Thursday, February 23, 2017

A walk in my shoes.

I made my 12 year old daughter sweep the kitchen floor yesterday.  She hates to sweep.  Honestly there are not many chores that she likes to do.  Welcome to my world kid.  She swept up a nasty pile of crumbs, dirt, dead grass and who knows what else and asked, "How does this happen everyday?"  That was just from lunch...  It has to be done every meal or you won't be able to take a step without squishing cold, soggy oat meal between your toes.   Before children I may have swept my kitchen once every three months... I had no idea how good I had it.

This afternoon after school was over and it was time to do chores, with dishes piled in the sink, toys all over the floor and laundry to wash, dry and put away that same 12 year old girl surprised me by saying, "Ugh, the floor's a mess again... you want me to sweep?"  Not instead of other chores, but along with what she was already going to do.  After she was done she said, "Man, this floor could use a mop."  She didn't offer to do that, butttttt she noticed. 

I know you know the feeling of never being done with housework and wondering IF anyone notices what you have done OR what still needs to be done, because one thing is for certain it is NEVER done.  She noticed.  She offered help.  WHY?  Because yesterday after sweeping the floor and thinking about what a great job she had done, she experienced the frustration of seeing that very same job needing to be done AGAIN.  She felt empathy for mom...  She took a walk in my shoes, she experienced what I have to go through and it moved her to want to help. 

There have been many times in my life that I have been asked to do something I didn't want to do.  I have pouted and whined... to no avail.  My Heavenly Father is always teaching me new lessons in this life.  Some for training.  Some lessons to teach me empathy.  None that I actually willingly agree to...  just being honest.

For instance, my recent past history with anxiety and depression.  I didn't want to go through that.  I have always been a happy person, who wakes up everyday with fresh perspective, but I couldn't seem to make myself be that person.  In the past I couldn't care less what people thought about me, but suddenly I didn't want to leave my house, because I was consumed with anxiety about people.  I hated that.  Thankfully, God's faithful hand is leading me through that murky place and on the other side I have much more empathy and compassion for people who are in that place...  sometimes you can't just snap out of it.  I didn't know that until I had been there.

Right now I'm in another place I really didn't want to be.  My 6 year old has to go on a gluten-free diet.  Yep, I've joined that fad.  I'm not sure what I will learn yet, but I already feel compassion for people who can't eat everything that they want, all the time without adverse reactions in their body...  I never even thought about how that would be for my friends who were struggling with family members that have food allergies, but here we are.  I'd rather not.

Or a struggling marriage, finances, wayward children...  When we go through these things we learn, we grow, we become more compassionate.  For every hard thing we experience we add one more layer of walking in another's shoes.  We grow.  We look around and say, "how can I help you?" 

I'm watching this happen in my older children.   The things they don't want to do, the chores that I require of them are developing in them empathy and compassion, the sense that this life is not all about them.  There are other people and those other people have a lot on their plate and these kids have a desire to help where they can.

Last week when my husband was away on a business trip the two oldest children took it upon themselves to clean the backyard and the patio.  They cleaned out the flower beds and filled 3 huge, black trash bags with old, dead bushes.  They moved patio furniture and swept, cleaned tables and put it all back together nicely.  I didn't ask them to do any of this.  They are learning to look around and offer a hand.  That's a lesson a person can only learn from experience.

So, right now I don't know what you are going through...  IF you are like me there are things that you wish you didn't have to do.  You may wish everything could be different right now, but God knows what we need.  He knows that we would never willingly grow or change or even care what the people around us are going through, therefore He provides opportunities to learn and tough situations to teach us how best to love the people around us.

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort that we ourselves are comforted of God."  2 Cor. 1:3-4

From now on that girl can no longer be oblivious to smashed scrambles eggs on the floor.  She may not always choose to lend a hand, but she will know a little bit more about what is means to walk in my shoes... 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Happy Sappy Birthday.

So, it's my man's bday.  You know that has me thinking about him.  How great he is and how much I love him.  He's pretty darn terrific...  I like him, I think he likes me.  I made it official by posting about him on FB.  He is my #1, my best bud and I am so thankful that he is my baby daddy...  but that's just part of the story... How can I still be happy with this guy after 14 years? 

Is it because he's perfect?  Nah.  Is it because I'm perfect?  Well, maybe.   HAHA.  Is it because we just have flawless chemistry that keeps us madly in love?  Does he do things that make me crazy?  Yes.  Do I do things that drive him nutty?  Of course.  Is he prince charming?  Am I Cinderella?  Has this been "happy ever after"?  No.

It's been good, it's been bad.  It's been easy, it's been hard.  It's been close, it's been lonely...  and that was all this week.  There are times we have strayed apart, there have been times when I've been bitter.  There has been hurt, but there has been healing.  There has been disillusionment and then there was light. 

We have been students, not teachers.  We don't have it all together.  I don't profess to be a marriage scholar, but I would like to share a few truths I've picked up along the way...  Lasting love is not about feelings.  Lasting love is about making a choice to put the other person first.

Focus on the positive.  Keep at the forefront of your mind why you married this person.  The world will remind you every day that your spouse doesn't measure up.  The world is offering a mirage of perfection that can never be attained.  There is no perfect person, no perfect relationship.  There are two imperfectly flawed humans merging into ONE. 

"But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his Father and Mother, and cleave to his wife; And then they are no more two, but ONE flesh." Jesus, Mark 10:6-8

My husband and I are opposites in most everything, but crazily after 14 years we are starting to understand each other more and more.  In the beginning I could only see my way...  My way was always best.  If only I could make him see how much better my way was.  I didn't take into consideration that his thoughts and insights could help me see a situation more fully and completely.  Take discipline for example...  I am a control freak.  I want things done the way I want them done, when I want them done... or there is hell to pay.  My man on the other hand is more merciful.  He wants to get to the heart of the situation and is willing to give second chances.  I'm learning from him that I can chill out and give my kids a break and everything is going to be ok.  There are times that we must discipline, but now we can do it together and both feel like we are making the right decision. 

I've come to appreciate our differences and consider them more valuable than the things we have in common.  He has offered me a new way of seeing the world, and I'm a better person for that.   Two=One.

What about the times when we don't see eye to eye and I cannot bend?  I pray.  God listens.  He speaks to the heart without motive or condemnation.  When my heart is burdened by something that needs to be said or done, I am...

"Anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication WITH thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God.  And the peace that passes understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Phil. 4:6-7

You see sometimes the way we see things is blurred by things we can't see.  It's so much easier to see what another person is doing wrong and sometimes we are blinded by our own sinful heart.  I am learning to never confront my husband in the moment.  I know I need to take my heart and hurt to God, allow him to search my heart and make it right before I bring my heart to my man. 

We have to communicate in our relationships, but I try to apply this verse before I do...

"A soft answer turns away wrath: BUT harsh words stir up anger." Prov. 15:1

I know in this day and time what I'm about to say is backwards and outdated, but it's my favorite verse in the Bible pertaining to the marriage relationship and I claim this promise in my life and I have seen miracles in times that I thought were hopeless. 

"Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if they obey not the word, they may without a word (from us) be won by the conduct of their wives;..... But let the hidden (woman of your heart),... the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."  I Peter 3:1-4

Look I know what you're thinking...  I just took us back 100 years.  Listen to me before you fire that shot.  I'm just as much a modern woman as you.   I'm NOT saying get in the kitchen and be barefoot and pregnant and let the king rule the castle.  I'm just like you...  I'm a woman with a lot of opinions.  I'm NOT quiet.  In fact I'm the loudest person in this house.  What I'm talking about here is that God made men with a certain quality that can not be ignored...  They need R.E.S.P.E.C.T... 

Having a meek and quiet spirit means that I trust God so completely that nothing my husband can do or not do can make me afraid.  I can trust that God has this.   When I know that God is in control I can let go of control.  I can talk and walk and treat my husband with respect.  I don't have to belittle or condemn or judge.  I don't have to worry or be anxious about the decisions he makes, because I have a relationship with the One who can change his mind, if that's what needs to be changed.  Because sometimes it's not him that needs a change and if I leave room for God to work in our marriage then I don't have to clean up the messes that I might otherwise make. 

Is any of this easy?  You know the answer to that.  I believe that lasting love is best accomplished when you first fall in love with the One who never changes, never fails, never leaves or forsakes.  When we are loved by and in love with a perfect, grace-filled, mercy-full God, then we can love like he loves and we can trust Him with the rest. 

So, Happy Sappy bday to my best friend, my road dog, my baby daddy...  The FB pics tell a story of lasting love and friendship, but the back drop is the real focus...  A good, good Father put two very different people together and made them One...  What God has put together, let no man put asunder. 

Let our marriages reflect this verse:

"This is a great mystery: but I am speaking concerning Christ and the church."  Eph.5:32

Husband and Wife is supposed to paint a glorious picture of Christ and his bride... What lessons have you picked up along the way that help the world see our Savior through your marriage?