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Like Jade

IMG_1611We have this dog named Jade, she is a beautiful German Shepherd who looks exactly like what you think of with this breed; sleek, fast and very intelligent. But that’s where similarities end because Jade is a broken dog. We adopted her from a rescue organization almost three years ago, and I think she’s starting to trust us! Honestly we can’t be sure because just when we feel like she has turned a corner to becoming a normal dog, she reverts back to a scared, suspicious ball of fur that cannot be consoled or controlled. We had to adopt a second dog to teach this one how to ‘be a dog’, and sometimes we will isolate them to see if she has become more independent. So far, the answer is no, when her friend is away from her, Jade simply hides.

I would not consider myself a dog person; cats make total sense to me and speak my language. But Jade has won my heart in a way I couldn’t have predicted, I think it’s because I see echoes of my own craziness in her. Some examples:

Like Jade, I can be won over temporarily. Then change on a dime and only be in this game for myself.

Like Jade, sometimes I can appear to have it all together, but the truth is very different than appearances.

Like Jade, when I don’t have my example of how to live, I can go into hiding.

It’s interesting that I can get so frustrated with this rescue dog, but justify my own quirks, even though I wasn’t raised in a life of abuse and neglect. Maybe I need to show a little more grace to Jade, and hold myself to a higher standard.


woundsWhat would you do if you learned that your spouse needed something from you that you weren’t currently giving them? Would you try everything in your power to accommodate them? I like to think that I would. During a Marriage Oneness study recently, I learned that my guy has a second love language that he’s never mentioned: physical touch.

For years I have tried to support his language of acts of service, having a cleanish house as he walks in each day, dinner planned, etc. But recently he said that I could communicate love to him by touching him more. This is easier said than done for me, although I tend to hug a lot of people, I’m not a big toucher. Honestly, somewhere along the way I have identified touching with desperation or neediness. That’s my problem, not his. So, if I need to re-wire my brain to realize that reaching for his hand or rubbing his back will communicate some of what I feel for him, I will do it. Choosing to not after I know this could inflict a deep wound.

Wounds can come in many forms, but the deepest are from those we love the most, inflicting heart pain and potentially crippling us emotionally, or at least handicapping growth in the relationship. There are as many ways to wound another as there are people, because we are all different; what can hurt one person may not even appear on the radar of another, But when we are in close relationship, we know what it takes to hurt someone else.

Some examples:

A man knows that his wife loves to talk about matters of the heart, to go deeper into conversation instead of talking about shallow things. Yet he refuses to share his heart, claiming that he doesn’t want to stress her out when in reality, he is afraid to be vulnerable with her. He has decided that she cannot be trusted, or that it’s not worth it to invest in the relationship.

A woman knows that her guy loves for her to dress up and wear colorful clothing, and is guaranteed to notice every time she does. She gets tired or resentful or angry and begins to wear drab, colorless pieces that mix and match with little to no thought to her appearance. She has decided that he isn’t worth honoring anymore.

These choices cause deep wounds. If you don’t know what your spouse wants, I don’t believe the wound is nearly as deep as when you do realize and intentionally hold something back from them. This doesn’t excuse us to stay ignorant, it should compel us to study our spouses and ask questions, find out what really matters to them and then work hard to provide it, even if it doesn’t come naturally.

Why Is Marriage So Hard?

imageFor years I was baffled by the couples who seemed so happy and a few months later, ended up divorced. And some would split up to go right into another marriage, certain that this would be a better fit. It took me a long time to admit that sometimes being married is hard, there seems to be a belief in our culture that if someone claims this, they must be on their way to divorce, but I would argue the opposite. I believe that the act of denying the truth is more likely to lead to divorce, and stating the facts about your marriage can greatly increase the likelihood of success. In fact, there is a valid reason for why marriage is hard, and it’s not because he is a jerk or she spends too much money.

You know the story of Adam and Eve. Early in Genesis we read that God creates Adam and all the animals and determines that it isn’t right for man to be alone, so he creates Eve to be a suitable helper. Right after presenting her to him, there is a verse that talks about the importance of leaving the family to cleave to your spouse. This was the first marriage, five pages in to my Bible! Man and woman were designed to be so different, to complete each other from the very beginning. On the same page as this, we learn that the serpent targets this union with questions and temptation.

You know what happens next; Eve gives in and eats fruit from the only tree that God told Adam not to, and this is the beginning of sin entering our world. Do you remember what comes next? God hands down a curse to each member of the story; enmity and strife to the serpent, a life of painful toil to the man and what was the woman’s curse? Everyone knows that one, painful childbirth, right? But take a look, there’s more to it. “To the woman He said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16) Wait…what was that last part? Desire in this context is not talking about sexual desire, it’s talking about the desire that women have to compete, or lord over their spouses. In one fell swoop, we went from completing each other to competing against one another.

Why is it that every person knows and expects childbirth to be painful, but we are caught off guard when marriage gets difficult? We look across the kitchen table and think, ‘maybe I chose wrong, this is just too hard’, when it’s going to be tough with anyone, it’s all the way back in Genesis! It is part of the punishment for allowing sin to enter our world in the first place. Why did Satan (the serpent) target the first marriage? Because he knew from the beginning of time that the best way to dismantle families, reduce credibility and obliterate hope was through the disintegration of marriage, the very first union of the Bible.

So we can stop pretending that marriage is always easy, and just let go of the lie that life could be so much better with someone else. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to the work of making this covenant relationship the best it can be, this side of heaven. If you need ideas for how to make this happen, please ask me or someone you trust.


Clean It Out

closetEver have the urge to clean out a closet or office, only to get in the middle of the task and feel overwhelmed by it all? The worst is when someone walks in while all the junk is out of hiding and question what you were thinking! I spent the morning cleaning out my kitchen pantry. Thankfully, nobody walked in on me, because it was a mess! I love to cook and to try new recipes that involve ingredients that I don’t use everyday. I have a pantry that is packed with various oils and spices, many that have been used only once or twice. I’m not a hoarder in any other realm, but am more likely to buy an ingredient than to even bother with looking to see if I already have it. Ridiculous, I know.  I pulled every single ingredient out, checked for expiration dates and multiples, and put everything back together again. I wasn’t terribly surprised to find three jars of turmeric and some garlic powder that expired in 2006. I even alphabetized my spices so I can quickly see if I have one or not!

Bear with me, there was a significant thought that came to me while doing this mundane task. Our marriages can be a lot like my packed pantry; full of old stuff that we hold onto for no other reason than to say we have it. Sometimes we need to take the time to pull everything out and look at it, re-evaluate it and decide if  we really want to keep it anymore. It takes hard work to get rid of the clutter of years of accumulation, and it looks the messiest, and the most hopeless, when you’ve got everything sitting out in the open. But you’re also the closest to the goal that you’ve been in years. The key is to keep at it; keep picking up every item and intentionally deciding if you need it anymore.

Those hurt feelings from a misunderstanding years ago? Maybe it’s time to address it and throw it out.

The shame of a critical spirit against your spouse? Perhaps now you’re ready to make the decision to stop it once and for all, and get rid of it.

The memories of those first weeks in your first home together? Hold onto that, place it in the front where you be be reminded often, if you want to.

You get the idea. You are in charge of your pantry, nobody else gets to decide what stays and goes. Do the work of cleaning it out, so you know what you’ve got and also what you need.

Kind Bar Clusters

IMG_451237287My friend Tamera recently posted a recipe for homemade Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Kind Bars, my favorite, so I had to try them. Hers looked exactly like what you find in the packaging, mine did not. I didn’t spread the mixture out quickly enough, so they became little clusters instead of bars, and I didn’t even bother with the dark chocolate drizzle because they were delicious without it! There is an ingredient that I’m not familiar with, Brown Rice Syrup, found in the organic section of my grocery store. It is a sugar replacement, and I am including a link to an article about it at the end of this recipe so you can make your own call. The original recipe is from, and she has eight different Kind bar recipes there.

Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Kind Bars

  • 2 cups whole roasted* unsalted almonds
  • 3/4 cup whole roasted* unsalted peanuts
  • 3/4 cup roasted* walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup puffed millet, rice (or other puffed whole grain; or crispy brown rice cereal)
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, grapeseed, or coconut oil
Grease/spray large bowl, 9×13 baking sheet/pan, wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and bottom of drinking glass. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts  on large baking sheet and bake for 10 min. until lightly toasted and fragrant.
Add  toasted nuts to large bowl. Add puffed rice/millet and flaxseed meal. Stir to combine; set aside.In 1-1/2 or 2 quart saucepan, combine honey, rice syrup, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and vanilla over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 260 degrees (hard ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Immediately, pour mixture over nut mixture, stir until evenly coated. Quickly transfer to greased/sprayed 9×13 pan, use hands to spread mixture evenly in pan; press the mixture to close in holes and distribute evenly all over the pan. Using bottom of greased/sprayed drinking glass to tap and compact mixture in pan. Sprinkle top with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Let cool 20 minutes. While still slightly warm, invert pan on cutting board and tap until mixture falls out in one piece. Cut into 20 bars. (If they cool too much and become too hard or brittle to cut easily, put in warm oven for 1-2 minutes to soften; proceed with cutting.) Allow bars to cool completely before proceeding with chocolate drizzles.FOR CHOCOLATE DRIZZLES: Add chocolate chips and oil to microwave safe bowl. Cook on high power in 20 second intervals, stirring each time, just until last chips melt into mixture (approx. 60 seconds total). Use fork or squeeze bottle to drizzle chocolate over nut bars. Let cool until chocolate hardens.

How Not to Say the Wrong Thing

dangerThere are articles and blog posts written about what not to say in times of suffering and how to walk alongside someone after a traumatic event, and when I read them I feel like I need to take notes and really watch my words. Then I am in a situation and can’t really remember all the advice I’ve read, and I hesitate because I really don’t want to mess it up. A friend of mine shared this article by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman, and I think it is excellent information on how not to say the wrong thing. I won’t attempt to re-state it because it is explained very well already:

Mom Knows Best

motherRecently my daughter had a friend over to our house and he had dinner with our family. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this meal, but he remarked to our daughter that it was very different from what he was used to. I’m not sure what he meant but the comment made me think about our routine. Dinnertime is typically later in the evening, at least 7pm, and if you are home, you are at our table. I try to have a colorful variety of food, and often will tell everyone the benefits of that night’s menu. We wait until the last person joins us, then we pray and dig in. There are no visitors at our table, it’s every man for himself. We talk about our day and usually the kids try to get Dad to laugh, which is no easy task. For years we played a game called Best and Worst at the table, going around person by person, sharing our highs and lows of the day, but these days no one needs prompting. We rarely talk about serious issues while eating dinner, we like to keep the conversation light, but we are willing to stay long after the food is gone to discuss something important. It’s nothing grand, it’s just who we are.

This is our routine because it’s very similar to the way I grew up. Throughout the years, my Mom had a chalkboard in the kitchen, detailing the menu for the week. My friends were always amazed at the fact that there was a plan in place. My Dad would come home from work, go for a run and then we all sat down for a homemade dinner. There was no stress at the table, just the consistency of good food and family. Most every night.

I don’t think we value the family meal enough these days, giving in to eating on the go or even in separate rooms of the house. Sitting together, sharing life, even for just a few minutes on a regular basis helps us to feel a part of a team and gives us a time to connect regularly. Obviously there are seasons with sports and activities that prevent everyone from gathering for dinner each night, but it is the intentional practice over time that makes it rewarding.

I am thankful for a Mom who saw the importance of the ritual and kept it for many years, passing it on to our family. Happy Mother’s Day!




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