Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's Not You, It's me

Over the past couple weeks I started reading a small book by Lysa TerKeurst.  Lysa is the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, which is a wonderful ministry to women.  She also oversees women’s ministry at her home church, Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.  This is a woman that I do not know personally, but love deeply.  Things she writes pierce my heart, growth my faith, and teach me lessons.  

The book is called “Capture His Heart” and it’s about a wife’s relationship with her husband.  I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately. I need more development in the area of being a better spouse.  There are many things I do well, but many days being the wife I’m called to be isn’t one of them.  I have these shortcomings that get in the way of the person I want to be to John.  I can be bossy, prickly, selfish, and I don’t communicate my expectations very well.  I’ve learned too that unmet expectations lead to disappointments…disappointments lead to some other not so nice things.  Sometimes things come out of my mouth before I even think of the effect it will have on him.  

It’s easy to point my finger at John and get into the “well, if only he would…” (fill in the blank).  But, what this book I am reading is teaching me, and what I have heard preached by our pastor at Lifepoint, is that it isn’t about what I need him to do or be; it’s about who I am and what I need to do.  I have control over my circumstances (and my mouth)…I don’t have to be some sort of victim. I don’t have to sulk when my needs aren’t met or expect my husband to read my mind (rocket science, I know!).

This week I listened to a Podcast by Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church.  The message was about marriage and relationships (just what I needed!).  He made this statement in the message, sort of a question really.  “Are you what the person you are looking for is looking for?”  If I want John to be patient, caring, affectionate, attentive, etc. then I need to be those things to him.  There was that information again—that it’s not about him, it’s about me!  

This realization is difficult to digest at times.  There are moments when I want to wallow in my own pool of “poor me.”  There are hours of my day that I want to play the “blame game.”  However, that isn’t what love really is and if I truly love this man (which I do) I need to step up my game.  I want to be what he’s looking for.  I know he’s not looking for a wife that keeps a mental list of the last time he unloaded the dishwasher, took over with the kids, paid me a compliment, or cooked me dinner.  

I’m going to set aside some time this week to get in touch with a better picture of what it is that he’s looking for.  I think I know what his desires are, but I certainly don’t want to assume.  I’d rather have him tell me and then I can work on doing a better job to meet his needs.  

I know too that when I push aside my pride and can allow myself to say “it’s not you, it’s me” the rewards will be greater.  I don’t feel good about myself after I have said something hurtful, or have had my expectations not met.  It may be more work to meet his needs, but I’ll have a sense of accomplishment and feel like a better person, a better wife, for having put his needs before my own.  

One of my very favorite pieces of scripture is 1st Corinthians 13:4-8

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

If I insert my name where it says “love,” I can’t go wrong. I’ll never be perfect, and neither will John.  I will mess up.  I will still have moments when I’ll say things I’d rather take back.  This scripture though reminds both of us that we won’t keep record of those moments.  We will forgive each other and move forward.  

I certainly don’t have all the answers.  I’m just a wife that wants to be better and bring glory to the gift I’ve be given.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, June 24, 2011

She Met a Princess

We just returned from a vacation to Florida.  We traveled to Orlando to visit my younger sister.  While we were there we spent a day, just the four of us, at the Magic Kingdom.  I haven’t been to Disney since I was a young girl; John had never been.  We swallowed our pride and paid the hefty entry fee and let me tell you how glad I am that we did.  The day we spent at the “happiest place on Earth” will be imprinted on my heart forever.  Maybe it was because my kids are the perfect ages to take it all in, maybe it was the sunshine, the parade, the music, the rides…I’m not sure, but I know there was something magical about it.  I could write many posts about that day, but for now what really stands out is Sydney meeting the princesses. 

When we arrived at the park in the morning, I saw her big brown eyes fill up with tears the first time she saw The Castle.  She grabbed my arm and in a small voice said, “We finally made it mommy!  Look at the castle!”  It was adorable and my heart melted right then and there. 

Sydney has a nervous laugh that she lets out when she get really excited about something.  The 15 minutes we waited in line to meet Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella I heard that laugh.  She grinned from ear to ear and squeezed my hand.  When it was her turn, Cinderella walked over and took her by the hand to a velvet bench.  They sat down together and talked.  I couldn’t hear what they said, but I could tell from body language it was about her hair bow and her eye shadow (yes, I’m talking about Cinderella noticing how Syd was dressed!).  They shared a hug and took a few pictures.   

Then, Sleeping Beauty came over and took Syd to another velvet couch.  I could hear their conversation.  Sleeping Beauty quickly noticed Syd’s mismatched flip flops and paid her a compliment on her style.  She asked Syd if she thought Prince Charming would like it if she wore a dancing shoe on one foot and a ballet slipper on the other.  Syd beamed and giggled.  

I felt full with happiness as I watched my daughter look at the princesses.  I know she didn’t see them as women dressed in costumes.  She really thought they were the REAL DEAL.  Her imagination leads to awesome things.  She often tells me that she wants to be a mermaid when she grows up and she's growing her hair as long as Rapunzel's.  Who could argue with that?

There are probably people who would criticize me and say I should correct her; tell her those aren’t real princesses, or that there are no such thing as mermaids.  But, the look on her face, the excitement in her voice after that encounter…it goes unmatched. 

I couldn’t be more thankful that we were able to take them to the place “Where Dreams Come True” because for me, that day, dreams did come true.  I’ve dreamed of sharing special moments with my children.  My expectations were exceeded beyond my wildest dreams!

What I take away from that day, that moment, is the feeling of innocence.  My kids are overflowing with innocence and excitement.  Their eyes are completely open with wonder; their hearts are wide open.  They love things fiercely.  They experience emotion deeply.  They are wonder-filled many days, almost every day.  It’s my mood, the mood of others, and the world that bring them down.  

If I allow my children to be my guide there could be many more days that are just as exciting as that day at Disney.  God hopes for me that I approach life like they do; just looking for what I can learn, experience, have fun with, and be excited about.  Childlike faith trusts. Childlike faith knows no bounds. Childlike faith listens to what is said, and believes it. I aspire to have childlike faith. 

I promise you that you cannot get into God's kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does. Mark 10:15 (CEV)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For the Love of Summer

Even if you haven’t read much of the Bible I’m certain you are familiar with Ecclesiastes 3:1 which tells us, for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  I love this verse.  I like to read it during trying times because it gives me comfort.  But, I also like to refer to it in a very literal since.  My favorite season is upon us…SUMMER!  I LOVE SUMMER!  I’m so thankful for the change of seasons.  I love practically everything about summer.  I love the long days, fireflies, the smell of sunscreen on my kids’ skin, cookouts, wearing flip flops, summer reading lists, lightened schedules, warm breezes, and I LOVE to be at the pool. 

Our community has one of the most beautiful pools.  It is situated on top of a hill, overlooking a lake.  The lake is surrounded by big, old trees.  Sitting poolside gives me the most awesome view of the lake and those trees.  The sounds I hear there are of people laughing and splashing and the breeze blowing through all the tall trees.  It is so serene. 

Both the kids are part fish and love to swim.  Few things compare to the look of complete bliss on their faces as they take a running start, jump into the air, and form their bodies into balls and yell “CANNONBALL” before they hit the water.  The warm sun shines down and the whole world just seems to melt away.  

I love when they get out of the pool, sometimes shivering, and I get to wrap them up in a sun-heated towel.  They snuggle up their dripping bodies next to me on my lounge chair.  Their only needs are a hug and a snack.  

Summer gives us extra time to have fun.  We all get to spend more time outside and with special friends.  This season recharges me and grows great memories. 

Before I know it there will be back to school ads and Halloween costumes in Target (blah!), but for the next 10 weeks I will relish the sun, the afternoon thunderstorms, Popsicles, outdoor swim team practices, evenings around a fire pit, our very special vacation to Florida, and all things summer!

I hope whatever your summer plans are you have fun!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hard Habit to Break

In September of 2008 I got to take a trip with John to visit my younger sister and her husband at their new home in Orlando, FL.  I was thrilled to get away, visit my sister, and spend time with my husband, sans children.  We had a great visit.  We played Rock Star on their PlayStation (which I am terrible at), we ate out at the most awesome Mexican Cantina—complete with a HUGE hot sauce bar, we got to watch an Ohio State Football game at their local wing joint with other OSU Alums.  What a blast!  That was until I got a few of the pictures back from the trip.

The person looking back at me from the vacation photos was not me…or not the me I was familiar with.  The person in those photos was very unhealthy.  I was shocked.  I. Was. Overweight.  And, not just a little overweight, a lot overweight.  I felt dumbfounded.  When did this happen?  I knew I had gained weight with both my pregnancies, but I didn’t realize that I had kept gaining.  I’m married to an exercise physiologist, so this was particularly devistating, and I'm sure not just for me but for him as well.  This was my rock bottom.  The only way to go was up through a loss.

The day I looked at those pictures was a Tuesday.  By the next Friday morning I had joined Weight Watchers.  I tipped the scale at just under 200 pounds.  I had never weighed that much.  The Weight Watchers staff member that weighed me was very kind.  She wrote down the number and caringly said, “Just think of it as never having to see that number again.”  As I wiped tears from my eyes, I stepped off the scale and took her statement to heart.

My poor eating choices and little exercise were bad habits.  Habits I allowed to develop over time.  Some of the habits I didn’t realize were so devastating to my waist line.  Learning the Points Values of foods was a good tool to make better choices.  Taking tips from meetings was great too.  Such as “nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”

It took me 56 weeks to lose 50 pounds.  Losing weight was a LONG journey.  I learned things about myself I wouldn’t have otherwise.  I regained control of my weight and myself.   But, most of all I changed my habits.  This isn’t a diet I’m on; it’s a whole lifestyle change.  For me, there is no going back to size 16 pants, but not just for the smaller pants size; it’s because I feel better overall. 

Today I have maintained my weight loss for 20 months.  Maintaining a healthy weight is a constant effort.  I have a job with Weight Watchers to help keep me accountable (as a staff member you have to weigh in monthly).  My body isn’t perfect.  I could probably lose more weight, but I accept where I am.

What I have realized though is that I have other habits I still need to work on.  Getting my body to the correct BMI wasn’t the only answer.  I read this quote this week from Pastor Matthew Barnett.  Rock bottom isn’t where you fail; it’s where God recreates you.

I’m going to face other “bottoms.”  Things about me will always need to be reevaluated, changed, and challenged.  I’m certain it’s only through a strong faith that I will have the courage to face these habits.  But, each time I look at a photo of myself now I can be reminded that I can succeed.  Breaking any habit, whether it be over eating or over speaking (something I am currently working on) isn’t about perfection, it’s about persistence.  When I lean into God for guidance and courage I will always be successful.

Hebrews 10:35-36
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Thank you for reading.