Monthly Archives: April 2013

Where is Your Heart?

We’ve heard the Bible verse about where are heart can be……

 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Most sermons center this verse around our spending.  You know….. if all my receipts are from Wal-Mart, Target, or Amazon.com, my treasures take away from tithing, charity support or even helping out a friend in need.  So my heart in essence is within the overindulgence and the over-spending.

(sigh)

But what if we apply that same verse to our personal relationships.  The sting of this reality causes my heart to stop. I mean if you really think about what that verse is implying…… marital and parental relationships expose a different kind of story.

For example……

I have witnessed I don’t know how many times….. ahem, and I will be honest with you…… I, myself, have done this exact same thing.  A parent’s eyes and attention focused on the cell phone reading text messages, surfing the web or just talking.  The children seek attention by exclaiming, “Mommy, Daddy look!”  Eyes don’t leave the tiny screen. Or only words are stated back, “Yeah, honey! Cool!”  The time spent….. gone….. and only a text message attended to……

Or

A video game is played or eyes on the TV or even computer time…….  chores are ignored.  Homework ignored.  Friendly games of basketball with the family unwanted.

Or

How about a craft or hobby overtakes the time that could have been spent with family and friends?  Couldn’t I just put down the crochet hook to really listen to what my child is telling me?

Or

Sending the kids outside to play just to indulge in a habit like eating, drinking…… ahem, there have been times when I chose food over spending time with my kids.  Sad, but true.  Breaks my heart to think I once did that.

Am I saying focusing on your phone, games, TV, computer or hobbies are bad?  Not at all.  What am I suggesting is that you evaluate exactly how much time is spent attending to them.  Are we attending more to those pleasures than the people around us?  Are we forsaking relationships over pleasure making objects?

What messages are we sending those we ignore or choose to pay more attention to a technological device?  I am too busy to look.  You’re not important. I don’t really care. You don’t matter.  I don’t want to be bothered.  You’re bothering me.  You’re a bother.

I know that isn’t what we truly feel but those are the messages our actions are providing.

So where is your treasure?  And where is your heart?

10 Things to do instead……

1.  Instead of spending an hour on the computer surfing…….. read a book with your little tot.

2.  Instead of pinning on pinterest……. find objects to use as pins and have a bowling tourney!

3.  Instead of playing on the video game device alone…… call the whole family in the room and play together.

4.  Instead of texting, emailing, or whatever it is you do on your handheld device…….. limit your usage to an hour a day and play a family board game or connect with your little ones.

5.  Instead of watching TV……call the family into the kitchen and bake cookies!  Then of course fill up a glass of cold milk and enjoy those warm delights!

6.  Instead of painting……. string an old sheet on the clothes line and fill spray bottles with colored water.  You and the kids get artistic spraying the sheet!

7.  Instead of keeping your nose in a book or on a kindle……. save it until bedtime, and do a craft with the kids.

8.  Instead of spending hours shopping…… spend hours talking with your teen.

9.  Instead of driving and listening to the radio……. turn it off or turn it up and EVERYONE start singing like you’re a rock band!

10.  Instead of everyone going into separate rooms to eat dinner…… sit together at the table and enjoy each others company.

Advertisements

Little Things

I was mad……

I called Grandma and just vented.  I didn’t know who else to call.  I hadn’t been married long and I just needed to vent to Mom.  But, Mom was gone.  My heart ached inside.  She always knew what to say…… she and Dad held hands right up to the day she passed.  They would steal kisses that made my younger brother and I squirm and cry out, “EWWWW!”  She never said an unkind word about Dad.  And she stood by him regardless of the hair-brain idea he was cooking up.

I needed to know her secret.  Plain and simple.  What did she do that made everything seem so peaceful between the two of them?  But, her secrets died with her.  Some things, I guess, were never to be revealed or passed along.  However, a clue was given the morning after that tragic death day.  Mark and I stayed the night with Dad.  The next morning, I made eggs and biscuits…… just like Mom would have……. Mark slipped up behind me and gently kissed my left shoulder.  Dad witnessed it and broke down crying saying that we should always show how much love we had for each other.

((sigh))

Little did I know that Dad had the secret tucked within his heart as well.  He just couldn’t share it without further heartbreak.

(ahem….. the lump in my throat)

So, indeed, I called my mom’s mom……. Grandma.  She and Grandpa may have gotten a little cranky in their golden age but they always seemed happy in the stories my mom told.  I dialed the number.  And when she answered the phone, the buildup of frustration forced its way through the airwaves.  I was mad.  Mark’s fault.  I  wasn’t to blame.  My blood curled while I spilled out the scenario to Grandma.

I realized that Grandma and Grandpa married in the glorious 40’s and raised their children through the Bible belted 50’s.  But her answer to my angered question, “What do I do now?” floored me.  Shocked and confused as I heard her reply, “Dear, what time does Mark get home from work?”  With a puzzled brows, I answered, “5:30.”

Now what came next was so last century!!  “Now, you listen to me young lady…… you make sure you have dinner on the table, hot and ready when he comes home.”

WHAT???  No, You go girl!  Don’t stand for that!  How dare he do this to my sweet dear!!!!

I questioned why she would be telling me to feed him when at the moment I wanted to scream at him.  She just chuckled.  “Your mom said the same thing……”

Aha!  I was about to hear the secret……

“You don’t get it….. it is about the little things.  You can fight over them or you can build a marriage on them.”

I frowned.  I didn’t get it.

“When you do something….. little things…… out of love….. for him, you will see a change.  In you.”

I didn’t want to hear it.  I wasn’t the one needing changing.  He was……

“When you show someone love through little acts like having dinner on the table or putting a note in their lunchbox, you are making them feel loved.  And when you feel loved, honey, you ain’t gonna fight.”

Bingo!  The light bulb just lit up.

Romans 12:10
Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.

Ten Little Things You Can Do……

1.  Make a cup of coffee and take it to the one you love.

2.  Leave a post-it note somewhere your loved one can find it (computer screen, on cell phone, on steering wheel) that simply says, “I love you.”

3.  Open the soda can before you hand it over.

4.  Come up with a signal that means “I love you” and do it often….. like Carol Burnett’s ear tug or three squeezes while you hold hands.

5.  Check out the latest  book of a favorite author from the library and put it on his breakfast plate.

6.  Write a love letter.

7.  Send ((hugs)) as a text message.

8.  Write the Bible verse: 1 Cor. 13:4-8….. substitute your loved one’s name for “love”

9.  Bake favorite cookies, box them up with a love note,  and drop them off at your loved one’s work place.

10.  Hire a babysitter, grab a pizza, rent a snuggle up movie, and have a quiet night at home.

 

 

 

The Perfect Marriage

I can remember my wedding day as if it was yesterday.  At the reception, I stood along side of my Mark at the receiving line.  Family and friends hugged us and congratulated us.  I remember dashing off to the airport in a shoe polished car.  Mark drove as I picked birdseed out of my “big” hair! The one thing I remember the most is that my jaw and cheeks hurt from smiling.

Funny, how many hours Mark and I spent planning our big day.   Today, I am satisfied with how simple our wedding really was……everything was second hand or rented except my gown.  The cake was nothing compared to  the cakes I decorate for a birthday party.  Simple.  Trust me, I got a lot of ribbing from friends when I used my brother’s candles instead of purchasing new ones.  Some one even went as far as telling me it was bad luck.

I chuckle now because I remember quoting my grandmother at that very moment, “Oh, honey…… marriage isn’t about the wedding.  It is the life you build together that matters.”

Mark and I are still building upon our marriage.  Every. Day.

Ahem….. and second hand is still in practice.

I was recently asked how we have managed to have the perfect marriage.  I smiled.  I told her that no marriage is the fairy tale perfect marriage.  There isn’t a “happily ever after.”  The shock spread across that her face.  I explained that I would only be setting her up for failure if I told her that she was going to be happy every day in her marriage.

I think she was really truly concerned when she posed the question, “I would never have guessed you and Mr. Mark were having troubles.”  I couldn’t help the gut buster laugh.  I reassured her that Mark and I do have a wonderful marriage.  I couldn’t imagine a day without him.  She was relieved but skeptic.

I explained that like every marriage the first few years were hard.  We had to learn to live together.  Communicate instead of argue.  We had to figure out each other.  We changed our “My” thinking into the  “Our” mentality.  I honestly wonder sometimes if we could have saved ourselves so many arguments in those early years if we had really practiced the Great Command……

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

My advice to her was to live each moment in her future marriage following that command.  God first.  The marriage second.  Pray together.  Pray for each other.  Take time for God.  Take time together.  Think of God and spouse first, then yourself.  Focus on the good and the blessings God has given instead of what others may have that you don’t.

If you put our marriage under the microscope, you will see God’s work.  Mark and I practice Matthew 22:37-39.  But we also have learned the following…..

1.  Secrets are Satan’s breeding ground.   Secrets are intended to keep someone in the dark about what you are doing or have done.  Hiding the behaviors only adds to the marriage break down.  Carrying a secret brings in frustration, anger and turmoil.  Not a good recipe for a healthy vibrant marriage.  If you really take a hard look around you, you can see the secrets that are tearing down relationships.  Adultery is just one.  Keeping the truth as to how much you are spending from your spouse, sneaking off to spend hours staring at pornography, and secretly having lunch with someone because you think your spouse will get upset are just a few examples of how secrets can tear down a relationship and a marriage.

2.  The little things are important.  My grandmother taught me this one.  The little things are what you can argue over or build a solid marriage with.  It is the little thoughtfulness and acts of kindness that makes you feel love.  It is the little hugs I give Mark….. just spontaneously and sometimes taking him off guard.  It is the kiss I receive every morning on my left shoulder.  It is the love notes we leave  behind or the simple text out of the blue that reads, “I love you.”  It is the holding hands when we walk together.   Bringing a glass of tea on a hot summer day to each other when the yard work is being done.  Those little things speak volumes.

3.  Listen instead of immediately defending.  This one is tough but doable!  Life is never a constant bed of roses.  Arguments will arise even in the strongest marriages.  But it is how you conduct those arguments that is the difference in making or breaking a marriage.  Hearing one another out, being slow to speak, and really taking a look at what is bothering someone only helps the moment.  You will be surprised to see the error of ways or coming to a compromise when you truly listen.

4.  The bark is worse than the bite.  Arguments erupt when we attack with our words.  If I bark or yell or scream, Mark isn’t going to respond positive.  But if I approach him with a matter, we can work things out so much faster and respectfully.  I know there are times when I spout out something hurtful or get so angry I can’t do anything but yell.  I’m imperfect.  But, luckily Mark will diffuse the heated moment by listening.  Then again, if I follow the great command, and think about how I want to be treated with respect and love, fighting words are kept at bay and my tongue is held.  Doesn’t mean I am rolling over or being weak.  It means that I take a moment and approach Mark respectfully.  Ahem….. this is something I have to remind myself often.

5.  Leaving the change to God.  I will say this right now.  I can not change Mark or any other human being.  I can only change my reaction or my behavior.  We must put the perfect person away and truly realize that none of us are perfect.  Change is better when God does it.  But first, I must allow God to change me first.  We can point things out that need to be corrected or at least brought to light, but the ultimate change comes from within and with the Holy Spirit.

6.  Prayer works.  Pray for each other and with each other.  It is as simple as that.  Ahem…. and I don’t mean to continuously pray those selfish prayers of wanting something from the other person.  Pray for their personal “want to.”  Again, put the change in God’s hand.  Pray for a hedge of protection.  Pray  together over your children.  Pray over the finances, the old becoming unreliable vehicles, and over each meal.  When you pray together openly, you are modeling for your children.  Pray before you approach your spouse with a problem.  And then pray together afterwards.  (And sometimes during!)

Is my advice going to save a marriage?  I don’t know.  Is this perfect advice?  Probably not.  But, you must realize 1-6 is based upon Matthew 22:37-39.  And they probably wouldn’t work if you don’t recognize the Great Command and put it into practice.

Least I Can Do

Have you ever received a nice gift or a favor from someone? What did you do in return?  I bet it was an expression of appreciation in some form or another.  A thank you card, a batch of homemade cookies, or just a simple spoken “Thank You,” are just a few ways to demonstrate gratitude.

God gave us a gift.  His son.  He made a sacrifice just so I can have a personal relationship with Him.

Just  how does one show appreciation for that?

Acknowledgement?  Yes

A grateful prayer? Yes

But what about how I live?  Isn’t the way I live day in and day out a means of expressing my gratitude?  I believe it should.  I mean it is the least I can do…… right?

Shouldn’t my actions, my words, my most inner thoughts….. be of God?  Lending a helping hand without anything in return, raising my children as followers, and possessing Christ-centered lifestyle…… these just the least I can do?  Will it harm me?  Will I view it as a bother?

When I am not living within the gratefulness I ought to, I tend to be grumpy, messy, and just unpleasant.  And when I do, I am belittling what Christ did for me.

So when I bash someone behind their back with unfair and often unkind words, I am doing the same to the reason Christ died.  When I curse or watch TV riddled with filth, I cover the cleansing power of Christ with yuck.  When I go through life living the way I want to, I am not even acknowledging God’s atonement, grace, and love.

Living wholesome, filling my mind with God’s word, and following His example are just the least I can do for the magnitude of what Christ did!!

Besides, if I gave a gift and the person doesn’t appreciate my kindness, I probably won’t give again……. would you??

 

 

The Tireless Cycle

You’ve heard the old saying, “Two steps forward, Ten steps back.”

The cycle in which I hope to one day break!  Unfortunately, this week, I’ve noticed some of the old habits creeping back in…….. sugar, caffeine (green tea only), and my old pal, overeating.  It crept up a little unexpected.

I guess.

I mean, I gave up sugar for Lent.  Lent is over.  I allowed myself to partake.  And it is so true, the sugar’s psychological pull yanks you right into wanting more sugar. The more sugar, the more tired I feel.  And thus, I drink not one, but two….. ahem, three…… no wait, let me take off my shoes and count……UGH!!  Let’s just say more green tea than I should.  The caffeine and sugar throwbacks spurs the overeating guilt.

Then I wind up feeling horrible, miserable, and wondering why on earth I feel this way.  Then, it hits me.  Yep, it is back. In. Full. Force.

Thank God, it has only taken me four days to realize it.  And today, I gotta take back my sanity.

I found the underlying cause……  it is so sneaky.  I mean it.  That underlying reason to indulge in sugar to trigger the spiral……..  I really hate it.  But, there is something to be said when you pray, “God grant me the knowledge and open my eyes.”

It’s justifiable anger…… no, wait, justifiable at one time.  I left it in the past only to walk right back to the alter and pick it right back up.  This time, however, it was a quiet retrieval.  Since, the event occurred a few days ago, I prided on the fact that I faced it without a binge.

But, I faced it with food.  Gee, I hate it when I seek the comfort of food.  Yep, anger mixed with a whole lot of pain pulled me right into the grips of sugar.  The anger, pain cocktail sickened me the moment it reared its ugly head.  My first instinct was to fall on my knees and pray.  But apparently, I snuck just a bit of it back and tucked it away….. justifiably so.  I mean it is MY anger and pain.  But, I so blindly took it back that it took three days of a sugar induced tail-spin to figure it out.

I guess, I should be satisfied with discovering it before a pant size increased.

So then, I thought….. are there those in the Bible that struggled with this tireless cycle?  Hmmmm…… Noah became a drunk after the flood.  Wonder if he struggled with the whole “survivors guilt” or perhaps the endless recycling movie in his mind replayed events of watching people die?  Then there is Hosea’s wife…… she just couldn’t stop her selfish, drive to other men besides her husband.  Was she struggling with a painful past?  Did it cause her to seek comfort where she shouldn’t have?

Or was it the age old, “I’m angry.  I’ll show them to hurt me” thinking that drives us to hurt ourselves in return?  Crazy to think  overindulging as a form of revenge.  But, nonetheless, I have thought it.

Does anyone else out there relate to this?  I mean, am I the only one afflicted with this kind of irrational thinking?

Well, today, I take back my sanity.  I am to purge the kitchen cabinets…… rid them of tempting sugar.  My justifiable trips to get more sugar, caffeine, and overindulgence have to stop.  I am only hurting myself.  I can not take revenge on anger.  It is useless and senseless.

I’ve emptied the pockets of all the tiny bits of residue to the once justifiable anger.  I surrendered them last night.  Or at least I thought so, until this morning when I found another piece tucked away.  Today, Jesus’ outstretched arms are not for me to embrace but rather to be that little girl handing over something she shouldn’t be messing with.

Today, Lord, I pray I recognize the un-surrendered bits of anger and hand them over to You.  Lord, I ask that You give me the strength to throw out the sugar temptations.  I ask that You please continue to bless me in this journey to overcome.  May today be the day, that I lift up my face and accept Your salvation instead of running to the grips of my addiction.  Lord, may this confession be used by You to show someone struggling that they are not alone and that this imperfect process can be a means of triumph.  Amen