You are annoying

It’s been awhile since we purchased our book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas. After many months we are on chapter 12.  Did you know that you are annoying and your spouse has the ability to help you grow? You know the pattern.  You do that thing you do, your spouse gently calls you out on it, you call your sibling or best friend to confirm that he/she overreacted, and you are validated that it’s not you that has the issue.

The example Gary gave was a personal one. He had an opportunity to run ten miles in a beautiful area while visiting his son. His obsession over running became the focal point of conversations and the agenda setting.  His wife gently reminded him that his priority needed compromising to fit the group. He accepted the sound reminder and engaged with the family.  He eventually had the free time to run in the end.

Being a woman of faith, I appreciated the reference of Jesus never being compulsive, he served in the moment. My husband and I were asked by the study to list our three annoying habits. We shared, agreed (we know this after 28 years of marriage), and laughed.  Most annoyances truly arise from feelings of inconvenience. Your actions, lack of action, or comment altered my plans or thoughts. How annoyed Jesus must have been but switched gears and served or spoke up.  A mature marriage will serve and sometimes speak up.  When your loved one speaks up, listen and take to heart their advice. No other place can you grow in character and strength than within your marriage. Don’t get defensive or angry–listen.  Your friend may agree with you that your spouse overreacted, but you are not married to them. Let’s be real, too. Maybe you do overreact. It’s all in the delivery. It’s the millionth time they are doing that thing that they do, but it’s your joy to gently remind and guide them into a better way.

Take joy in striving to please the one you love most and change. Find one area of growth and take action to do something different.  Learn to love within your spouse’s idiosyncrasies and think about the strength that lies within the weakness.

I may be task oriented which supports the to do list, but thank you for reminding me to enjoy the now. Can you take something from the list? I need help.

Peace to all marriages who continuously strive for better marriages. If you are single, remember your current relationships with loved ones and friends are fertile ground for a future marriage.  I’ve thought often about the practices of what I’m learning in this book and how I can apply them with work and family relationships. Who could use more grace and better communication on the job?

 

 

 

Hugs and Laughter

There are times we concentrate on a peculiar aspect of humanity or life. We see things through a different lens, or take notice of the obvious for the first time. I never truly know why this happens unless it’s obvious, like the time I was pregnant, so I began to notice all the pregnant women in the world.  It appeared the entire world was pregnant with me. Lately, I’ve noticed the profound ways we, as humans, use our bodies to engage in life. Driving home from work, I noticed a little girl jumping on her trampoline to my right, and to my left were siblings playing basketball.  Along with cutting grass, walking the dog, running, and riding a bike, humans use every muscle and limb to engage in life.

This morning in our couple’s Bible study, Cherish, Gary Thomas talked about the profound simplicity of the hug.

hug
verb squeeze (someone) tightly in one’s arms, typically to express affection.
  1. “he hugged her close to him”
    synonyms: embracecuddlesqueezeclaspclutchcradle, cling to, hold close, hold tight, take/fold someone in one’s arms, clasp someone to one’s bosom

    “they hugged each other”

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Parish and I practiced a lingering hug to see if we noticed the difference.

Did I feel the oxytocin release?

When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels increase; hence, oxytocin is often called “the love hormone.” In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in all pair bonding. The hormone is greatly stimulated during intimacy, birth, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin is the hormone that underlies trust. It is also an antidote to depressive feelings.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/oxytocin

We talked about being more mindful to hug each other and our children. I was struck by our arms locked around each other, the placement of your head on their shoulder, and the closeness–using our body to connect as man and wife.  We read in our chapter the culture of Italians to hug, kiss, and affirm with touching. I think I need to move to Italy.  The author went on to share how, in North America, we tend to avoid hugs and touching for fear of invading personal space and offending.  I’m not suggesting we randomly hug everyone we come in contact with, but this world could use a little more embracing and kindness. With those you love, practice the 30 second hug. See what happens!

Likewise, laughter is good medicine. I know we have much to be concerned with and things are not perfect, but we can laugh in the midst of it all.  You don’t have to practice seriousness all the time.

Why should we laugh more? (https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/7-health-benefits-of-laughter)

1. LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE

People who lower their blood pressure, even those who start at normal levels, will reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. So grab the Sunday paper, flip to the funny pages, and enjoy your laughter medicine.

2. REDUCES STRESS HORMONE LEVELS

By reducing the level of stress hormones, you’re simultaneously cutting the anxiety and stress that impacts your body. Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones may result in higher immune system performance. Just think: Laughing along as a co-worker tells a funny joke can relieve some of the day’s stress and help you reap the health benefits of laughter.

3. WORKS YOUR ABS

One of the benefits of laughter is that it can help you tone your abs. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. Meanwhile, the muscles you are not using to laugh are getting an opportunity to relax. Add laughter to your ab routine and make getting a toned tummy more enjoyable.

4. IMPROVES CARDIAC HEALTH

Laughter is a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace. So, laugh your heart into health.

5. BOOSTS T-CELLS

T-cells are specialized immune system cells just waiting in your body for activation. When you laugh, you activate T-cells that immediately begin to help you fight off sickness. Next time you feel a cold coming on, add chuckling to your illness prevention plan.

6. TRIGGERS THE RELEASE OF ENDORPHINS

Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. By laughing, you can release endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel good all over.

7. PRODUCES A GENERAL SENSE OF WELL-BEING

Laughter can increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. So smile, laugh, and live longer!

 

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25

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Start your day laughing!

Give somebody a big hug!

Don’t Blink

Do you know these songs?  Some are tearjerkers, so be careful. 🙂

Time in a bottle.

Time After Time.

Time is on My Side.

Don’t Blink.

You’re gonna miss this.

The House that Built Me.

Time has always fascinated me. We measure time and all of us are equal in the amount of time we have to accomplish our daily routines.  I’ve been known to say things like, “I wish I didn’t have to sleep.” or “I wish I had more hours in the day.” or “If I could just go back in time for a day.” As measured as time is on earth, our God is timeless. His Kingdom purpose and love are written and eternal.  He is past, present, and future all at the same time.

If I live to be a 100, I’m on the other side of living on earth. The measured time of life. My babies are grown up and some have left the nest to start their journey.  I’ve worked longer than my time left to work. I’ve been married to my man longer than my years without his cherished love.

Time has marched on in all its pomp and circumstance.  There has been more circumstances than pomp, and it is the circumstances that seem to keep you going–endlessly, without reflection, and necessity.  But one day, you will stop and find yourself doing something simple, and all the circumstances flood through. You gasp, laugh, cry, ponder, and find yourself in a quandary of emotion.

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Anna and her daughter, Victoria Louise

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Anna and her mom, Louise Lloyd

The simplicity of a life event that causes you to clean and shift the circumstances– a move, a job change, a child moving out, or a loss–stops you in your tracks.

Victoria went through my cedar chest that has sat idle and filled to the rim with memories. Pictures, art work, scrap books, autograph book from 1973, artifacts, and letters were all squashed into this chest.  Like Mary Poppins’s carpet-bag, the endless items poured out.  She read and showed me treasures, and we were either laughing or crying. Where did the time go? I kept saying, “Victoria, in a blink of an eye you are here remembering the years and wondering where they went.” When she showed a picture of me pregnant with her it seemed like it was yesterday. Just yesterday I was holding my first-born child and figuring out life. Tomorrow came and I’m here with a flood of memories that are being played out in a movie trailer–“This is Your Life!”  Loved ones who  have gone to be with Jesus, marriages, the pomp of life that seemed like a circumstance at that time, baptisms, parties, ordinary days….

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I thought of my friends and family. Your pomp and circumstance story. I imagined us together in a room quiet with total understanding of the unspoken, and we just let it go–cry, weep if you most, and wail if you are brave enough. We would close with laughter and smile at our future because we know:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25

I had the opportunity to walk away from this writing and go sit with my parents on either side of me. My mom to the right and my dad to the left. We hugged and said, “I love you.”  We looked up to a picture on the wall, My grandfather, Harvey Lloyd, looking at us.

The busyness of the day soon crept in, and we began to future talk of the things that we are planning, but for one minute we were able to sit, love, and hug. That one minute was enough. Minutes add up.

Take the time.

Take the time to look back and remember.

Take the time to stop and honor.

Take the time to move on and laugh at your future.

Don’t blink…

Belonging

Thank you Ashley for challenging us to remember and creating a desire for us to dig deeper….

Belonging.  We all desire to belong, even when we are overwhelmed and need rest. As we rest from the crowd, we feel secure knowing that we will once again connect with those we enjoy and love so much.  God created “human connection”–He knew that man should not be alone.  All around us we connect with nature, animals, friends, and family.

Because we know this connection is not perfect, we must know our original and perfect connection in order to maintain relationships that are important to us.

Who are we in Christ? I encourage you to dig deeper into the following scriptures shared within this document:

Knowing_Who_I_Am_In_Christ

Take the time to look up each one and talk to God about what this looks like in your life. Do you believe this truth? Why or why not? Explore your faulty thought patterns and replace them with God’s truth.

I have found the messages of Joyce Meyer to inspire this work within my relationship with Jesus.  She has free podcasts available on various topics that may catch your eye because of a situation you are experiencing.

http://www.joycemeyer.org/broadcasthome.aspx

My youngest and I love to lay in bed at night and listen to her messages of hope.

Here is one we enjoyed together about “Created in God’s Image”.

http://www.joycemeyer.org/BroadcastHome.aspx?video=Created_in_Gods_Image

I pray today you will know how very special you are to God.  He loves you with perfect love! No matter how you feel today in your relationships, know that God perfectly loves you, He created you, you are not an accident, and you fit in to His plan.

When you are feeling out of touch with God’s promises or overwhelmed, I encourage you to worship.  Worshiping and singing, heals our fears and brings peace and joy! I included a great song for worship at the close of this post!

I  will worship you Lord!

Redeeming Love (Again)

I was travelling to work one morning.  Nothing really happened per se, but I was frustrated.

Again.

I highlight the word “again” because that was the frustration.  I started praying and asking God questions that centered on why some things never change, and, try as we might, here we are doing it again. He gently reminded me in the prayer time that small, incremental changes are good enough, and that maybe my expectations were unrealistic.  In further discussion with my “positivity partner”, Kim, she discussed a sermon from Joyce Meyer.

“Things don’t happen to us; They happen for us.”

Saturday rolls around and my husband and I pick up the book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas. I needed to focus even if my attitude had not caught up with what I know to be true. Wouldn’t you know the chapter was entitled, “This is how your spouse stumbles”. We literally asked each other, “Do we really want to read this chapter?” After a discussion, we decided that God’s timing is best, and we rolled with it.

Cherishing means being patient with your spouse’s sin. We hysterically laughed at the story of “lost keys” in the chapter.  Gary had been running late for work, and he was in a desperate search for his keys.  After a few attempts, his wife, all snug in the warm bed, asks, “What’s wrong?” He begins to explain that he can’t find his keys, and she immediately apologizes and says, “Oh, I used them last night.  They are in my purse.” To make matters worse, when she got up to help, they could not find her purse. I’m sorry, but I’m laughing right now, all by myself, writing this.

THIS IS MY LIFE.

Again.

Gary made it a point to cherish his wife by not reminding her of her absent-mindedness or blaming her.

From lost keys to hurtful words said to addictions, Gary’s message is one of consistent grace and forgiveness with accountability.

We need to accept the fact that our spouse will stumble.  In fact, he encourages us to own it and say, “This is how my spouse stumbles.” Of course when we say this about our spouse it’s hard, but we have the expectation to experience grace for ourselves. I talked about the years my loving husband has supported my very, tender heart in matters that I can’t control.  He has listened, hugged, given me space, and prayed for me. He shared his thoughts and offered gratitude for my years of grace for his stumble area.

To cherish your spouse means to know the dark corners but to still love, cherish, and move toward them.

Holiness, according to the Bible, is often best demonstrated by how patient we are with the lack of holiness in others. Oh, Gary, why did you have to write that? I stopped my husband from reading by saying, “That’s hard for me.”  I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I’m telling you that I’m at an all new level with this in my season of life.  I got the sassy attitude to prove it, and the quick come backs.

Again.

Not to be too hard on myself, I recognize the need for a little humor, but the lost key story, as we both agreed, had the potential to be war in my house.

I loved how Gary reminded us about the “presence behind the problem”.  The very fact your spouse is present with you, loving you, walking this life with you is a cherished gift! Since when did you think your life would be perfection in your marriage?  Did you really marry Prince Charming, and are you Cinderella? My husband snores and this can be quite maddening when sleep eludes me, but the very fact he IS snoring means he is with me snuggled in the bed. I may tear up and need reassurance, but the very fact I’m sniffling (again), means he has me to hold, kiss, and cherish.

Lastly, give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. He or she really did not wake up with a written plan to make your life miserable. They stumble.  They have their quirks and idiosyncrasies that rub you the wrong way, but that has been them, probably from the first day you met them, at least in part.  The example Gary gave was an unfortunate husband admiring a beautiful woman in front of his very pregnant wife.  Another time in this chapter for Parish and I to laugh. “What was he thinking?!”, I yelled.  Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means we ask that question in a nice way.  “Tell me what happened from your perspective?” No lectures, but a question and an open heart and mind.  Remember the tone and attitude matter.

So here we go again remembering this in our marriage, parenting, work relationships, and friendships.

“We all stumble in many ways.” James 3:2

I told Parish, “It’s like a field of sunflowers with a few bumble bees flying around. We can enjoy the beauty of the field and all its majesty, or we can live in fear that one of the bumble bees is going to hurt us and complain or not experience the beauty.”

Marriage has a few bumble bees, and, yes, we might get stung, but the beauty and majesty is worth it.

The next time your spouse stumbles, or any relationship causes you to stumble, remember it is not happening to you but for you to grow in holiness and righteousness. This is our redeeming love. As I was reminded while watching “Call the Midwife” and texting my friend, Lisa, who had seen the episode. Yes, until we see Jesus face to face, every day is a day to experience His redeeming love.

Call The Midwife

A serious post deserves a humorous ending. Celebrate the relationships that are still “there”.

Cherish.

Again.

WORSHIP SONG