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Still Learning

lovelifeRecently my guy was telling me about an interaction with a colleague where the other person was incredibly rude, swearing at him, making accusations and issuing ultimatums. The guy is known as a hothead throughout the organization, but this was beyond his normal antics. I found myself getting agitated as he described the discussion that had been going on for days at that point. I was not able to offer any kind of resolution, in fact, I reminded my guy of several times in the past when the co-worker had done similar things and tried to get my husband to see that this was not going to get better. I resolved in my mind that the next time this jerk came to our home, I would make it very clear how I felt about him.

A few days later my guy walked in our door while laughing and joking with someone on the phone. When he hung up I realized he was talking to the same guy that had said terrible things to him days before. I was incredulous. I couldn’t believe that my husband could just let him get away with that! Apparently they had talked it through after the man had cooled off and everything was all right. But it wasn’t all right with me! I wasn’t ready to forgive and forget.

Have you ever done this? It’s called a secondary hurt – the pain you feel when someone you love is unjustifiably hurt. You conjure up enough emotion for the both of you and want to do damage to that person who hurt your loved one. As strongly as I feel this sometimes for my guy, who can certainly take care of himself, the feeling is exponentially greater when it happens to my children. This is exactly the reason that we counsel young couples not to go to their parents or siblings when they argue within their marriage; those who love you most cannot hear your side of the story and reasonably conclude that you both were at fault, and need to work it out together. Family members react just like I did with my guy, reminding you of all the times your spouse has done something similar and worse, and probably predict doom and gloom for your whole situation.

Not helpful. But understandable.

When you are in the midst of an argument with your spouse, who do you talk to? Your parents, who know your faults but are loyal no matter what? Your high school best friend, who predicted this would never work years ago? Your co-worker, who perhaps has never even met your beloved? We should all have someone in our lives who champions our marriage, who can listen and withhold judgment and turn you back towards home to work it out. I have personally both failed and succeeded at this very thing over the years, and when I fail I have to admit and seek forgiveness. If you have children who are married, the best thing you can do for your adult children (beyond praying) is encourage them to have a mentor couple in their lives, someone who wants them to work it out as much as they do, and will help them do just that. It’s normal to empathize with those we love but sometimes we need to extricate ourselves from a situation in order to help the very people we love most.

Fight Fair

argument

When you are in an argument with your spouse, do you tend to move towards or away from your significant other? I was always the one ready to fight, and used my readiness as an advantage over my guy, who needed time to take stock. Given time, he could think things through and get down to the main point instead of staying up in the realms of emotion with me. It was so much better for our relationship to go this route because calmer heads prevail, but I really liked to win, so I would push him to talk.right.now. If I forced him to talk before he was ready, I was likely to get a very angry response, and little would be settled.

For most couples, there is one person who wants to communicate, always ready to talk and cannot imagine walking away and waiting a while. The other person may need time and space to determine what they truly feel and to determine the words they will choose to share. In my experience, it seems that women are often the party that wants to talk it out here and now and men need processing time. We have seen the same thing with our children; they often need time to think about their feelings instead of erupting with emotion, and yet it can be so difficult to allow them that space. The trick is knowing when to let up and let him walk away, and when to return to her to finish the talk.

The best thing to do is to talk about how you will handle conflict when you are in a good place. Go for a walk and discuss the roles the two of you usually take; being careful to note that neither way is best, just different. Then agree that when it comes to it, you will allow some room to breathe, but go ahead and determine how much – a half hour? A day? Making a plan when things are good sets you up for success later on.

There will be conflict, but having a game plan as to how you are going to honor each others needs insures that both parties can be heard and the argument won’t last longer than it has to. Have you noticed this trend in your relationship? How have you worked toward reconciliation with these differences?

Butter Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

lemoncake

I needed to bake a cake for a house full of people and had a taste for lemons, so I put this together and it worked well! I buy jarred lemon curd (Dickinson’s) but you can make it yourself. This cake is good the first day, but even better when the lemon curd has had time to sink into the cake some. This is a rich cake, something I would only make for a crowd so we cant have too much of it!

Butter Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

1 package plain yellow cake mix

1 cup milk

1 stick butter, melted

3 eggs

2t vanilla

1/2 jar lemon curd

 

Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter

3 3/4 c powdered sugar, sifted

3-4 T milk

2 t vanilla

zest and juice of one lemon

Oven 350 degrees. Grease two round pans and set aside. Place the cake mix, milk, butter, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and blend 2-3 minutes until well combined. Divide the batter into the two pans equally and bake side by side 27-29 minutes. Remove to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare the buttercream frosting by blending all ingredients, add more milk if needed, until the desired consistency is reached.

When the cake is cool to the touch, place the first one on the cake plate and spread 1/4 jar of lemon curd across the top of the layer. Add the second layer and spread 1/4 jar of the lemon curd over the to layer. Carefully frost the top and sides of the cake over the lemon curd. Serves 16

 

 

Take Care

firstaid

It was a typical weeknight, I was cooking dinner and in a hurry to get it to the table. As I pulled the main dish out of the oven my left hand brushed up against the top coil that was currently 400 degrees, I could hear my skin sizzle immediately. There was a significant burn on my hand in that spot between my thumb and first finger. I didn’t think much of it, I usually heal very quickly.

But this time I didn’t. After several days I noticed it was getting worse, not better; it got swollen and inflamed and was very sensitive to the touch. I work in an industry where people see my hands a lot, and this was not something they want to see.

After a couple of weeks of this, I finally stopped and looked at my hand and thought about why it was still suffering. I realized that every time I picked up my purse, the length of the strap would slide through my fingers as I placed it on my shoulder, rubbing across that burn many times a day. There was no way it could heal because it wasn’t protected. I stopped the way that I picked up my purse and it began to heal immediately.

It occurred to me there are a lot of ways my life looks just like this. When I am distracted I can get myself into trouble, and if I don’t pay attention to my habits, that trouble can turn into something bigger like an infection. All I need to do is intentionally think about where I am and how I am, and I can protect myself, putting life back into balance.

For me this can be finding a daily devotional and reading time, or choosing to talk to someone who loves me enough to say the hard things, or taking everything, even the very small things to God in prayer.

The burn on my hand is now a rough spot that should completely go away very soon, but I would be fine with a scar remaining, to remind me of the lesson I learned. Obviously it would be best to guard myself against the burn in the first place, but when they happen, I need to be intentional in my response.

Get on the Floor

floor

When my kids were little, I felt like I lived on the floor of our living room. Looking back at video footage of Christmas mornings and birthday celebrations seem to confirm my memory because the entire time I seem to be at their level, assisting in present opening and sharing excitement over every little thing. I felt like a human Jungle Gym, with babies climbing and hanging off of me all day.

But when I watch footage of regular days, the quick capture of dressing up and dancing and playing with cars, I see that I am often on the periphery, cooking or cleaning and walking through the chaos, responding but not really a part of the fun. Why is that?

I can remember my guy pulling the big video camera out of it’s bag (yes, really) and starting to record whatever our little treasures were into, and I would react with a need to clean up the environment. We can’t let ourselves believe we lived in this mess, can we? The pressure to appear that we have it all together is so strong, even in our home movies. And what if a friend came over? How awful to be caught with this morning’s dishes not done, or to appear that I don’t have this parenting thing nailed?

I often have young moms ask me what I wish I had done better when my children were the ages of theirs. Many things, but high on the list would be: I wish I had spent more time on the floor with my babies. You can’t do laundry or cook dinner or run errands from down there, but you can read books and fire up imaginations and give unlimited hugs, kisses and affirmation.  Have you ever noticed that you’re better at this at someone else’s house? It’s because you don’t have tasks to do there.

I want to encourage young parents to get on the floor (and the grass) and stay there longer than you intend to. Everyday. That other stuff? It can wait.

 

 

Challenge

I have friends named Chad & Heidi. They go to my church, and we have been close to them for about four years now. The day I met Heidi was the same day that I learned about how her life is different than most, because she is genuine and open. Honestly I didn’t know how to respond at first, because I am more accustomed to smoke and mirrors, thin veils of ‘life is great’ until some time has passed and the truth starts to seep out.

You can watch the video to better understand their story, but what I hope you will get from it is the importance of finding community and allowing your people to support you. If you’ve never been in a situation where you had to rely on others, you are very fortunate so far but your time is coming. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to allow yourself to be carried by others. These two are some of the strongest people I know.

I am wondering if you have your people; those who you know will support you and who you would do anything to help. Maybe your situation doesn’t require an entire community of support, but everyone needs their people. I want to challenge you to find yours. It will require you to be real about who you are and what you need, and it will be a worthwhile investment.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Chad’s story, you can find him on Facebook under Team Chad Bautch.

 

 

 

 

Your Move

wow

In the early years of our marriage I had the ability to run a gamut of emotions in the first hour of the day; my guy never knew what to expect because I could show signs of bitterness and frustration and enthusiasm and charm without thinking about it. I believed it was my right to do this, to be able to express all my feelings – and I had a lot of them – whenever and however I pleased.

This left my husband with a decision of how to respond to me; he had the choice of matching my crazy or remaining consistent even though I was not. If he mirrored my level of…ahem….enthusiasm, we could quickly find ourselves in a scary place of accusations and ultimatums. But if my guy remained constant and true to himself, he would often be able to bring me back to reality, helping us to remain civil and kind.

Fast forward a few years and I can see the opposite is true as well; my man tends to worry and can get down sometimes without cause. When this happens, I have a choice to make, I can lay down in the pit next to him and mirror the fear and we can quickly find ourselves in a scary place of darkness and isolation. But if I can remain constant and true to myself, I can often bring him back to reality, helping us to remain steady and calm.

This is the beauty of being so different in a relationship. We each provide consistency for the other, rounding off the edges and filling in the holes. But only if we choose to. When you know your spouse will be coming home from a tough day at work, do you steel yourself with possible reactions and counter arguments, or do you prepare yourself to be what the other needs, no matter what? I am not suggesting becoming a doormat, submitting your needs, but I am suggesting a laying down of your rights to poke the bear and make matters worse. If this seems foreign to you, like it was for me for so many years, I want to encourage you to simply experiment with your response and see what can be.

 

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