Marriage Challenge

Marriage Challenge

The other night I was watching the new Duck Dynasty spinoff, “Jep & Jessa: Growing the Dynasty.”  I thought they were adorable and obviously in love, but the way she treated him was a disappointment.  Maybe it’s all for show, but I lost count of how many times she rolled her eyes when he said something and she constantly corrected him and treated him like an idiot.

I’ll admit, some of his notions were a bit….um…..exaggerated.  I assume that’s for the cameras.

Maybe her eye rolling was also overdone for show, but she has the opportunity here to model what it looks like to respect a man even though he does crazy things sometimes.  Now that would be something I would like to see…..a wife lifting up and respecting her husband.

I think that’s the thing I love most about Chip and Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper.”  She laughs at his silliness, but she shows respect for him and even tells him how “manly” he is occasionally.  That’s the book I want to take a page from, the one that makes my husband stronger.

Friends, I don’t mean to tear down the Robertsons.  They’re still just figuring it out, like the rest of us.  Let’s just remember, showing your husband respect is life-giving to him.  I don’t think we realize the full power of our admiration.  My guy eats it up like candy when I tell him how well he did on something or how much I admire his skills at anything, it doesn’t even have to be something big.  I could literally compliment how he walked across the yard and he would puff up and strut like a peacock.

We think they should be confident because they are so good at what they do.  My husband is beyond brilliant.  He is the smartest man I have ever known.  It surprises me sometimes when he seems insecure about anything.  I consider it my job to make sure he knows that there is someone who thinks he is incredible.  I don’t have to study psychology to know that my respect gives him super-strength.

That whole, “she does him good and not harm all the days of her life” thing.  I want to do that!

Let’s work to build up our husbands and not think of their differences as crazy or their opinions as useless.  OK, I may not be asking my hubs for decorating advice any time soon, but I could be better at listening to his ideas.  He is the head of our home, the king of our castle.  Let’s treat him as such by at least smiling when he talks and listening when he shares a thought.  We don’t have to agree to be respectful.  We can find something to admire, even if he suggests something like….oh….and this is just hypothetical….that we don’t need a new pair of shoes.

Every marriage has its challenges and every man makes mistakes.  When I feel like criticizing my husband for a mistake in judgment it only takes me a second to remember a major mess up of mine from the recent past.  I mess up our money, break things, forget stuff, lose important papers.  It would hurt me if he didn’t forgive me or held it against me.  So I don’t want to hurt him by holding his less-than-stellar ideas against him.

This is something I will probably always have to work on.  I tend to be sarcastic and dry, which comes across as disrespectful sometimes.  I am learning where to draw the line and when to back off.

So here’s a simple challenge:

  1. Find one new way each day to show your husband respect and admiration.  Be genuine, not giving false compliments.  I will bet you that the ripple effect of one new expression of admiration per day will change my and your marriage in giant ways.
  2. Pay attention to your responses when he says something you don’t agree with.  Let’s treat him the way we want him to treat us when we say something he doesn’t agree with.
  3. Set aside our own needs.  Wow, this one is hard for me.  If I’m not really careful I will fall into the trap of thinking that it’s all about me.  Let’s tell ourselves each morning when we wake up to be servants and not think we should be served all of the time.
  4. Remember what marriage is for….holiness, not happiness.

Will you join me in the challenge?!

A Little Romance, A Lotta Prep Work

A Little Romance, A Lotta Prep Work

So….whatdya do for Valentine’s Day?

Being married to a CPA means Valentine’s Day gets a little lost.  By this time every year my husband is buried under mountains of tax returns and client questions.  That means family stuff gets pushed aside for a while.  It’s OK, he makes up for it during his slower times.  We all understand.  And I have learned not to expect anything for Valentine’s Day (or my birthday which is later this month).

Then occasionally he surprises me.  Like yesterday.  One of the boys was sick the day before, so we all decided to sleep in and just hang out instead of going to church.  There I was all snuggled in my bed, dreaming of white sand beaches and cool drinks with umbrellas when I was shaken awake.  “Happy Valentine’s Day!” he said with a kiss.  He told me to get up and get dressed, he was taking me out.

On Sunday?!  At 7am?!  YAWN.

It took me a few minutes to wake up enough to realize this was a rare opportunity and I should get myself in gear.  After checking on the kids and giving them Valentine’s Day candy and kisses, I showered and dressed for my mystery morning date.

We drove into the city and walked through downtown, exploring old hotels and historic sites.  We ate Mexican food and watched some street performers.  It was a nice, relaxing date and so lovely!  Then we did what old, married people do….we drove back home and took naps, then later sat in our recliners and watched The Amazing Race (which we recorded on Friday and hadn’t watched yet).

All in all, it was the perfect V-Day.

By the way, have you seen the new AR cast?  It’s all social media people.  You Tubers, Vine, etc.  I will be amazed to see how these young, slightly arrogant folks do when pushed to the limit.  Just the first leg of this season has many of them crying and whining.  It didn’t take long for me to find my favorites and who I hope gets eliminated early.

As for us, things are generally quiet here.  My older kids are all off on adventures and my younger ones have a load of school work.  So I just kinda do laundry and make sure there is food in the fridge.  All morning I check school lessons and help the boys and all afternoon we straighten the house and try to recover from the past few months of neglecting the housework.

I am starting a new project today that will be pretty consuming.  Our guest house (which is now more of a young adult hangout) had a water leak that we didn’t know about until it had ruined the floor in the bathroom and kitchen.  The shower also has to be removed and rebuilt.  So we are starting the process of emptying out those 2 rooms and getting it ready for some major demo.  I’m really looking forward to getting it torn out.  It is a mess right now of warped floor and crumbling tiles.

Tax season is always a good time to start projects because my husband is too busy to pay attention so I can just tear things apart to my heart’s content.  I do run the ideas and budget past him, but after that it’s just me and my sledge hammer, united in purpose.  I love a good makeover!

I’m itching to get started.

Have a great week, my friends!

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I Survived the Budget Meeting of 2016

I Survived the Budget Meeting of 2016

I am deep in the work of finishing the first draft of my next book and James came to me a few days ago saying, “Um, I know you’re busy but we need to schedule our annual big budget meeting.”

#heart #sink

I hate, I mean HATE the budget meetings.  They are a rip the Band-Aid off, face reality, things-are-about-to-get-tight-around-here torment.  For you Dave-Ramsyians out there, there’s no question which of us is the free-spirit and which is the nerd.  But I knew that this past year I had gotten out of control and spent a lot more than I wanted to know about.

I told him I would stop writing early on Saturday night and we could talk.  We ate dinner, played some games with the boys and I braced myself for the meeting that was to come.  I had been praying for a few days and asking God to prepare my heart.  No, seriously, I really don’t like these.

My dread is not just because of the inevitable budget changes, but knowing that he will ask me things like, “That $17 you spent at Target on October 9th, what was it for?”  No!  Please don’t ask me!  I don’t even remember and no way am I going to find that receipt.  But he needs to know and for good reason.  I get it.  I just don’t like it.

And then there’s the announcements.  “OK, here is the grand total we spent last year on eating out…..” Or “Guess how much we spent on your hair.”  I grab the arms of my chair, tighten my shoulders and close my eyes for the shock.

Turns out that the only real surprise was how much I spent on iTunes.  It was ridiculous.  I will just order a song and be like, “Oh, it’s only $1.29” until I have a-dollar-twenty-nined myself into a big chunk.  That one’s easy.  No more iTunes.  I am not even upset about losing that.  I can take a year off or, if I want a few new songs, put it into the budget and not do any more spontaneous buying.

As I prayed all day about the meeting, asking God to give me a heart toward my husband, I felt God softening me and reminding me that this is good for us.  I know James spends hours getting all of our finances in order so we can keep on track.  I know he takes such good care of our money and is so sweet about my receipt challenges and iTunes purchases.  I have mad respect for how well he keeps us in the black around here and manages all of this mess.  I put some Peace & Calming in the diffuser and got my mind and heart ready.

I think 2015 was just such a hard year and I didn’t pay much attention to money.  I was focused on other things and let the important, daily life stuff slip past without intentionality.  I am ready for that to change.  I needed this meeting, as much as I didn’t want it.

We talked for about 3 hours, going through it all and planning for how to use our money wisely this year and where we can cut back so we can afford the things we want to do.  And in the end we are still friends.  #BFFs

In case you don’t know, my husband is a CPA and a tax attorney.  I tell you this so you will understand that this meeting wasn’t just a piece of paper with a list of numbers and dollar signs.  It’s columns and documents and words like assets and amortization.  My head nearly explodes.

But even with his mad skillz, budgeting is not that complicated.  We add up all of the money we brought in last year and all of the money we spent.  Then divide the spent columns into categories (groceries, insurance, clothing, entertainment, etc.) and we see where our money went and make decisions for the coming year.  Sadly, there’s no iTunes column.

Years ago we were all cash, which I liked because I didn’t have to think about my spending as much. If money was in the envelope, I could afford it.  If it wasn’t, I couldn’t.  We’ve tried apps and other methods of keeping up with it but we haven’t found one that works for us.  Since having my car broken into I don’t like carrying much cash anymore, so I just need to be aware and get better about giving him all of the receipts.

Managing the money is a constant process.  Even with this big annual meeting, we will still have to sit down together a couple of times a month to check on the progress and see where we need to adjust.

In the end I am glad we did it.  It’s as necessary as rain to the plants, not just for the health of our finances but for our marriage and our future.  I want to encourage you all to sit down with your spouse and make a budget for 2016.  Be realistic about what you can afford and what your goals are.  It will make such a huge difference in how you make decisions.

Happy New Year!

A Galactic Christmas

A Galactic Christmas

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new Star Wars movie that opened this weekend.  We are sci-fi people.  Not me really….I just tolerate it.  But my children, they love it.  I blame my husband.  He plays Star Trek trivia with them and teaches about the differences between lasers and phasers.

But, we aren’t crazy enough to want to go to a crowded movie theater at 3 in the morning to see something on opening weekend.  We all agree to wait until it’s less crowded.  No thank you to paying $10/person to share an armrest with a stranger who talks all through the movie.

I have a soapbox about talking during movies and you do NOT want me to get up on that.  It’s part of my OCD (I am not kidding…it’s real) and I can’t tune out noises.  Every little sound.  Drip.  Sniff.  Click.  Whistle.  They all enter my brain like they’re vital and I can’t help it, it distracts me terribly.  So when someone starts to talk in a movie it immediately tears me away from what’s happening on the screen and I have lost the storyline.

Sometimes a noise can’t be helped (sneezes, a baby fidgeting, the occasional throat clearing, etc.) so even though those distract me, it doesn’t annoy me.  But if you’re just talking to your friend while I am trying to enjoy the show then I will ask you to stop.  I’m nice about it, but people don’t like to be shushed.  I’ve had people yell at me, throw their popcorn at me, keep talking only louder, it can be a hard decision because people aren’t always kind.  But I’m like, “Oh well….it’s a risk I am willing to take.  I don’t like to hear all about your thoughts of what is happening in the movie.  I don’t even know you.”

OK, I can see that I got on my soapbox.  Sorry.

While we are on the subject of movies, I have tested my limits of Hallmark Christmas movies this year.  I generally watch the Hallmark channel or HGTV.  Hallmark has made both channels all Christmas all month.  The stories are all the same: girl in trouble meets a guy she doesn’t like, they end up falling in love and he proposes.  There.  Now you don’t need to watch any of them.  You’re welcome.

I have seen so many of these movies that I am starting to feel like I am in a close relationship with Candace Cameron Bure.  (she’s adorable, by the way…have you read her book?).  Even though I am tired of them, these movies definitely have gotten me in the mood for Christmas.  I don’t know, I just wasn’t sure I would get there this year.  But thanks to the Hallmark channel I am ready for some hot cocoa and gift wrapping.

Star Wars never did that for me.

This week I will be reviving some old posts while I take some time to spend with my family.  I hope you have a galactic sized amount of joy over Christmas and enjoy a few cheesy movies while you’re at it.

Merry Christmas!

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The Story of the Washer and Dryer

The Story of the Washer and Dryer

washer02

Do you ever have a moment of, “How did I get myself into this?”  Well that describes my entire Saturday.

It started a few weeks ago when I noticed that our washing machine wasn’t draining all of the water out and the clothes were dripping wet after the cycle ran.  So after each wash, I would have to run an extra rinse and spin cycle.  OK, no big deal.  That only doubles my laundry time, which is pretty lengthy already.  THEN, the dryer started to get fussy,  I assume it was wanting some extra attention since the washer was being so demanding, and it stopped drying as well as it used to.  The clothes would come out damp.  So I started hanging half of the wet clothes on the line outside and the other half stayed in the dryer.   I do actually enjoy the simplicity of hanging clothes on the line, but I didn’t see it as being a long term solution.  I’m no Ma Ingalls.

In defense of my machines, they are both over 12 years old and in washer/dryer years that’s like 115.  They have been troopers about the extreme workload that is expected of them in our home.  So maybe they were just dying of old age and exhaustion.  But last Friday, the washer bid us its final farewell.  We knew from the banging noise and burning smell coming from our utility room that it was over.

I called a repairman and he came to call time of death.  “No point in trying to fix it,” he said, “the _____ is completely busted and the ______ needs replacing which would mean pulling out the ______ and ______.  It just ain’t worth it.” (I don’t speak repairman so this is a loose interpretation)

He told me the dryer wasn’t far behind, so may as well replace them both.

I texted James and let him know that our Friday night date just went from dinner and a movie to walking around Lowes trying to find good deals on laundry sets.  And by good deal I mean not a good deal because these machines are so expensive now that I think the two of them cost more than my first car.  He wasn’t happy about it, but after 29 years of marriage he was smart enough to know that he would be less happy living with a wife who had to drive 10 miles to the Laundromat every day with 6 loads of dirty boys’ clothes in her car.

We took our time, looking at each machine and Googling reviews and trying to gulp down how much money we were about to spend.  We found a dryer in the clearance section that we decided to buy because it was significantly reduced in price, then chose the matching washer that they had in stock and we could take it home to install first thing in the morning.  Great.  Ring it up.  Oh sure, our next 2 sons won’t be able to go to college, but they will have clean clothes.

The next morning was install time, aka tear the house apart and make messes that will take weeks to clean up.  Because the new washer is a top load and the old ones were front load on pedestals, I had to tear out the shelf that spanned the top of my machines and remove another shelf across from them.  That meant finding new places to store all of the things that we kept in the shelves and drawers we were removing and not replacing.  Plus, I don’t know about you, but I tend to find things I didn’t even know I have when I empty cabinets which left me with a plethora of odd and ends that are still sitting in my kitchen while I try to find new homes for them.  It’s everything from a specialty light bulb to party napkins.  I’m at a loss.

The kids pitched in and we got the room emptied and cleaned after a couple of hours, although the kitchen looked like a utility room bomb had gone off.  James jumped in at that point to install the new machines, which involved 2 trips to the hardware store and at least an hour of digging around in our garage looking for spare dryer parts we could rig because the “great deal” we got turned out to be missing some essential pieces.  I only cried twice, which is a good day in our world.

After a few more hours, they were both scooted into place and ready to try.  I loaded exactly 6# into the washer, according to the manual and turned it on for its inaugural run.  Beautiful.  It swished and cleaned the clothes like any good youngster.  I felt kinda sorry for it, all innocent and showing off without knowing what it was about to get itself into.  We run our machines pretty much all day every day.

I piddled around during its cycle to keep my eye out for leaks, excessive shaking or any protests from the machine, which was great because it gave me 45 minutes to put away some of the junk that we had piled in the kitchen.  It did great, no problems.  When it was done, I reached in to pull the laundry out and made a startling discovery….. in order for me to get the clothes in the bottom of the machine I have to stand on my tiptoes, lay my stomach across the front of the machine and tip myself all the way into the drum with my head and some of my upper body inside of the washer.  My feet actually have to lift off of the ground.

Flashes of falling in, screaming for help and my family not hearing me for hours only to walk into the utility room one afternoon and find me head down in the washer with my legs kicking wildly went through my mind.  This. Is. Not. Good.

And the dryer is not much better.  The opening is so low to the ground and the drum is so deep that I practically have to get on my knees and, again, get inside of it to reach the clothes in the back.

Here’s the good news: Our clothes are clean (and the utility room is spotless).
Here’s the bad news: I think I am going to return the washer and dryer and get another set of front loaders with pedestals.

I just can’t see myself doing this when I’m 60.  I could break a hip.  Or die a sad and unnecessary death.

When I informed James that I thought I was going to return them, he looked at me, stumped.  I am sure it sent a panic through him of having to go through this whole experience next weekend.  All he said to me was, “But, but, they are here now and usable. Plus it will cost so much more!”

Yes dear, but you will be saving on the chiropractor bills from the back issues I would have from loading and unloading these machines over and over.  Not to mention the cost of taking me out to dinner every night because I am too exhausted from trying to wedge myself out of the washer three to five times a day.

He managed to convince me to try them for another week and then decide.  You’re my friends, so I am telling you now…. if I disappear in the next 7 days, call someone and tell them to check the washing machine.

My Fear is Going to Get Expensive

My Fear is Going to Get Expensive

Last week after spending several days hiding away in deep thought and writing, I was glad to be home to my simple, sweet life and beautiful family.  What I was NOT glad to get home to was the…er…situation that had occurred while I was gone.  You wouldn’t think anything this big could happen in less than a week, but apparently it can.

We have an official M-word situation.

I found out about it after I was doing some laundry.  I was peacefully moving clothes from the washer to the dryer when James came in and said in a tone that was out of character for him, “Lisa, you need to go out of here for a minute.”  It was the way he said it, so gentle and sweet, that sent me into immediate panic.  Like when someone says to you, “Sit down honey, I have something to tell you,” in their most remain-calm voice.  Fear goes up your spine.

And since we were doing things that were out of the ordinary, I just left the room.  I put the wet laundry down and walked away.  James must have been kind of surprised at my lack of arguing because he called after me, “Well look at you being all submissive!”. I could tell he was smiling even though I never turned around to see.  But I wasn’t really being submissive.  I was really pretty sure I could read between the lines and knew there was a you-know-what somewhere in the utility room and he was trying to keep me from seeing it.

Later on after my heart stopped pounding I decided to take the risk and ask him if this was a one time problem or if it had been ongoing.  He laid his hand on my shoulder and in the style of a great politician he answered me squarely, “We have it completely under control.”

Um….. yeah.  That doesn’t comfort me at all.  You may was well tell me that the atomic bomb is not going to land DIRECTLY on top of my house.  Oh well that’s just great.

I didn’t ask more questions.  I really didn’t want to know, but a couple of the boys while overhearing this brief conversation blurted out some disturbing information about things that had happened while I was gone.  I have never seen my husband move so fast as he leapt to put his hand over their blabby little mouths.  “SHHHH!!!!” he said then turned a guilty grin in my direction, “Really honey, we are handling it.”

So of course, last night I didn’t sleep a wink.  I just knew there must be dozens (or more) of those nasty creatures scurrying around in the dark doing who knows what in my house and what if one was in my bedroom?!?!?  I decided that the next day I would have to go to a hotel. Obviously.

And of course, I won’t be able to cook or do laundry since the kitchen and utility room seem to be their favorite hangouts.  We will be eating out from now until either an exterminator ends this invasion or the house burns down.  I am hoping for #1.

I informed James this morning of all of these plans and he laughed like I was being ridiculous.  Um, dude, if you thought I was hard to live with BEFORE this infestation, you ain’t seen nothing’.  In the nearly 30 years that we have been married I have held back the kind of crazy that is about to come loose if we don’t get rid of these things immediately.

I may need to send him a Hallmark card to apologize in advance.

When you are terrified of mice....

Do you think Hallmark makes those?  I mean, I have seen crazier cards.  Once I saw a card that said, “I am sorry you lost your job, but let’s be honest, you weren’t very good at it.”.

Now, I know that some of you are reading this and thinking that I am having an overreaction to a normal life happening and that I live on a farm and should not be bothered by this. Well just because I have horses and chickens and way too many cats does not mean I am comfortable with rodents inside my house!  In fact, what is the problem with my cats anyway?!  Shouldn’t they be helping here?!?!

I know that my fear is doesn’t make sense, but I think we are each allowed to have one irrational fear in our lives.  I am not afraid of flying or heights or germs….OK I am a little afraid of germs.  But this M-word thing is literally an I-think-I-am-gonna-throw-up kind of problem.  My instant reaction is complete hysteria followed by crying in the corner.  I can’t help it.  It goes all the way back to my childhood and watching my mother and grandmother standing on the kitchen table while my 5 year old brother chased a mouse through the kitchen with a broom.

Not that I blame them one bit.  I completely understand their fear and have no doubt that I have passed it on to my children.  There are worse things to be afraid of I guess.  I mean, this doesn’t come up very often in life.  Unless they become missionaries in a place where this is a regular issue, in which case I guess they will have the blessing of learning to overcome a fear.

But I plan to just avoid it at all costs, literally.

And now, to prepare my weekly menu, avoiding any actual time in the kitchen and not doing laundry.  It’ll be a challenge friends, but believe me, I am motivated!  And if you pass my house and see me in my front porch rockers, it isn’t because I have gone all Mayberry.  It’s because I am scared to go into my house.

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Somebody Bring Me Some Calgon!

Somebody Bring Me Some Calgon!

OK, it’s official.  I am so done with my husband being gone.  I already knew he was the solid one in the relationship, but after a week without him I am more sure than ever that he is the glue and I am all of the random pieces.  The mere sight of one more broken appliance will put me over the edge.

I don’t know how single parents do it.  Or military parents…seriously, you all have my mad respect.

It’s like the whole house goes into some kind of other dimension and the boys don’t get their chores done and as sweet as the girls are, they have been kind of out-of-it for the past several days. And after last week’s M-word situation, I was not sure I was the best person to be leading these troops.  I am fairly sure my 8 year old would have been a better option considering I walked around afraid of my own shadow all week.

Somebody get me the biggest box of Calgon you can find.

Despite being as jumpy as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I decided to do something bold and get up Saturday morning to take the whole crew down to the city to participate in a protest at the nearest Planned Parenthood.  These rallies were taking place all around the country and we all felt we should be there.

I say it was bold because….

1. I was husbandless so that meant I was completely responsible for this crew and I think we can all see how that is going.  James and I used to attend these allies fairly often when the kids were little and I remember a few of them getting pretty ugly.

2. The Van.

I was going to have to crank up the old 15-passenger van.  And when I say crank, that’s pretty close to what it’s like.  This old thing has so many miles on it that it could be in the Guinness Book of World Records.  I don’t know how it is still working.  None of us like to drive it, it putters along, the A/C doesn’t work, it smells bad, it rattles like an old roller coaster and worst of all it gets about 2.7 miles to the gallon.

We only use it for emergency family outings, and even then we look into the price of a rental car first.

But I had to use it because we outnumbered the seats in my car and James left the minivan at the airport.  So we found the crank and off we went.

The event was very well organized and besides being so hot you could fry an egg on our foreheads, it went well.  The 600+ people there were peaceful and very upbeat about raising awareness of what is really going on inside that facility.  We saw lots of friends there and were blessed to have been a part of it.

Family participation in a rally

Afterwards I decided to run a few errands.  It’s not often we all go to the city together, it being over an hour away and us having to drive what basically equates to the Beverly Hillbillies’ vehicle to get there.  So we ate lunch then picked up some clothes for the boys.  We are going to Orlando in a few weeks for an awesome blogging event at Universal Studios called Family Forward and the boys needed shorts.  I also decided to get myself a hat, which I am not sure about yet.  Hats don’t like me very much.

We were all worn out from standing in the heat for 2 hours then shopping afterwards, so we drove home in the old van and collapsed.  Later that night we all ate dinner in my bedroom and watched the Duck Dynasty wedding, which was adorable and I cried through almost the whole show.  I love their style (except for the scraggly beards and head bandanas) and the values were so sweet.  Lord, bless them.

After church on Sunday we came home and worked on a video trailer we are making for my book that comes out NEXT WEEK!!!

It’s so close y’all!  Have you ordered yours yet?!

My 12 year old is the director and we had a great afternoon together shooting it.  My daughter Hope did all of the artwork and it’s the cutest thing since Princess Charlotte.  We are wrapping it up this week and you’ll be the first to see it!

working on a book trailer as a family

I fell asleep on Sunday night before the kids even knew I was out. They were all still awake and I just had to trust that they wouldn’t have any loud parties or burn anything because I would have slept through it all.  Mama was DONE.

This week is full of more book promotions and trying to keep my sanity.  Which basically describes my life in a nutshell.

Have a good one!

The Giving and Receiving of Wisdom

The Giving and Receiving of Wisdom

I sometimes hesitate to answer when someone asks me for advice because of all of my own failures.

It’s a trap…..the idea that only perfect people can offer advice.  Sure, we should seek out people who have succeeded in the area we need help with.  But that doesn’t have to mean perfection!

I get asked for advice all.of.the.time.  In the grocery store just yesterday a women stopped me and asked me a homeschool curriculum question.  On Sunday a friend at church asked me about getting kids to sleep at night.  Marriage, essential oils, dieting, blogging, mothering…..I am not an expert in any of these areas yet I get a ton of questions about them!

In fact, I don’t really think of myself as an expert in anything except the messiness of being ME.  I do know a lot about that.

I feel fully inadequate to be answering most of these questions.  And then God reminds me….that is exactly where He wants me. If I thought I had it all together and could answer any question then I wouldn’t really be helping anyone.  I would be giving too much Lisa (mess) and not enough God (perfect Father).

Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

When I am weak, He is made strong.  So when someone asks my advice, I prayerfully answer.  If the source of my reply is not my own knowledge but from His Word, then I don’t have to be flawless to share it with you.  I am simply the messenger.

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It starts with prayer.  Put on the armor of God and spend time in His Word.  If I offer you a simple translation of what He says mixed with a few fun stories of how that worked for me then I don’t have to worry about misleading you.

Of course, God doesn’t clearly tell us which homeschool curriculum to use, that is more of an experience question.  I can just share what I know. It’s important to realize when there are many paths to the same goal….in this case that our kids will be well educated.  My way works for me, but it might not work for you.  I can’t give you an infallible answer, but I do have experience that I am happy to share and hopefully that will help.  It might even help you to see that what I did will not work for you and save you from a mistake.

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But if it’s more of a “how do you honor your husband when he is wrong?” kind of question….well that is something that God does speak about in the Bible. Pull it out.  Look up the answers then pray together.

I prayed with a woman the other night in our monthy essential oil class because of some personal issues she shared with me.  I don’t know exactly what she needs, but I know the One who does.  So we asked Him together.  I don’t have to have any expertise to pray with someone.  Then I offered her my best advice.  I also gave her encouragement that I will be her friend through her trials.  I always have my friendship to offer even if my advice is not what they need.

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If you get asked for advice a lot, here are some things I want to share with you:

1. Don’t think too highly of yourself! If you feel like you know a lot about a Biblical issue, be careful not to think so highly of your knowledge that you forget where it came from.  Our experience or knowledge never trumps the Word of God.
2. Spend a gob-ton of time reading the Bible.  That is your source of wisdom.
3. Spend plenty of time in prayer.  Let go of your ideas that you know so much and grab onto the lessons He has taught you though the Holy Spirit.
4. Understand your responsibility.  God is clear on this….leaders have extra responsibilities to be careful how they live and what they say.
5. Remember that you don’t have to be perfect (a lesson I need to learn!).  Your perfection is not what anyone needs…they need your humility and love.

Matthew 18: 6-7 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea”

And as the seeker of advice, let’s also be aware that the human being we are looking to for help is flawed.  They will mess up, be wrong, poorly communicate and an endless list of other disappointments.  That does not mean they don’t have great advice for you!

1. Like I said above….read the Bible and pray!  You have just as much access to the source of true wisdom as anyone else.
2. Don’t put people on a pedestal.  No one deserves to be thought of as higher than anyone else.  This is a surefire way for your relationship with someone to crash and burn.
3. Get more than one viewpoint.  Don’t be shy about asking someone you admire (admiring is not the same as idealizing) for their wisdom.  Ask a few people and then weigh their suggestions against what you know to be true.

Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

4. Seek wise counsel instead of just asking everyone.  The stranger in the grocery store doesn’t necessarily have wise advice for you.  Resist the temptation to ask advice from all of your friends.  It’s too confusing and it can lead to your destruction.

Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

5. Make it a goal to become wise.  So many women I meet think they have to always stay in the place of weakness.  Or they just look for tips and tricks to get through life instead of digging deep and drawing close to Christ.  Use the wisdom people share, be willing to learn and grow and change where you need to, become wise so that you can help others after you.

In a nutshell…..If you need help – ASK for wisdom!  If someone asks for your help – PRAY for wisdom!

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Have a great weekend!

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A Second Honeymoon

A Second Honeymoon

Last week was BIG for me!  James and I, for the first time since having kids over 25 years ago, went away for the week.  Just the 2 of us.  It was a second honeymoon and where did we go?  Disney World of course!

Yes, just me, James and thousands of couples with small children.

We had a wonderful time together.  We flew to Florida early last Sunday morning and had the entire day to wander around the different resorts and see what they are each like.  It was something I have always wondered about….those fancy places that I’ll never be able to afford.  We texted pictures to the kids because I was feeling pretty awkward being there without them.

I did get over that after the first day.  They were having a great time at home watching all of the movies they wanted and eating pizza.  They kept telling me to go enjoy myself.  So I did.

That first step into Magic Kingdom gave me such a thrill.  It’s so clean and cheerful, like walking into a dream.  We ran around all day and unwound amidst the crowd and lines.  I kept looking at the castle and thinking, “I can’t believe I’m here!”

On day 2 we went to Hollywood Studios (my favorite park!) and I decided to do my hair in honor of the starlets of past eras.

Fun hairstyles for Disney!

It was fun to go glam for a day!  So much fun that I went all animal kingdom the next day.

fun Disney hairstyles!

I made a crown with my hair…..It was a lot bigger in person than it looks in the photo.  I plan to mess around with more if I ever go back to Disney so I can really make a BIG hair crown!

By my last day I was in the mood to really play, so of course I did it total Disney style.  Minnie Mouse ears!!!!

fun Disney hairstyles!

The whole week we ran around like youngsters, riding rides and eating snacks and really had a grand time!

One of the things I enjoyed the most was watching the young families.  There was plenty of time while we waited in lines or on buses to just people watch.  The men especially interested me.  Young guys, in their late 20s/early 30s who were there with their wives, a few young kids and their in-laws.  I kept looking at their faces and imagining these guys who only a few years ago were in college working toward their dreams.  I thought that they must have never pictured themselves walking around Disney World lugging a stroller and wearing a t-shirt with a Mickey Mouse silhouette that said “Daddy” on it (matching the “Mommy” t-shirt his wife wore, of course!).  At first I thought these guys seemed a little defeated, as if he would rather be doing pretty much anything else.  But then I’d see it….the twinkle.  Every time he looked at his kids.  Every man.  On every bus and in every line, lit up when he looked at his little princess or pirate.

And it just warmed me inside.  I know that James and I twinkle when we look at our kids, but to see so many families really enjoying their children was such a delight.  I didn’t notice that on my last trip, probably because I was too busy staring at my own adorable crew.

On Friday night as we drove home from the airport I said to James, “Hey, I don’t think we talked about kids or money or the house falling apart even once while we were gone!”  It was like a teeny tiny miracle.  Total relaxation mixed with eating too much sugar and watching a lot of 3D shows = heaven.

And now we are planning our NEXT Mom and Dad only getaway.  Only next time we think we might want to do something a little less….um…..tiring.  Like maybe a beach somewhere that has cabana boys bringing you drinks and the waves just come to you.

I mean, it was great, but I was so worn out when we got home that I wasn’t sure if I would recover.  I’m still exhausted.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

In My Mind I’m the Hare but in Reality I’m the Tortoise

In My Mind I’m the Hare but in Reality I’m the Tortoise

Will it bore you to know that I am still working on my kitchen?  I used to be fast as lightening at these kinds of projects.  But that was when I was not only younger, but my kids were younger and I could just put them in a room with a new Lego set and a box of sugar cereal and they barely noticed I wasn’t paying attention to them.

These days my kids require more effort than I can buy with toys and Fruit Loops.  They need school lessons and to be driven here and there.  They have their own agenda that often requires my assistance, which can slow down a kitchen makeover.  And myself, I move more slowly.  It’s weird isn’t it?  I feel like I am moving at a normal pace.  But I am proven wrong when I am in front of one of the kids in the hallway and it causes a traffic jam, complete with honking.

I hope the fable is true, “slow and steady wins the race.”  If so, then I am going for grand champion.

I’d say we are 2/3 finished.  The white cabinets are all painted and ready to be waxed.  I like the look of wax over chalk paint.  I have been doing that technique since before it was cool and will likely still be using doing it long after Pinterest is flooded with a new trend.  It’s durable and looks professional.  The axing does add more work, but it’s so worth it!

This weekend, in addition to painting, we hung a new cabinet and new microwave.  It sounds great until you have to figure out how you are going to add trim to all of it to hide the flaws in your hanging skills and make it look like the rest of the old kitchen.  The shininess of the new microwave is already putting my electric range to shame.  But not to worry, it will be grimy in no time and fit in with the rest of my appliances just fine.

Yesterday was my oldest child’s 25th birthday, so of course I got very little done because I was wallowing in a deep depression.  I can’t figure out how this happened.  She was born, she hopped around the house with a pacifier between her teeth telling us all what to do, she was a grown up.  1-2-3.  Where was the middle?!

We did our usual special birthday breakfast where they get to choose anything they want to eat.  Then we opened gifts and just hung around talking.  The weather here has been amazing, so the doors were open and I put peppermint in the diffuser to keep us all uplifted.  It did help my general despair over how fast she grew and I got a bit of painting and cleaning done as well.  So hooray for peppermint and 75°.

Later this week we have another birthday (I may go into a puddled mess over this one….someone send Kleenex!) and some light plans.  We try to stay close to home and uncommitted toward the end of tax season to make it easy for James, who needs to completely focus on work.  And in case you’re looking for help, he has a website.

Last week I read on Facebook about a friend who fell asleep while doing her taxes.  That would be me.  Truth be told, the fact that he does taxes and bookkeeping is the thing that I find most attractive about my man.  I mean, six pack abs are nice, but what good are they when the IRS calls?

Have a great week!