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Thank You

thankyouYears ago I was talking with a friend and she shared a story with me, she told me that her husband had bought her a beautiful diamond bracelet for an anniversary present and when he gave it to her, she was shocked. In her surprise as he was latching the bracelet on her arm, she made the comment, “What were you thinking? I can’t believe you did this, you know we can’t afford it.” My friend said that her husband promptly removed the jewelry, placed it back in the box, and put it away in his top drawer. She said it was almost six months before he gave it to her and this time she said two words: Thank you.

I remember listening to this story and simply thinking I had nothing to worry about because my guy doesn’t give jewelry for presents, see how I went negative immediately? There was a tremendous lesson in the story she offered but it took me a long time to receive it. Over the years, I found myself in similar situations; my guy would proudly get the baby ready for church and I would correct him in the outfit he had chosen for her, or he would brag on me to friends about something I had done and I might admonish him in front of others because the details were wrong, or maybe he loaded the dishwasher incorrectly….I mean, creatively and I would feel the need to let him know it could have been done better.

Why do we do this? I’m not sure if it is a knee-jerk reaction or a control issue, but it is not okay. Like my friend with the beautiful bracelet, when I correct my guy for something he tries to do for me, I teach him not to bother because I cannot appreciate it.What if I chose to be delighted instead? Or at least, appreciative?  In her book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, Shaunti Feldhahn details the importance of small acts that deliver big results and the number one action a wife can take to communicate love is to thank her guy for the things he does.

I wish I wasn’t such a slow learner, I could have saved my guy a lot of frustration over the years, but I am thankful for friends who share their struggles and triumphs to help me get there. Let’s all work on being more appreciative, if not downright delighted, when our spouses try to please us.

 

Last Day

DSC_1522.jpgOne of the first things I do every morning is to open my son’s door and invite him to start his day. He’s eighteen and very capable, and certainly owns an alarm clock, but I do it anyway because he is in my home and is so easy to wake up. During football season I would simply say, ‘Hey Buddy, it’s Game Day!’ and he would smile from his bed. He’s one of those morning people who appear wide wake and together, even as he’s waking from a deep sleep. And today is his last day of high school.

Over the years I have heard horror stories from Moms about their boys, especially their senior years, being ornery and impossible to live with but this isn’t something I have seen with Coleman. Upon hearing these stories, I have waited for the change in his personality and expected a lack of respect towards his Mother but he is still our easy-going guy as long as you feed him and allow him to go to bed when he’s ready. I can honestly say I have seen him truly angry twice, and both times justifiably so.

This morning I woke up an hour and a half earlier than usual, there’s an energy in the air that I can’t ignore. We are expecting eleven people to come into town throughout the day today, and have many coming through our door for a party tomorrow and a Graduation ceremony the next day. With all the planning and excitement it is tempting to ignore the emotions just below the surface, but I want to feel every one of them as they come. Our sweet, loving little guy has become a kind, funny young man with a quick smile and a boatload of confidence. And now it’s time for me to wake him up for school for the last time.

Hey Buddy….it’s Game Day!

 

 

Do Not Feed

fearsAs our children grow up we look for signs of normal growth; is Junior getting taller than his sisters, is little Princess coming out of her awkward phase. Those are physical characteristics, but there are other signs of being a normal teen that we as parents can get stuck on. I know this one personally, and now that I’m several years into it, I can see the conflicting messages I was sending, and a little bit of crazy thinking.

In the past I have found myself questioning our children’s behaviors; why isn’t she interested in dating anyone? When is he going to ask that girl out? When I was this age I was never home….

Now, I don’t view myself as a worrier at all, I’m just not wired that way. But I do notice a lot, and hear what other kids their ages are doing and when my teen isn’t, it makes me question, and need to understand. I will tell you that I have rarely received an answer that I understood. I have actually pushed my kids in the past, encouraging them to move into what society deems as normal teen behavior. Here’s the crazy thinking part: as soon as they take me up on the very thing that I have encouraged, I get concerned about a whole new list of things!

What if this is the one? Now we can never leave him home alone again. What is she doing when she’s not at home with us?

Parents, this is so unfair, and even detrimental to our children. First of all, let’s all relax a little and stop pushing our kids into something they are obviously not ready for. Believe me, the time will come. Too soon. Secondly, when it does come, trust your child to make good decisions, rest in the years of investing in these treasures you’ve been given. Obviously, don’t place them in situations that can foster bad behaviors, but can we keep the conversations with them, and prayers for them, going and trust that they are moving along at the pace they should?

Fathers (and Mothers), do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:21

 

A Fan

soccer

Last night our son was playing in his last soccer game of the season, which meant the last sports tournament of his high school career. We have watched this kid run, catch, throw and kick from the sidelines for at least ten solid years, and this was the final time. It occurred to me that when our kids are performing in the school years, we have permission to cheer and gloat, to whistle and yell and support them in any way possible. Then, this dies down dramatically as they age.

There are those few who continue playing a sport in college and beyond, but the vast majority settle in to quieter pursuits and the onlookers stop cheering. Think about how rarely you genuinely cheer someone on from the sidelines after they leave high school. For me, this needs to change. I want to keep encouraging and clapping loudly, standing in awe when they do something crazy great and high five the others who witnessed it with me. I want to continue to be my kid’s biggest fan, even as he hangs up his cleats and turns in his gear.

Here’s to the Moms and Dads who sit on the sidelines and watch their child’s every move for a season. May that season be a lifetime.

Thorn in My Flesh

thornRecently a friend called while my guy was taking a nap, so I went outside to talk to her for a few minutes so that he could sleep. While talking, I started pulling weeds in our backyard and stepped on a branch from the rose bush and a large thorn sunk deep into my heel. I gingerly pulled it out and went on with our conversation, surprised at how much my foot hurt. Within a few hours my heel was swollen and I was no longer able to put any weight on it. My guy kept offering to take a look at it, but I am stubborn, and insisted that it was no big deal. Fortunately, he ignores my attempts of bravado, and did some surgery on my foot, pulling out several small pieces of the thorn. The whole incident made me notice a couple of things.

1. I don’t like for anyone to see my when I am down. I prefer to go off by myself and hope that time will take care of it. Vanity.

2. I really don’t like to admit that I need help, even from my guy. Pride.

3. A tiny pin prick in the skin and a small thorn in the flesh can change both your walk and your attitude. Sin.

We all have thorns in our flesh, and these certainly aren’t all of mine, but the physical reminder was so obvious I had to pay attention. Last night I woke up with one of the worst headaches I have ever encountered. Normally I would suffer alone, but instead I alerted my guy and for the second time in just a couple of hours, I asked for his help. Both times he wasn’t just willing, he was glad to serve me. I have so much more to learn.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9

photo: nefchronicles.wordpress.com

Fallen Chocolate Cake

fallen

I wanted to take something deeply chocolate to a friend’s house the other night, and he needs his food to be gluten-free, so it was a good excuse to finally make this cake. I saw it in Bon Appetit magazine a couple of years ago and tucked it away, I really like the idea of it being an obviously fallen cake. It was dense and fudgy, not overly sweet at all, and really needed the whipped cream to offset the richness of it.

Fallen Chocolate Cake

1/2 c unsalted butter

3/4 c plus 2T sugar

10 oz bittersweet chocolate (61-72% cacao), coarsely chopped

2 T oil

6 eggs

2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t vanilla

3/4 t salt

1 c heavy cream

3 T powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 inch springform pan and dust with sugar.

Combine chocolate, oil and butter in the top of a double boiler, with the bottom pan filled with simmering water and allow ingredients to melt while stirring over medium heat.

In two bowls, separate 4 eggs with whites in one and yolks in the other. To the yolks bowl add cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, 1/4 c sugar, and remaining two eggs and whisk until smooth. Gradually add yolk mixture to chocolate mixture, blending well.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites on high until frothy, add 1/2 c sugar and beat until firm peaks form. Gently fold in egg whites into chocolate mixture in two additions and folding only until incorporated. Scrape batter into prepared springform pan and sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake 35-45 minutes, until the top is puffed and starting to crack  and cake is pulling away from the pan. Allow to cool completely in the pan, the cake will collapse in the center as it cools. Mix the remaining ingredients on high speed until soft peaks form. Mound the whipped cream in the center of the cake.

fallen2

 

 

 

Wireless

design (003)

My guy and I were on a trip to Spain last week, we traveled from the northernmost tip to the South border of the country and saw so much beauty, met some wonderful people and ate delicious Mediterranean food. Before leaving home, I made the decision not to have full access to the internet while we were gone; I reasoned that it was too expensive, and my guy would have his phone so I really didn’t need it.

After the first 48 hours of reaching for my phone, only to find that exactly nothing had changed on it since the last time I checked, I settled in and got used to not being plugged in all of the time. I was actually wireless for the first time in quite a while. What I realized is that when you aren’t looking at your phone so often, you see little details that often get missed, like smiling people as you walk by and flowers growing in random places. And when I arrived at our hotel or someplace that offered wifi, I was grateful for the time that I had to use it and was much more intentional with my time.

Although I missed having unlimited wifi, I remarked at some point in the trip that it would be so great if we all had spotty coverage and limited access back at home,  because we could all slow down a little and see more around us. It was right about this time that our luggage got lost. For three days. That was about a quarter of our trip. With not one suitcase. We visited one complete city for three days in the same clothes the whole time, our bags never made it there. I guess I needed more help in the area of patience and slowing down, and this did the trick. Although it was difficult to go without, we noticed that we got up and out each day very quickly. All you do is shower and put yesterday’s clothes back on. Our life became greatly simplified. When we finally caught up to our luggage, we were so grateful to have access to our clothes and accessories. But I noticed something, we were no happier with our suitcases than we had been without, just as I was no more satisfied having wifi than I had been without it.We were in a foreign land together, seeing things we had never experienced before. And the details really didn’t matter at all.

 

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