"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I've been thinking alot about all the books I read and want to read and should read. But it's really all about learning and sharing. Even our friend the head of a successful, growing company, husband, father and grandfather has this to say about growing.
 We need to grow personally, our marriages need to keep growing, and our relationship with God needs to grow.  So how are you doing in those three areas?  Are you growing personally?  What was the last book you read to grow your personal life?  What was the last class you took to learn a new skill?  How about with your marriage?  Are you growing in your understanding of how to love and cherish your spouse?  Have you read any books or attended any seminars to help your marriage go deeper?  That is one area I have worked on and it is very helpful.  Lots of great resources out there to help become better as a husband or wife.  Of course, just reading is not the answer.  We have to read and apply what we learn to make any difference at all. 
And how about God?  Are you growing in your walk with Him?  If not, what steps are you taking to change that?  Consider what scripture tells us in Revelation 3:16 when it says: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”.  Think God doesn’t care about whether we are growing in our relationship with Him?  Think again.  It matters.  It matters a lot.  We need to get after going deeper with Him and get off the pew and into the game.  Have you read the Book to help you grow your relationship with God?  In case you have forgotten – it is called the Bible and was written as an instructional love letter to you and me.  If you aren’t reading it daily – time to get started.  If you aren’t writing down what God teaches you through reading – time to start that too.  Today would be a good time to work on growing in all these areas.  What is keeping you from it?  Pride?  Priorities?  Laziness?  There are no good excuses.  We all need to grow in the areas that matter.  I challenge you to get started on that journey today!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Thought from NCIS

So I'll admit we are NCIS fans, big fans. We record old shows and watch them at random times for entertainment. It's the characters. We like them all.  While watching a current episode earlier this week Ziva Daveed was asked what she wanted in life. Her answer, "a permanent relationship which cannot be taken away. Is that too much to ask?"  Wow. My husband noticed me nodding at the time and asked me why.  My reply? "I think that's what we all want."  His answer, "Our relationship is permanent. But all relationships can be taken away."

Thought provoking to say the least. Who'd have thought good ole' NCIS could start a deep conversation.
I'd like to hear what you think. Input?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentines Day is Over

So you have chocolate in the house because if you didn't get it FOR valentines day you can buy it cheap now! :) Life has moved on. That extra time spent thinking how you can do something nice for your spouse has passed. Why?  Okay, so maybe we can't or shouldn't spend huge amounts of time, energy and money planning extravagant surprises for our spouse but I believe the studying your spouse never stops. 

What I'm thinking is this:  I wouldn't want my husband to treat me the exact same way he did when we got married 29 1/2 years ago. Really, I wouldn't.  I am not exactly the same person. While my core is the same I've grown up in lots of ways. We've experienced life together, children, divorces of friends and family, moving and making new friends, death of loved ones, health issues, the list could go on and on.  If he would treat me the way he did 29 years ago there are many times it wouldn't "fit" me anymore.  Who wants to be "stuck" in old ways? NOT ME! (smile) 

However, we are only responsible for our own actions so think about it. Are you treating your spouse the same old way you always have? Or are you observing his/her changes?  Are they more patient now? Do they help more with daily chores? Do they answer when you call more consistently? Do they make the bed now? Do they ask you before they make plans that include you?

Valentines day may be over for this year but don't let that stop you from studying your mate. Getting stuck in an old rut is no fun and doesn't allow for growth.  Look for that growth.  When you see it, don't keep it to yourself. Make note of it and be sure to tell your loved one that you noticed!  Watch them stand up a little straighter and smile a little more. After all we all like being praised.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Are You Talking Their Language?

So let's just say I decide to write this blog post about peripheral neuropathy and if there is any merit to using Schedule II drugs in it's treatment.  I'm a nurse and since I'm a nurse I know the medical terminology.  Since I know the terminology I can use it so anyone listening to me should understand it, right? WRONG.  Just because I talk doesn't mean the listener "gets it."  That's why it's important you learn what your loved one's "language" is.  Author Gary Chapman says there are 5 basic "love languages".  The premise is we all have a dominant one. We use them all to some extent but one of them rises to the top for each of us. Let's do a quick overview.
1.  Word of Affirmation - this one is pretty self explanatory.  Some of us just need to hear you say we're doing a good job. You appreciate us and most of all you love us!
2. Physical Touch - again, pretty simple.  This is not all sexual, though it can be sexual touching. On a day to day basis this person wants hugs, your arm around them, to hold hands and a pat on the back.
3.Quality Time - this one gets harder.  This person wants some undivided attention. It doesn't count that you are  sitting beside them while watching your favorite TV show.
4. Acts of Service - This means actually doing something for them. For example, doing the dishes after supper or fixing their broken bike.
5. Gifts - This is giving the other person actual gifts. They don't have to be big, often a favorite candy treat or a new magazine. Anything you thought of for them, acquired and gave to them unsolicited will work.

Here's the deal, you can give me gifts all you want and while I like them if you never tell me you like me, I'm probably not going to believe you really like me. It's like me talking to you in medical terminology. Unless you know the language you don't get the whole meaning of it.

So now think about what makes you smile and feel loved. Whatever it is, is probably related to your love language.  What about your loved one? Do you know what their love language is?  Do you talk their language?  If so, keep it up! If not, you really ought to try it. Valentines Day is a great day to start. Think about it. If you can't figure out their love language show them the brief descriptions above and see what they think is their love language!  I don't know about you but I want to be talked to in a language I understand and I want the same for my husband.

If you'd like to learn more check out this website http://www.5lovelanguages.com/learn-the-languages/the-five-love-languages/

Friday, February 4, 2011

Matters of the Heart and Valentines Day

Valentines Day is fast approaching. You can't avoid it but more and more I hear people say they really don't appreciate it. They don't like thinking they got a gift just because "it's the thing to do". And there's always the fact that the common gifts dramatically go up in price. My girls and I have all told our husbands NOT to buy flowers at Valentines Day. They are just way over-priced at this time of year. (Even though the color is nice in amongst our snowy white midwest wonderland.)

So what can you do to show your spouse you love them?  Don't make it so complicated. Have some fun. First of all remember that if you are puzzled at what to do, chances are your spouse is too. So why don't we make it easy this year.  Talk to your spouse now, ahead of Valentines Day. Agree to make a list of 10 things you'd like to receive or do sometime and give it to your spouse along with a card or a little something for them with the idea that you can "celebrate" at least 10 times in the upcoming months. For example I would like: (in no particular order)
1. a gift card to a coffee shop for two drinks (one to share with a friend)
2. a gift certificate for a "no work after work night" - He'll take care of supper and clean up etc. I get to read or scrapbook or pick the movie to watch.
3. a bag of M & M's
4. a gift card that allows me to have a "talk time" with him about the subject(s) of my choice with no time limit.
5. a trip to the zoo
6. a date to a "live show" of any kind
7. a walk or bike ride with destination spot (somewhere to stop and enjoy the surroundings)
8. Permission and encouragement to take a whole day to read and write
9. a new piece of clothing or a gift certificate to shop for one
10. Dinner at a new restaraunt

Remember your list is things YOU would like to have or do. Be honest because you will probably get/do some of these things in the upcoming year.  Share something you would like to help the rest of us think.

Check out the link above on Thursdays for more thoughts on marriage and love.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Matters of the Heart

Today is my parents 47th wedding anniversary. 47 years ago my father married my mother. After dropping out of school in the 8th grade to help support his family through the depression, then going to serve in the Korean war and then returning home to be a bachelor farmer Dad married my Mom. Their marriage is a true example of two phrases that fascinate me in scripture, different versions depending on your translation, "set his heart or determined in his heart" and with "your whole heart." Several of God's commands say do it "...with your whole heart." People in scripture "set their hearts."  Setting in your heart is making a decision ahead of time and with your whole heart, well that's obvious. Back to Dad, he married my Mom in 1946 in a small community in southwest Iowa where everybody  knew everybody and when being a single mom was not nearly so prevalent as it is today. He not only got Mom, he got my brother and I. He determined in his heart this was the thing to do and he gave us his whole heart. He ignored the talk around town and loved us like his own from day one and so did his whole family I might add. Dad took us in and completely committed himself to loving all of us. Through the smart-alec talk of young teenagers, broken curfews, ball games and music lessons.He was there. He legally adopted us as soon as he was able. We have his name. We are his children.

Today, Dad continues with his lifelong decision. They are off the farm now, living in town where Dad takes care of my mother with Alzheimers. I haven't mentioned how he also opened his heart to Mom's whole family and now has 3 widowed sister-in-laws which he helps with in any way he can. And then there is the 94 year old neighbor man...well you get the idea. When I was younger I didn't understand my Dad's quiet witness of love. He's not a talker. He shows you the love of God by example. I'll never forget the day or two before and the day of their farm sale. Men just kept showing up to help, most were close neighbors but others drove miles to come and help. They told my brother and I countless stories of times my Dad had been there for them and that they were pleased to be able to help him back. He made a difference in their lives because when he was a young man he determined in his heart to give his whole heart to loving God and loving his neighbor like himself." I get it now. It's a matter of the heart.

As we consider relationships and "matters of the heart" this month think about your "heart".  Have you given in wholly to God? Are you all in? My Dad's commitment effected my life and is still. If we live "all in for Christ" who might we effect? What's stopping you? Let's do this together!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Don't Make it so Hard!

February the month filled with the talk of love, red, hearts, cupid, candy (especially chocolate), wine, fancy dinners and proposals. Some people think it's silly while others think it's great and some try not to think about it at all. It causes some people great anxiety. Frankly I think we make it too hard. Life and love do not have to be complicated.  Ephesians 5:1-2 says "There be imitators of God (copy Him and follow His example), as well-beloved children (imitate their father). And walk in love, (esteeming and delighting in one another)...

How hard is it to copy someone or something? You don't have to figure out what to do. You just do what the other person is doing. So we are to copy God, okay if you look at the huge, big God picture that's impossible, but the piece we're looking at this month is the loving part). We are to "walk in love" - just walk, not run (thank you God!), not dance - just "walk".  Then when you study the words further you see that means "esteeming and delighting in one another".  Esteem, value, honor, and delight, enjoy, take pleasure in one another.

So let's start today! How can we esteem and delight in one another? Simple. Pay attention to your loved one. Notice them. Listen to them. Smile at them. Compliment them. Intentionally "study" them today and see how many positive things you can appreciate about them today! Share something you notice with us!  Here is a bonus assignment, make yourself a list and keep it to yourself. On days when the communication isn't going so well you can remind yourself of all those great things about your loved one!  I'll start. My husband intentionally makes me laugh almost every day.