Friday, January 30, 2015

The Wise Woman's Advice on Marriage: Part One

I love Valentine's Day.  Pink, red and white bring a smile to my face!  I love love and celebrating love and....eating love.  Ha!  At this very moment I'm attempting to talk myself out of ordering a dozen Valentine's Day cookies from my friend Libby at OKCookieMomster.  Her sugar cookies are beyond.  And they're big. And they're beautiful.  I mean, if you are a sugar cookie person you know - there are sugar cookies and then there are sugar cookies.  Libby's melt in your mouth and have the best texture and taste.  If you're in Tulsa...find her.

If you've been married for more than one day, you know.  Love within marriage is sacred and thrilling but it does not come and stay without intention.  It's kind of like my mom and I joke, "If we aren't trying to lose weight...we're gaining it!" :)  If we're not mindful of a goal then the scale will just keep inching upward!  Ha! And the same is true of love....if we aren't mindful of it and in pursuit of it, it's likely not growing.  And a growing love within marriage is worth working for.  It's worth focusing on.  It's worth going after with all of your heart!

This year we get to celebrate our tenth anniversary!  I cannot believe it.  I'm loving how much excitement is building in my heart to get to celebrate the milestone with him!  Ten years.  Ten years of being married to this person who has helped me grow, who loves me, who likes me, who pushes my buttons, who believes in me and who causes me to grow in respect for him every year.  

I'm not the biggest self-help book reader.  But, I do search and seek out wisdom wherever I get a hint of it in the air.  Wisdom on marriage is so valuable!  At ten years in, I feel like I'm still in the thick of learning and so I hold onto the bits of encouragement that have been passed to me.  And there have been three women, who at three different times have given me wisdom that has really impacted how I think.  Ten years in, I can actually say that these pieces of wisdom don't just sound good....they have really helped me grow as a wife.  

Each week I'll focus on one of the three pieces of advice leading right up to the day before Valentine's Day.  Here we go!

The Wise Woman: Cheryl Booth (aka my mom, my friend and Mimi)

The Wise Woman's Advice: Let everyone play to his/her strengths within marriage.  Let each person bring his/her strength to the table on behalf of the unit.  

It sounds unbelievably simple!  But the longer I'm married the more I'm certain that it is anything but simple! Mom has proclaimed this truth for years but it takes a bit of marriage seasoning to really start getting what she's saying - or it did for me at least.  

I think of that one of life's great challenges is wrestling with the concept of 'normal.'  Normal is nearly always a figment of something we believe to be true but often doesn't pan out to be that consistently true.  And it tends to stir nothing but issues when it's applied to marriage!  

It is far too easy to have an idea of what a normal husband/wife does, is, or thinks/acts/responds like.  And often, we have that image in mind when we come to a point of conflict!  Everything inside of us wants to scream...."WAIT THIS ISN'T NORMAL!!!!!!"  

But normal is a love and life killer if ever there was one.

The more I lean in to my mom's wisdom, the better my marriage becomes.  I want to let myself play to my strengths within marriage...even if it's not what I consider normal.  And I want to let my husband out of the 'normal' box and let him fully be himself - playing to his strengths on behalf of us.  It all sounds so straightforward but my experience has been that this is a hard core choice you have to make at certain points.  

What if my strengths for our unit don't look like my other married friends strengths?  And therefore my marriage looks significantly different than her's does?  What if the way my strengths combine with his strengths look different from what it looked like for my parents and in the home I grew up in?  The list could go on and on....

When we talk about loving well, wouldn't this be included?  That we invite another to be fully who he is?  Bringing his strengths to the table and being celebrated for them instead of pondering endlessly why his/her strengths are different than someone else's?  I know that I so appreciate it when Zion welcomes my strengths instead of pondering my weaknesses.  It breathes such life into me!  

So here's to a piece of wisdom that continues to teach me so much.  Here's to my mom for practicing this truth so well.  And here's to embracing the combination of us within our marriages that makes each couple unique, quirky and strong!

Happy Friday y'all!  Happy Weekending!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Nice Talking Mommy

Another week conquered!  PRAISES!

Last weekend I went to a book study group that my mom is teaching on the book Shepherding Your Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.  My mom is pretty awesome.  Since I was heading out the door, Zion was doing the bedtime routine with Liam that night and I was getting ready to leave.  Liam's at the age where you can't really slip much past him.  It's much better to be straightforward with him, tell him where I'm going, why, when, etc.  So he and I were having some time together before I left and bedtime started.  He asked what I was getting ready for and I told him that I was going to a meeting for mommies.  We were going to learn how to be better mommies.  Thankfully, he accepted that reason (likely thinking to himself....'shooooot there couldn't be a better group for you girl!' Ha!) and I sensed his little brain was churning.  So as I reapplied powder, concealer and lipstick I asked him...what do you think we'll learn about being better mommies?  His instant, did not take a moment to think, reply? "You'll learn how to talk nice."

Out of the mouth of babes......

(At his first dentist appointment!)

Such a little window into his soul those words were!  Truthfully, I give myself multiple pats on the back because I KNOW how many times I want to be rougher with my tone or a little harsher with my words than I am.  I KNOW how much resistance and discipline I am exercising to not lose it at least once a day.  But this little man soaks up every single moment of communication we have.  His heart is waiting and watching.  And when I do lose it - you can see his heart in his eyes instantaneously.

Which, truly, is that not maddening?  Honest mom moment alert.  Don't ya just wish that you could go bonkers/lose-it/scream as loud as you'd wish in some moments and not cause little hearts to break?  No?  Just me?  :)  Sometimes I just want to let all the ugly come sprinting out and spill everywhere - loudly.  Like I really really want to.

We talk about talking kindly at home a lot.  It's as much for me as it is for him!  No matter how justified we feel in being harsh, or mean, or bluntly frustrated - little hearts are listening.  And big hearts are listening too!

If there is one thing I'm not, it's a perfectionist.  Frankly, I know that I am going to lose it as a mom.  I am.  I know that it is simply not realistic that I will or can avoid all moments of freak out entirely.  I had a mini-lose-it session last night over a toy filled room and a tripping occurrence.  There's really nothing like a toy filled room to all of the sudden push my buttons.  And it's not to say that I aim to have a sugar sweet voice all of the time because I think it's pretty important for little ears to be able to quickly tell when something is serious.  But, I have been given little hearts to steward.  To shepherd.

Sometimes I just need to remember that the way I use my voice impacts a certain three year old.  It's funny because he doesn't seem to react when I need to suddenly get very firm with my voice because he is disobeying or in danger.  But it's the dang 'lose-it' moments that seem to penetrate his heart.  The moments when he wasn't in the wrong...he just happened to be there when my limit was met.

So what's a not-perfectionist to do when I know it will happen again?  I just keep reminding myself that there is GRACE for me to step into in the moments when it seems that my limits have been far surpassed.  That there is literal grace for my mouth to stay shut.  For me to lean into Him instead of letting my mouth run.  And then...I humble myself and directly and clearly apologize to the little heart that all of the sudden became insecure because I felt I had to let it all out.

I'm sitting here a little amazed because this was not the blog post I sat down to write!  But as I wrote I realized that I missed the apology part last night!  So - listen - this one is for me.  This mama has an apology to make to a three year old after he's buckled in from school pick up.

So here's to the weekend!  Full of family which means full of opportunities to receive and give grace.  Full of opportunities to 'learn how to talk nice!'  We can do it!!!!!!

Happy weekending y'all,

PS....Talking nice does not equal a lack of honesty or firmly dealing with discipline issues as they arise :).  Two different things!  And all the mamas and papas said amen!!!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

January Sunshine and the Naked Christmas Tree

Hello, hello!

It is Friday.  The sun is shining in Tulsa.  The high is 61 degree today.  I mean breathe that in!  I'm sitting here at my old school computer and I keep getting distracted by the Christmas cards still taped to the door to my left.  When I was a little girl, I would literally sit down for an hour with the church directory and pour over the pictures.  The same pictures over and over again.  I love seeing people!  And I looooove looking at the families God has brought into our lives - again and again.  The cards always stay up until February :).  No shame!

And then of course there's the view to my right.  The naked Christmas Tree.  Ahhhhh yes.  I swim in a perfection deficit, like, all the time.  But hey, the ornaments are off and I celebrate that accomplishment!  LOL.  Hope this is making you feel a little better about the fact that Christmas has been long put away in your home :).  You're doing great!  Give yourself a little pat on the back if you're feeling so inclined.  I'm patting myself on the back for a non-ornamented tree :).

I so wish I had more than the little window of time that I do have to sit and write and interact with you.  The two-boy life is a busy life!  January has brought me the very welcomed feelings of getting into a groove and feeling like I'm back a little bit.  The fall was newborn zone of consciousness and then came the holidays and now here I am.  Shepherd is 3.5 months old.  Liam turns 3.5 years old on February 4.  We are all settling into the new normal and I am more thankful than words could ever express.  It is exhausting to feel overwhelmed all of the time!  LOL.  Now I just feel overwhelmed every other time, ha!  I smile as I type that - because it's true but it's also true what a huge difference just feeling overwhelmed every other time instead of every time makes!

So guess what?!  I have plans!  Isn't that delightful??  I'm starting work on a new mini-blog-series leading up to Valentine's Day...the three pieces of marriage advice that have been given to me that have made the biggest impact on my marriage.  I'm excited to simply recall them for myself and really ponder what it is to love and to give yourself to the ever-ending journey of learning to love.  There is no way under heaven I could be considered a marriage expert BUT I do get excited to talk about the gems of wisdom that have been given to me by some very wise women.  The series will start two weeks from today!

This is just a little ditty of a post today but there has been one bit stirring around inside of me to share today.  I've been camping in the first chapter of John this week.  It's loaded.  This verse keeps getting me:

John 1:14
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

My study Bible has a note on this verse that I have been pondering.  It says that the original Greek for 'dwelt among us' in the text is translated as 'pitched His tent.'  I LOVE THOSE WORDS.  He came.  He came and pitched his tent among us.  The very Word of God came as a man and set up camp in our imperfections.  He didn't just come and glide above us.  He didn't take a day away here and there to get a break from the craziness.  He pitched His tent with us.  All of that to provide a way to be intimate.  To be one.  My mind is still reeling.

So if you're like me, with a limited mental capacity for much more than when the baby should eat again and what that sound is the three year old is making, just keep it simple.  Ponder this truth with me!  The Word became man.  He came and pitched his tent.  He moved in right next door.  Now that's love.

Love y'all and happy weekending!