Friday, October 31, 2008
Two VERY important lessons I learned tonight and I feel compelled to share them with you so that you won't make the same mistakes as I did. I love you that much! The first is... never wait until the hour before you are going trick or treat to try on a costume. You can't really tell in the pictures below, but Jackson's costume was about 3 sizes too small. What should have gone all the way to his ankles looked like a bad version of a capri jumpsuit. It came to about mid-calf. Not to mention it was too tight in the hiney too. Total wedgie! The good thing was that he didn't even notice. He still thought he looked cool. And that's all that really matters, right?
The second thing was while we were all piled into the trailer, some of us began to notice a terrible stench. Dog poop. Very strong smelling doggie poo. Of course all night I checked my kids pants and their shoes. They were clean so I just kept thinking that someone had stepped in it and it must be on the hay in the trailer. When we got in the car to go back to my parents the smell was still there. I told Frank to turn the light on and I picked up MY shoe. Oh yeh... All over my shoe. How I missed stepping in that I don't know. Because it looked like I should have been knee deep in poop somewhere OR the dog should have still been attached to my leg. Anyway, not only should you check your kids shoes when someone smells poop... check your own too!
Enjoy the pictures!!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I have already trusted Christ as my personal Savior. And although I walked far away from the narrow road when I was younger, by the grace of God He pulled me back. And I am never going down that road again.
But maybe you haven't trusted Christ. And if you haven't, it's not too late. 2Corinthians 6:2 says Now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.
Or maybe you have but like I did, you have wandered far away from the Lord. I am here to tell you that if He can pull me back, He can pull anyone back. I had many rebellious teenage years. If you can name it, then I most likely did it. Or at least VERY heavily considered it. Walked right up to the edge of it and peered over. Rarely ever did I consider the possibility that there could be consequences to my actions. I lived in the moment and did whatever my buddies were doing.
Then, I met Frank. How the two of us ever ended up together... Well, it was only God, that's for sure. Because, even though he was (IS) a hottie, he was not the kind of guy I usually went out with. Likewise, I was far from anything like the other girls he had been with. And did I mention that we were about as opposite as opposite can be? Oh yeah. That's right. Night and Day!
I cleaned up my act because I really liked this guy. And some of the changes were real. But they were mostly surface level changes. You see, at the heart of it all, I was still the same person. Still living for myself. It wasn't until about 5 years ago that I got it. I mean really got it.
All through the time I was growing up in church, what I mostly heard about was heaven and hell. And obviously, the latter was not a good choice. But that was it. No one really told me about the relationship part. I mean, sure, I knew all the rules and what I should and shouldn't do, but that was not enough motivation to live for Him. I was still too busy living for me.
I wish I could tell you the exact moment I got it, but I don't. Too many kids and not enough brain cells left! The point is... it wasn't too late for me. All the "stuff" I had done didn't matter anymore. I didn't have to turn my life around and get all cleaned up first. He took me... warts and all.
God was willing to love me, even though I didn't deserve His love and even when I didn't love Him back. He saw all of the things I had done. He saw every imperfection. He knew about every horrible thing I had ever done. And He still choose to love me anyway.
Now, if God could extend that kind of love and mercy to me... to us... then we can extend it to our spouses. After all, all we are supposed to be is an extension of Christ anyway. So we can love even when we aren't being loved in return. We can see all the flaws and imperfections of our spouse. And love them anyway.
As I got older, I did see the benefits to being an only child, but i still wished I had brothers and sisters.
Then came marriage. And I got more family than I ever thought that I would have. I am fortunate to have a MIL and FIL that I love and I get along with. And I am very lucky that my small family loves Frank and treats him just like a child of their own. Sometimes, they treat him better than their own. But, who's keeping tabs... I am not bitter at all..
My family doesn't look like what I always envisioned that it would. How God chooses certain people to belong together I will never comprehend. Sometimes I think it is more for a JOKE but that's a whole other post!
Yes, there is my immediate family. Made up of myself and Frank and all of the circus workers. Do you ever wonder how the same 2 people can produce such very different kids? I do. I wonder every time I look at them. Not necessarily in the way that they look, but in the way they act and their likes and dislikes. AND the way that they express those likes and dislikes if you know what I mean.
Then, I have my extended family. Made of up MIL and FIL and all of Frank's sisters and their families. And the 10,000 relatives that my husband has. Because truly, I do believe that somehow he is related to every human on the face of the earth!
But, then there is this whole other family. You see, I believe that what makes us family is not really blood relation at all. It is a common thread. Shared memories. Shared experiences. Something that ties your hearts together. And this family is special. Special because we are family by choice. People like Stephanie and Julie and Elizabeth. Emily and Katy and Starla. These people are much more than just friends. They are my family.
And then there's you... This blogging community continues to amaze me. The encouragement and love that I feel from many of you makes me so grateful. I feel like I know some of you so well. I feel like I am part of your lives in some small way. And I equally feel you as part of mine. There are many ways in which I am connected to some of you. But the one common thread that I see among most of us is JESUS. He is that something, that someone that ties our hearts together.
Mary over at Owlhaven said it best about family once when she said "After all, doesn't a family start with 2 people who aren't even related?"
So true, Mary, so true.
Family. I'm glad for mine. For all of mine.
These are the ties that bind... Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Okay, just a reminder that the FIREPROOF MY MARRIAGE conference begins THIS Saturday. You should make every attempt to attend. And even if you don't live near here, you can still check and see if another church close to you will be hosting the simulcast. You can go here or here to get information about it. I know that it is an all day event, but the time invested will give you more of a return than you can imagine. If money is the issue, please don't let that stop you. Just get with me before you make that decision. (firstname.lastname@example.org) If you are planning on traveling here, please let me know. I would LOVE to be able to see some of you! Let's put football aside for once and put our marriages and God first!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
We all like discovering new things about our areas of interest. Whether it's football (GO DAWGS!!!), or sewing, or gardening or cooking, whatever it is we like learning about it and have a deep desire to know more.
All of those things are great and it's good to have areas of outside interest and be knowledgeable on the subject. But, how well do you know your spouse? How much do you know about him/her?
Remember back in the day... you know, when you were dating? You always felt like you couldn't get enough of being around them. You felt like you were learning something new everyday. I remember when Frank and I started dating 14 1/2 years ago. I won't tell you how old I was cause that would give away my age, but we spent every waking moment together filling our noggins with any and every piece of information we could about the other. I was working and going to school. Frank was working and going to school. We both participated in the theater at college (we did go to the same college for a little while). Needless-to-say, we had very, very full schedules. However, it didn't matter. As soon as practice would be over, we would go out for a while or he would come back over to my house. My parents loved him so they always let him stay as late as he wanted. We laughed all the time. I'm not sure now if he really was that funny or if I just wanted him to think that but... well, anyway. Most nights we would fall asleep watching a movie or something on TV and he would leave around 1am or 2am. Then we would start all over the next day. Do you know what would happen to me now if I tried to maintain that kind of schedule? Shesh! I don't know how we did it.
Yes, I do. We had such a deep desire to know and understand each other. This quote was in the movie and is also in the book. I think it is worthy of repeating. if the amount that you studied your spouse before marriage were equal to a high school diploma, then you should continue to learn about your mate until you gain a college degree, a masters degree and ultimately a doctorate degree.
WOW! All that studying I did beforehand... That really puts what I should be doing now into perspective.
If we are missing the level of intimacy that we once shared together, then one of the best ways to unlock their hearts is to begin studying them again. Proverbs 18:15 says The ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Ask questions. Listen to them. (break out that HDT if you need to!) Ask God for discernment in understanding where your spouse is coming from.
Here is what I had to do today: PREPARE A SPECIAL DINNER AT HOME, JUST FOR THE TWO OF YOU. FOCUS ON GETTING TO KNOW YOUR SPOUSE BETTER. DETERMINE TO MAKE IT AN ENJOYABLE EVENING FOR BOTH YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE.
Since there was NO way the kids were going to be shipped off for the evening (they are already going to be away this weekend. I didn't want to be greedy. Well, I wanted to, but I just didn't feel like pushing it!) I decided that we would just wait until the kids went to bed to have a nice dinner. AND we had already rented a movie over the weekend that we hadn't watched yet so perfect!! I cooked something really nice (it was the chicken pesto spirals! recipe is on this blog) which just happened to turn out GREAT! We didn't talk about the kids a lot over dinner. And it was just nice enjoying some conversation without having to cut someones food or tell them to "EAT" for the 1984th time. We watched the movie and even sat next to each other on the couch instead of retreating to our favorite chairs. And the movie was a comedy, so we laughed A LOT! I will spare you the details of the remainder of the evening *wink*, but I'm pretty sure it was an enjoyable evening for both!
I realized that even though we have been together for a long time, there is always undiscovered territory. I just have to take the time to learn about it... and then go conquer it!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Frank and I struggle in this area. Or at least I struggle with this. I am sure just like many of you that we have things in our marriage that have come up over and over and over again. Sometimes those things will change for a little while, but they are never permanent changes. Most of the time there will be a HUGE fight about one of them and then I will end up talking about it to a close friend.
It does drive me crazy. There aren't that many things anymore, but there are a few issues that rear their ugly head every once in a while. And the arguments about them sound just the same every time. I wonder to myself during those moments if things will ever change.
Obviously, my methods have not been working. And I have tried most all of them from the super sweet and nice to the... uhm... not so nice or sweet. Maybe it's time to try a different way.
You see, a farmer can not make his seeds grow into a productive crop. He can't will it, nag it, manipulate it, deceive it, argue it, or demand it to grow and produce. But there are some things that he can do to help it. He can choose the fertile soil, he can give it nutrients and water it, he can protect it from weeds, and then turn it over to God and let Him do the rest.
We could learn a lot from the farmer. If we could do the same thing in our marriages, what would happen? No matter what kind of soil I am working with, I have to prepare for the rain and plan for success.
The key to that success is prayer. No surprise right? Yet, most of the time, it's not our first choice. This kind of prayer is more than just a half-hearted "God help me" or better "God help him!" It's turning to Him before I turn to someone else to gripe about what Frank has done or not done. God already knows anyway. However, prayer does work best when it comes out of love and a humble heart. Don't forget that part.
Have you ever wondered why God lets us have such a clear picture of our spouse's faults? Why can't love really be blind? Is it so that we can nag them to death to get them to change? We all know the answer is "No". It is for effective praying. Nobody else knows what the needs of your spouse is better than you so why do we let others do the praying for us? Nagging is NOT what changes a heart. Prayer is.
The dare for today is to BEGIN TO PRAY FOR YOUR SPOUSE'S HEART. PRAY FOR THREE SPECIFIC AREAS WHERE YOU DESIRE GOD TO WORK IN YOUR SPOUSE'S LIFE AND IN YOUR MARRIAGE.
I need to pray for Frank more. I know from experience that my way of trying to change him doesn't work. And really, it's probably because it's not my job anyway to change him. It's God's. Only He can change a heart. Only He can produce the kind of true and lasting changes that are needed.
So, my prayer during those times should be "God, change him or change me" One of those has to happen. Either God has to change Frank's perspective or He is gonna have to change mine so that I can be content in the situation. Because, believe it or not, sometimes... I can be the one who needs changing...
Saturday, October 25, 2008
My sweet friend JL over at Southern Sassiness just gave me this award! Never had one before! And I have to say... it made me smile very big when I saw that she had picked me! So thanks, Jerri Lyn!! She was actually one of the very first blogs that I added to my list. So go check her out!
I am passing this along to other ladies that always have stories that make me laugh, gives great tips, and touches my heart!
The Accidental Traveler (Kate) you always inspire me...
Davisix (Ang) I love adoption... and I need a fellow horse-lover!
Dream.Imagine.Live (Keli) you always make me laugh... need I say G string???
Now, pass on the goodness!!
And my husband did a FABULOUS job cooking. Normally my FIL does it but he had surgery on Wednesday for his shoulder so he was out!! My husband and Ryan cut up app 120 chicken quarters and cleaned them. They were cooked on FIL's huge rotisserie and then hubby cooked I don't even know how many fried chicken strips for the kids and a TON of french fries in the big fryer! He also got the trailer ready and loaded with hay for the kids to have a ride and put up with me and the way that I like to have things done *wink wink* . He was great and I love you very much honey!! (whenever you are allowed to read this you will appreciate it)
So a fun time was had by all. We even had a small little "party after the party" with some of our most favorite friends!! Got to sit around inside where it was nice and warm and hang out for a while. Some pictures are below. I didn't take that many because... well, I was kind of busy!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Here is the challenge for today: WHAT NEED DOES YOUR SPOUSE HAVE THAT YOU COULD MEET TODAY? CHOOSE A GESTURE THAT SAYS "I CHERISH YOU" AND DO IT WITH A SMILE.
Typically, when we are having a big function out here, the garage gets a thorough cleaning out because we do most of our parties outside. However, the garage did NOT get cleaned out before yesterdays bash. Hubby decided that he would do it today so that he did not have to worry about it for next weekends party. (yes, we are having another one) When he got home from work around lunch time, he got started. He worked all afternoon. I would have helped but alas, I used the kids naptime to go to the grocery store... alone. Needless to say, when he got finished around 6:15 or so he was exhausted. Didn't even want anything to eat.
So, my gesture for him was that I went and gave the kids a bath when they finished supper. No big deal, right? Man, yall sure are getting some insight into the way our family works! It IS a big deal, trust me! Frank is the bath-giver for all the children in the house. I'm not really sure anymore how he got that job, but I can assure you he did not pick it. I don't know why neither one of us want to do it. Well, I kinda do.
Jackson is old enough to get a shower by himself so he is not really the issue. It's the 2 little ones. They get a bath together to speed the process along. And there is always drama involved. Someone isn't sharing some toy (which is a whole other issue) or trying to dump water on the other, or trying to drink all the water. Someone is splashing too much and getting the bather all wet or it's all over the floor. Somehow, Frank ended up with the job. He doesn't like it. But, he faithfully does it everyday.
So, instead of telling Frank that the kids were done with supper and ready for a bath, I just did it for him. It WAS a labor of love. And I made the coffee again. Double whamy! He noticed and was very appreciative.
Consider these stories: I have a car. The car is a bit run down and has not been working right for a while. I take it to the mechanic. The mechanic tells me a list of things that is wrong with the car and that the repairs are going to be very expensive. I decide instead of spending all that money on a car that hasn't been working in a long time that I will put it into a new car that will be dependable. Makes sense, right?
Story #2: While I am working on a tractor, my hand gets smashed by a piece of equipment. I go to the doctor. They take some xrays and tell me that the bones in my hand are crushed and the surgery will be costly. However, I know that it is necessary to fix my hand so I spend all of my savings to have the surgery. Then spend the next several months in rehab. Also makes sense, right? (these stories were paraphrased from the book)
The problem today is that many of us treat our marriages like story #1. When things are going bad and the "repairs" are going to be very, very costly, we sell out. Instead, we should be looking at our marriages like the 2nd story. Sadly, we don't always view our marriages as "part" of us.
We can not let our culture determine the value of our marriage. To compare it to something that can be replaced or tossed aside is to dishonor God's purpose for marriage. That would be like cutting off that broken hand. Instead, our marriages should be a picture of 2 imperfect people choosing to love each other, NO MATTER WHAT!
When you are looking at your spouse, you are looking at a part of yourself. And we all like to treat ourselves well, right? Let's make sure we are cherishing our spouses for who they are, not who we wish they were.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Lets talk about unconditional love. I thought when I was first married that my love was unconditional. Guess what?? It wasn't. As long as Frank was doing what I wanted him to and treating me like I felt I deserved to be treated, we rocked along just fine. That is NOT what true love is. It is not based on feeling or conditions or whether or not the other deserves it.
When someone asks you what you love about your spouse, what do you say?? Most of us probably list some things like they are good provider, kind, honest, helpful (maybe on this one *he-he*), good looking, things along that line. If the reasons that we say we love them are all based on some quality that they have, then when that particular quality disappears.. our whole basis for loving them disappears too.
Only unconditional love can last forever, your whole lifetime. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one CHOOSING to love. WOW!! I don't know about you, but that one hit me like a sack of taters!
It's the same thing with God. God doesn't love us because we are all so lovable but because he is so loving. If God required us to prove ourselves worthy of His love, then none of us would have it. The love of God is a choice He makes totally on His own.
If you say that you have fallen out of love, then in essence what you are saying is that you never loved them unconditionally to begin with. That love was based on circumstances and feelings rather than commitment. Unconditional love will not be deterred by time or circumstance.
I Corinthians 13: 7 says Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things... You can't love like that on your own. It has to come from God. Because we don't have on our own what it takes to make it through all the "conditions" of a marriage.
Today I was supposed to DO SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY FOR YOUR SPOUSE. SOMETHING THAT PROVES TO YOU AND TO THEM THAT YOUR LOVE IS BASED ON YOUR CHOICE AND NOTHING ELSE.
This one was kinda hard for me. Given the events of the day today (getting ready for the party tonight) I wasn't even sure if I would be able to actually do this one today or if I would have to wait until later this weekend. But, what I did was to take care of all of the details of the party today myself, instead of having Frank do a bunch of stuff when he got here. Now, I didn't do them all by myself, because I just couldn't. So, I did have some help. But, Frank didn't have to do anything.
He called me on his way out here to find out what all he would need to do. I told him nothing, just to come on home. He said "What??" He then proceeded to go through his list that was in his head I guess. Pick up anything from the store? Nope. Already did it. Go get the tables? Nope. Already done that. Get the wood for the bonfire? Nope. Did that too. Set up the tables? Nope. Finished. Let's just say I think he was shocked that he had nothing to do. (he did cut the grass yesterday. in the dark!)
So, I don't know if it really mattered or not. I didn't see fireworks or anything, but I'm used to that. But, it did make me feel good to be able to take care of everything for him!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
It started this morning when loving husband woke me up at 5:55am to tell me he was leaving and I needed to get up so I wouldn't fall back asleep. This is the most hated part of my relationship with Frank. See, if I have failed to mention, he is a morning person... I am NOT! Maybe if he didn't sound so stinking cheerful at that time of the morning it might go over better. Since I already knew what the dare for the day was gonna be, I intentionally made sure my tone was nice when I said to bug off. No, just kidding. I didn't say that. I thought it, but I didn't say it! I told him thank you and I would be up in a few minutes and not to worry. Did you hear that?? I said "thank you" at 5:55am!!! Miracles never cease :)
I went about my day and as the time drew closer for Frank to get home, again I had the fleeting thought of this dare stuff getting harder. Frank came home and let's just say it was obvious that he was NOT in a good mood. Bad day at work. He confirmed his bad day at work with his bad attitude towards me and his snippy tone of voice. Sadly, I did not find that HDT in time. I didn't really say anything ugly, but my tone wasn't very nice. So, same thing. However, this time I did catch myself a lot sooner. And, I just shut my mouth. Normally, I would just keep going until it escalated into something completely ridiculous. (shocking I know) But this time I didn't.
Something amazing happened. Within a very few minutes, Frank came to me and said he was sorry! I couldn't believe it! Most of the time, he would just act like it never happened. I would then huff and puff for the rest of the evening until such time I could no longer stand it. I would then proceed to bring everything back up PLUS some more that I felt didn't get resolved the last time... or the time before that. But this time, HE nipped it in the bud so to speak. When before, I really needed him to gravel when he said he was sorry, and most of the time that wasn't enough; this time, it didn't really take anything for me to be over it. It did make me stop and think about how often I make my attitude dependant on his. Sad. I know. But I bet a lot of us do that. Over the past week, Frank has been great. So things haven't seemed that hard where the dare is concerned. But the ONE time that Frank had a bad day and attitude to match, I failed. It got harder, and I failed. I chose to respond in an unloving way. Regardless of his attitude and how he was treating me in the moment. At least I shut my mouth quicker than I normally would.
I don't know if it was him or if it was me getting better or maybe even a combination of the two, but over the last several weeks, I have been studying about forgiveness. And our lack of it.. Whereas before, I needed to have Frank apologize and I needed to see that he was in fact really sorry BEFORE I would offer forgiveness, now I realize that was in fact probably a lot of the problem. See, Jesus never intended for it to work that way. I don't give forgiveness because the other person deserves it. I should especially extend forgiveness when they don't. Our relationships are not supposed to be based on what we deserve. More times than not... they are.
We often times don't think about the way we greet each other as being very important. In fact, I bet most of us don't really give it much thought at all. The tone we have first thing in the morning, the look on our face when we are speaking to each other, even the way we speak to each other on the phone.
When someone makes you feel like they are glad to see you or glad to be around you, your sense of self worth increases. It makes you feel valued and important. Too often I am distracted when Frank comes home. I don't make eye contact. I'm shouting "Hey!" over the noise of the CIRCUS people. What is my priority?? I want Frank to feel important and valued in the same way that I want to feel that.
It starts with a simple greeting. It's about making an effort, really. Whether in person or on the phone, I need to reflect that I am glad to see/hear him. And even though I may not have greeted him the way I really wanted to this morning *wink wink*, I know that part of my showing love is to love him in the greeting.
So, say good morning with a smile...