Friday, September 30, 2011

This Weekend's Musing

"I don’t think we’re nearly as helpless as we often believe ourselves to be. That’s not the same as saying that relationships are easy, that your problems are all in your head, or that solutions are just around the corner. Other people’s actions definitely can affect our emotions. But blaming someone else for all your problems is never going to help. Taking control of what you can, though, certainly can’t hurt. It’s like the serenity prayer all over again: help me to change the things I can, accept the things I cannot, and wisdom to always know the difference. Change what you can. You just may be surprised at what changes in return."
Shelia Wray Gregoire, "Taking Back Control"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wifey Wednesday: Thank You

I listened to The Stupendous Marriage Show yesterday...a great new podcast all marrieds should check out!  The hosts of the show Stu and Lisa Gray talked about communicating better with your husband and referenced an article they heard about from John Tesh that I tried to find, but couldn't despite my digging.  Hence no "reader" quote for the day (and I'm too lazy to listen to the podcast again to come up with the quote I'm thinking of!)

At any rate, the Grays mentioned how important it is for husbands (and men in general, I presume) to hear the words, "Thank you."  Men feel acknowledged and respected when wives thank them, and it empowers them in other areas of life if they know they have their wife's gratitude.  Out of all the tips in the podcast, this is one thing my husband and I have started to do for each other.  He thanks me for making breakfast or dinner...usually anything associated with food!  I try and remember to thank him for taking out the trash twice a week.  Even though these are little things, the gratitude and acknowledgement we have been able to show each other has really helped us grow closer. 

I think this practice has helped us be grateful for the little things and remember that we married someone we love and who really is kind and caring (despite what our thoughts tell us sometimes!)  Even in stressful times, if we notice the routine things we do for each other, it has helped us remember why we married: because we found the best, kindest, cutest co-ed on the block...and we are thankful.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's off to work we go...

"I think that, deep in our hearts, we think life is supposed to be about having nothing to do at all.  That life is supposed to be about leisure.  And it's not.  Yes, you do have to cook.  Yes, you have to do the laundry. Yes, you have to get ready for friends coming over.  But all of these things are part of a rich life.  You only have to work because you have people and things to work for."
-Shelia Wray Gregoire, Is Motherhood Really That Hard?

You may remember my 11 pm blog post last week about all of us being sick.  We are all finally over it aside from my daughter still having a runny nose.  Most of that week was spent doing housework in 15 minutes spurts, watching lots of Sesame Street and baby sign language videos and trying not to beat myself up because I didn't finish the FlyLady's cleaning list for the master bedroom (that was the week's zone).  However, now that another week has rolled around, I am feeling tempted to do the same thing.  I want to spend my whole afternoon on Facebook and forget about folding the laundry.

The above quote was a nice kick in the pants this morning.  Not because I believe life is about leisure.  Sometimes I forget to have fun (remember the "fun-killer" post?).  But it was great to be reminded that I have work to do because I have people and things to work for.  I have a lovely husband and beautiful daughter.  I have a house to live in.  I have a yard, flowers and an overweight Old English Sheepdog.  All of these things require my work.  I can chose to go about my day with an attitude of resentment, thinking that these people, animals and things are cutting into my "leisure time", or I can choose to work hard and remember that I am serving my family and community.  These are people and things God has blessed me with and I want to give Him glory by working hard for them and with them.

On that note, I'm off to fold towels and possibly wrap/hide a few Christmas presents!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wifey Wednesday: Losing it

"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
-Jesus, Matthew 10:39

My whole family is sick.  Baby, husband and me.  Although I think baby may just be teething, but she is miserable nonetheless.  I have a sore throat and can't sleep.  I'm currently writing this post at 11:04 p.m.

I know that 7 a.m. is coming.  My husband will need to get up for work.  He will need breakfast.  Baby will wake up around then or before.  She will be hungry and need a diaper change.  There is housework to be done, books to be read, meals to prepare, toys to be played with.  In all honesty, all I want to do is hide under the covers and never come out.  But that's not what Jesus calls me to do.  Instead of indulging my selfishness, He wants me to lose "my life".  I think we all know what that means: our plans, our agendas, our wants.  So much of that can take over in all aspects of our lives.  In our marriage, it can look like we are standing up for ourselves.  But are we really doing that when we whine at our husband's requests, roll our eyes at his ideas and suggestions, or refuse to make him that bowl of popcorn at the end of a hectic day?

I'm preaching to myself here.  Instead of losing it in the sense that he doesn't care about our wants, desires or feelings, can we trust God to care for us while we care for our husbands and families, even when we aren't at our physical or emotional peak?  Can we know that as we pour ourselves out for others, God will sustain us and give us moments of grace and rest when we need it the most?  I'm banking on that tomorrow.

I fully intend on losing it...losing "my life" for my husband and family for the sake of Christ's glory. He will care for me, so I will care for those I love.

And I'll make some Italian wedding soup in the slow cooker and take it easy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This World is Not my Home?

'If God were to end history and reign forever in a distant Heaven, Earth would be remembered as a graveyard of sin and failure.  Instead, Earth will be redeemed and resurrected. In the end it will be a far greater world, even for having gone through the birth pangs of suffering and sin-yes, even sin.  The New Earth will justify the old Earth's disaster, making good out of it, putting it in perspective.  It will preserve and perpetuate Earth's original design and heritage."
-Randy Alcorn, Heaven

  After a year of hearing friends sing the praises of Randy Alcorn, I finally found one of his books at the local library.  I bought Heaven is for Real as a Christmas gift for a family member, and I thought reading Heaven would be a nice accompaniment to it.  On a more random note, I always get this song stuck in my head every time I pick up the book.  But I digress...

  This book gives me a lot to think about in terms of life after death as a Christian.  So far, the biggest impact for me has been the idea that Heaven and Earth will not be separated when Christ comes.  Alcorn sites Revelation 21 to support this argument: that God's dwelling place will be with man and that God, instead of destroying the Earth, will redeem it with His presence (Alcorn does argue that there is a sort of intermediate Heaven where Christians who die before Christ's coming will dwell until His return).  It made me think of the "already, but not yet" principle we would always discuss in my theology classes: how God's Kingdom is here through the Church, but not fully here until Christ returns.  Doesn't it make sense that when Christ does return, instead of destroying all that He has enabled his Kingdom followers to do, he fully redeems it, taking away all the sin and pain that comes along with life as we know it?  

  Kind of makes all of our actions here on this Earth a little more important, doesn't it?  We can't stop taking care of the Earth if it isn't going to pass away.  We can't become separatists.  We need to be engaged in Kingdom activity on this Earth because it will always be our home.  This perspective has led me to pray a prayer that Alcorn encourages all believers to pray in light of Christ's return:  Lord, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17) All those little and big efforts we put forth for the Kingdom of God and His glory will not pass away, but be redeemed when Christ comes back.  That is so encouraging to me as I stumble along, trusting God and doing what He leads me to do.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This Weekend's Musing

"If God had wanted to consign us to Hell and start over, He could have.  He could have made a new Adam and a new Eve and sent the old ones to Hell.  But He didn't.  Instead, He chose to redeem what He started with-the heavens, Earth and mankind-to bring them back to His original purpose.  God is the ultimate salvage artist.  He loves to restore things to their original condition-and make them even better."
-Randy Alcorn, Heaven

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wifey Wednesday: Know Thyself

"Be acquainted, then, with thine own heart: though it be deep, search it; though it be dark, inquire into it; though it give all its distempers other names than what are their due, believe it not."
-John Owen, quoted in this great blog post, emphasis mine

How many times have we girls been told to "follow our heart?"  This holds true in many facets of life, but it makes a big appearance in romantic relationships.  I fell into it.  It's so easy to make decisions or assumptions based on our emotions (that's what *most* women do, right?)  It's so easy to assume in our hearts that our husband did (or didn't) do something because he wants to "get back" at us, because he doesn't love us, because he's selfish, etc. etc. etc.

Don't be so sure.  We can't trust our own hearts to make judgments in our relationships.  The wise prophet Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9).  We can make assumptions out of our own hearts that aren't really true and end up hurting our relationships in the long run.  The solution?  Like Owen says, "believe it not".  Know your tendencies.  Do you get depressed and withdrawn when your husband disappoints you?  Do you lash out in anger?  I challenge you to step back in those sorts of situations and take a look at what is going on in your heart.  Then, instead of making that assumption, take a break from the situation.  Think about your husband's perspective.  Pray.  Take a deep breath.  Talk with your husband about your feelings and reactions so you can understand him and yourself a bit better.  And instead of trusting your heart, know the wickedness inside of it and entrust yourself to Jesus.  He is the one who can change you and help you understand yourself and your husband more and more each day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Choosing to Age Gracefully

"As we pass through the Land Between, it is critical to recognize that not simply the hardship, but also our reaction to the hardship, is forming us....our responses both reveal the person we are and set the trajectory for the person we are becoming.  Whether we age with grace and poise or become bitter, resentful people is largely determined by our response to disappointment and the habits of response that often result."
-Jeff Manion, The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions, emphasis mine

My sister lent me this book...she found it at a store during a point in her life where she was experiencing what we all know as a "hurry up and wait" :  Waiting for her last semester of grad school and student teaching to start with a thesis to be done and a job to be found.  She has recommended the book to many friends, but graciously lent it to me first :)   It's an easy read focusing on those moments in life where something cataclysmic happens (i.e. unemployment, death in the family, illness, etc.) and how to deal with the aftermath.  I think it would be safe to say that the above paragraph is the main gist of the book. 

When I read the quote for the first time, I couldn't help thinking of the older people that would come to the deli when I worked at Wegmans.  Most of them were a joy to serve, but some of them were really grumpy.  If you were too slow, if you didn't cut the meat right, if the pound was just a little over, they let you know it.  These people have not aged gracefully. It always made me sad to see them angry about a piece of meat.  According to Manion, these people have developed the habit of responding in that way, and that's what made them bitter and angry people.  I don't want to be like or when I'm old and ordering my pastrami at the local deli.  I would instead like to take my disappointments (big and small) and cast them on God (1 Peter 5:7 ).  I want to cultivate that habit so I can let God shape me through my hardships and disappointments, grow closer to Him as I bring them to His feet and as a result grow old gracefully.  And maybe give those poor deli workers a break :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

This Weekend's Musing

"What I've found is that you make time for the things that matter to you.  Everyone has the time.  It's just a question of deciding what to do with that time.  For some people, it's providing for their family.  For others, it's finding that precarious balance between taking care of business and the soul-work of being there for husband, children, friends and neighbors."
-Susan Wiggs, The Goodbye Quilt