I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for August, 2013

Afraid of . . . what?

I owe a great big thank you to Nina Roesner of “The Respect Dare” (check her blog out here!) for inspiring what is probably THE BEST heart to heart conversation I have ever had with my hubby.  This conversation was mentally and emotionally intimate and we reached new levels of understanding.  They may have been levels of understanding we should have reached before but we’re there now!!

The inspiration for this conversation came from a post about femininity that Nina posted a few days ago – click here to read it – in which she dared wives to ask their husbands what the men thought it meant to be feminine.  More specifically, what appealing qualities did their wives have that the men considered feminine.

Hubby and I chatted for close to two hours, starting with that particular subject and then progressing from there to other relationship related topics.

We ended up in a very interesting area – fear.

I know – not exactly where I expected to end up!  Much of our conversation centered around the way I approach him when I need to speak to him.  I know he prefers that I be direct and succinct.  Unfortunately, I often allow “direct and succinct” to come with an edge, almost like I’m challenging him.  That brings out an edge in him that causes him to see me as a competitor rather than as his partner.

NOTE – I AM NOT SAYING I CAUSE HIS BEHAVIOR.  But I can have an impact on how he interacts with me.  And vise versa.

So if I know this – and it’s not the first time we’ve had this conversation – then why do I fail to approach him gently?  And he knows whether I am coming gently or not because he says can see it in my face – specifically my eyes.

But seriously – if I know how to make requests/enter conversation with him in a way that will avoid conflict, why don’t I approach him that way EVERY TIME?!?!   This is a concept that I introduced into the conversation and kind of “talked it through” with hubby.  It boils down to this – I’m afraid.

Direct and succinct with a little bit of force will convey that I’m serious, that what I want from him is important to me and should be taken seriously, right?  Nothing wrong with asserting myself!  But the truth is, I’m afraid.  I’m afraid that, if I approach him gently, I will not be taken seriously.  I fear that he will minimize my desires/my needs and that I will end up feeling discarded.  Ignored.

That’s crazy.  I know it is.  I’ve seen the proof that he WON’T treat me that way.  The most recent event was today.

I have a bone spur in my right shoulder that needs to come out.  Due to a screaming fear of the MRI (I’m more than a little bit claustrophobic) and a busy schedule playing piano for numerous performances/organizations, I have put the surgery off.  The pain is running pretty high today – it’s humid so my arthritis is flaring and the bone spur is letting me know that it is still very much there – and hubby had to leave to move daughter number 2 into the dorm at UNI (go Panthers!!).  I looked at him about 15 minutes before he was due to leave, reminded myself to be gentle, and said very simply, “I’m not trying to be lazy and don’t want to ask too much, but would it be possible for you to empty the dishwasher before you leave?”

He looked at me and said, “Your shoulder?”

“Yeah.”

“Been pretty bad lately, huh?”

“Nausea inducing.”

“Anything to help, baby.” Kiss and smile and he was out the door.

As if that wasn’t enough, he spoke to my youngest daughter (child #3 who moves into HER dorm at Luther – Go Norse! – at the end of the month!) and said, “I need you to help your mom out by loading the dishwasher.  Her shoulder is really bad right now.”  I made one simple request of him – made it GENTLY – and he sought to not only meet the request but exceed it!

What was I so afraid of again?

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Nothing to Win

I’m stubborn.  No surprise there to those that know me.  And I am more than willing to argue the absolute dumbest things to death.  In my house, this has become known as a “light bulb” moment.  That name came from one of my kids who was courageous enough to point out the stupidity of a verbal battle hubby and I were engaged in.

But I’ve taken a good long – and not necessarily pleasant – look at some habits I need to change.  I will tell you that you need to pick your battles because only some are worth fighting.  My behavior tells a very different story.

My most common opponent is, unfortunately, my hubby.  But I’m learning a lesson – slowly, but I’m learning it!!  I don’t win ANYTHING when I compete with him over stupid things.  As a matter of fact, I lose.  I lose big.  

I lose closeness, peace of mind, happiness, time I could be spending enjoying him . . .  you get the idea.

So I’m turning in my uniform.  Quitting whatever team it was that I am on.  I will take a deep breath, think about whether or not I really want to fight over whatever particular issue we are facing and choose to work towards a solution WITHOUT trying to win anything.

It’s simple – the minute I start the battle, I’ve already lost. 

Song for Sunday

Simple Gestures

My oldest daughter was reduced to tears by a breakfast food yesterday.

Maybe I should give a little back story!  🙂

The eldest child turned 22 yesterday.  Still not sure how that’s possible since I am definitely not old enough to have a 22 year old.  I mean I’m only . . . wait . . . never mind.  Now where was I?

Oh yeah.  Crying over a baked good.

We were on a vacation earlier this month and my eldest child was talking to her paternal grandfather and said, “My birthday is in two weeks.  You should send me some Louie’s nut rolls.”

Louie’s nut rolls.  These are a breakfast delicacy held in great reverence by my husband.  He grew up in a small town in Michigan where these wonderful treats are made and each time we go back to our home state to visit family that live near where hubby grew up, he finds time to make a trip out and buy several to share!  I think they are pretty tasty but I’m not NEARLY as crazy about them as my hubby, my oldest child, my nephew . . . you get the idea.

A package arrived yesterday for the birthday girl.  She opened it and there, in the box, were Louie’s nut rolls.  Her grandpa remembered.  And he touched the heart of a 22 year old young woman in a powerful way.  It didn’t cost him much.  He didn’t have to risk his life to get them for her.  But he remembered and he acted on her request.

This particular grandparent does not have a reputation for being the “sappy, sentimental” type.  No one would ever accuse him of being free with emotional expression.  But he obviously has a soft spot for his grandkids!  The fact that he took her request – which she admits was more of a joke than anything – and acted on it touched her simply because he’s not known for this type of thing.  In her words, “Grandpa remembered.  Of all people, he remembered!”

I know this isn’t a huge revelation for most of us.  But I needed this reminder that sometimes the simplest gesture can speak love powerfully to those around us.  Sometimes all it takes to make someone feel valued is a nutroll.

Video

Song for Sunday

Thus Far . . .

There is an old hymn entitled “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” that contains the line “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come.”  As a child, I did not understand what the cranky old man from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” had to do with faith.

Then I found the word Ebenezer in scripture and was even more mystified.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a little more about the usage of that word and what part it plays in faith.  After a series of battles between the nation of Israel and the Philistines ended when God caused confusion among the Philistines which allowed the people of Israel to defeat them, Samuel raised a huge stone as a memorial to God’s provision.  The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words Eben ha ezer which means “stone of help” (check here for even more details!)  In I Sam. 7:12 we read, “Then Samuel took the stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.  He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

Ever since I discovered what “raising an Ebenezer” meant, Ebenezers have become a significant part of my faith walk.  No, I’m not running around putting stones down everywhere!  Most of my personal Ebenezers are in the form of jewelry (ask me about my thumb ring sometime!) or tattoos.

I discovered today, that there is a place in my life that serves as a HUGE Ebenezer.

Hubby and I had the chance today to go back and visit our Alma Mater, Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  My dear husband was especially excited to visit the campus.  The baseball program was stopped a couple of years after we graduated (hubby played for three years) and needless to say, he was disappointed.  The program will start back up with the 2013/2014 school year and due to a VERY generous gift (something in the neighborhood of $5 million) a brand new stadium has been built for the program!  Hubby wanted to see the stadium and, if possible, meet the coach.  He not only got to meet the coach, he was gifted with an official team hat! To say he was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning would be an understatement!

Everywhere we went on that campus, we found fond memories joining us on our walk.  From memories of the old baseball field – I spent many hours in the stands! – to the dorms we lived in, the memories were everywhere and quick to find us!

In the Faculty Hall of Honor, I found pictures of three of the music profs I studied with.

Doc StewartDoctor Richard Stewart (“Doc Stewart” as he was affectionately known) was the director of Chorale, the vocal ensemble I was in, but he was so much more than just a director.  He was a surrogate father, a mentor, and a teacher who understood the importance of investing in the young adults he was working with.  So much of who I am as a musician and director is due in large part to that man and his instruction.  My Sophomore year started on a really lousy note and this man was one of a few professors who took a vested interest in helping me walk through the issue and come out stronger on the other side.  He was, hands down, my favorite teacher ever.

I was very involved in the theater world on campus.  Dr. Orpha Galloway was Doctor Gallowaythe music director for each production I was involved with.  She not only gave me the chance to be onstage, she also took a chance on a college junior with a passion for musical theater and allowed me to serve as assistant vocal director for a production of Sound of Music (I worked with the nun’s chorus!).  She definitely possessed the skill to handle the job herself and it meant the world to me that she allowed me to stretch my own talents in such a way!

Joyce HornIn the fall of 1991, I had one class and a directed reading (think independent study with LOTS of reading!) and Joyce Horn had agreed to be my faculty supervisor.  I was trying to juggle college, marriage, and being a mother of a newborn during that semester and Joyce insisted that I bring my newborn daughter to our twice monthly meetings.  The actual academic discussion only took a few minutes so she spent the rest of the time loving on my daughter.  As a young wife and new mother living 2 hours from her own parents, this “adoptive grandmother” touched my heart and did much to keep my sanity intact.  I doubt she knows just how much her willingness to love on my daughter touched a young mom’s heart!

We saw the building where we went on our first date to an on-campus concert, our first apartmenttook a picture of our first apartment (over there to the right!), reminisced about the various places that were significant to our relationship and experiences, and marveled over how much has changed.  As we wandered all over campus, faces of friends kept running through my mind.  Many of them I have stayed in touch with (thank you Facebook!) and I am blessed to still call them friends.  As we prepared to leave, I was overwhelmed with how deeply I was affected by my time on that campus.  So much of who I am as a musician and a theater “geek” is due to the experiences I had on that campus and the leadership I worked under.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, we have spent some of our time in Grand Rapids driving past the homes we lived and the place where the girls took dance class.  Our conversation has been full of “I remember . . . “, “Oh my gosh, that’s where we . . . ” and we’ve spent a couple of days with dear friends who were neighbors for a few years and we’ve reminisced about our shared experiences more than 10 years ago.

Grand Rapids, Michigan is a HUGE “Ebenezer” in my life.  It was in that city that I met my husband, had all four of my children, “found myself” as a musician and theater performer, made lifelong friends and took my first steps into becoming who I am supposed to be.  Spending time remembering all that happened here has shown me so clearly just where and how God has led.  I’m reminded of how blessed I am and excited to see what is yet to come!

Vacation Fun

Take 2 adults in their sixties, add their oldest offspring plus her husband and their four children – three girls aged (21, 20, and 18) and a son (17) – and toss in two more grandkids – aged almost 11 and 6 – whose parents had to work on that particular day and take the whole crew to South Haven, Michigan and what do you get?  A walk to the lighthouse, wading in Lake Michigan, ice cream, crazy hats, antique shops, a wine tasting (for three of those over 21!), window shopping, pictures of a mama duck with two babies, an old sailing ship and a great day!!  The kids were awesome, everyone was super flexible about our very spontaneous agenda.  The drastic range in ages didn’t matter and we all came home tired and content.

Crazy hats!

Crazy hats!

The youngest in our group got soaked clear up both legs!

The youngest in our group got soaked clear up both legs!

Wading in the Lake

The lighthouse

The lighthouse

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