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Every Thing

everythingJohn Gottman is a relationship expert who can predict, with great accuracy, if a married couple will stay together based on a 10 minute conversation with them. A lot of his research is about body language, and I have written about him before here: http://wp.me/p2n6WI-hN

I love this quote because it’s true, and if it is true, what does the opposite mean? That any negative thing you do in your relationship is not foreplay, and will probably even require work. Obviously, we shouldn’t do positive things just to get what we want from another person, but being aware of the benefits is a good thing. So….

Loading the dishwasher after dinner? Foreplay.

Spending 10 minutes together, catching up on the day? Foreplay.

Building up your spouse when talking to others? Foreplay.

Buying their favorite treat? Foreplay.

Giving them a squeeze as you pass by? You get the idea.

 

 

Be Little

littleSo many parents encourage their children to grow up quickly, always seeming to be looking at the next step. We’ve all had those conversations where Mom is questioning if Junior will ever walk/talk/sleep/potty the way another child his age does. As parents we can get so caught up in where they are going, that we don’t enjoy the stage they are in. I think this fosters stress in our kids that doesn’t need to be there.

As they grow older, we don’t seem to become wiser. We allow kids to watch TV shows and movies that were made for adults, to play games that have warning labels and music that is deemed explicit. What is the rush? There is time for this later, if they choose as adults to be entertained in this way.

We have encouraged our children to be little for as long as they can stand it. And to return to little as often as they want. We kept these forms of entertainment out of reach as long as possible, often getting push-back from our children, not understanding why they cannot do things their friends have been allowed to for years. And yet, when they make a good case for some new form of freedom, we strongly consider it. Instead of giving it to them when we thing they are ready, we have taught them to intentionally think about what they want, then to justify it and ask for it. Sometimes repeatedly, for months.

It’s not as much about giving them permission to grow up as it is about giving them permission to stay little for a while longer.

A Sign

signI knew things weren’t great in our marriage; in a lot of ways we were just in survival mode – the kids were 4, 2 and 6 months and we were in shock as to how much time and energy they pulled out of us each day. My guy was in a sales role at this time, with a large drivable territory, leaving me a couple of nights each week to tame the lions alone. We had an unspoken agreement that his work was his domain, I didn’t have much say in how it was done and whatever went down inside the walls of our home was mine.

One Sunday morning we were getting ready for church, it seemed like we had more time than usual and I was enjoying the slower pace. My guy, who likes to be on time, started the ‘we need to get a move on’ thread and I kept pushing back with,’we’ve got plenty of time’ and thwarting all efforts to get out of the house and exercising my control. You know the dance, right? Please tell me you do. Anyway, we finally got into the car and my guy was really upset, the only way I could tell was that he had become silent and his jaw was jutting in and out. I made light of the situation because we were only five minutes late, no big deal.

We got to church, and to the area where we drop off the children and it was like a ghost town. You could hear the others laughing in their classrooms and singing, and someone came out to greet us and laughed about the fact that we were more than an hour late! An hour and five minutes to be exact. I don’t know what happened in my brain, but I had changed the start time for church in my head and my guy never said more than, ‘we need to get a move on.’

I was furious. How dare he let me look so ridiculous? Why didn’t he say anything? And then I knew. My guy couldn’t say a word, not even have a say about the time that we left the house, because I ran the show. He had no voice in our home. Our kids certainly knew this was the case – obeying me and arguing with their Dad, or simply doing what they wanted, against his words. I had to learn to surrender to my guy, to his words and his desires. I didn’t always want to, sometimes it felt good to be the dictator of my own tiny country, but I knew that I had to, or I could lose it all.

I wish I could say that it was a simple switch that needed to be pulled to make the change but the truth is that I had to surrender my need to control and my guy had to start speaking up, even if it meant saying something unpopular. These days we work more as a team. Our children are much older and completely capable, so a lot of the daily stress is gone, but we each have a say in how things are done at home and in his work. We try to listen to what is said, and I have to work really hard sometimes to hear what is not, but it is worth it. Keeping the peace doesn’t mean keeping quiet, and controlling the environment should be left to the thermostat.

Gluten Free Banana Nut Pancakes

IMG_445962824 (2)Two of my dearest friends came for a visit last weekend, it’s amazing what a few hours of intense laughter and intentional conversation can do for the soul. My job was to bring the nourishment, and one of my friends is totally gluten-free. I wanted to have the classic comfort breakfast of pancakes and bacon, so I googled gluten free pancakes and found this gem. We liked them so much I made them the second morning too, and now today is my third time this week! My favorite thing about this recipe is that you can have a plate full of pancakes without the usual food coma. You throw everything into the blender, what could be simpler? I found the recipe at mountainmamacooks.com, but I added a handful of pecans to the mix. To make the kids happy, you could probably serve with a few mini chocolate chips.

Gluten Free Banana Nut Pancakes

2 c gluten free oats

1 1/4 c vanilla almond milk

1 large banana

1/2 t cinnamon

1 heaping T local honey

1/4 t sea salt

1 t vanilla

1 1/2 t baking powder

1 egg

1/2 c pecans

Place all ingredients except egg in blender and blend until smooth. Add the egg and pulse a few times until incorporated.

Using 1/4 c scoop, pour onto a hot griddle that has been coated with butter or coconut oil. Cook  until brown and perfect.

Serve with maple syrup. Make about 10 5 inch pancakes.

 

Do Better

bestIt was my sophomore year in college, in Sociology 101, that attraction was explained to me in quantifiable terms I could understand. We were told that the secret to love is really nothing romantic, but very practical; people are drawn to those who possess something they want. Our professor explained that our friendships are based on meeting people who have a skill, personality type or ability that we want to have. In one 50 minute class he simplified finding the love of your life down to finding the person who does the things you want to be able to do most.

There are a lot of ideas from college that I didn’t retain, but this teaching stuck with me. I had suspected it all along, but on that day it was said out loud, in a classroom, solidifying my suspicions. I began to see relationships as transactional, a measured give and take, where I needed to have plenty to offer so I could attract the best friends. I realized that all I had to do was everything well. I needed to be all the things that a person wanted to be. I learned that I shouldn’t show my true self, and certainly shouldn’t share my doubts in myself, because who wants that?

I had learned to be a consumer. To shop around for the best deal, deciding who could give me the most without my paying a lot for it. I was drawn to the smoke and mirrors of seemingly deep friendships that were actually quite empty. This was apparent when I was unable to contribute to the relationships for a time, and they disappeared. I am guilty of walking away when my needs were not being met, as well.
It took years for me to see that although we live in a consumer driven society, I don’t need to consume people, weighing who has the most to offer me. I need to connect, to commune with those God places in front of me, asking what I can offer them. It means me showing my real self, fears and doubts and all. I’m not great at this, I have wisps of success from time to time, but I am aware of it and feel it when my motives are wrong.

I don’t blame my college professor for my misguided view of relationships; the fault is mine for receiving what was fed to me without question or pushback, and then holding onto it for a long time. I only wish I had listened and retained as much in Biology.

Does this sound like anything you have experienced? Have you seen the difference between consuming and communing within your marriage or friendships?

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

IMG_437844845Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Where do bananas go after they have languished a day too long in the fruit in the basket? In our house, they sacrifice themselves for banana chocolate chip muffins! I have accused our kids of ignoring the fruit just to get some more of these, they are definitely a family favorite. I took the recipe for a banana cake and added chocolate (because…chocolate…) and have baked them as a bread or muffin recipe for years.

2 1/2 c four (I’m using 1 c unbleached flour, 1 c almond flour, 1/2 c coconut flour these days)

1 T baking soda

1 pinch salt

1/2 c butter

1 c sugar

3/4 c brown sugar

2 eggs

4 bananas, mashed

2/3 c buttermilk (if not on hand, pour 1 t vinegar into milk and wait 3 minutes)

1/2 c chopped pecans or walnuts

1 c semi sweet chocolate chips

Set oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl mix the first three ingredients and set aside. In a larger bowl cream the next five ingredients. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Pour into greased muffin tins or two greased loaf pan. Bake approximately 17 minutes for muffins, 40 minutes for bread loaves.

Six Degrees of Separation

Kevin BaconMy friend went to Colorado last weekend for a men’s retreat. It was one of those getaways where men come together around a John Eldredge concept and grow closer to other men and to Christ. He was so excited to go, it was costly in time and resources but he was convinced it was the next step needed in his growing relationship with God and with his fiancee. My guy and I were looking forward to hearing all about the trip, because we were praying for him and this friend of ours has God encounters wherever he goes and we love to hear his stories!

Chase left for Colorado and met a large group of men along the way to the the retreat. One in particular was someone named Dave who he was instantly drawn to; the man reminded Chase of his grandfather, and he was eager to get to know the gentleman. The pair exchanged their stories quickly at first, and then the retreat began in earnest. Chase felt a nudge to share his real story, one of rebellion and redemption in his relationship with his intended bride, and worked to seek out Dave to do just that. Chase told the man about working through some junk from his past as well as meeting regularly with a couple to help them view marriage and commitment from a Biblical standpoint. He told Dave about a book that he and his fiancee had read together that had greatly helped them, and Dave instantly recognized the author as his longtime next door neighbor in Minnesota! Coincidence? No way.

Chase traveled from Nebraska and Dave traveled from Minnesota, both to Colorado for a weekend retreat. There were more than 450 men present, and these two came together. No big deal, right? Except these men decided to really open themselves up to each other and God met them, giving them the gift of confirmation that they were on the right path. It thrilled me to hear of the situation, but I kept thinking about it. How many times in our lives does God put someone right in front of us who can confirm, acknowledge, and affirm us? Maybe way more often than we think. Perhaps one of the reasons Chase seems to have so many God encounters is because he is looking for God in the mundane and in the people he meets, but also he is willing to make himself vulnerable when the situation calls for it. It reminds me of six degrees of separation, the idea that everyone on earth is six or fewer acquaintance links apart. The trick is that in order to know there is some connection in the first place, we must ask questions and share who we really are and where we have walked so far.

The book that confirmed it all: Holy Sexuality by Becky Patton http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Sexuality-Beginning-Becky-Patton/dp/144970672X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423670171&sr=8-1&keywords=Holy+Sexuality

 

 

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