Moving Day

Like the beautiful presence of a tender and courageous father, Jesus wept with Martha and Mary.  He proclaimed,

I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. — John 11:25 NLT

I'm overwhelmed to know that I have a heavenly father who not only holds me when I'm weeping, but He also promises me life in abundance.  He is the perfect life coach.  Just enough empathy to feel heard and held along with a life-changing, locker room, pep talk. Today my middle child moves out and into the world of work, rent, and college. You don't let go without remembering.  Remembering is complicated.

God we honor grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the journey you've brought us through.  Our hope is in our days moving forward in that same grace.

Her empty room is a mixture of weeping and an empty "tomb" in which she soars into her new life–her story with God.  "Oh the Places You Will Go!"

The expression of "they grow up so fast" has come to pass in my life.  Just yesterday we were eating pancakes, reading books, and watching Dragon Tales.

We praise God for His comfort and coaching–a new beginning.  God, today, we give you all we can right where we are in the midst of change and transition. Help us to once and for all lay it down and move into the beauty of your love and promises. Help us to rid ourselves of fear and embrace your tears and joy for us in all we face.

Lauren Daigle- Once And For All

 

Getting Back to the Basics of Marriage

I purchased a book for my 8th grade daughter, The Good Book for Kids, by Lisa Bergren.  Lisa creatively writes God’s story from Genesis to Revelation using the Bible, discussion, and modern-day stories.  Naturally, the book begins with Genesis, Chapter 1–In the beginning

I pondered the Adam and Eve story.  Mind you, I’ve heard that story many times throughout my life and even had the felt board rendition as a child. Lisa’s first chapter only discussed creation, not the fall of man.  In this concentrated focus, I imagined my marriage as God created. I began to see my husband as created by God, in His image. We all can list the many “views” or “thoughts” we have about our marriage partner.  Yet, when I go back to the garden, I can see through a different lens.

I see a man who, since the beginning of time, longs to work, provide, love, play, and connect. Through these desires, he struggles with brokenness and stumbles. He is guided by God in his God story, and I have been partnered with him in a covenant relationship to journey life. He is broken. I am broken. Together we put pieces together through the power of the Holy Spirit to love and glorify God. There will be no time this side of heaven that your spouse will meet all of your expectations.

So, how do we live?

I believe the answer is in the story of chapter 3 of Genesis (Chapter 2 of my book).

  1. “Did God really say…..”

When you start to rationalize breaking your wedding vows to please your whims or question the sanctity of marriage, then it’s time to take a deep breath and seek God’s love and wisdom. I can lose my religion over the smallest of irritants, so I’m not judging with this statement.  It’s a daily reminder that my marriage is Holy and precious, and, yes, God really did say this…

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all…

2.  The serpent denied the truth. “You will not die…”

When we begin to build walls, contempt, or apathy in our relationship, the marriage slowly “dies”.  Death is evident in our world, and the marriage only works when both are praying and on guard.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

3.  Trusting God versus wondering if He is a killjoy.

Eve thought God was holding out on her–there must be something about this fruit that will make me happy, and God is holding out on me. In our marriage, we can get pretty frustrated or bored. The grass on the other side of the fence still needs mowing, tending to, and, believe me, the lawn you admire or desire has weeds and dog poop, too. From a distance, that other marriage looks so perfect. Turn your eyes to your marriage (or lawn), and get to work. God’s promises are not to burden or to restrict, but to give you freedom and joy. When I look beyond and compare, I’m always frustrated and anxious. When I turn my heart towards home, I can see my reality of goodness, areas to work on, and joy.

“Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, affection, prayer, mutual respect, and a rock-solid commitment between a husband and a wife.” – Dave Willis

If you are married, pray that God will help you go back to the garden and remember that your spouse is made the in the image of God. Remember this is a spiritual lens–God’s love and affection, brokenness, and mercy.  Be on guard to reject faulty thinking and deception about marriage and relationships. Be quick to claim good things for your marriage and to do the work.

If you are single, build on your relationship with God utilizing these concepts and verses.  When you are drawn to God and His love, you are able to pour into the lives of others and make a difference in the world around you. Oh, how the world needs Godly men and women to show the love of Christ!

 

Your Table Is Enough

This post will be simple in nature. The simplicity of community and friendship has been forgotten in our busy world. It’s not that we don’t practice hospitality, we’ve lost touch of the deeper “why” behind connection.  We are drawn to celebrate, invite, connect, and even the introvert will find their way towards  a human connection.  A book I’m reading caused serious attention to the “why”.  The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell is a woman’s journey towards fellowship and love in her community.

Having read the first chapter, I visited a group of friends in the home of a new mom–baby number three, a beautiful boy. We had lunch as the children played, and I held the sweet bundle of preciousness in my arms. I find complete joy in holding a sleeping baby while wrestling with eating with one hand. I go back to my days of motherhood and smile.

Our conversation was a cacophony of the season of life we are in and talking it out. In the talking it out you realize that others have been there and offer empathy, a laugh, and suggestions. Later that week, I took heed to a suggestion which ultimately connected me with a family member in a positive way. Honestly, I drove away wondering why I had shared, but then God showed up later with the “why”.  I love when that happens.  Don’t you?

Visiting another friend to drop of materials for work, I left with the promise of a sofa and chair for my oldest daughter.  They were getting new  furniture, and her old became my daughter’s new. Baby clothes passed down, a hug from a friend and tears because you miss them, reassuring, connecting around the table…..

I suppose these things go on every day, and you may wonder why I’m writing about the simplicity of the day-to-day, but my heart is aching for acceptance. Are you so busy and frazzled that you wonder if you connect enough? What if I told you, without knowing you, that I believe you are doing your very best, and it is pretty dang awesome!

I’m so tired of thinking that if I don’t do ______________ then I haven’t tried hard enough. 

I beseech you to accept your table, and, if you judge others, please stop. Let them know their table is enough.

I read books and convince myself that I must do more. If I read a book about solitude and rest, I rearrange the calendar for alone time.  Reading a book on connection causes me to reflect on what more can I do.  God quietly shared with me, “It is enough”.   My enough caused me to see my life in the now, in this moment. In this moment, my home is quiet and I”m enjoying my time in solitude .  Little by little the day will creep in and all will change.  Today, God, You have given me my daily bread.

Mother Teresa  said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.”

You don’t need to do more.  You need to remember.  God will cause us to “go away to a quiet place and rest”, and He will also show you opportunities to connect and to find peace.  Just before the call for a quiet rest, they were pretty busy connecting to the point they forgot to eat.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

My connections are specific to His story for me. Do not try to become the author from the book you are reading, your neighbor, or your coworker’s Pinterest life.  Your cup of coffee at Starbucks with a friend is just as wonderful as a fine dining experience for a crowd in your home.

Your smile, your touch, your quiet presence are all a part of  the amazing “why”.  Through the course of your day at work, home, and play you can notice and remember, or you can think about the next thing and disconnect.  My personal favorite, begrudge the moment because, well,  it or they are annoying.  See  the moment differently–through the eyes of love. Walk in the attitude that your table is enough, because God’s love is working it all out.

I want to close with a beautiful story about Ludmilla.  A powerful story about a woman living out her life through love and connection despite the many challenges she has faced in her lifetime.

 

 

Pergola Paradise (on a budget)

When we first moved into our home, we were thrilled to see wisteria growing in the backyard. We would always admire the beauty and the smell, and we tried so many times to grow wisteria in the past, but we were never successful. We had some work done in the backyard and had to move the wisteria to put in a patio, but we replanted after the project.  Thankfully, the wisteria survived.

In fact, each year we would have to cut the branches back because the vine would grow exponentially! We dreamed of the vine growing over a beautiful pergola, and we would say, “One day, we will have a pergola.”  For years we researched, planned, and dreamed, but other projects always seemed to take precedence.  Last weekend, we made the dream happen!

1. Scope out the space where you desire to build a pergola.

We researched purchasing kits that matched our area/size but found they were expensive–out of our budget. When you go on home improvement store websites they offer standard sizes.  Our patio did not meet the standards that typical pergolas came in.  We wanted a size that met our needs and desires. With this in mind, you have a choice. You can order the kit, or you can “do it yourself”.

2.  Once you decide to “do it yourself”, look at various pergola options and decide on your design based on what will fill your space.

For example, do you want a free standing pergola, or do you want to attach one end to the house?  You have to consider windows and space. Do you want to paint it, or do you like the color of wood? We typed in the words “pergola design” in Google and visited many websites.

3. Create a materials list based on size and design.

From post to post, our pergola is a bit over 12′ x 13′. The supports and rafters are longer. We used treated wood, most of it from Home Depot. You can simply write down your materials list or even create a spreadsheet with item counts and costs so you can budget your job. Creating a list will make things easier when ordering materials.

We used 6″ x 6 ” posts, 2″ x 8″ supports, 2″ x 6″ rafters, and 2″ x 4″ slats. For the angled bracing, we used 4″ x 6″ boards.  Don’t forget the hardware. We used half-inch diameter carriage bolts, half-inch lag (hex) screws, and many of the carriage bolts were 10 inches in length to go through the larger posts and supports. We used the lag screws (5 inch) for the 2 x 8’s that ran the longer length of the pergola in areas where we could not through bolt. To set rafters in place, we used TimberLOK screws that went completely through the span of the rafter into the supports.  We used 3 1/2 inch deck screws to fasten the slats to the rafters.

When considering materials, and even the building process, it is much like building a deck.

Posts, supports, Rafters,  Slates, Angled Bracing

4. You can save some time by ordering your materials online at your local home improvement store.

It may be helpful to visit the store ahead of time to see what materials they have on hand and to get an idea of what your materials look like. You can also write down item numbers (or take pics of the tags), to use for placing your online order later.

5. If you do not have a suitable truck to transport  the materials, you may want to consider renting a trailer. We rented a 12 foot trailer from U-Haul for around 40 dollars for a half day.  Our son-in-law had the truck with a hitch to pull it. Your situation may be different depending on the size of your truck bed, or the length of the boards you are carrying. We had some 16′ foot boards and a 6′ truck bed.

6. The Build !

The first thing we did was to frame up two posts, the support beams, and angled supports to create an arch.  We did two of these. Fasten the posts and supports together with deck screws first, stand them up (with a friend or two), and check that the supports are level. You may want to check throughout the project to make sure that everything is level and plumb.

We then used 2 by 4’s to make temporary X-bracing. This allowed our arches to be supported and stand up while we added the additional support beams, rafters, angled bracing, and slats.

X-bracing

 

It took three FULL days, two strong men, and the ladies to help with support of posts, holding ladders, retrieving hardware, cleaning up, cooking, and most importantly having fun along the way….

The last drilling of the nail…..

Adelaide turned 1!

Beautiful Sam is having her first baby! We enjoyed a baby shower lunch.

Let’s paint something for the pergola!

The next morning I got up early to enjoy the pergola paradise and Bible study.

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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…