❤ ❤ ❤

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the gospel is so much more

welp, so much for trying to be a better blogger.  life just gets in the way, ya know, and by the end of the day i'm pooped.  i'm sure most of y'all can relate.  in the facebook world, i can get on here and there and post quick statuses if i want.  not so much on blogger.

for the sake of not letting blogger feel neglected though, i shall post something.  i am tired, and in a few minutes i'm gonna head to bed and spend some time in good ol' dream land before morning comes and my 2 year old comes running cheerfully in my room and yells happily "mommy, toby's awaaaaake!!!" (he speaks of himself in third person.)   that boy wakes up like he's had doses of caffeine injected in him all night in his sleep.  i wish i was like that.

so i'm going to do the "lazy blogger" thing and post something that a friend had on her fb wall a few days ago.  a reminder of the difference between religious living and gospel centered living.  just wanna A to the MEN it, and repost.  i needed this.

RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted.
THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.
RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.
RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.
THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.
RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.
RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.
RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure.
THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”—simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.
RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’
THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.
RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.
THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.

-tim keller

Monday, September 26, 2011

he's gone

think happy thoughts.  think happy thoughts.  think hap...

oh forget it.

earlier this morning,once again, the kids and i had to go through another heart wrenching, tear jerking bye to my best friend, my companion, my lover, the father of my children.  once again,  we watched as he walked to the boat, bags in hand, but not before he gave each of us our hugs and kisses.  it's so difficult to let go.  just one last hug, one last kiss... please?  we had to let him walk away eventually.  he took one last look at us, and we got one last wave in before he disappeared... as if the big boat sucked him in.  

then we drove away.  the drive home after those partings are always so hard.  so so hard.  i hate listening to my daughter's sobs and trying to keep the kids from hearing my harsh air intakes while i bawl my eyes out... as quietly as i can.

that went on for about 10 to 15 minutes.  then silence.  silence the rest of the way home.  the radio was too annoying to listen to at that moment.  the boys fell asleep, and i glanced every so often at cici, who was sucking her thumb looking sullenly out the window.

we finally arrive home and i hate that part too.  i hate seeing all the little remnants of him... his towel he used for his shower this morning, some of his dirty laundry, his messed up side of the bed, the cup that he used last night before bed... *sigh*.  once that is all cleaned up, it'll be two months before i see all that again.  two months.

2 days away from him sucks.  2 weeks is already too long.  2 months, i hate.  2 months of barely any communication except through e-mails and a phone call every now and then.  2 months of no intimacy, and i'm not just talking about sex, but affectionate hugs, the hand holding, the kisses, the togetherness.  2 months of watching your kids do new things and growing a little, all the while wishing drew could see it for real, instead of just in pictures.  those 6 month to 1 year+ deployments that other military wives/husbands have to endure... well... those folks are tough, and my heart goes out to them.  i can't imagine.  drew is gone about 6 months out of the year, but they are broken up.  you know what though?  i still hate those "well, at least it's not for a year" remarks.
gone is gone.  no matter how long... it sucks.  unless of course you're the type of person that doesn't mind your spouse being away... maybe even looks forward to it (i know a few who are like that).
eh... whatever floats your boat.  (that's me just being nice and holding my tongue so i don't blurt out something like, "sounds like y'all have a wonderful and enjoyable love-filled marriage.")

so today... today i'm going to be pitiful.  tomorrow i will determine to be stronger, and smile more, at least for my kid's sake.  not so much today though.  today i will pittle pattle around the house with a heavy heart, mechanically change diapers and feed mouths, wear sunglasses wherever i have to go, even inside buildings, so no one has to see my puffy red-rimmed eyes, avoid conversations with people,  and send the kids to bed extra early so i can watch a depressing bbc movie on netflix (only cause i love bbc movies, and most of them are depressing), while i eat lots of chocolate.  pathetic, right?

*sigh* Lord, please help me today...

Friday, September 23, 2011

happy fall y'all!

it's that time of year that i love!  cooler weather, holidays, the smell of cinnamon, apples, pumpkins; the changing colors of the leaves (and they are beautiful around here, let me tell you), festivals, a free day at colonial williamsburg on veteran's day (can't wait!), and i could go on...

  these bible verses always come to my mind at the start of this season.  i have always thought this passage beautiful... it always seemed sort of poetic to me... the words of solomon...

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born , and a time to die ; a time to plant , and a time to pluck up that which is planted ; 3 A time to kill , and a time to heal ; a time to break down , and a time to build up ; 4 A time to weep , and a time to laugh ; a time to mourn , and a time to dance ; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time togather stones together ; a time to embrace , and a time to refrain from embracing ; 6 A time to get , and a time to lose ; a time to keep , and a time to cast away ; 7 A time to rend , and a time to sew ; a time to keep silence , and a time to speak ; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate ; a time of war, and a time of peace. 9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? 10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. 11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. 12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice , and to do good in his life. 13 And also that every man should eat and drink , and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. 14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth , it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. 15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past . 

  i also like how the message puts it...

There's a Right Time for Everything
 1 There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

 2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
   A right time to plant and another to reap,
   A right time to kill and another to heal,
   A right time to destroy and another to construct,
   A right time to cry and another to laugh,
   A right time to lament and another to cheer,
   A right time to make love and another to abstain,
   A right time to embrace and another to part,
   A right time to search and another to count your losses,
   A right time to hold on and another to let go,
   A right time to rip out and another to mend,
   A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
   A right time to love and another to hate,
   A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
 9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I've had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he's coming or going. I've decided that there's nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That's it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It's God's gift.
 14 I've also concluded that whatever God does, that's the way it's going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God's done it and that's it. That's so we'll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.
 15 Whatever was, is.
   Whatever will be, is.
   That's how it always is with God. 

  we live in a world of changes, and there so many seasons in our lives that we go through.  through those changes and seasons, it is a blessing to know that God is in control of it all, and i am so thankful for that.

  this season will bring another deployment for our family, drew leaves in a few days for two months.  i am not used to his patrols yet, although i don't think you could ever be "used" to it.  it never seems to hit me that he will be gone for that long until days after he leaves.  that's when i get that sudden gut-wrenching anxiety feeling at the realization that he's gone and i won't see him for a while.  as positive of an outlook as i try to have during his patrols, it's always hard to keep from feeling that way.  

God knows that though, and already i have seen how He has been working in my life to let me know that He's taking care us.  what a blessing... truly=)

  i hope this season brings to all of you so much joy, laughter, love, whether it be with friends, family, or our church or adoptive families for those of us who don't live near our relatives... and also the realization of how blessed we really are.  happy fall everyone!

love, me=)

p.s.  a few of you guys have commented on previous posts, and somehow, my computer savvy self deleted them all=/  didn't mean to guys, and i want you to know that they were very much appreciated=) also it was brought to my attention that some can't comment?  i have no idea why, and i read on someone else's blog how that is blogger's problem.  oh well, hopefully they'll figure that out soon and fix it=)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

marriage stuff

  a friend posted a note on facebook sometime ago titled, "Woman to Woman-Inspiring Each Other to Proactive Choices in Marriage".

 it's good.  really good.  here, you can read it...

Disclaimer:  I’m not an expert.  I am writing these thoughts, observations and lessons first for myself and secondly as a “thank you” to those who have been open and honest about life and marriage to me.  I’m passing it on to others who may have interest. I love people.  I love writing. I love the synergy that comes from relationships.  I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that it can appear that there is not a ton of scripture written on marriage, but I realized that there is a ton of scripture about relationships. All of these principles apply to marriage, (i.e.., kindness, restoration, and preferring one another).  So, we actually have a lot to consider. I'm opening up my heart to share ideas that have helped me.  
Everyone wants a happy marriage and if questioned on their wedding day, most are very sure that they have what it takes to make their marriage flourish.  What happens to nearly 50% of those marriages?  Why don’t they last? Why do so many good people have bad or sad marriage relationships that sometimes fail and end?  What are the enemies?  What are the secrets to success?  I wish I had all of the answers to those questions because I love success stories, don’t you?  Like the happy endings in the movie, we like resolutions, promises and clarity.  We like to watch our ball teams win because victory is exhilarating.  Who doesn’t want to win?  Is there a way that one person can make a difference in a marriage? After all, it takes two, not one, to make a good marriage.  In the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey says this:
“At one seminar where I was speaking on the concept of proactivity, a man came up and said,
“Stephen, I like what you’re saying. But every situation is so different. Look at my marriage. I’m really worried. My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?”
“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“Love her,” I replied.
“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”
“Love her.”
“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But how do you love when you don’t love?”
“My friend, love is a verb. Love — the feeling — is a fruit of love the verb. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”
In the great literature of all progressive societies, love is a verb. Reactive people make it a feeling.
They’re driven by feelings. Hollywood has generally scripted us to believe that we are not responsible, that we are a product of our feelings. But the Hollywood script does not describe the reality. If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.
Proactive people make love a verb. Love is something you do: the sacrifices you make, the giving of self, like a mother bringing a newborn into the world. If you want to study love, study those who sacrifice for others, even for people who offend or do not love in return. If you are a parent, look at the love you have for the children you sacrificed for. Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions.Proactive people subordinate feelings to values. Love, the feeling, can be recaptured.”

Wow, isn’t that awesome?  Love is a verb.  It’s proactive.  I imagine we all cheered inside as we read the advice Steven gave to the husband-the advice for him to love his wife.  Why did we cheer?  We know at the end of the day, marriages don’t succeed on feelings alone, quite often they will fail on feelings.  Marriages thrive on values that aren’t compromised.  The feeling follows the value that is lived.  So, what does it mean to be proactive in marriage?  What advantages come along with proactive decisions?  The word “proactive” means:  tending to initiate change rather than reacting to events.For example, eating right and exercising to be healthy is proactive. Waiting until you have a heart attack to choose a healthy lifestyle is reactive
The very nature of being proactive is choosing to be intentional.  It’s making a decision to live love as a verb. Choosing to be proactive is really being wise and prudent because it strengthens marriages instead of waiting for a break that then needs a repair. Being proactive is a fertilizer on the planted seeds.
At this point, we’ll turn a corner.  I’m writing this to myself and other women; women who have a relationship with God, who want to ask hard questions. A whole book could be written to men and their responsibility in marriage, but that will have to come from somewhere else.  I’m hoping to provoke our thoughts as women; as wives.  The truth is that the end-all of this life isn’t about marriage, but it is God’s gift to us as humans. We have our own relationship with God; we have our own strengths and purposes individually, but all of these are enhanced in a great marriage. It really is a beautiful picture of Gods love to us, the union of marriage in this life. 
I’ve met wonderful Christian women whose marriages are struggling.  I say that because there is a dual choice involved in marriage. I know a husband has choices. But I’m hoping to present thoughts here that focus on what it looks like for us to be proactive women. Making the choice to live by Biblical principles releases us from being held hostage by our reactions. This is life-changing, let alone marriage changing. In our relationship with God, being the right person, results in doingthe right things, which gives maximum potential for a great marriage relationship.  Let’s look at a few ways we tend to be reactive instead of proactive, because even in a healthy marriage where the “love and respect wheel” continue to roll effortlessly, there are bumps in the road that we sometimes need a little help navigating. So, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.  Here are some practical points to consider:

One reaction women tend to choose is withholding. There are many reasons why we withhold (as a means of protecting ourselves or withdrawing), but what are the specific ways we withhold from our husband?  Let’s talk about the largest elephant in the room…our love life.
1. Sex
Sex is not just a gift to mankind.  It’s a gift to us personally.  It’s powerful, yet vulnerable and comes with responsibility.  We know it is a perfect picture of Christ loving the church.  Do we really want to reduce this beautiful symbol to that of a bargaining chip?  That is what withholding does. It reduces. We sabotage our own marital health when we withhold sex. It sometimes seems like the logical choice because we have some amount of power in this area, and we can be tempted to use this power as a sword instead of a gift. It can be a weapon if we so choose.  There will be seasons in the course of a lifetime when physical barriers make it harder to meet our spouse’s sexual needs (childbirth, illness, etc…) and communication is so vital in navigating these times.  This season is not what I’m referring to here.  I’m talking about using the “sex-card” as a reward/punishment mechanism in the relationship rather than a gift to be given.  We might as well be shooting bullets into the heart of our marriage when we withhold sex.  It’s that damaging. At the least, the ‘withholding” fertilizes the ground for discontentment, mistrust and bitterness.  It definitely puts a cog in the wheel (you know, that one that was rolling along effortlessly).  Here is the positive, proactive approach.  Freely give sex. Pretty simple…let’s just do it!  J  Giving speaks love, respect and commitment to our husband like no other words can.  It is validation that we are willing to sacrifice for him, just as he would (hopefully) give his life and sacrifice for us. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say his sexual needs are probably different than oursJ. We can recognize that just because we aren’t in need or in the mood for sex at the moment, doesn’t mean our husband is not. Be willing to entertain the idea that this is a way bigger deal to him than it is for you. 
Let’s choose to be proactive and be willing to give.  We won’t be sorry. 
2. Affection
The other way women withhold is with simple affectionate gestures.  Sometimes we don’t take the necessary step to talk about our frustrations, but we will give energy and efforts to show our feelings by withdrawing our warm spirit.  At the very first inkling that we want to back away physically, emotionally or otherwise,(whatever the reason), that is the most important time NOT to give in to those feelings.  Reach out- hug, hold his hand, look his way.  Don’t give place to a cold shoulder. Our touch says more than we realize. This proactive response creates a shield of protection around us and our marriage. Let’s take the step for our marriage instead of reacting with our feelings
3. Respect/admiration
We know the common phrase that everyone must “earn respect”.  I completely understand that truth, but in regards to our marriages, God has given us, as an act of obedience to Him, the choice to GIVE respect to our husbands, (drum roll please)…whether he has earned it or not.  This takes the bargaining out of the relationship (you give me this, I give you that).  I know this doesn’t seem fair.  The “not fair” thoughts are just darts from the enemy. They are thrown into our minds to detour us from our responsibility and rob us from the privilege of obeying God.  It’s an awful cycle of loss. Our enemy uses a diversion by having us focus on the merits of our husbands’ behavior. We question, does he deserve respect?  Does he fulfillmy needs?  Why should I respect him if he doesn’t show enough love to me?  We reason that if we hold out on giving respect, he may learn his lesson and give more.  Unfortunately, that is a lie. It doesn’t work.  It seems the secret in all of this is that there is a reward to obedience.  It’s a God thing, not a husband thing.  In our obedience to God, He plants and waters the seeds that bring forth the “love flowers” that we so desperately want.  It’s almost like God knew what we needed when he inspired Paul to write in Ephesians 5, “Husbands, love your wives, wives, respect your husbands”.  It’s the fruit of submitting ourselves to each other, that beautiful leap of love and trust; pure selfless abandonment resulting in freedom. I’m double dog daring us to try it…be proactive and make a choice to respect our husband out of obedience to God.  Respect even when we don’t feel like it, just like he is to love selflessly, regardless of feelings.  We have to choose to live out our values, not our feelings.  I know, it’s hard but it begins a cycle of positive energy that reaps rewards.  When we love, or are loved unconditionally and respect, or are respected unconditionally, it changes us. Let’s be proactive and choose to praise him, admire him, and appreciate him. Give it a chance. I’m guessing a surprise is in store for us
A second reaction we succumb to is that of letting our communication digress into patterns of assuming.  How do we assume?  What does that look like?  How does it play out?
1. Manipulation
Manipulation becomes a way of life to those who assume.  When we try to manipulate our husband, it looks pretty pathetic.  We may think we have a gift in putting “pieces” together.  We then become prosecutor, judge and jury questioning his every motive and action.  It usually ends in confrontation instead of reconciliation.  It reveals what we believe-that we need to fix our husband and that we know how to fix him.  Ouch! We go over scenarios in our mind.  We think if ‘we say this, he will say that’, and we will gain something we want.  It’s a very self-focused and self-absorbed reaction.  It represents a heart and care for us rather than that of our husband.  At some point, our expectations about life, marriage and family meet up with reality and we are presented a choice.  It feels so illusive.  We think manipulating or venting onto our husband may inspire him to greatness.  There is a short season of satisfaction in that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last, and more importantly, it doesn’t work.   These disappointments and unmet expectations are normal.  Most couples think they are alone. They’re not. Every marriage has to navigate changes and disappointment.  If we choose to meet these times with understanding and graciousness, we’ll win.   See the right enemy.  It’s not our husband.  If we assume all the blame is our husband, we begin an ugly cycle where everything in our life begins to rest on our mate understanding us and fulfilling us.  When he doesn’t understand and fulfill (and he won’t because he’s not designed to be our God) we react. We can manipulate so many ways, by pitching fits in our own grown-up way, giving the silent treatment, arguing...never realizing the next step is our husband feeling failure for something he was never designed to do. It would be like expecting a child to write a book, when he has not even learned to read.  It is not possible. The missing ingredient is a faith step; the step that involves resting and trusting, not manipulating and “fixing”.  It truly is a paradox. It’s a humble spirit that has the force to break ground.  How can the answer be found in a faith step-that sounds like a cliché’, but the wonderful, powerful, successful marriage rests more on our relationship and dependency on God than we know.  God is big enough for these misguided expectations. Why do we forget God knows us…He knows our spouse…He is FOR our marriage…He turns the heart of the king but we somehow forget he can communicate to our spouse for us, even through us, as we choose to let go and let God.  We forget God’s desire for us to have a strong marriage is greater than our desire.  He has our best interest at heart.  Let’s be proactive. It’s a call to trust GOD. 

2. Appearance/Dress
You may wonder why this topic is even here. Is it possible to show assumptions with our appearance and dress? Hmmm…how does this play out?  Well, we all want to be beautiful in our husband’s eyes.  The fact that we are focused on this at all means it can be a place of attack. I hope we all make efforts to take care of ourselves, never making the assumption that because we are married, we can “let go” and not care about our appearance.  I’m SO not going there. But that being said, our culture is very obsessed with looks, so it takes a great deal of intentionality to find balance.  There are some obvious pursuits that are just responsible, like pursuing health, eating right and exercise.  We can be proactive.  We can also choose an attitude of thankfulness for what we have.  Let me say that again.  We can choose thankfulness for what we have!  Let it sink in. Lets stop comparing to others.  It’s discouraging.  It gets us off track. BE THANKFUL… and then tell our face about it.  Smile for your husband.  Let him know he lights up your life.  He will know that admiring look.  It’s contagious and super-sexy. J  Did you know that a smile and happy countenance ranks higher on the list of what men find attractive than everything else.  I’m taking a guess that when we were dating our husband, we smiled A LOT.  Go back to those places in your mind.  Remember. Open up the album in your mind…go to the pictures of total bliss. Don’t let stresses in this new phase of life take away your happy, joyful spirit.  Let’s be proactive…let’s laugh together again.  Your proactive carefree spirit may catch your husband off guard.  Give him time to get there with you. Talk about those memories together, so you can recapture it in the present.  It may be a detour that you find yourself traveling.  Take heart.  You can get back to the main road!
Sometimes we make another assumption about dress-that dressing provocatively for everyone will bond our husbands to us. It’s a sticky subject…but this isn’t an accurate assessment.  If we think our husbands are viewing pornography or looking at other women, we may be tempted to dress provocatively to re-gain attention. We think this may help him curb his wandering eye.  This actually shows that we trust in ourselves-another manipulation skill.  This problem is not an issue we can resolve with clothes. The truth is, dressing modestly says a lot about our self-image, and even how we think our husband views us.  A confident, thoughtful woman will dress with modesty because she’s not dressing because she feels threatened.  Think about it.
We can be individuals and be expressive in our clothes and still be conscientious and thoughtful.  I’m not advocating an unkempt look or lack of personality.  Color, design and flair don’t have to be compromised.  We can take care of ourselves and exude thankfulness for our body without exploiting it.  By dressing thoughtfully, we show and embrace responsibility and we show love to other women.  By not dressing to please their husband or their sons, we prefer others. Ok, here’s a question… If someone else is wearing what YOU are wearing, in the WAY you are wearing it, in front of YOUR husband, would you be ok with it?  Do you think he might have to look away? This may be a good question to answer before walking out the door.  We are all in need a good dose of selflessness, humility and true love. J
Here’s an up-side. You can be provacative FOR YOUR HUSBAND. We can celebrate the wonder and beauty of our body…we can celebrate with our husband in our privacy.  There’s no need to dress outside of the bedroom for inside the bedroom.  Keep it protected for your marriage, for your husband, because it’s a treasure. It’s like sharing a secret.  Don’t spoil the secret by giving it to everyone else. Make efforts to communicate to your husband that he is the priority and reason for your smile.  Ask him what he likes and what he thinks. Love him with more than just your body; love him with your soul.  Let’s take the high road.
There are so many deceiving lies about body image. Most start with assumptions that fighting for attention with our body is ok.  Well, that’s what the harlot does-dress to get attention, just dressing to make the sale.  Don’t degrade your beauty with this lie. Don’t be deceived, the end of the sale is not pretty.  Be proactive and fight for your marriage, not for selfish attention.  
Are we putting off love and respect with our appearance?  These are the adjectives we should hope describe us, even in our dress. 
3. Accusations
My husband and I had to work on communication very early in our marriage.  Didn’t we all?  Aren’t we still? We had to learn to communicate thoroughly; the key word being thoroughly.  The tendency is to go through half of a conversation, hit a wall, then give up and stop.  This is when accusations and assumptions make their move in our mind.  These thoughts can take over and finish the rest of the communication that did not happen in the conversation.  When there is misunderstanding in any way, it is worth getting out the picks and shovels to excavate.  Don’t give up until the gold nugget is found.  (I’m not talking about nagging). That nugget is one more very foundational rock that we will build on throughout marriage. Don’t give up. One of the truths my husband taught me was how to convey my passionate points of view without using words like “always” and “never”.  He had a very good point.  He made a case for this-“ask, rather than accuse”…very few people would honestly be described as “always doing this, or never doing that.  In our desire to communicate our passion points, we sometimes accuse with superlatives instead of speaking honestly or accurately. We lose the chance to find the truth, when we shy away from asking questions that could reveal truth about our mate.  We don’t know it all.  We might be surprised if we speak less and listen more. Listening for an answer is a better way to learn the truth instead of hoping our mate can articulate a great defense against our accusations.  Here’s a little example.  Let’s say we see our husband cleaning the kitchen. We could walk away with several thoughts-some good, some bad.
We could think, “He is so helpful”.                          
Or “He thinks I am a slob that needs his help”.
Or “He must be helping because he wants something from me”  
The list could go on.  It’s easy to see how assumptions can be destructive. From just observing, we can formulate motives based on our own bias or past grievances instead of truth. We have to choose to give the benefit of the doubt. In a way, that in itself is assuming-just in the right direction. Isn’t it true, that everybody wants to be understood?  Do you want to be understood?  Choose to give the benefit of the doubt…ask questions first. It’s great accountability as a couple to decide to ask questions, rather than accuse. Make a pact together. “Assuming” and “accusing” walk together.  Let’s choose to let them walk out of our marriage forever.  We’ll be so glad they did. 

These are just a few proactive steps to consider.  The ways in which we give and live in our marriage are as endless as the creativity of each person and couple.  We’re all different.  In our differences, we find our strengths and weakness.  We can embrace the synergy that comes from marriage and be fuel for the strengths and protection from the weaknesses in each other.  Isn’t that what love does?  We can inspire each other to live out our beliefs, the beliefs that God has imprinted into our heart, so we can enjoy the journey in this life with our lover, friend, confidante,…

Let’s recap.
Counterproductive reactions include withholding and assuming.  Let’s reject these strongholds.

Proactive steps that breathe life into marriage include what we GIVE and what we LIVE!

*Freely GIVE:

*Freely LIVE a life of:
  -Trust in God-life without manipulating
  -Thankfulness and responsibility in Appearance
  -Communication without assumptions

written by: sonya thompson

Monday, September 12, 2011


  so some of you know of my dabbling interest in photography.  i'm only in the baby steps of photography right now, and it is mostly just a hobby with the family and friends, but if down the road, like...  down down down the road, it ever becomes a business, well, that would be cool beans too.

  i'm a big googler, and googling photography ideas is something i like to do.  there are some pretty awesome photographers out there who inspire me.  the things people come up with are neat-o.

  on my quest of finding unique things, i came across these photos.  i'd say they are pretty inspiring... what do you think?

now, don't they look happy?  nothing awkward about this photo at all.

oh yeah... these chick are totally stylin'.

note to self: give clients tips on what and what-not to wear

the only thing i find disturbing about this family portrait is the choice of backdrop.  it's a bit twilight zone-ish for me.  maybe a plain black one would've sufficed.

i really love the beach theme they are going for here.  how fun.

i just love family action shots.  especially ones that speak to me.  this one seems to say, "it's not always the milkman."

aww, so adorable.  i love how even on a budget, you can still be creative with prop ideas=)

poses can really make a picture.  what a cute engagement pose idea.

what a happy and excited looking groom!

hey, why not share the love and excitement of the day with others?

lovely, just lovely=)

"enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity." - bo bennet

as you can see from what inspires me above, i've got great taste.  if ever i go into business, won't you consider me to shoot your portraits?  i'd just love to;)


Thursday, September 8, 2011

first day of kindergarten!

  how is it possible that we are parents of a kindergartner?  how, in a little period of time, did our daughter, cici, go from this...

to this...

  sometimes it seems like only yesterday when the nurse placed her in my arms, this precious little baby girl.  i remember the awe i felt, and this overwhelming feeling of motherly love for her that filled my heart, an indescribable feeling really.  such a beautiful baby girl.  

  now she's a beautiful 5 year old.  an independent little girl, who likes to do almost everything herself.  a girly girl who is still into princesses, dress up, play make up (or putting make up on mommy), barbies, ballet, gymnastics, and justin bieber.  she likes to cook in her toy kitchen and make us toy dinners.  she loves to help me bake or cook, and likes to help me clean... except for picking up her own toys.  apparently that is boring cleaning.  she talks a lot and asks lots of questions.  she is a great big sister... sometimes.  she can be very shy at first, but once she opens up, she is nonstop.  she's a big sweetheart...

... and now cici is in school *sniff sniff.  i admit, my eyes watered up on her first day of school.  i couldn't help myself.  i just couldn't believe this day was here.  where did the time go?  

  so the day started with me walking into her room singing a wake up song... something she just moans to, an oh-my-gosh-mom-please-go-away-and-let-me-sleep-some-more kind of moan.  i kept singing and tickling her, "wake up wake up, today is school!" i would say.  a couple more moans, a smile, and a laugh later, she was awake and ready to get the day started.

  we got cleaned up, had a nutritious breakfast, i packed her lunch, made sure everything in her back pack was in perfect order.  cici got dressed while i finished taking care of the babies, then we did her hair, all the while talking about the whats and what-not-to-dos in school.  finally we were all ready, and daddy came home from work.  drew was able to get off early enough so that he would be able to share this big day with cici.  we were so happy that he was able to be here!  

  i of course had to get those "first day of school" pics, so before we left, i snapped away...

  my girly girl, complete with her princess back pack, her tinkerbell lunchbox (a birthday gift from her friend cha cha) and her retro cinderella shirt from target.  she chose the back pack and shirt herself... 

pictures with daddy...

and mommy...

bye bye sissy...

and off we went...

  we drove to the school, and after multiple hugs and kisses from mommy and daddy, i walked her to the school building...

  we walked in, not really knowing what to expect,  and someone showed us to the cafeteria.  they have the students eat lunch first (she's in the pm session, so her class doesn't start til 10:55)  i sat her down on the table she was assigned to, and noticed that cici was getting nervous.  she then grabbed my hand and told me that she didn't want do this, that she wanted to be with me, and her big brown eyes pooled up.  it took everything in me not to cry.  after big hugs, and talks of reassurement, i told cici she could do it, and that i had to go.  it was hard to let go of her hand, but i did, and i walked away.  she had lost sight of me, while i realized that i was allowed to stay until lunch was over.  so i stood near a wall and watched her.  she didn't know it though, and i watched as she opened her lunchbox and started eating.  she looks so little, i thought.  she is a brave little girl though, and i knew she could do this.  i took my camera and took a few pics...

      she still had tears in her eyes when i took this pic.  it looks like she is looking at me, but she is not...

she was looking at her surroundings, and all the kids sitting around her.  i wondered what was going on that little head of hers as she ate...

she finally spotted me, and gave me a sweet smile (the pic came out blurry though=/)...

here is another one...

  drew and the boys had stayed out in the car, and i decided to go get them so they can see cici.  i knew they would like that.  cici was excited to see all of us, and i think it comforted her to know we were still there.  she ate up all her lunch, while giving us big smiles in between.  i wanted her to know we were there, but i didn't want to hover, i wanted her to do everything herself.  we watched as she packed everything back together in her lunchbox when she got done, asked her assistant teacher where the trash was, and watched as she got in line to go to her class.  i couldn't stop thinking how little she looked... my baby girl.  i was so proud of her though.  we watched until her class turned a corner and couldn't see her anymore.  she was able to get a wave in, as did we.  then we left.  

  it was weird to leave cici like that.  i like the fact that her class is half day, so she is only in school for 3 hours.  those 3 hours seemed long though.  i couldn't wait til she got home, so i could hear all about her day.  she had told us that she wanted to experience the bus, so we decided to let her ride it home.  she had talked about wanting to ride a schoolbus ever since she was 3 years old.   the bus finally came, and my heart beat so fast as she walked down the steps, and into my arms.  i missed her so much!  she was so excited to be home, and kept hugging everybody over and over again.  
  "i had fun at school!"  cici exclaimed.  she likes her teacher.  she showed us how you're supposed to raise your hand and wave a closed fist in the air when you need to go potty.  she met some nice friends.  she got to sing the alphabet.  already she seemed a little more grown up, although it could've been my imagination.  "i'm so sorry mommy, but i forgot my folder," she said with a sad face.  i told her it was alright, but to try not to forget it again, because there might be important stuff in it from the teacher.  today makes the third day of school, and she still hasn't remembered, haha.  we'll have to do something about that.  

  that was cici's first day of kindergarten.  i'm sure we'll adapt to this way of life and this new routine soon enough, but for now it still seems weird that i will be sending my daughter off to school 5 days a week.  i don't quite enjoy the idea of her being away, and am even considering homeschooling her next year for various reasons,  but i am looking forward to her telling me everything she learns this school year.  i hope to volunteer as much as i can at the school, and stay involved.

  she had a great first day, and i hope that rest of the school year is filled with lots of learning and fun stuff!