Thursday, July 31, 2008

Marital Moments Issue 2 - Laughing With Your Spouse

Laughing with your Spouse

One of my all time funniest memories with my spouse was made when we were in a volleyball league together. A group of us at our church had decided to form a team at a local recreational center. Sadly however, I think we were the only two who had actually really played before. We had joined it for "fun," but all of you who know us know how competitive we both are. It was a humbling season to say the least. I don't think our team won a single game (except maybe the one we won by forfeit because the other team didn't show up!) But we had a lot of fun with our team.

There was one team in particular who we played twice. The first time they creamed us and instead of being good sports, they just outright disrespected and made fun of some of our team members. When we realized we would be playing them again, our competitive spirit got the best of my husband and I. We worked hard with our teammates to make sure it wasn't going to be a repeat of the first go round. We were doing well. Scoring points. Making them take us seriously as competition. That is when their "star" server began serving. She would throw the ball up in the air and then jump up to the ball and hit it over in a serve. It looked cool. She was good. They scored a few points with her serve. Then it was my husband's turn to serve. Adrenalin was high. He decided to match their energy and service. He threw the ball up, jumped to meet the ball in a serve....and TOTALLY missed the ball. It was FUNNY! O.k., maybe it was one of those moments where you had to be there to see the humor in it, but I laughed so hard and I could NOT stop. I am laughing now as I write this just remembering it! (He laughed too after the initial embarrassment-he's great like that!)

What is my point in telling you all of this? Laughter is such an important component in marriage. Think back to when you were dating, engaged, and first married. Do you remember laughing together? As we age and life gets so serious and busy it is easy to forget to laugh together. Remember to be willing to laugh at yourself. We have also had slap happy late nights watching funny movies. I'd love to hear what you and your spouse do to pursue laughter. You can comment by clicking on the "comment" button beneath this post.

A merry heart does good, like medicine; but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22NKJV)

Many Blessings!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Becoming Golden

It is when we are real before God and allow ourselves to voice the questions of our hearts that He is able to answer and fill us with faith and a deeper understanding of both who He is and who we are in Him. When we strive to be the "perfect Christian" during trials telling ourselves that it isn't alright to pour our questions out before the Lord that He is unable to take us deeper with Him. Trials can be an invitation to draw close to Him-A refining fire IF we will allow ourselves to stay within the consuming flames.

My Mom died when I was 20 (she was 40 at the time). My College boyfriend of 3 years asked my Dad for my hand in marriage and then broke up with me. My husband suffers from a chronic illness (Crohn's Disease) and has literally spent up to a year in the hospital (collectively at different times) over our ten years of marriage. Surgeons have told us that he has been hours away from death. My Dad died when I was 32. I have lost all of my grandparents over the years. That covers some of the trials that I have had in my life...things that have shaken me as a person, tested my faith, and shaped me into who I have become now at the age of 35.

I have been "reflecting" this past week on my personal journey of faith. Trials and loss have been plentiful in my life. I know my refiner's fire well. Everyone has their own "story." Their own set of circumstances that contribute to who they become. I have lived both openly and honestly during the "flames" and I have also pulled out of the lick of the fire pretending to be purified, shiny and golden in order to appear like I am a "good Christian" while the corrosion slowly took over my heart.

There is a difference between going through a trial and allowing yourself to remain in the refiner's fire. Although you may not be able to leave your circumstances, remaining in the circumstances and riding the storm doesn't mean that you will come out the other side a better person-changed by the Lord because of what you have gone through. That is a choice made when you find the heat of the flames upon your soul.

I am writing today to encourage myself and anyone reading (I believe God has directed you to this blog if you are reading it.) to choose to stay within the refiner's fire when it comes. Be willing to be real. With others but most importantly with God. Bring your deepest questions, fears, desires, tears, and laughter before Him. Invite Him to reveal himself to your heart deeply. He loves you and longs for you to take your refuge in Him during the storms and trials of life. Looking back after the storms have passed, you will be glad that you did.

I love this Psalm written by David when he was in the Desert of Judah. I will share a small portion, but it is worth reading in it's entirety. Psalm 63:7-8 "Because you are my help, I will sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Cling to Him and sing in the shadow of His wings...

Refiner's Fire

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner's fire
My heart's one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You my Master
Ready to do Your will

Brian Doerksen / 1990 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Aluminum Sculptures and Toby Mac

"...Dare to believe your children are creative, innovative kids who can
create instead of idly recreate." (Mary Demuth)

How do I believe this of my children and stimulate it within them when I am literally one of the least "creative" people that I know? I am thrilled when I can actually "recreate" something. Thankfully, my husband's family is, by far, the most creative group of people that I have ever met. (My children may turn out well-rounded after all!) I often feel guilty when other moms share how they did this or that with their kids. Stuff I've never thought to do or cringe when I think of the mess it will create.

Yesterday, during the rain, my kids and I watched, "Meet the Robinsons." Later on when I was making dinner, I felt God asking me to be willing to stretch my comfort level with this concept of creativity. To challenge my children and myself to explore this innovative and creative part of us that He has created within us. After-all, If He, the God of the universe, is the author of creativity and has made me in His image, shouldn't I have at least a little of His creative juices? Why is it that I believe this of myself, that "I am just not creative?"

As I covered the chicken, I was inspired. I pulled off a piece of aluminum foil for each of us, set up a snack and called the kids. They were thrilled with the idea to "create" something. We began simply, a ball, a snake, a "snack carrier," then we moved on to a canoe, seats, and a mini-man with a fishing pole. It was then that the "breakthroughs" began with new and unique hats, outer space vehicles, and other abstract items. It became a bit like cloud watching outside on a summer day. Where each person "sees" something different and unique, but we can each appreciate what the other saw. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be.

In the midst of our "creating" my daughter began to sing the song, "I'm For You" by Toby Mac. We decided to carry the creativity into the other room where we could play the song on You Tube. An aluminum foil guitar was created and they jammed out adorned by several of their creations. (Check the photos out :) ) "I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well!" Psalm 139:14

"Whatever I gotta be
I'll be for you
I'm for you
If you never knew
If you never knew
I'm for you
You know it's true"
(chorus of "I'm For You" by Toby Mac)

God is willing and able to be "whatever" we need for Him to be. Are we willing to be "whatever" He needs us to be for Him?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Marital Moments Issue 1 - Christmas in July

Christmas in July!

I love the group Switchfoot's song, "This Is Your Life." The chorus is what first grabbed my attention:
"This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose"

A big part of why this song speaks to me is that it puts the responsibility back on me. Steps on my toes so to speak. The Lord often uses music to speak to my heart.

The question for this segment is: "This is your marriage, is it everything you dreamed that it would be when the world was younger and you had everything to lose?"

Regardless of where you are at in your marriage, it is important that you pursue your spouse. That you are willing to take the initiative in making your marriage all that God intended for it to be. Which leads me back to the title, "Christmas in July!"

You have an opportunity to bless your spouse with "The Twelve Days of Christmas-Christmas in July!." Here is how it works.
For the next 12 days you commit to pray for your spouse and you try to give to them in ways that speak their love language. If you are not familiar with "The Five Love Languages" book by Gary Chapman check it out Each day you will "give" them something. This does not have to be material gifts. I will give more specific ideas in a moment.

On the first day, you simply write a note (or wrap a note in a box) and place it somewhere that they will find it. I chose to tape my notes on the door of our garage where my husband walked in from work each day. This first note welcomes them to the "Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas in July!" and states one thing that you would like to give them. Do this each day for twelve days. It does NOT need to be extravagant or take a lot of effort on your part to make the notes/gift boxes. The idea that you are pursuing your spouse will speak volumes. It is alright to mix in some ideas from what you believe is your spouse's secondary love language. For example, you may know that physical touch is their primary love language but you also know that words of affirmation are important to them. Mix both throughout your 12 days.
Be as creative as you want! The following examples are ideas you can use as a starting point. Once you get started it will get easier and easier to see your spouses needs and how you can meet them.

Your relationship to your spouse is second only to your relationship with the Lord. Let them know that they are a priority in your life. Commit these 12 days to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to reveal things to you that you would not have thought of on your own. Feel free to leave comments with any great ideas that you have! I'd also love to pray for you as you invest in your marriage. Click on the "comments" section under this post and leave your name and the name of your spouse. I will commit to praying for your marriage for the next two weeks with you.
Many Blessings!

Examples litsted by Love Languages:
1st Day
"On the First Day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." 3 of the top reasons that I love you!

2nd Day
"On the Second Day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." notes from your children telling what makes them special.

3rd Day
"On the Third Day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." write out a verse and a note encouraging them with anything they may be pursuing or struggling with
*The main thing to keep in mind for words of affirmation is to be real. Speak compliments from your heart about who your spouse is and why you are thankful for them. What they teach you through their lives, etc. You could even e-mail some of their friends and get them to write out why your spouse is important to them.

1st Day
"On the First Day of Chrismtas my true love gave to me..." a warm drink and 20 minutes of uninterrupted conversation. *Be prepared with questions to draw them out in case they don't jump right into conversation. Such as, "Where do you see us in a yr, 5 yrs, etc." "What would you say is the most important activity in your life right now?"

2nd Day
"On the Second Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." an invitation to play your spouses favorite game. (Checkers, chess, monopoly, on line game, x-box, etc)

3rd Day
"On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." a walk after dinnertime. *If you have children, try to arrange for someone to watch them for 1/2 hr -an hr.

*If this is your spouse's love language, make certain that you are completely focused on them during the times that you are offering. Do not let you cell phone, etc interrupt your focus on engaging with them in conversations or activities. TRY to learn something new that you didn't know about your spouse. They are hoping you will draw them out. Picking up a devotional book for couples may be an excellent thing to introduce and carry on even after the 12 days are finished.

1st Day
"On the First Day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." a single beautiful flower or rose (for wife) a new music cd by a group you know they love (husband or wife).

2nd Day
"On the Second Day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." a candle to put at the dinner table.

3rd Day
"On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." a favorite photo put into a frame.
*It is important to gradually build up to the 12th day-the last day should be the best or most special gift to your spouse. It can be as simple as picking up their favorite food from a restaurant on the way home or even their favorite drink or coffee, etc. Usually "gift" people communicate about things that they "want." Magazine subscriptions or fruit of the month clubs are great for these kinds of people. Gifts that keep on giving without a lot of continued thought or effort.

1st Day
"On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." cleaning up the dishes, table, and floor after dinner.

2nd Day
"On the Second Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." vaccumming any three rooms of their choice

3rd Day
"On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." Letting your spouse sleep in while you take the kids out for breakfast - like Chick-fil-A, Ihop, etc. Bringing home something for your spouse to eat after waking is an added bonus.
*It is important to give without expecting others to do for you later on. This becomes especially true with this love language. Look for things that mean the most to them for you to do. Remember to smile and have a great attitude even if it means you will be doing an undesirable task.

1st Day
"On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." a neck massage.

2nd Day
"On the Second Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." a foot rub.

3rd Day
"On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." you can be as intimate as you choose-this is your spouse! Get creative and put some thought into what they enjoy most.
*It is important to give in ways that your spouse is affirmed the most through. Maybe rubbing feet does nothing for you, but means the world to them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tales from the Deep Freezer - Part 2

History tends to repeat itself. Fashions that have gone out of style return, we hear ourselves sounding like our parents once sounded to us many years ago, people used to have to use a block of ice to keep their food refrigerated.... o.k., perhaps this is just our family repeating history. Can you believe that the day after (not even 24 hours had passed) our deep freeze defrosted, our refrigerator compressor died? I was cleaning up in the kitchen when I noticed a slightly orange puddle growing in size beneath the freezer side of our refrigerator. "Are you kidding me?" was my first thought. I'd really like to say that I told myself, "It is what it is" and moved on in the grace that I had experienced the previous day, but that isn't exactly how it went. The children who had been so good and worked so hard the day before weren't prepared to use that much self control again today. They had already played Webkins and Xbox, had juice boxes, snacks and T.V., what was going to be in it for them today? With no frozen treats to use as leverage, I knew it was going to be a long morning. I tried to get the kids active coloring, reading, even painting (although it caused even more mess and I think I spent more time setting it up and cleaning up than they spent painting.) It all boiled down to that hated phrase, "BECAUSE I SAID SO!" My oldest has the wisdom to know that when that phrase is uttered, it is best to take refuge in the basement watching a video. She corralled the other two and down they went, quiet at last.

It was then that the Lord began speaking to my heart. I had asked for the Lord to show me the "good" in our deep freeze defrosting. Well, we now had plenty of space for all of the frozen items and anything else I could freeze from the fridge. That was one thing. Reflecting on the spiritual lesson that He had shown me the previous day, that
it only takes us leaving the door of our lives open a crack to let sin cause destruction in our lives, I began to open my heart and ask the Lord if there was a sin causing destruction in my life that I needed to take care of. Sure enough, history was repeating itself again. The sin that had once again found it's way into my life was a combination of comparison and discontentment. Although I have dealt with those time and again in my life and thought I had conquered, here they were again wreaking havoc internally.

Take a look at the photo of the kids that I posted today. My husband took it this weekend while we were hiking as a family. I love this photo, not because of the clarity or awesome composition (sorry honey!) But because it shows where we are in the path of life right now. Our youngest so desperately wants to be like his older siblings. To be able to do what they do: sit at the table in a big chair, drink from a "real" cup, brush his teeth on his own in the bathroom, play Legos, etc. But try as he might, he is always a few steps behind. Now we can look at it and see that he is much younger than they are and it will come in time. But his perspective is different. He wants what they have and cannot understand why he cannot have it. It simply isn't his time. I too was the youngest in my family. The smallest of four children. I remember how much I hated the words, "you just have to wait until you are older." History repeats itself.

Now maybe it is because I was the youngest in my family and it is a familiar struggle for me to compare and be discontented, or maybe it is just that satan isn't really that original and he finds the sins that work to dissuade us and continues to lure us in those directions. Regardless, here I was again faced with the choice of repenting and being restored, or allowing my self to wallow in what I "didn't have." I know that God in His sovereinty can step back and look at us walking down the path and see why we cannot do what we want. Sometimes it is a matter of time. Other times He simply knows what is best for us. While we get frustrated and cannot always understand, we need to trust that God does want what is best for us and He will provide everything we need in His time. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. As the heavens are hgiher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tales from the Deep Freezer

The day had started out just like any other summer vacation day. I had planned some activities for the kids and we were rushing around having breakfast and getting ready when the phone rang. Plans got cancelled. Bummer. But the disappointment was short-lived in my mind as I pondered all of the other things I could accomplish for the day. I stepped out into the garage to take some chicken out to defrost for dinner that night when I saw "the river." Streaming from the freezer to underneath of our garage doors ran a reddish purple flow. Suddenly, my day was planned for me! I chose to take it in stride and purposed to have a good attitude throughout the sloppy mess that awaited me. I had learned long ago that I could get all frazzled, whine, complain, and throw a fit, but in the end the mess would still be there. "It is what it is" one of my old pastor's wives used to say. (Thanks Chris Leach!) Bribing the older two to watch the younger (extra Webkins or X-box time would be in their future IF they could read and play nicely with their 21 month old sibling.) I rushed out to the garage and began cleaning the mess. I prayed, "Ok God, I can see that you did already know that this had happened and you allowed my plans to cancel on me so I didn't have to worry about doing that as well, but I am looking for how you are going to turn this into good!"

As I checked things out, it was clear that the freezer was still operational. Someone must have left the door open a crack and it had eventually triggered the emergency shut off mode because it was unable to maintain the frozen temperature. As I reset the freezer with the simple push of a button it occurred to me that it only takes us leaving the door of our lives open a crack to let sin cause destruction in our lives. But sadly, it's not usually a simple push of a "reset" button and a bunch of paper towels to clean up the mess. Most likely, the freezer had been left open a crack a while before I saw "the mess." On the outside it can still appear that things are fine for quite some time before sin takes it's toll, but what a yucky, sticky mess it can yield. I was reminded of the verse, "...Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?" I Cor. 5:6 and also the commonly known saying that it only takes "one rotten apple to ruin the whole bushel." While I Corinthians 5 is speaking directly to expelling an immoral brother from the church, God used this Scripture to speak to my heart about how sin can enter in a life in a very small almost innocent looking way, but sin unchecked leads to ruin. Always a good reminder to "keep our hearts door sealed from sin." Do you need to check the door on your deep freeze? I did-more on that Wednesday.
You may be wondering how the kids made out...there were several juice boxes, snacks and tv shows involved, but they did manage to work together to earn the precious extra "fun" time!
Many Blessings!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I have been feeling led to start a blog for awhile now, but after checking out several other blogger's sites, I had an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy...thoughts like ,"Do people really need ONE MORE blog to read?" and "They are WAY better writers than I am!" However, at the Proverbs 31 "She Speaks" conference, Lysa Terkeurst had challenged us to realize that there are typically 5 or 6 things that happen each day that are worthy of writing about. So I began taking note of items in each day that might be blog worthy. With three children, a creative husband, and a cat, I was blown away with ideas on what to blog about. It has opened my eyes and heart to see the Lord at work in our lives. He offers us teachable moments in so many ways. It is my desire to share openly what the Lord has taught me in my own personal walk with Him as well as what He is teaching me daily. I pray that He will touch and encourage your heart and lives through the words and lessons that He gives me to share.
Many Blessings!