything for dinner yet and he asked me to put on a can of soup for him.  I remember feeling very bothered that he would ask me to do this when I was lying comfortably on the couch watching tv while the house was a mess and laundry needed to be done.  I remember rolling my eyes and getting up off the couch, walking into the kitchen and opening a can of chili.  I put it in a pot and turned the stove on high and went back to lay down on the couch to finish my tv show.  Instead of walking in the door after a long day to a nice dinner and a cold beer waiting for him, he walked in to burning soup on the stove top.  “Oh sorry about that” I shouted from the couch.  I really don’t know what he ended up fixing himself for dinner that night.  I was too busy lying on the couch watching tv to care. 

Sadly, I could go on and on with more stories on both of our ends demonstrating how we didn’t respect each other in our words and actions.  All I can say is that I’m so grateful to God for not allowing our marriage to continue with such disrespect.  For giving us both the desire to change.  For giving us both the eyes to see in ourselves the things that were not of God.  For giving us the courage to face our ugliness and allowing God pull the beauty out of it.  Years later, after a year of counseling, learning our love languages and devoting ourselves to being more respectful towards one another, I did have the opportunity to redeem myself after the burned soup incident.  Brad called me on his way home from a long night at school and asked me to have some dinner made for him.  When he got home, I was waiting upstairs with hot pizza, cold beer in the Jacuzzi tub.  He still talks about that.  

Today, we are not perfect and we never will be, but we both work very hard to be respectful to each other, and it makes a huge difference not only in our marriage but also in the example we set as parents.  This week, I pray that you will ask God to allow you to see changes that you can make to be more respectful towards your spouse in what you say and do.  I pray that God will show you specific ways that you can bless your spouse, so instead of having a burned-soup-marriage, you can have a hot-pizza-cold-beer-waiting-in-the-Jacuzzi-tub marriage!  It’s so much more fun that way!

Monday, December 3, 2012

MARRIAGE MINUTE #3: Communicate

 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” 
 James 1:19

Marriage Minute #3:  Communicate--Find Out How You Communicate Best

Women are talkers.  In fact, there have been studies that show that women talk nearly 3 times more than men.  One source states that women speak 20,000 words in a day while men speak only 7,000 words.  However, recently, I have discovered some research that claims that this statistic is false and that women and men actually say nearly the same amount of words in a day.  No way!!!  Just ask my husband.  Just ask my brother.  Growing up, my mom would ask my older brother a question like, “How was the dance?”  His response…”Fine.”  My mom would ask me the same question, and I would tell her every detail—every song played, every song I danced to, every conversation I had, how I was feeling at every moment, what everyone wore, what the decorations looked like, who chaperoned, where we all went afterwards…well, I think you get my point.  I don’t care what the new research says, I truly believe that women talk more than men do. 

Regardless of who talks more, in a marriage, the important thing is that you talk.  Brad and I learned two ways that we communicate best and get out the “tough stuff”. 

1.       Writing Letters or Emails:  While going through some very challenging times in our marriage, we realized that talking face to face was not the best way for us to communicate.  We would interrupt each other too much.  We would get angry.  We would always end up yelling or fighting and so we decided to write.  Writing for us allowed each of us to really stop and think about what we wanted to say.  Writing allowed us to get all of our thoughts and feelings out without the other person jumping in before we had a chance to finish.  Writing gave us more freedom to express ourselves honestly and openly.  But the writing was just the starting point…it was a way for us to begin a difficult conversation and give the other person a chance to think and pray about a response.  Then we both felt ready to have a face to face conversation and commit to resolving it together.  I highly recommend writing--especially if you have a lot of things you’ve been wanting to say but haven’t or if you don’t seem to get anywhere during a tough conversation.

2.      Sunday Night Chat:  Again when we were going through some difficulties in our marriage and especially after having kids, we realized that we needed to set aside some time where we talked…really talked.  So we picked one night a week where we sat down together after the kids were in bed---no kids, no tv, no computer, no sounds---just us.  It was during this time that we checked in on how we were doing, how we were feeling, and we gave each other the opportunity to safely talk about anything we needed to “get out.”  And it was helpful. 

I love the verse from Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  This week, I pray for the communication in your marriage.  I pray for opportunities to talk to each other in whatever way works best for you and your spouse.  I pray for honest and open conversations.  I pray for break-throughs in any closed areas.  I pray that when you do talk that you will be, as the bible says, quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.  I pray that you will both commit to making time and taking time to talk and, no matter who says more words in a day in your marriage, you will use the words you do say to build each other up!

Monday, November 26, 2012

MARRIAGE MINUTE #2: Love Languages

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

  Luke 10:27

MARRIAGE MINUTE #2:  Love Languages

Knowing each other’s Love Languages is the easy part..."speaking" each other's Love Language…well, I just wish that I was as good at it as Brad is.  When asked what the greatest commandments were, Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If we all applied those two commandments to our lives, it would be world-changing!  Putting God first, loving Him together and loving each other as we would love ourselves, that would be marriage-changing!   So, let’s all do it, right?  Well, it’s not always so easy.  Why?

Please don’t hear me saying that I don’t love my husband…I do…very much…with all my heart.  But sometimes it’s easier for me to show others that I love them than it is for me to show Brad that I love him.  I feel that with others---friends, neighbors or even strangers, I put all my heart into loving them, but sometimes my husband gets what’s left over.  After showing love and serving others,  taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, making meals, doing laundry, playing spiderman, reading books in silly voices, spending time with and encouraging friends, returning emails, planning a mom’s ministry, I wonder why I don’t have as much to give to Brad?  Hmmmm…Oh, I don’t know…could I be……… tired?  Yes, of course I am.  But why should Brad get the tired me…the exhausted me…the I-just-want-to-go-to-sleep me?   

God is really challenging me this week to love Brad as much as I would love anyone else.  To put loving him as more of a priority, especially because I know what his love languages are.  Not to say that it’s easy for me to always communicate using his love languages especially because we don’t “speak” in the same love languages, but at least I know where to start.  At least I know what I need to work on this week to show my husband how much I truly love him by "speaking" his love languages.

Learning your spouse’s love language will change your marriage.  It really will.  But then you also have to apply that knowledge.  And that’s when your marriage will truly thrive!  Knowing your love language will help you understand how you feel loved.  Knowing your spouse's love language will help you understand how your spouse feels loved.  Speaking each other's love language will help you become more giving, loving, attentive.  Speaking each other's love language requires thoughtfulness, effort and yes, energy.  But it's worth it!
So what are the Love Languages?  Well, to fully comprehend what the love languages are all about, I highly recommend that you read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman WITH your spouse.  I promise that it is not only an easy read, but it is also both interesting and enlightening.  Here is the world’s shortest summary of it:

There are 5 love languages—5 ways in which we feel loved and show our love to others.

1.      Words of Affirmation—encouragement, way to gos, great jobs

2.      Quality Time---spending time together talking, laughing, interacting (not just watching tv)

3.      Receiving Gifts---special, thoughtful gifts

4.      Acts of Service---housework, getting up with the kids, putting gas in the car, doing something kind and thoughtful

5.      Physical Touch---massages, hugs, flirty touching, and of course, sex

I am definitely a Words of Affirmation and Quality Time woman.  My husband is Acts of Service and of course, Physical Touch.  Is there any guy out there who's not?  Because we speak totally different love languages, it can make it more of a challenge to show each other love.  A lot of times, we tend to show our spouse love in a way that we feel loved and not in the way they feel loved which is why it’s so important to know the other person’s love language.  I love the story that they author tells of a couple who were completely dissatisfied with their long-term marriage.  He did EVERYTHING for her—yard work, house work, anything she needed, he did it, but she was never satisfied.  Dr. Chapman, knowing that the wife's love language was Quality Time not Acts of Service (which was the husband's love language), gave the husband an assignment to just sit and talk to her for 15 minutes a day.  That changed everything!  The husband was shocked to learn that all those years to show her love, all he needed to do was talk to her for 15 minutes instead of working his butt off doing all these things for her that didn’t even make her happy at all.  I LOVE this! 

Brad and I experienced something similar when, years ago, I would call him on my drive home from a rough day of teaching and needed to vent.  The conversation would always end in an argument because he wanted to fix it (Acts of Service) and help me figure out how I should go about making the problem better, but that just made me even more mad and upset not only at the situation but also at him for not understanding me.  After reading the book, I learned that because one of my love languages was Words of Affirmation, all I really needed from him was some encouragement.  So, I told him…”Honey, from now on, please just let me talk and then say things like ‘It will all be ok’ or ‘You’ll have a better day tomorrow’ and just listen to me.”  Sure enough, the next time I needed to vent, he said, “It will all be ok.  You’ll have a better day tomorrow.”  I just laughed.  I didn’t mean for him to use the EXACT words that I gave him, but it made us both crack up. 

This week, I pray that you will take steps forward in not just finding out each other’s love languages but speaking them to each other as well.   Once Brad realized that he didn’t have to worry about fixing the problems I had, he couldn’t believe how much easier it was just to listen and encourage me.  And that’s what he does now.   He shows me that he loves me and cares for me by speaking my love language, and I really appreciate that he’s learned to do that for me.  Now, I need to do a much better job “speaking” to him in his love language.  I encourage you to do the same, and I promise you that “It will all be ok.  You’ll have a better day tomorrow.” and so will your spouse (especially if his love language is physical touch…wink..wink).



Sorry this was longer than a minute.  J  Hope it was worth the extra couple of minutes.  May God bless all of the marriages out there!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

MARRIAGE MINUTE #1: God-Centered Marriage

"Nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37
July 8, 2000
Marriage Minute Introduction:
My marriage is not perfect.  Whose is, right?  But I am grateful for it, and I know that God’s blessing is upon our marriage as well as everyone elses.    No matter how hard it gets or how impossible it seems.  “Nothing is impossible with God.”  Luke 1:37.

We are all a work in progress and so are our marriages.  The bible tells us in Isaiah 64:8 “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” 

So we should expect to change…we should expect our marriages to change…and trust that God knows what He’s doing.  And trust me, God knew exactly what He was doing when He guided me and my husband through many challenges over the last 12 years.  Through those struggles, I was forever changed…Brad was forever changed…and so was our marriage.  And God is not done!  Even now, we are still growing and learning every day.  God continues to present us with new ways to become more like Him; new ways for us to improve ourselves as individuals and as a married couple.  After having a few opportunities to share with others how much that God has helped my husband and I overcome so many difficulties and bring us such great joy, it became very clear to me how much so many of us need encouragement in our marriages.  I have felt God nudging me (very strongly I might add) to direct my next several blogs towards marriage.   And so I am.    

Over the next few weeks, the “Marriage Minute” blogs I will post will include encouraging stories, helpful hints and words of wisdom that my husband and I have learned that have improved our marriage.  My prayer is that, even though the blog posts will only take you about one minute to read, God will highlight something that you can take away from it and bless your marriage.


Put God at the center of your marriage: Pray and Protect!

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'" Luke 10:27

Brad and I come from two different religious backgrounds which definitely has been a challenge in our marriage.  When we met over 16 years ago, neither one of us was strong in our faiths, but since then, that has changed.  But we chose to marry each other regardless of our religious differences and so we are choosing to love each other and trust God with His plan for us and our family.  The bible tells us that God has called us to live in peace.  In the last fews years, even though our views of God are different, we each have promised to put God at the center of our marriage, which for many years, He was not and it showed.  We promised to pray over our marriage and ask God to protect it.  Jesus says in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Satan wants to destroy all of our marriages, and God wants us to live life in our marriages abundantly and joyfully.
The bible tells us in Genesis 2: 22-24: “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  And in Matthew 19:6, “Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
This week, I pray that no matter what your differences are in your marriage—religious or something else--that you will not let them come between you, but instead choose to put God at the center of your marriage and allow Him to show you ways to appreciate your differences.  I pray that you will start to feel a oneness…a togetherness that you have never felt before…just the way God intended it!
Dedicated to all marriages...Please post any helpful hints that you and your spouse have found beneficial to your marriage.  Let's encourage each other.  Let's pray for one another.  Let's pray over our marriages!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sweet Water

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." –Deuteronomy 31:8
Ricky the Raccoon--Spring 1981
~My pet raccoon, Ricky, was addicted to sugar.  My older brother and I had him as a pet in the spring of 1981 when I was only in 1st grade (read Ricky's full story in my previous blog).  Ricky, like all raccoons, was very good with his front paws—he used them like hands.   I still have vivid memories of Ricky washing all of his food in a little water bowl that we kept in his cage.  Whatever we gave to him, he would run over to his bowl and rub it in his little paws dunking it in the water over and over.  One time, my brother and I gave him a sugar cube.  His addiction to sugar had been created through his many exposures to sugary foods such as birthday cake, Sweet Tarts, etc., but this was his first actual sugar cube.  He quickly grabbed it from our hands and raced over to his water bowl with great excitement, as if he knew that the cube he now possessed was the sweet elixir he so craved in its purest form.  As he was scrubbing it clean, it dissolved in the water.  He was so confused as he searched and searched for it in his paws.   Then he looked in the water bowl and it was gone.  Still puzzled, he ran over to us and we gave him another one.  He ran back to his water bowl and washed it thoroughly again, and as before, it disappeared.  We just laughed and laughed.   We felt badly for teasing him like that, so we eventually gave him some Sweet Tarts to make up for it!
~Ricky searched and searched and frantically looked for the sugar cube and it was not there!  Or was it?  You may be faced with struggles and challenges, and sometimes you may feel completely alone.  You may feel abandoned by God.  You may ask Him why He would leave you.  Sometimes you need God’s sweetness, but you feel, like Ricky did, that it has disappeared somewhere in the water bowl of your life.  Do you know what God would tell you?  “I am here.  I have not and will never leave you.   Just drink the water, my child.  It will be the sweetest water you have ever tasted!”   Had Ricky drank the deliciously sweet water, he would have realized that the sugar cube was there all along.  Just like God is always there for you even when you think He’s not!  This week, don’t be afraid or discouraged but instead be bold and courageous, and trust that God will never leave you.  He will always be near you, so move forward in faith and please drink and enjoy the sweet water of life!