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Emotional Health/ FAMILY/ Love

Morning Pages + My Birthday!

Morning Pages - Journal 3 pages a day, in the morning

I’m not sure where I found the idea of Morning Pages, I believe it was on Instagram somewhere, and I was instantly drawn to such a simple idea:

Write 3 pages, in the morning, about anything you want.

I’ve been doing this for about a month and have enjoyed putting pen to paper and the freedom it gives to just breathe out my unedited thoughts. I have found it very freeing.

Some days it is list form and feels productive and a way to clear my head. Somedays I vent and it feels relieving and therapeutic. Sometimes it turns into words of thankfulness for this life I get to live–that is what happened today and I will share what I wrote below.

Write 3 pages, in the morning, about anything you want.

When I write my Morning Pages, I simply use a Moleskine journal and my favorite Sharpie stainless steel pen and make it part of my morning routine. I usually am sitting in what I call my ‘nest’ (a cozy corner chair in my bedroom) with the lights low, soft music playing, the diffuser going, and coffee on the warmer by my side.

Write 3 pages, in the morning, about anything you want.

This early morning routine has become a favorite part of my day, and I will write in full detail about it soon–it involves prayer, a couple of my favorite apps, meditation, music, essential oils, coffee, writing & yoga. Ahh…I’m eager for tomorrow morning just writing about it!

But first, today. Today is my birthday. I turned 42.

As a cancer survivor, I find myself quite surprised to be this old. Because my cancer was a later stage, I have a high chance of recurrence, but thankfully that statistic comes down with each year.

I am 7 years out, and I feel my heart could burst when I think about what a gift it is to have yet another birthday.

When I am 10 years out, my chance for recurrence will plummet. I am careful about expectations, and that is ok because it helps me stay thankful for each and every day!

Morning Pages --Write 3 pages, in the morning, about anything you want.

Morning Pages Journal Entry:

November 27, 2017

 

Lord, you are good.

You’ve given me life…42 years.

 

Today is my birthday.

The blessing of years…of time with my loved ones and this good (sometimes hard) but mostly good life. 

 

You are a gift giver.

You wake me today with a list of gratitude on my mind first thing, you help me to see all the gifts.

 

I sit and inhale–the gift of scent. Frankincense diffused!

Morning Pages -- Write 3 pages, in the morning, about anything you want.

And then, a feast for my eyes…the most glorious of sunrise, pinks and bright shades of oranges! You even sign your name on this gift, an electric wire pole in the shape of a cross, positioned right next to the glorious rising sun, a reminder of your Son. I go to daughters window for a better view!

Morning Pages -- Write 3 pages, in the morning, about anything you want.

I sit back down in my cozy nest chair, sounds of calm music coming from speakers and morning voices of my 3 Lovelies drifting up through the vent.

 

Gifts.

 

I open your Word and you give yet another gift. Familiar words spoken so loud to me over the years, your voice reminding me to delight in you. Psalm 37:4

How could I not?

psalm 37:4

 

I read further and tears come, even a gentle reprimand from your word is so loving and personal.

It shows you know my thoughts, such intimacy.

I am fully known and fully loved.

 

“Find your delight in the Lord. Then he will give you everything your heart really wants. Commit your life to the Lord. Here is what he will do if you trust in him. He will make your godly ways shine like the dawn. He will make your honest life shine like the sun at noon. Be still. Be patient. Wait for the Lord to act. Don’t be upset when other people succeed.

But those who are free of pride will be given the land. They will enjoy great peace.

Those who do what is right will be given the land. They will live in it forever. The mouths of those who do what is right speak words of wisdom. They say what is honest. God’s law is in their hearts. Their feet do not slip.

The Lord saves those who do what is right. He is their place of safety when trouble comes.”

Psalm 37:4-7, 11, 29-31, 39 NIRV

 

You allow my birthday to land on a Monday, you know it is my most favorite of days.

A day to recover from a holiday weekend and get back to routine. You know I thrive on routine especially the one you have shown me:

 

The routine of dawn.

 

The sun rises and with it my most precious moments with you. 

These favorite morning meditative moments of breathing you in and filling my mind what matters most.

Your glory.

You.

 

Thank you for another year of life. 

May I have another and yet another after that?

 

I ask and you remind —

 

“better is one day in Your house than thousands elsewhere.” Psalm 84:10

 

And so I remember, no matter the day, whether here or in eternity, you are and will always be with me.

 

So…for this day,

& all my days,

I thank you.

 


What about you?

Do you regularly journal or want to?

Does the idea of Morning Pages appeal to you?

Cancer Journey/ HEALTH/ Love

My Cancer World and Be The Match

My Cancer World & Be The Match | #Join4Kami

I am in the cancer world. I am a two-time survivor, take medication everyday to help keep cancer at bay, and question every ache and pain. I have an Oncologist who tells me this: “give each ache and pain a two-week window. If it lasts longer than two weeks, or you find a lump or bump, come see me.”

I have been in this world for 7 years. It has changed me. I have lived more fully, loved more deeply and know that loss can be right around the corner.

Have you loved someone with cancer? 

Being in this world means meeting others in this world. I am not alone. Oh how I wish my loved ones and I didn’t have this in common. I’m sure you can relate, for who has not been touched by this, with cancer so common?

What can we do with our commonality?

“Cancer is an epidemic.” These words were spoken last week by my very heart friend, the one who talks to me every day and who is texting me this very moment, my phone buzzing at me. She has survived recurrence and spends her days at a non-profit organization that helps women fight this beast. She knows. Her weary words ring true.

My Cancer World & Be The Match | #Join4Kami

How do we fight an epidemic?

My phone buzzes again, a text from another heart friend, so so dear to me. She asks if we can meet Friday morning before she leaves for Houston, gone for at least 3 weeks. This is the place she goes to fight the beast that has shown up for the second time in her delicate neck. How can something so ugly invade such beauty as my friend?

How do we fight the beast?

And then the children.

I remember my brave Lottie Mae, we lost hair together and were on the same schedule of growing it back, the schedule of fighting cancer. I couldn’t fathom her courage or the courage of her parents as she battled leukemia. Lottie’s beautiful red locks are now long, they grew as did she, now a beautiful young lady. Prayer along with the right medical treatment saved her life.

My Cancer World & Be The Match | #Join4Kami

Can I tell you of one more story? 

It is the story of 11-year old Kamryn, another beauty whose life could be saved with the right medical treatment. Watch the video and see courage, light, and life. Even the tears on the cheeks of her Momma are courageous tears, asking others to be the match for her sweet, sick girl. She needs the right medical treatment, but it is on hold, waiting for the right match, a marrow donor.

{Learn more about Kamryn’s story and sign up to join the registry at join4kami.org.}

Can you imagine waiting for others to give?

I can’t imagine having a sick child where there is life-saving treatment but that treatment depends on the giving of others. There are many just like Kamryn who have no donors available.

 AN ANSWER: BE THE MATCH REGISTRY®

A marrow transplant can be a life-saving treatment for more than 70 diseases including leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle-cell. 70% of patients are just like Kamryn and don’t have a fully matched donor in their family.

They depend on Be The Match. This is an answer! We can be available.

Be The Match Registry® is the world’s largest and diverse donor registry, but there are still thousands of patients who don’t have a match.

All it takes to join the registry is a simple cheek swab. It is mailed to you, you swab, then mail it back.

How amazing would it be to know that you helped cure someone’s cancer? Blood cancers can be cured with the help of bone marrow donation. Becoming a donor is something we can do to fight the beast of cancer and many other diseases.

My Cancer World & Be The Match | #Join4Kami

Can you commit to becoming a donor?

Donating is a lot less painful than one might think. Most donate through a Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation where a machine draws blood from one arm, extracts the cells it needs and returns the remaining blood back to your body through your other arm. Donors are fully awake for this procedure. Lives are saved with this cell extraction.

For some people, the doctor will need to extract marrow directly from the back of the pelvic bone with a needle. In this case, one receives anesthesia, feels no pain during the procedure, and most donors feel completely recovered within a few weeks. This is a sacrificial act, but a small one for the chance to save a life.

Can you help spread the word?

I know I am not alone in watching loved ones fight cancer. I know the whole world has seen and felt the sting of this beast.

We can help others who are waiting. We can reach out our hands, hearts and arms to others who need a life line.

Visit Be The Match. Make a commitment and get on the registry. Spread the word. Every person who joins the registry gives patients like Kamryn more hope of finding the match they need.

Help beat the beast. Be The Match.

A Way to help loved ones with cancer

{Help spread the word by pinning above image}

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 

FAMILY/ Love

To Be a Part Of Love Winning

ORLANDO-UNITED-LOVE-WINS

Love wins.

I tell myself this as I am distressed and stressed, tears stream down while I try to type words and a pit in my stomach all of this day long.

The day after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S history.

I think of those who died, many who were so young, scared, texting their Mama’s knowing they were going to die, just to say I love you one more time.

It could have been my loved one, texting me one last time, hostage in a bathroom, knowing they were going to die.

I don’t know much, but I do know this one thing and I grasp hard onto it, clinging even as my stomach tightens.  I know this.

Love wins.

In the end, love wins.  Evil loses.

I type that and I have to stop, eyes clinch shut tight and lump in my throat comes up and erupts and I wipe the overflow and my heart feels like it is breaking and I wonder again about those Mama’s whose hearts are in pieces over last texts.

I remember.

I remember when another massacre happened, the Von Maur shooting, the day my little sister once again became my hero. She was working there that day. She knows what it is to hear shots that make your heart stop and race simultaneously. She knows how everything stops but it doesn’t and you have to act and you just do, you just act and react. She gathered customers into a storage closet and hid and acted heroic. I think of the many who acted heroic in Orlando yesterday that did or didn’t have the same outcome as my sister. She ended that day thinking of a precious man whose smile & greeting met her that morning and most workday mornings, who even at that hour was lying at the bottom of the escalator, a smile and greeting snuffed out by evil. She mourns and then heals. She believes that evil does not win.

Love wins.

I remember that day, being ushered to a room where families wait. Some had news, some didn’t. Some were in the middle of receiving the worst news possible. I remember a woman eyes wild, clinging to my arm, begging me to tell her if her own sister was ok. Had I heard? I had no answers for her, just eye contact & a connection. We were two wondering about our sisters, mine lived hers didn’t. The next time I saw this dear woman was on the news, walking behind a casket, her sister’s funeral televised. I think about how without deep love there is not deep mourning. I think about how very, very deep her love was as her shoulders shook while walking behind a casket.

Last night I needed to write articles but my thoughts were low and words would not come so I turn on Netflix to pick up where I left off. I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy, old seasons that I had stopped watching back in the day when hospitals & trauma became a very real part of my life. I am six years out and blessed enough to be able to watch once again. I press play and it is an episode about a mass shooting and I watch actors dressed as nurses and doctors playing a horror that nurses and doctors in Orlando just lived out in early morning hours. I thought how they continue to live it even now as day 2 and day 3 are often critical after surgery. My mind can’t wrap around what I’m watching– that it is real in Orlando and I think about pushing pause, but I keep watching, because I want to feel, I want to be a part of love winning.

Love Wins.

I wake up today and read the names & look at faces. I go about my day with names and faces in my mind & carry them in my heart as I grocery shop & do the mundane. I slight smile at mangos that are just ripe enough at a great price & marvel at the sweet scent of a pineapple not yet broken into. I try to find joy in the mundane despite a heavy heart, for this is another way for love to win. Evil will not steal our joy, hope, smiles or sweet scented moments of life. Even if those moments are memories.

Mid-day I look for more faces to go with the names, because love remembers. Love mourns with those who mourn.

I watch to let others’ pain sink in, to join in their pain and know how to pray, to let it in deep and I think…would I be faithful in prayer without pain?  I want to feel others pain. I want to have ears to hear and eyes to see and a heart that cares enough to stop for a moment and just listen and absorb, to mourn with and feel with. I want to enter into pain with others because this is what love does.

Evil creates pain.

Love enters into the pain.

Love wins.

FAMILY/ Kids/Family/ Marriage/ Sponsored

Reclaiming Date Night

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Todd and I have had date nights as long as we have been married, which is going on almost 20 years! We were super faithful with date nights before the kids were born, going out once a week and having at least one elaborate date once a month. We lived in the Chicago during our first 2 years of marriage, so there were plenty of places to go to & choose from for date night. Once we started having kids, we moved back to Nebraska and date night turned into every other week, as paying babysitters got expensive. Grandparents were awesome with helping watch the kids, so some months we got to go every week. Whether it was every week or every other week, it was a priority for us.

The past year or so we have found it more of a struggle to get out on a date night on a regular basis.  Having teenagers keep us very busy on the weekends, and my health issues this past year really kept us from going out much.

Now that I am feeling more like myself, we have started going out on date nights on a more regular basis.  It is still hard with teenagers, but keeping our dates short so we can run them around town is better than no date at all!

We keep our date nights pretty simple.  We both are foodies so we always go out to eat.

Here are reasons date night is important to us:

~It allows us to really ‘see’ each other. There is something quite romantic about sitting across from my man and seeing the one I committed to spending my whole life with. Life can pass so quickly, so slowing down to really look my Todd in the eyes, connect with him, and listen to him with no distractions is important and time very well spent.

~It causes us to pause and ‘be’ instead of ‘do.’  We are together every day doing all that life brings our way. It is so important to just be together and slow the hustle that life brings.

~It is fun.  Life can bring some pretty heavy things along the way, so taking the time to have some fun is important to us.  Fun for us means connecting emotionally & of course, eating great food!

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We love LOVE food.  My Todd especially loves sea food, so recently I initiated a date night and took my man out to Red Lobster for their Endless Shrimp. He is usually the one who initiates and takes me out, so this was quite fun to change things up a bit and take him out. We had the BEST time.

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The evening really was perfect. The weather was in the upper 70’s and the sun was just starting to set as we drove to dinner.  I wore some new booties that I just got and threw on some jewelry to add a little sparkle to my casual outfit.  Gotta look good for my man!

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We were surprised at how busy Red Lobster was, and worried that the wait would be long, but despite all of the people who were there excited to eat some sea food, we were seated within minutes.

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Red Lobster is the world’s largest seafood restaurant company, headquartered in Orlando Florida, with over 700 restaurants in the United States and Canada.  Red Lobster is focused on delivering freshly prepared seafood at reasonable prices.  It was obvious on this night that Red Lobster is where their guests come to satisfy their craving for great seafood!

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Our waitress was super sweet and immediately took our drink orders.  We ordered two of their new beer-based cocktails, that are available exclusively during Endless Shrimp & paired perfectly with our Endless Shrimp dishes.  One was called the Seaside Shandy and the other was the Angry Lobster. Hands down my favorite was the Angry Lobster.  Bold and spicy, the Angry Lobster features Anger Orchard Crisp Apple Cider, tropical fruit juices and a kick of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.  I had no idea I was about to taste a drink that was so good that I would be thinking about it a week later. It was so good I had to text my sister to tell her to go to Red Lobster and order one ASAP.  It was like tasting fall in a drink — the cinnamon apple flavor was so delicious!  To. Die. For.

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Both cocktails are served in a beer can-shaped commemorative glass with the Red Lobster logo & are sold with the purchase of a cocktail.

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When it was time to take our order, the waitress was really great at her job and answered my questions before I even asked them!  We knew we were going to order their Endless Shrimp, which is going on now and for a limited time at Red Lobster.  This year, you can choose two out of 5 shrimp preparations for your initial order, and then you can enjoy as much shrimp as you would like, any way you want it, and can mix-and match different preparations.

These are the dishes that are only available during Endless Shrimp:

~NEW! Pineapple Habanero Coconut Bites — coconut shrimp bites tossed in pineapple habanero sauce

~Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp — classic guest favorite and back by popular demand, grilled shrimp brushed with soy-ginger glaze

~Hand-Breaded Shrimp– Hand-breaded shrimp friend to a golden brown.

~Garlic Shrimp Scampi — Oven-broiled shrimp in garlic, white wine and butter

~Shrimp Linguini Alfredo— tender shrimp in a garlic Parmesan cream sauce on a bed of linguine

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I started out with the Pineapple Habanero Coconut Bites, and the Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp.   I loved the sound of the Pineapple Habanero Coconut Bites, but was worried it would be too spicy for my wimpy palate.  Our waitress told me they could put the sauce on the side, but that it was not overly spicy.  It ended up being my favorite of all, and it did have a bite, but boy, was it good with the sweetness of the coconut shrimp.  I also loved the Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp.  My first 2 choices ended up being my favorite.

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Todd started with Shrimp Linguini Alfredo and the Hand-Breaded Shrimp. He got a refill of the Pineapple Habanero Coconut Bites, and I got a refill of Hand-Breaded Shrimp, but I was getting super full by this time.  We had already enjoyed the Cheddar Bay Biscuits that Red Lobster is known for.  I also had a salad which was really fresh and green, topped with their Blueberry Balsamic dressing–yes, it was as good as it sounds.

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Todd and I were enjoying conversation when a couple of familiar faces walked up and greeted us.  My Todd is Programs Director at a non-profit organization called City Impact.  He works with young people and 2 of the students we have worked with were there working the room as host and hostess.  They were so professional–they were dressed sharply in all black and were communicating discretely with other team members through their headsets.  They were busy with things like setting up tables, seating people in a timely manner, & bringing a high chair to a family with little ones.  Todd and I were so happy that they stopped by to say hi and we beamed with pride at the way they owned the room and made service flow so wonderfully.  That was a fun surprise.

We did save room for dessert and ordered the Chocolate Chip Lava Cookie as suggested by one of Todd’s students. It was really yummy.  I can’t ever have dessert with out a cup of coffee, so I ordered a cup of decaf and it was delicious paired with our dessert.

It was so nice to just sit and enjoy great food with my husband.  We had great conversation, just catching up on life and even setting a few goals for our family in the future.  We ended up super satisfied and headed home to snuggle up and watch some of our favorite television that we had recorded earlier in the week.  I love finishing date night curled up together in our cozy home!

…………………….

What about you?

Have you ever eaten at Red Lobster during Endless Shrimp?  If you do go during Endless Shrimp, use the hashtag #EndlessReasonsContest on social media to share your reasons for loving Endless Shrimp and be entered to win daily prizes throughout the event.

What about date night?  Do you need to reclaim date night?  How often do you and your significant other go out on a date? What do you like to do on dates?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

FAMILY/ Kids/Family/ Marriage/ Spiritual

Using Scripture To Fight Fairly In Marriage

Fight-Fairly-In-Marriage

Marriage is something to fight for these days, and calling it quits is rarely the answer.  Learning how to fight fairly is key in fighting for your marriage.

I am about to turn 40 next month and I find myself a bit frustrated with how immature I can be in this area.  I am an emotional and sensitive being, which can be a beautiful thing, but it also has a few negatives. When fighting in marriage, emotional & sensitive can often translate into being defensive.

Despite my frustration, God has been faithful in showing me how He is the answer & my defense, so I don’t have to be defensive.  When I put down my defenses, I can finally, truly, hear my Todd instead of being preoccupied with my own feelings.

Putting down defenses takes a humility & grace.  It takes compassion for the other person.  It takes a trust in knowing that I am fully loved by the best of Defenders.

I have an app on my phone that sends daily readings in Psalms and Proverbs.  This week I was Proverbs 18 & Psalms 18.  Both gave me insight into how to fight fairly in marriage, and I am thanking God for his provision, as my Todd & I were able to talk through some issues that had been sending spinning, around and around in circles. You know what I mean, don’t you? Talking in circles and getting nowhere.

These verses caused me to rest in God’s provision, reminding me I am fully loved, quieting me so that I could truly listen.  This and my husbands’ humble response back to me got us off the crazy spinning wheel.

Proverbs 18

{some words from the Message version}

~Do not run off at the mouth v2

~Do not use many words v4

~Do not come down hard on the innocent v5

~Do not be like a fool & start fights v7

~Run to & say the name of God, for it is a place of protection v10

~Remember that pride causes you to crash v12

~With humility comes honor v12

~It is wise to listen & always seek to learn v15

~It is ok to agree to disagree v18

~Words can kill or give life, they are either poison or fruit–you choose v21

~When you find a good spouse, you find a good life & the favor of God v22

~Humbly speak in soft supplications v23

~Do not bark out answers v24

~A true friend sticks close like family v24

……….

Ah, such good advice, huh?

And then there is this, words inspired from Psalm 18 & from God who is my Defender, so I do not have to be defensive, and a realization of who the true enemy is–who we are TRULY fighting.

Psalm 18

{Message version, paraphrased by me}

I love you God, you make me strong, I live in your castle and you are my rescuing knight.

I run for dear life to you, I hide in you, I am safe in your hideout.

I sing to you & find myself safe and saved.

I cry to God to help me, He hears my call.

My cry brings me right into His presence–a private audience of just me and God!

You catch me, reaching all the way from sky to sea, pulling me out of enemy chaos where I was drowning, the enemy who hit me when I was down.

But You God, stuck by me.

You take me to wide open spaces, I stand safe & saved, surprised to be loved.

God completes my life when I place all my life pieces before Him.

I bring my act to Him & He gives me a fresh start.

Oh God, keep me alert to your ways & help me not to take you for granted.

Keep me in you, everyday reviewing your ways, watching my step.

Piece by piece you put me back together.  I open my heart to you and you see me.

I taste your goodness–I am good.

I taste your health–I am whole.

I taste your truth–I am true.

When I am down and out you are on my side.  Take me down a notch when I am stuck up or stuck on myself.

Floodlight my life, in the lightroom you reveal and show me your glory–you are blazing with glory!

Your road stretches straight & smooth.  I run in God direction, a road tested, and I make it just as you promised.

You prepared me & pointed me in the right direction, You show me how to fight

You protect me and hold me with a firm hand.

You caress me and your gentle ways clear the ruble so I will not stumble

You have surrounded me well

Keep rescuing me from squabbles, Oh Lord, rescue us!

Bring your revival.

I thank you God. I praise your name with songs

You rule & win over all!

You chose me as your beloved, for my name means beloved.

…………

The meaning of my name, Amy, REALLY IS beloved.  Oh to remember this at all times, that I am fully known & fully loved by Creator God. Knowing & believing this brings the spinning to an abrupt and peaceful stop. Yay God!

 

FAMILY/ Kids/Family/ Love/ Marriage

24 Ways To Be A Helper To Your Husband

25-Ways-Helper-Husband

Helper: One who gives assistance or support to another, making life more pleasant or bearable.

“It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him. I will make him a helper.”– God Genesis 2:18 (emphasis added)

So, how do you feel about being a helper?  I’ve always been okay with the term, as on of my gifts is acts of service, so helping people is something I love to do, but I know many women who struggle with feeling like this title is ‘less than’ or inferior.  My struggle is different.  My struggle is remembering who I am called to be and putting the energy into it.

If you do struggle with this word, it might help to remember that the word Helper, is actually a precious word that God uses to describe himself!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you. Isaiah 41:10

In this verse God is assuring His people, telling them not to worry, because He will be their helper.  He considers it a worthy calling, so I do to.

I’ve recently had a reawakening when it comes to wanting to be the wife God has called me to be.  This has come along my heart for a couple of reasons.

I am just coming out of a season where I was quite sick for a long period of time.  It has taken months to get back to myself, of which I really will write about soon, (let me reassure you that I am still in remission, much of the sickness has come from ongoing hormone treatment and side effects from that treatment) but I was so sick that I went inward, and really could only focus on getting through everyday.  It was quite a selfish period…not really… but kind of.  I did my best to give as much as I could each day, but physical and emotional illness caused me to not be able to give like I was used to.

The second reason is an amazing couple I know and who I wrote about, that recently went to Heaven.  They had the marriage I think we all long to have.  They were best friends and just did marriage so well!  Here is a quote from Terri…I must share as it just hit me so hard how beautiful her thinking and way of living was.

“‘You become what the most important person in your life thinks that you are. “At the end of Ty’s life, I want him to be able to say, ‘Terri was the greatest earthly blessing in my life – the best thing that ever happened to me – and that I’m a better man because of how she loved me. And that’s the goal that I live with every day. That’s how I want to love this man.‘”

Now that I am able to focus more on others, and I have a very tangible example of what a great marriage looks like, I am very excited to start by focusing on my own and the one that is most important to me…my Todd.

In doing that, I have been reading a book and the beginning chapter talks about being a helper.

It is not really doing something, but being someone.  An identity that I want to keep in the forefront of my mind. It is a worthy calling.

I ask myself: Do I make my husband’s life more pleasant and bearable? Does he depend on me? Can he now that I am feeling better? Have I communicated this to him?  Does he feel my support? How do I react when he asks me to do things for him? What are things I do or can do to accomplish this?

Lately I have been able to practice the answers to these questions as it is my Todd’s most busy time of year.  He works for a non-profit organization as a programs director and also as an after school reading center director.  This week and next he is just swamped and has needed me to step up and take care of things he normally would take care of.  This plays out practically in lots more time in the car for me…rides for our 3 girls in the evenings that he would usually give.  It also looks like me going to teachers meetings alone and being quite proactive in being the main parenting figure right now, at least during the week. I hope he is starting to feel the unconditional support as my attitude in doing this purposefully and cheerfully is still pretty new. It’s not that I was unwilling before, it is just that now I want to do it in a way that makes him feel confident that the house can be run well even when he is working extra hours; and that he has a wife who is capable of picking up where he needs to let go.

Honestly, the past 2 months this would have been really, really hard to do as my health was so precarious, but thank our sweet Lord I am stronger now and able to really be proactive in my new convictions.  I am so thankful for better health!

I must admit, not only did it take a change of health, but also a change of heart. It is so easy to become apathetic and not want to change.  My motivation came from seeing the beauty of a marriage done God’s way, and I will forever be grateful for such a beautiful example.

My new attitude will not always come easy.  I know there is an enemy of our souls that wants to bring fear, disobedience, scorekeeping, contentiousness and cause me stumble over pride. I will not let him win.

So what does being a supportive, pleasant, bearable, dependable helpmate look like for me?  How am I going to live this out practically?

Well, I plan on asking Todd specifically what is most helpful for him.  But in the meantime, I know him well enough to know where to start.

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A few steps I’m taking in being a supportive, pleasant, & dependable “Helper”:

I will soften my face when I look at my husband.

I will smile at him, even if only with my eyes.

I will be attentive, acknowledging when he walks in the room.

I will be attentive, without putting pressure or expectation on him to be attentive back.

I will hug/kiss him hello and goodbye.

I will give him time to decompress and do ‘Todd’ things when he gets home.

I will do my best to make him feel special to me, like I’m his biggest fan.

I will exude warmth.

I will not share with him all that has gone wrong with my day the minute he walks in the door.

I will pray “Lord, please help me be willing to be willing.”

I will have my closest friends ask me about how I am doing in being “helper”

I will continue give my heart only to him and no other, with protective barriers up against all others.

I will not compare him unfavorably with others

I will work on making our marriage bed the warmest place known to the both of us.

I will use words like “good morning” “have a good day” “I love you” “how are you?” “need anything?”

I will look for ways to make him feel special in my presence

I will find ways to let him know he is of great worth to me

I will figure out how to best communicate how much I respect what he does and who he is

I will be committed to all of this even when I don’t feel like he might deserve it at times.

I will love and treat him as the man I know he can be even if he is having an off day.

I will choose to see the good.

I will make “deposits” into our marriage, more than “withdraws.”

I will pick myself up and try again, even if I ‘drop the ball’ in these goals.

I will do all of this through Christ, who is the only one who can fully and perfectly love me in the way I long to be loved.  As I grasp how very head over heals in love God is with me, I can then love others in the same way.

…………….

What about you?  Does this list resonate with you?  Does it make you fearful or nervous? Are you already doing most of these things? What are your experiences? What are your thoughts?

Marriage

How To Have A Bit Of Romance When Life Is Not Perfect

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I’m so over perfect…how about you?

Life is so beautiful, but so not perfect.  I’m learning how to fully live even in the imperfect.  I’ve learned if I wait for the most ideal situation before fully living, then I will never fully live.

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Here is a picture of our quaint but very imperfect back yard.  Now that winter is over and beautiful spring evenings are here, I’ve been wanting to invite my Todd out there on the patio. I have had the perfect bottles of wine just waiting for some beautiful moments out there with my Love.  Life kept getting in the way, with the busyness of 3 teenagers and me not feeling my best, the days just kept passing.

I decided one night that I was tired of waiting for the perfect weekend, where the grass is mowed and I felt good and where we were not busy.  I decided to take action and embrace the imperfect.

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So I did.  I put together a fun little ‘cutting board’ snack in the middle of the week –it just took me a bit of thought when I grocery shopped, and then 5 minutes to put together– and invited my Todd out for snack and a glass of wine, and for some perfectly imperfect moments with him.

You know what?  Doing it in the most unexpected of time — even though yard work was not yet done and even though it was not the weekend –this is what made the moments special.  How to have romance when life is not perfect? Just do it anyway.  Just move forward and toward.

I know personally I can wait for the most ideal and then miss out on so much! If all of life was perfect, there would be no character to it, and we would not appreciate the good. Notice the rust on the shed in the above picture.  I think it adds character.  It shows there has been years of weather and yet the shed still stands.  That is a beautiful picture of our marriage.  Boy, have we been through some storms together, and honestly can feel quite rusty at times, yet we have weathered the storms together.  THAT friends, is romantic.

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You know what else is romantic?  These little round string lights.  They are one of the things in our little back yard that makes me very happy.  They are a ten dollar string of lights and I think they are quite perfect.

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Another thing that I think is quite perfect that we have in our back yard is the sound of water.  It is hard to see in the above picture, but if you look in the lower right corner, you can see our water feature bubbling up between the 3 large rocks.  It adds just the perfect background sound and let me tell you, when the sun goes down and the string lights dance in the breeze and the water fountain is our background music, THAT is romantic.

Don’t miss the imperfection in the picture.  See the dandelions under the ‘grow’ sign?  Yep, I see them too, and I can’t wait to pull them!  As much as I’m trying to embrace the imperfect, I still don’t like pesky dandelions in my rock beds!

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Here is our cutting board snack.  It was quite perfect. We had amazing wine from Ribera Y Rueda that went perfectly with our little snack. A little salty with pita crackers, a little savory with bruschetta and hummus, and a little sweet with the tomatoes, grapes and chocolate.  I think the perfect snack has elements of salty, savory and sweet and also lots of crunchy and soft texture.   I think we nailed it with our little cutting board snack and my Todd agreed.

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The perfect touch to our imperfect romantic backyard date was most definitely the wine.  Let me tell you a little bit about Ribera Y Rueda wines. For 2,000+ years, winemakers from Ribera and Rueda have cultivated what’s new and what’s next in every vineyard and vintage they produce.  They’re located in northwest Spain and only about an hour away from Madrid.  It has to be awesome!

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Back to that perfect wine that tempted me try and make everything else perfect. When I first started planning this little romantic backyard escape in my mind, I wanted little tapas to go with my wine from Spain.  Even though that seems like the perfect pairing, Ribera Y Rueda wines say “Si” to all types of cuisine pairings, which gave me the freedom to pair them with whatever my heart desired.

Todd had Rueda Verdejo, which was of the white grape varietal and was bright and crisp. This bottle is best served chilled.  I fell hard in love with the red Ribera Tempranillo varietal which was bold, rugged & ripe. It is best to open this bottle and allow it to breath for 10-15 minutes. It. Was. Amazing.

To learn more about Rueda regions of origin, wine varietals, wine pairings, a product locator and even a wine-themed playlist, click on through to the Rueda y Rueda Tumblr page feature

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I had to snap a few photos of our time together.  I had imperfect hair.  Todd would say he had his imperfect workout shoes on, and even my silly smooch looked a bit manic, but we didn’t care.  We loved every second of it.  It didn’t last long, as the weather didn’t cooperate and it cooled down quickly, but even short and sweet and perfectly imperfect.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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