Friday, February 29

Homework...and Humor!

February has been a good month of sharing about relationships. We've looked at alot of different ways of dealing with our husbands, friends and difficult people. I would like to encourage you to briefly review each posting until you come upon one that you feel would make a difference in your life if you implemented the information.

Just take one idea that you haven't focused on in the past and commit to making a relationship in your life just abit better. Just one step closer to loving others as Christ commanded. Loving others doesn't come naturally, we need to keep building good habits.

After finding a posting you are going to act upon...treat yourself, have a good laugh... read on about Mildred...

Aging Mildred was a 93 year-old woman who was particularly despondent over the recent death of her husband Earl.
She decided that she would just kill herself and join him in death. Thinking that it would be best to get it over with quickly, she took out Earl's old Army pistol and made the decision to shoot herself in the heart since it was so badly broken in the first place.
Not wanting to miss the vital organ and become a vegetable and burden to someone, she called her doctor to inquire as to just exactly where the heart would be."On a woman," the doctor said, "your heart would be just below your left breast."
Later that night, Mildred was admitted to the hospital with a gunshot wound to her knee.

HA HA HA! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 28

Well worth it...

In Barb's posting yesterday she wrote: "Any relationship worth holding on to takes work."


In this season of life when things are busy (when aren't they busy???), it is REALLY hard sometimes to take the extra time and effort to pursue friends.

It would be so easy to get caught up in our daily lives and the people we frequently see and forget about the friends we don't see or talk to regularly.

But I have learned - after some hard lessons - that those friendships are worth holding on to. They may look different, they may have a different feel, and they take work. It takes extra effort to call, e-mail, send a card or get together. It takes planning and persistence because your lives don't intersect regularly.

But those friendships are priceless. Those memories are invaluable. And the work is well worth it.

Wednesday, February 27

A Great Questions To Ask Yourself:

In my last posting I shared a statement I heard from Chip Ingram:

"Everyone acts in a way that makes sense to them"

He followed that up with a question:

"What is the most generous explanation behind their behavior?"

Wow, what a great question. When I have had the presence of mind to ask this question, it has allowed me to cut the other person some slack. I don't find myself 'rushing to judgment.' As I try to formulate a 'generous explanation', I put my energy into a positive frame of mind rather than holding on to a critical, unforgiving spirit.

Having shared these 2 great tips with you, I need to share a disclaimer as well. Difficult people, dashed expectations, unmet expectations, marriage, friendships, any relationship that is worth holding on to takes work. I have not mastered the fine art of relationships! Stacy and I have shared some good things that we have talked about together and I know it all works, but it is a constant discipline to put this knowledge into practice.

I have found myself sharing some of these insights this month with a guilty conscience. A little knowlege 'puffs up'. I realize I may have some good knowledge that I have learned along the way, but what good is it if I don't apply it...daily. All that we have shared this month is just a reminder to myself to continue to grow as a friend, a wife and a woman.

How are you doing in this area of building healthy relationships? We can all benefit from a 'little help from our friends'!

Tuesday, February 26

Seek first to understand

Habit 5 of Stephen Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is "Seek first to understand."

That seems like valuable advice for many relationships, and especially for friendships.

When I think of friendships in my life, there are definitely some friendships where I need to step back and first try to understand. As Barb mentioned, putting yourself in their shoes is a good place to start. Asking for help in understanding where they are coming from can be invaluable.

With my personality I want to offer advice, give solutions, create answers for problems. I immediately decide in my head what’s wrong or what could be different.

That’s not my place. And sometimes it’s not even my business.

So instead I just need to step back and seek to understand by listening, observing and asking questions.

If I am annoyed or disappointed or frustrated, those are the last things I want to do. But if the friendship is important to me, it’s worth first seeking to understand.

Monday, February 25

Difficult People....

We all have them in our lives. Did someone come to mind when you read the title of today’s blog? How have you handled the difficult people in your life?

I worked with a difficult person for several years. She was very opinionated, very judgmental and very out spoken. She scared me to death! If I tried to be nice to her, she would fault me when I didn’t measure up to her demands. When I ignored her, she bad-mouthed me to others. When I tried to shed a different light on her opinions, she nailed me to the wall with arguments I couldn’t defend.

She was a difficult person for me to get along with. The trouble was that I had to get along with her because she was my co-worker and every day was spent with her. She was older than me and her experience out-weighed any insight I might have on how to do our jobs.

What to do? I stayed out of her way as much as I could. I agreed with her. I acted like I was her cheer-leader, completely sacrificing my better judgment… I didn’t know what else to do. I simply wanted to survive.

Ahhhh, what the years have taught me!

Not really, I had to hear some teaching first that helped me gain perspective. Chip Ingram, an author and teacher, made a statement:

“Everyone ACTS in a way that makes sense to them”

That stopped me in my tracks.

I really never spent time thinking about the perspective of this co-worker. I just reacted and went into survival mode. The truth of this statement became evident to me as I stayed in touch with that person long after I stopped working with her. Our paths crossed and she continued to reach out to me. I learned about her personal life and I saw her in a different light other than just as a co-worker. It took time and patience to try to ‘walk in her shoes’ but it made a difficult situation easier and I learned more about myself and my rush to judgement as I learned more about her.

Who is the difficult person in your life? Try pulling on her/his pair of shoes today and become a student of that person rather than a judge.

Friday, February 22

Homemakers Homework

This weekend's homework involves recognizing your uniquenesses. Take some time today or this weekend to make a list of the uniquenesses you currently have in life. A uniqueness can pertain to yourself, your marriage, your family, your income, your home or just about anything else. To get you thinking, uniquenesses might include:

  • having an unemployed spouse
  • not living near any other family members
  • having a sick or emotionally-challenged child
  • owning your own business
  • living with your parents or in-laws
  • having a spouse who travels
  • having little finances or unstable finances
  • working outside the home
  • dealing with a broken family
  • having your hands full with lots of little ones
  • taking care of an elderly parent or grandparent
  • being physically impaired.

This weekend, make a list of the uniquenesses you are dealing with currently in life. Study them, pray through them and ask God to help you view them as uniquenesses rather than burdens or challenges. Ask Him to help you embrace your uniquenesses. You, and your family, will be better off for it!

Thursday, February 21

Have You Identified What Is So UNIQUE About Your Marriage?

Earlier this week we touched on the importance of finding out what was unique about your marriage. Uniquenesses may change over the years, but something will always be there that will keep you and your marriage from becoming 'just like the Jones'. Why? Because you are special and so is your marriage.

Until we, as women, realize how unique we are and what we are capable of handling, we will never be content or reach our full potential.

Women tend to get caught up in the comparison game. We are quick to evaluate whether we are succeeding in an area based on how we stack up to how others are doing in the same area.

We dress according to the latest trends.

We paint our homes the colors that we see in the magazines.

We measure our success according to the reality shows as if they should set the bar for us in building our homes, disciplining our children, dealing with our husbands, finding a spouse.

We think success is when we are 'like everyone else'!

Comparing ourselves with others can easily become a sin by coveting what others have or how they do things. That is where focusing on our uniqueness and working hard to make the most of what we have been given will give us the drive to build our homes with thanksgiving and grace rather than striving and envy.

Many marriages have tough issues to deal with, but if we see those issues as a unique challenge we can begin to build a life around the challenge and move forward.

As women, let's be quick to complement one another as we deal with our issues. Keep unhealthy comparisons out of your marriage. Embrace your uniqueness' and strive to build a marriage that is authentic.

Wednesday, February 20

Mrs. Mike

What is one to do when it is freezing cold outside in Minnesota?

Read a book of course!

And Barb and I have just the recommendation for you: Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

I found this review and it summarizes the book well:

Mrs. Mike is the love story of Katherine Mary, a young Irish girl from Boston, and Sergeant Mike of the Canadian Mounties, under whose supervision falls all of the great Canadian wilderness. Katherine Mary comes from a world of privilege and comfort. When she moves with her husband to the North Pole region, let's say it took a bit of adjustment. It's a romance, an adventure, a coming-of-age, a tragedy, and a history. Give it to your niece or daughter or granddaughter. Give it to your sister, your friend, your neighbor. I guarantee, they'll all love it.

This classic tale set in the Canadian wilderness, portrays a marriage of uniqueness like no other. Barb and I got it from our local library. I highly recommend you read it...from the perspective of woman, wife, homemaker and mother.

Please share with us if you read it and what you thought!

Tuesday, February 19


That's a good word to reflect upon when you think of your marriage. I have come to realize the importance of recognizing and accepting the uniqueness of my marriage.

I work with my husband, we office out of the home. It has taken me a long time to adapt to the uniqueness that that brings to our marriage and to my other relationships. How I interacted with friends, dealt with the kids on a daily basis, kept up my home and even my private time were all affected by this uniqueness. I fought it often, wanting to 'be like everyone else'. Wanting my husband to "go off to work". Having some space to call my own.

When I acknowledged the uniqueness of my marriage, I could deal with the challenges. I found I could just as well meet my friends for coffee outside of the home. I learned to parent around the business and my kids grew up aware of their 'dad working' along side them.

What uniqueness has your marriage brought into your life? A traveling husband? A part-time job for you? A spouse with a disability? A child with autism? That is the fabric of your marriage, and it is important to learn to work with that uniqueness in order to make the most of your circumstance.

Identifying your uniqueness will allow you to build an authentic home. Accepting the uniqueness will allow you to become authentic as a woman, wife and mom.

Monday, February 18

Here's to health!

Usually we talk about health and nutrition and weight loss in January...but it's time for a health update! Last fall I blogged about my husband's cholesterol being too high.

If you recall, my New Year's Resolution was to read labels for the saturated fat content.
My resolution paid off! Ryan had his cholesterol re-tested last week and he's now within the normal range! I am very proud of him because he did it all with diet and exercise even though he has a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol.

Why am I sharing with you about his cholesterol level? Because the reality is that your husband's health is often times dependent upon you.

If you do the majority of the grocery shopping and cooking in your home, much of what your husband eats is up to you. When Ryan discovered he had high cholesterol he wasn't the only one affected by this news. I quickly realized I would have to change the food I bought and the way I cooked. Thus my resolution to watch the saturated fat on food labels.

Barb always talks about Healthy Habits - so read your food labels, live long and healthy lives and grow old together!

Friday, February 15

Homemakers Homework

Well friends...I forgot to blog yesterday. I was so busy celebrating with my husband that I forgot :)

Based on our postings this week, and Barb's quote yesterday, our Homemakers Homework for this weekend is to manage our marriages by either:

A - Having one intentional conversation about the state of your marriage


B - Intentionally treating your spouse with kindness through your words or actions

Kindness has not been a fruit of the spirit that I have been exhibiting lately in my marriage. And the results have not been pretty!

Come Sunday night our hope is that you should be able to say 'yes' to having done either A or B.

May you find this homework challenging yet rewarding!

Wednesday, February 13

Recipe for a Happy Marriage

Dr Laura Schlessinger says a happy marriage can be defined in 4 words:

“Choose well, Treat kindly”

Enough said?!

PS I can’t write anymore, I need to go make my valentine card

Tuesday, February 12

Marriage management

Last week I was watching a television show where one gal, a successful business woman, a mother and wife, was explaining to her friends that she was struggling in her relationship with her husband. She commented to them, "I thought my marriage was the one thing I didn't need to manage."

Immediately her comment struck a cord with me. Where the heck are we learning as women that relationships don't need to be managed? Whoever says that relationships will maintain status quo if just left alone?

Yesterday Barb mentioned the law of disintegration. I am not sure that we truly believe this applies to our marriages. That's why I'll say this quote again: "Marriage is hard, but good marriages are harder." Marriages must be managed not only for maintenance, but also for growth.

Hearing that comment on television last week makes me wonder what false beliefs I might have about my own marriage. What am I believing that is not true? What false perceptions of mine need to be challenged?

This week let's be intentional about managing our relationships - whether that be our marriage, our friendships or any other relationship in our life. How do we do that? Let's start by taking time to talk, to laugh, to check in, to show affection, to offer affirmation. That's as good as any place to start!

Monday, February 11


'Romance is a relationship…built on good habits.' Ever thought of romance in those terms?
I always thought romance was a bouquet of roses and candlelight dinners. No wonder the romance never lasted. The roses faded and the candles burned down, and my relationship didn’t seem to improve.
When I began looking at romance as simply a relationship that had good habits, it gave me the incentive I needed to put some good habits into my marriage.
Greeting my husband kindly; giving him a soft touch of encouragement when I saw that he was discouraged; smiling at him…for no reason; speaking with patience and love. All good stuff that gets lost in the busyness of life. I take my marriage for granted too often and focusing on putting good habits in place has helped me pay attention to what is important.

There is a ‘law of disintegration’ that says that everything goes from ‘order’ to ‘disorder’ if it isn’t maintained. A car will slowly lose its shine and smooth ride if it hasn’t been taken care of. A business needs proper management or it will slip quickly into bankruptcy. A marriage needs proper care and attention, or it will follow the law of disintegration, with the husband and wife drifting apart.

Good habits in a marriage are essential. Habits either ‘join’ or ‘separate’ a couple. Good habits can start with one spouse and those habits often become contagious. So choose today to build good habits in your marriage. Be the one to reach out with a habit that is ‘joining’ you to your husband. Get ready for romance that will last beyond February 14th!

Friday, February 8

80/20 Rule...Homemaker's Homework!

I read once that a woman will marry a man when she is happy with about 80% of what he is all about. The other 20% she just disregards...until after the wedding. It is after the wedding that she brings out the disgusting 20% and starts to pick away at her husband's shortcomings. The article went on to say that little if any of that 20% will ever change.

OK, ladies, I'm am sharing this info with you in hopes that you drop your EXPECTATION of changing your man. This week we have talked about expectations. Often we are disappointed by others and have dashed expectations or unmet expectations, but what about the expectations we put on others?

Whether you are married or not, use this weekend to focus on what expectations you have of the people in your life.

If you are married, make a list of the 80/20% that you see in your man. Tally up all the good stuff and hang that on the frig up until Valentine's Day. Let him know that list is about him! That you love him and these are just some of the reasons why!

Dwell on the 80% and drop your tendency to change the 20%.

If you are not married, do this exercise with the name of a close friend. It will be good preparation for you when you are married. Dwell on the good stuff. That is what makes for a healthy relationship.

Besides, we all have 20% of our own baggage to work on!

Thursday, February 7

Ask "What", not "Why"

I still remember the first time I had to deal with 'dashed expectations' in my life. Someone close to me did not react in the way I 'expected'. They did not walk along side me like I had 'expected'. I remember being filled with anger and grief. I felt like that person had actually dropped off my radar because I couldn't imagine them in any other role than that of support and understanding.

I struggled with those 'dashed expectations' for months. I wanted that person to say they were sorry. I wanted that person to wake up and see where I was coming from. I wanted things to go back to the way they used to be. But I knew my relationship with this person would never be the same.

I spent time analyzing the relationship. I re-constructed the conversations. I asked 'why', over and over again, trying to make sense of why this relationship was not working.

When answers didn't come I knew I needed to take a different approach. I began asking 'what' instead of 'why'. That made all the difference in the world. Now I could get some answers. Asking 'why' in a situation that I couldn't understand in the first place got me no where. Asking 'what' enabled me to stand back and see what I could have done differently. What I may not have understood. What might restore our relationship. It all helped me put the emphasize on what I could control.

When you deal with unmet expectations, dashed expectations or unrealistic expectations, don't waste time like I did, asking 'why'. Move on and ask 'what' and see if that doesn't bring some clarity and hopefully resolution to a broken relationship.

Wednesday, February 6

Unexpected blessings

My husband is traveling this week and was home last night just for the night. He flew out again this morning.

As I was working around the house today the phone rang. It was Ryan telling me his plane had been delayed. Then he called a few hours later to say he had landed in D.C.

I got to thinking about how I never set the expectation to have him call me when he flys out and when he lands. I know he is traveling and I pray throughout the day for his safety.

But since he travels a lot he is trying to be considerate and keep in touch with me.

It made me realize that I have a lot of unrealistic expectations (even after almost 7 years!) but Ryan puts me to shame when he does things that I don't even expect from him. Can you think of just one thing your husband does that you don't expect, but that blesses you?

It's a tough job, but worth the effort, to focus on the unexpected blessings of marriage rather than the unmet expectations.

Tuesday, February 5

Unrealistic Expectations...

Expectations...we have talked quite abit about them. Unmet expectations, dashed expectations, and now unrealistic expectations. You would think we would learn over the course of our lives to just relax and let things and people just unfold. But no, if you are like me, we tend to want to micro-manage and put alot of expectations on our husbands and friends.

An interesting quote caught me up short the other day. Psychologist Aaron Beck said the "single belief most toxic to a relationship is the belief that the other person cannot change."

Ummm, chew on that for a moment. That means we have hope in our relationships because we are counting on change to happen. We are expecting that eventually the other person will change and over time things will improve. Without that hope, that expectation, that belief, a relationship dies.

That made me think that expectations may not be too off base if it keeps us moving forward in connecting with others, but I think the real wisdom is in turning our expectation and belief back on ourselves. The belief that we are able to change. The hope that we are willing to change.

Unrealistic expectations of others will only frustrate me. A more inspiring and hopeful expectation would be to realize that change is possible within me and maybe that will make change in others not as urgent!

Just for today, I am going to eliminate one unrealistic expectation I have of myself. I am hopeful that will cause me to change ever so slightly and give people in my life a reason to hope that my relationship with them is worth the effort.

May the change begin with ME.

Monday, February 4

What did you pledge?

On the cover of this month's Good Housekeeping Magazine is Dr. Phil and his wife Robin. The article featuring the two of them is titled "5 Secrets of Happy Couples." I saw this magazine when I was out and about recently so I glanced through it just to see the suggestions. I am always curious as to what those 5 'secrets' might be.

Number one took me by surprise: Unrealistic Expectations. Go Dr. Phil! He comments about how we tend to have a romanticized view of marriage. Somewhere along the lines we've decided that marriage should be all about love, happiness and passionate kisses. He says if you are in the midst of dealing with the garbage disposal, paying the bills and in-laws -- you are normal!

That's why I love the book Sacred Marriage. Author Gary Thomas makes this statement about marriage: "This is the reality of the human heart, the inevitability of two sinful people pledging to live together, with all their faults, for the rest of their lives."

How does that statement fit with YOUR view of marriage? What did you pledge in your marriage vows?

As we enter into a month that is consumed by romantic love, Barb and I will be here to explore relationships of all kinds and encourage one another to check our expectations at the door.

Friday, February 1

Homemakers Homework

Homework? Yup! We are going to start offering homemakers homework on Fridays. Something to keep us all living our lives purposefully and intentionally on the weekends.

Today's homework:
All week we've been talking about perfectionism and procrastination. Barb followed that up yesterday with a simple yet powerful reminder to Do The Next Thing. So this weekend I want to challenge you to complete one task on your to-do list that you haven't touched or one project that you have started but haven't completed because...

A) You were waiting for just the right time to do it perfectly


B) You've been dreading getting started on it (read procrastination).

If you are willing to commit, leave a comment below letting us know your intentions or comment on Monday with what you accomplished - big or small. My goal is attack ONE box of CDs that needs to be organized. It's not a big task put I've put it off for months.

I'm so glad we're doing this together!