Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thank you for making my night!

Oh, yet another reason to love social networking. Hadn't been keeping up on FB for awhile and so glad I went on tonight. This video reminded me exactly why the fight is worth it. Someday- I want to look Steve in the eye, and tell him how glad I am that I've loved him...after 62 years. My friends, DO WHAT it takes to make it work. "Love is a Battlefield" is so true, so pick up your weapons, hold up the shields and DON'T QUIT.

Nehemiah said it perfectly when he was attempting to encourage the people of Israel as they tried to rebuild after great devastation. Our marriages in this century face an onslaught of devastation and heart break bigger than any war- I hope we all hear his words and hold them close to our hearts. FIGHT for your family- it will be SO worth it!

"Don't be afraid... Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."Nehemiah 4:14

Reminder- pause the music before you play the video!

"An elderly couple walked into the lobby of the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and spotted a piano. They've been married for 62 years and he'll be 90 this year. Check out this impromptu performance. We are only as old as we feel, it's all attitude. Enjoy! They certainly do!"

Thanks for the link, Debbie!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Umm..yeah. They're mine."

Ever embarrassed to admit that something belongs to you? Clunker car, bad shoes, crazy kids? Something happened, something was said and you wish for just one minute you were someone else? Whatever it might be- sometimes we all feel like we are coming up short. If you haven't ever felt like that, please don't tell me because then I will have to try harder to like you.

This last week was one where I was constantly trying to get ahead of the curve, running as hard as I could- but when I looked up, I was still miles from the bend in the road. I felt a lot like Katherine Brooke in Anne of Green Gables when she said, "There is no bend in my road, Anne. I can see it stretching straight out in front of me to the skyline". Teen years are upon me and I feel like they are going to last forever. I keep thinking where is my sweet, goofy daughter, where is my lover boy son? That's when God reminded me that the real problem is my focus. Where my eyes are.

Living is such a chore some days, and such a beautiful thing other days. Our pastor, Scott Roberson, said something Sunday that really struck my tired heart and reminded me that there IS a bend in my road soon, and my final destination is going to be amazing. Talking about how frustrating it is to be human, to be so inconsistent- he said "God's faithfulness continues even when our faith falters." I can beat myself to a pulp over my lack of faith, my sins, my failings- but God's grace is more than sufficient to cover all of that. Instead of feeling discouraged when I look at my goofs, I could be ENCOURAGED when I look at God's GLORY. He reminded us of the story of Abram- the one where he pawned his beloved Sarai off to Pharaoh's harem to save his own tail. Nice, right? He was afraid to tell them that she was his wife because he thought they would want her so bad they would kill him to get her. (She must have been quite the hottie at 75 years of age for him to be worrying about that.) If I wrote that history, I would be sure Abram got at least 50 lashes for being such a loser...and maybe kicked in the "vitals" by a donkey- just for good measure. Wanna know how God let that story play out? "He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels." (Genesis 12:16)

SERIOUSLY? Abram gets rich because he is pretending to be her brother? You have GOT to be kidding me! Nope, that is exactly what happened. Once Abram gets Sarai back, thanks to God's mighty hand of course- it literally says "Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold." (Genesis 13:2) Amazing, I know. In the midst of our doubts and fears, God chooses to bless and protect us. Oh, that does my heart good. When I choose to look at the dangers and respond in fear- I totally mess things up. But God can and does BLESS me anyway. Wow...and wow. Thank you, Father for that amazing reminder. Thank you for putting my focus back on your goodness, your faithfulness and your never ending love. Thank you that when the obstacles of life want to derail my hope- all I have to do is look at You...and remember that You are consistent and ALWAYS GOOD. And thanks for the great laugh...if Abram can be that big of a goob and be called "righteous", maybe all my big "blow it moments" will still add up to me being called "beloved daughter". I like the way you wrote our story a lot better than the way I would have. :)

The photos are just to remind me that no matter what happens, no matter how old they get- my kids will always be totally incredible!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Laughing all the way.

One great thing about having an injury and being unable to do the normal things you do is the fact that you can read. A lot. This week sat me on my butt in a very literal sense (stupid spine). So I will have many fantastic book reviews for you. But this week also broke my heart in a very painful sense that taught me something important. And I think that is an amazing thing.

As I was working my way through Mark Gungor's book "Laugh Your Way to a better Marriage", I thought I was going to be working on my marriage. I had no idea that the learning I would get would help me through a huge parenting struggle this week. But we will get to that later. Reading Mark's words, I was literally laughing at times and squirming at others. The author really hits home with his frankness and honesty. You would have to be totally blind to read this book and not see the damage you have done to your marriage simply by not understanding one another. But that isn't a bad thing- seeing is believing, and this book shines light on an old battle in a refreshing way. The battle of the sexes. He said, she said. Misunderstandings early on, leading to bitterness, frustration, and the "Ultimate Standoff" as Mr. Gungor puts it. You will have to get the book to find out what that Standoff is about...I am blushing just thinking about typing it. Hahaha!

All in all, fantastically written, comical and easy to discuss. Of the many marriage books out there, I LOVE THIS ONE. Mark lays down the "Laws", discusses why "Men and Women are NOT Equal", and dares to challenge us to live differently...with love, understanding, and a "never say die" attitude. Borrow it, buy it, don't steal it- but get a copy. Now. You won't regret it.

My favorite concept was in the very last chapter, "The Reset Button". Oh, how I have dreamed of a reset button for my life. In marriage, if both people are willing to love with no limits and trust God to bless them through trials, we DO get a reset button. Check it out: "You want to give your marriage a chance for success? Get comfortable with this one simple phrase: Honey, I'm sorry..." Mark Gungor, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage pg 275. Easier said than done, right? But so worth it. Oh, those words are like magic pixie dust to my heart.

In my marriage, I can use those words. And this week God reminded me that I can make a reset button for my kids too. We had to deal with some huge bummers this week with one of our kids, and it was heartbreaking and surreal. Betrayal. Deceit. Lies. Forbidden. Damaging. It reminded me why I hate TV Dramas so much- who needs stupid Grey's Anatomy (try not to be offended if you love TV) when you have real life? Steve and I were shocked and shaken, but right when the initial impact happened, I read the chapter on "The Reset Button". And I realized how important it is for my kids that I give them a reset button. That when they screw up ROYALLY, and say they are sorry...I give them the chance to do it over. The consequences will be there, the hurts are still real- but their mistakes shouldn't define them, any more than my mistakes towards Steve should define me. I thought of King David in the Old Testament. He lied, cheated, stole another man's wife, murdered to cover his sin....and lost his son as a consequence. Heartbreaking and surreal. (2 Samuel 11-12) Yet, God remained with him and LOVED him...and called David a "man after God's own heart". I wish I could hear him- really hear him- say that about me. :)

If God can forgive like that- as perfect and righteous as He is, who am I to hold onto my anger and frustration? When my kids act like kids, I accept their apology but I want BLOOD. I want to see them REALLY sorry before I believe them. How lame is that? How ridiculous is that? God is a great and amazing Father, who disciplines with compassion and loves unconditionally. Oh, that he never gives any of us what we deserve! His grace and mercy blows me away. Father, make me like you.

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:16-17

To leave us all on a much happier note- flowers! My budget won't allow me to add this plant to my garden yet, but thought I would attach a photo of my girl's favorite winter bloomer- the hellabore. They are beautiful, just like her.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I am officially a citizen of Control/Fun Country. That's why Jacob makes so much sense to me!

Whirlwind life, whirlwind moments. I have been in such a holding pattern- waiting on word to go to Haiti, waiting on legal issues to be finalized with our awesome old landlord (total sarcasm), waiting on that perfect marriage I KNOW should be within my reach- and all the while wondering why waiting drives me crazy when Steve takes everything in stride. Well, guess what country he is a citizen of? Yep- the world of Fun/Peace.

What on earth is Renee talking about? Let me explain. We were introduced this weekend to a fantastic seminar called "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" by Mark Gungor. I will tell you all about that in another post once I finish the book, but during this seminar they told us about something called a "Flag Page". Skeptic that I am, I thought- here's another personality test, blah blah blah. Book lover that I am, I bought the book "Discovering Your Heart with the Flag Page" by Mark Gungor...just for curiosity. I couldn't be more pleased. This is not your run of the mill personality test. The goal of the "Flag Page" is to help you realize WHY you do the things you do, what positive traits motivate you. Sound cheesy? Fine, be a skeptic, but go to and do it anyways. I guarantee you, you won't regret it. (And if you do, I will pay you back the $12.50- it's THAT worth it!)

All in all, the page was great, and the book was a helpful addition. I wouldn't say you need the book to get the basics, Mark actually helps you through the website virtually, so you can hear him talking and telling you what to do step by step. (Or if you are from control country like me, you will immediately click "Hide Mark" and read it for yourself) The idea is a little too big for one blog post, but in essence the page tries to help you identify which "country" your heart most resonates with, and then which "adopted country" you can comfortably perform in- feeling good about the cultures, languages and behaviors of those places. The four countries are Control, Peace, Perfect and Fun...and you can just IMAGINE already where you and your family members might fit in! It will also give you an analysis of your strengths in five different "Talents" as you select words that put a smile on your face. It is really fun, really educational and really amazing to see how you, your spouse and even your kids tick. Just by seeing that Jazz is from Fun/Peace Country helped me relate to her better on Sunday and be more patient with the things that I use to think she did just to make me mad. Now I realize, it's just because we don't speak the same language all the time. (Of course, Control Country folks freely admit their language and culture is the best, but I am working on that! :)

Gave me lots to think about, lots to work on...but helped me appreciate who I am just the way God made me, and I don't feel like there is something essentially wrong with me because I see the world in black and white. I think I will have a little easier time tolerating those who are from other "countries" now too, understanding that they have God-given motivations that make them the wonderful way they are too. Try it, friends. You will LOVE it.

As I read about Jacob today it reminded me again how much Control Country is my home. I would have done exactly what he did. He was traveling back to Canaan after years away, and was about to meet up with his brother, Esau. (Genesis 32-33) Now- if you don't know, Esau had a bone to pick with Jacob. Jacob had stolen his birthright and his blessing, and back then- that was a big deal. So as Jacob gets ready for Esau to slaughter him and his children (Esau promised once his father was dead he would kill Jacob), he pleaded with God for His protection and mercy. I totally get that. "Um, God. I am worthless and screwed up big. But please protect me and keep the promise you made to take care of me always because I am your child and you are gracious and merciful. Please...please." Well, Jacob prayed and asked for God's intervention...and then he made a plan. Yep. Control Country folks always have a back up plan. "Don't wait for God to act, Jakey boy. Butter your brother up." So Jacob sends FIVE HUNDRED of his best livestock in herds ahead of him, and each time his brother meets up with a herd of animals the servants say "These are for you, Esau- because Jacob thinks you are the BOMB." Nice, right? Well, the story works out just dandy, but as I read it I felt kind of sorry for Jacob (and for me because I would have done the same thing!). Instead of waiting to see an awesome miracle by the hand of God, he took matters into his own hands. And now God doesn't get all the glory. We can't know 100 % if Esau's forgiveness and change of heart was because of God's intervention or Jacob's master planning. I know, I know, God's plan always prevails, but you get my drift, right? How cool would it have been if Jacob had waited to see how God would save him, Esau came cruising up with his "hundreds of men", and an angel of the Lord appeared before the two brothers and said "Kiss and make up or I will lop off your heads!" Now THAT would have been an awesome story. :)

God, help me to relax a little from Control Country and sit back and watch you work. I love it when You get your hands dirty in our's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So that is what happened to my chihuahua!!

Needed a laugh today...hope it brought you one. Click on the picture for the LARGE effect!