Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Word to the Weary...

Oh Friday, how we welcome you.  We open our arms wide, wider, widest and wrap you up in the tightest hug we have to give!  This Friday brings me a play date, a lunch with friends (both of which are possible because people are willing to come to me these'd think I have ten little people in my care instead of two!), a deep inhale in after a full week, and then the main man coming home tonight when we will get two precious boys in bed and then collapse on the couch for a sexy Friday night of catching up on Jimmy Fallon.

Because I just can't help of the Spencer boys as of late:

My mind has been on weariness this week.  How a long season all of the sudden stirs up a weariness of soul. How weariness can hit you in the face out of no where....chugging along just fine and then suddenly you're not fine.  As much as we would love to snap our fingers and quote the right Scriptures or discipline ourselves into the right frame of mind in order to produce shortness of just doesn't seem to work that way.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28, NLT).  Now I wonder why he would have spoken directly to the weary among us.....Hmmmm....perhaps a reminder to us that weariness is a part of being human and being not-God.  Which is most definitely me: not-God.  Weariness is a part of every journey and every race.  Ask any marathon runner - they get weary during that long run.  They reach points where it is only will power and muscle memory that keep their legs going.  Weariness is a part of the journey....but not the end of us.

What a promise!  Come to me....and I will give you rest.  If you've been a Believer for long, you can probably talk the talk quite convincingly.  Even to yourself!  But I try to stop myself dead in my tracks sometimes and ask myself if I am really coming to Him?  Am I bringing my weakness?  Am I focusing on my need of Him...or focusing on all of my questions and the seeming lack of answers?  I tell you what, that's the journey for me.  Learning to come to Him more and more.  More truly and more quickly.  Because He will give us rest.

If you're weary today, there is such hope.  My Dad always says that a season changes suddenly.  Out of nowhere.  In an instant.  Does that not give us hope?!  Seasons change!  They do.  And in an instant!

If you're weary today, take heart.  Perhaps it's just been a long week.  Or maybe it's been a long few months.  Or maybe it's more than that.  No matter the length of the journey, there is fresh grace today to come to Him.  He will be good to His word.

Happy weekending y'all!  Much love.  I'm working up the next series and pondering options.  Throw an idea my way if one pops in your mind!!!


P.S....Someday I will pay someone to edit these for me.  Ha!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three Minutes On A Friday

Happy Friday Y'all!

Short is where it's at today, my friend.  About three minutes of reading on your end....considerably and ridiculously more minutes on my end to write what will end up being three minutes of reading.

I've just wrapped up two weeks of the sicks in our house.  Liam was the first week, Shepherd was the second week.  It is moments like these that I am oh so deeply in touch with what my calling is not: the nursing field.  It amazes me to see how God helps me to be the mommy nurse when I need to be.  Thankful to be coming out of these two weeks and thankful my boys are recovering.

So if your week has been like mine at all, you're tired.  A little spent.  Mush brain all the way.

I'm pondering these words today from Psalm 91 from the Amplified version of the Bible:

He who [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].
I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!
For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

Ohhhhh yes.  She who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain STABLE and FIXED under the shadow of the Almighty.  He's able to be leaned on.  He's able to protect me.  He's able to cover me.  I so want to be found in that place, don't you?

Praying you have a good weekend.  May it be marked with reminders to dwell in the secret place of Him even if tons of activity swirls around you.  It's the deepest satisfaction out there.

I'm gearing up for the Oscars on Sunday!  Gan (my Grandmother) loved the dresses and now my mom and I do too.  Gan was a faithful Vogue subscriber for years and although I don't subscribe....I do just love love love seeing the dresses.  Can't wait to find my favorite this year!

Love y'all and happy weekending,

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Wise Woman's Advice on Marriage: Part Three

I tell you what, I could go on and on with this series because I am truly rich with wise women in my life. Carrie has taught me about carrying my own backpack in marriage and not picking his up to try to carry.  Rebecca gave me a particularly good piece of advice for the intimate element of marriage.  Dannelle reminds me to pray for my husband and how truly important it is.  Judy told me a story about nagging that has stuck with me for years.  The list could go on!

I have thoroughly enjoyed this little mini series on some of the best marriage advice that I've been given by wise women.  And I have so appreciated your comments and seeing that we are all tracking together on this journey called marriage.  Even the not married jewels!  So much truth about marriage can be applied to any relationship that is important to us.  If you want to check out part one on letting each spouse play to his/her strengths, click here.  And for part two, on the realities of being on the same team, click here.   It was so much fun to give a pot of cookies to Samantha, a friend for many years!  I wish I could have given one to each of you - that's how great they are.  Maybe next year.....ha!  When I've come into considerable money....

To wrap up this series, I wanted to share a piece of advice given to me by one of my mom's dearest friends, just before I got married.  It comes back to me all of the time and has proven true repeatedly.

The Wise Woman: Rachel Samuelson

The Wise Woman's piece of advice: You hold your husband in the palm of your hand.  Speak words of life to him, and you will be shocked by how much of an impact it makes on him.  

Rachel went on to elaborate and I will paraphrase what she said:

"Abi, I have been married for ten years now and I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that Mike has absolutely blossomed since we got married.  I have chosen to speak into him with encouragement, affirmation and words of life instead of the opposite and it is astonishing to see how much he has grown since we got married.  YOU hold your husband in the palm of your hand.  You can crush him or you can watch him grow."

Whoa.  You can crush him OR you can watch him grow.  I don't think that she was saying to avoid confrontation so that you'd never say a hurtful thing to your spouse.  I think she was saying - 'You have no idea how powerful your words to your husband are.  Don't underestimate how much he feeds on the words of life. And not just anyone's words....your words carry an impact that no one else's have.'

(Let's take a moment to discuss the above picture.  Weird.  Is it a jello heart?  Whatever.  I saw it and couldn't pass it up :)

I was watching part of the IF: Conference this past weekend and I saw a part where Bob and Maria Goff were interviewed.  He said something so very striking.  He said, 'Women, guys are the funniest people.  It's basically like this: if you say it about us or to us, we will become it.  If you remark on our integrity, more integrity will come out.  If you praise our gentleness, we will become more gentle....etc.'

Again, I think the word whoa is the only appropriate response.  Whoa.

The instant Rachel's words hit my ears I knew there was truth in them.  I have the capacity to do one of two things to Zion, as his wife.  One, I can stunt him and shut him down with my words.  Or two, I can breathe life into who he is destined to be and to the beauty and strength I see inside of him.  I have certainly missed the mark in this area on countless occasions.  Not one of us is perfect and thank you LORD that You have mercy over our humanity.  But I every time I have chosen to directly speak life into him, the fruit is there.  I mean, who wouldn't grow from that?!

I think it should be noted that this isn't meant to be utilized in a manipulative sense.  I.E. I want you to load the dishes so I tell you how much I love your dish loading expertise and overall dish loading sexiness.  That is self-serving.  Instead, this is a conscious choice to be the best that you can be to your teammate and to call out the best in him.  Imagine a track team.  One teammate heads out to do her individual part of the race.  Is the rest of the team sitting passively on the sidelines?  I'm thinking not.  I'm thinking they are on the sidelines narrowly watching the teammate's run around the track and screaming out encouragements as she passes in front of them...."Go! Yes! Great corner! You're almost there! Lean in!  You've got this."  We are calling each other to run our races well.  And the more we focus on calling out the strength inside of our teammate, the stronger he becomes...every single time.

Here's another running example.  Have you ever run a race that was hillier than you expected it to be?  By the time you see the finish line your muscles are quivering and you really feel like you may not be able to make it across that line.  Never mind running....walking seems to be the only feasible option.  But then your eyes fall on the crowd that has gathered at the finish line and by the grace of God, somehow you find the people that you know who have come to cheer you across that line.  They are waiving arms in the air and yelling as loud as they can, smiling and cheering you.  I tell you what, no matter how much quit your body is fighting off, there is something about hearing those specific voices break through the other cheerleaders.  Everything inside of you grabs on to the sight of them and to the sound of their voices and you breathe in oxygen and push.  Where the energy comes from is a mystery, but there is a sudden urge to run as if your legs are fresh and you find yourself sprinting to the finish line.  Only God knows how those cheering voices have the power to flood your body with desire to run across that finish line with everything you have left.  But they do.

It's a holy thing to hold someone in the palm of your hand.  And as a wife, it is something to lean into the Lord for.  I want to partner with what the Lord thinks of Zion and let that fuel my words to him instead of offering words out of flattery.  Simple prayers like, 'Lord give me your me to have your words...' yield results that sometimes surprise even you.  And mercy, I don't want to crush him.  I don't think we should be obsessed over whether or not we are going to be the end of our spouse with our words.  After all, we don't have ultimate power over anyone or anything - thank goodness.  But it is so right to acknowledge that our words have deep impact on our men.  And they do have the capacity to bring more life to them instead of more doubt to them.

Happy Valentine's Day Weekend!!!!!!!!!  I love celebrating love!  And I have loved focusing on some of the great marriage advice that's been given to me from very wise women over the years.  Thank you for reading! To those who are married and to those who aren't - I appreciate your time more than you could know.

Happy weekending y'all,


Friday, February 6, 2015

The Wise Woman's Advice on Marriage: Part Two

Happy Friday!!!!  One of my strongest love languages is words of affirmation so buckle up because you're about to be affirmed.  You did it!  Another week in the books!  It may not have been perfect but you're here.  You loved and lived and had a few bumps in the road but take a moment to breathe it in.  THIS is destiny.  This moment....not two years from now.  Not twenty years from now.  You are playing in the big game NOW and this week counted.  Another bit of your story was written this week and regardless of what you see or feel - it was an important week and a good week.  It's a beautiful moment!

Ah the countdown to Valentine's Day.  It commeth!  I can't wait to celebrate this year.  The past few years we have gone to see a movie and eaten popcorn for our romantic dinner out - so fun!  I LOVE seeing movies when the theater is full and there's so much energy in the room.  It reminds me of the first time I got to experience that.  I was in college and went to a late night showing of Ocean's 11.  It was a theater full to the brim of students and everyone laughed together and experienced it loudly and expressively (is that a word?!).  We clapped at the end.  I mean, so fun.  I'm sitting here smiling at the memory like a goof.

Did you catch the word in the air that I get to do a GIVEAWAY this week?!?!  I'm just so excited to be able to share with one of you something that I'm so passionate about!  Ha!  Check out the end of the post to enter because it's a POT OF LIBBY'S VALENTINE'S DAY COOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But first we get to delve into another piece of marriage advice that was given to me by one of my wise-woman-friends.  This one challenges me to grow every single day.  Let's go!

The Wise Woman: Dannelle Newnam

The Wise Woman's piece of advice: Be on the same team.

Huh?  I mean, isn't that an obvious one?  Well, for you I'm sure it is!  Ha!  For me, well, I'm choosing to focus on this as much as I can.  Because the truth is that as obvious as it may seem - I find it's something I have to consciously choose and press towards to make it a reality.

There's a story on how this advice was handed to me.  Quite a few years ago, we found ourselves on opposite sides of an argument that resurfaced again and again.  It was a big one for both of us and we too easily allowed ourselves to become entrenched in our individual positions.  Finally, we had to call in help. We asked our friends Michael and Dannelle to come over and hear us out and HELP.  They are particularly gifted in marriage guidance and there is just nothing more meaningful than having trusted people whom you can cry in front of and be transparent with in order to work through something together as a couple.

They listened so patiently.  And when we were done putting it all out on the table, Dannelle looked at us and said, "Guys, I think one of the biggest issues here is that you're not playing on the same team.  You're on different teams: opponents."

Those words hit me because I knew the moment she said them, that they were so very true.

It could be assumed that because two people are married - they are a team.

In some ways, that's true.  But it doesn't mean that two married people are always acting like a team. Feeling like a team..What if it were really that simple?  Guys, be on the same team. Truthfully, making that shift can put you in a vulnerable place.  It's a big step of faith!  If you decide in your heart that you are going to move forward as a team, you are deciding to prefer and prioritize what is best for the team - which at times requires you to lay down what you think is best for you. And that's where we need help, isn't it?

Making the shift to a team mentality also means that you start seeing your spouse as your teammate instead of your opponent.  Which means that you're not on defense against him.  You trust him.  You work with him. You cover for him and he covers for you.

In our marriage, we had mostly great teamwork.  We saw ourselves as a team almost all of the time.  It was just when those dang little issues would pop up.  You know the ones.  The ones that circle back around repeatedly because no resolve has come and neither side is willing to give up ground.

And it's at this moment that I must say, I have no earthly idea how people do marriage without the ability to lean into God's strength when they feel weak.  I'm at a loss for words when I think about it.  How does one shift from being an opponent against her spouse to a teammate with him unless she digs in to Truth?  Unless she allows the Lord to come and breathe new life into her hope and give her faith that she can do it.

I think there are moments when we have to choose being a team when everything inside of our flesh wants to categorize an argument as one of those and prepare to take our ground.

A few practical things have helped me in moments like that.  One, I try to pull out of the hamster wheel of thoughts and break into the craziness with truth: Zion is for me.  It doesn't matter what the feelings are telling me...I have to shift to simply believing that.  Because it is true!  It IS truth.  And it's a game changer when I make that shift.  And two, I simply try to start identifying within myself that I'm feeling like we are on different teams.  Send up the alert!  It never goes well when we are on different teams so simply identifying that we are heading in that direction helps us both take a deep breath and try again.

My dad always says that yes, two people do instantaneously become one when they are married.  But, they also become one over a long period of time.  My personal theory is that we will forever be on that road of becoming more one...and it's beautiful.  It is so very worth it my friend.  Take it from one who's still in the process and has to remind herself to play on her husband's team....becoming more one has big payoffs.

And now it's time for the giveaway that brings SO MUCH happiness to me!  LOL.  Of course it's cookies! Can I tell you about Libby's cookies?  They are yum.  Libby makes one thing and she makes them with excellence: sugar cookies.  She took her grandmother's famous recipe and turned it into a business.  These cookies are everything a sugar cookie should be.  They are fat.  They are not dry.  They are the perfect combo of soft/chewy/dense.  And there is the best hint of almond throughout it.  You taste it and you say to yourself - yep, this is what a sugar cookie is supposed to taste like.  So let me give you a pot of her adorable Valentine's Day cookies!  All you have to do is go back to my facebook post and comment to be entered. (Blogger is the worst for letting people make comments here....planning to switch to WordPress this year)  This is a local Tulsa prize, so if you're not from Tulsa still enter and you can either choose someone here to have the cookies delivered to or I can choose someone who needs an extra special pick-me-up and give them on your behalf.  I can't wait to see who wins!  I will put the number of comments in a bag, one number on each piece of paper, and if I draw 6 and you're the sixth comment - YOU WIN!!!!  I'll do it on Sunday afternoon and deliver cookies on Tuesday!  And please go follow Libby on won't be sorry.

Lots of love and happy weekending to you!  See you next week for the last blog on marriage advice from wise's going to be a good one!