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News Flash

GMAI was watching Good Morning America a few days ago, actually reading it because I end up reading the scrolling words across the bottom instead of listening to the ‘news’. Anyway, two items were displayed back-to-back that caught my eye: studies show that too much tv watching can cause dementia and apparently the food in sit-down restaurants can be just as damaging to our bodies as fast food. This can’t be new information, can it? Two of the three most popular ways Americans entertain ourselves (social media rounding out the big three in my opinion) are bad for us? It was a great reminder.

We have got to get outside and relax.

Let our children explore.

Cook our own food.

Have conversations that matter, asking questions and listening to responses.

Breathe deeply.

Enjoy the technology and advances of our day, but set boundaries for ourselves.

Everything in moderation. So simple, and yet difficult.

 

Driving Instructor

IMG_2361I have the privilege of teaching my last born how to drive this summer. She is sixteen and not terribly motivated to learn, most likely because she is the baby and there are plenty of people around to give her rides, and she is still afraid of all the responsibility. We don’t want to force her before she’s ready, but when she wants to go someplace she now has to drive the two of us. Yesterday was one of those times, and I found myself saying little reminders like,’stay in your lane’ and ‘use you signals’. It’s hard for me to remember that she doesn’t automatically know these things, surely she has heard them with her siblings over the years, but its not fair to assume this.

After dropping off my girl and driving away I was thinking about the words I had just been saying, and how they apply to our marriages. I talk to so many women who are wrapped up in the sin of their husbands; looking only at his behaviors and making judgments about their hearts. It can be difficult to stay in our own lane sometimes, but if we don’t an accident can surely happen. Ladies, it is not our job to be our husbands’ Holy Spirit. Stay in your own lane.

Another way that we get ourselves in trouble is with a lack of communication, assuming our men know and understand what we want. If we refuse to use our signals, clearly communicating our needs and directions, we cannot get upset when a crash happens. Our men cannot read our minds, and we don’t really want them to, except when it’s convenient for us. Talk about your expectations and hopes, even if it feels like he doesn’t listen. Experienced drivers look for and respond to signals without even realizing it. Use your signals.

I am confident that my girl will become a competent driver when the time is right, and very soon won’t need to have her Mom sit next to her, pointing out all the details of driving and she is going to love the independence that comes with being a driver. Soon it will become second nature, as long as she follows the rules of the road. Marriage can be similar, at first it can feel foreign to communicate so much, to know someone so well and yet not be responsible for their behaviors, but with time and practice, it can become natural and even quite enjoyable.

One Rule: Have Fun!

IMG_3598Recently our son turned eighteen, and for the last year or two he has talked about sky diving. I have had an interest int he same thing, so I agreed to going with him right after he was of legal age to do so, and Saturday was that day for us. We drove three hours away to meet a team of young men who work out of a van and an old school bus, details that didn’t make my guy feel better. It’s so interesting to me how this next generation finds ways to do things differently; they have a completely mobile operation that allows them to do business anywhere at all. The owner of the company said that in October he shuts it down and goes to Hawaii for the winter months. Not a bad idea.

After signing our lives away and agreeing not to sue no matter the outcome, we were suited up in harnesses and given a quick rundown of do’s and don’ts, make sure you do this and never do that. At least, my son was. I was passively listening because my turn would be next, but then my tandem guy just came over and checked my harness and said, “One rule – have fun!”. And then we were loading into a very small airplane. No real information on how to leave the plane, either. Awesome.

We climbed to 12,500 feet, the door opened and air and sound filled the plane. My son exited the canister without a second’s hesitation. From the ground you would think that the second jumper is hovering at the door, counting to a certain number before hurtling through space, but the instant Coleman disappeared I was being pushed to the opening and immediately flipping out of the aircraft. Apparently time moves differently in higher altitudes.

Honestly I don’t remember a great deal about the freefall, my guy said we fell for a count of 20, and I think it took me that long to get my bearings. The parachute opened and it became a gentle, quiet trip to the earth. I do remember my tandem partner pointing out a hawk below us, which was really cool for me because hawks are a symbol for me that everything’s going to be all right. Seeing the bird before the whole thing probably would have been better for me, but I will take a hawk whenever I can get one. The landing was no big deal because we were skydiving with experts, and they did all the work.

Once safely on the ground I realized a few things; I probably won’t skydive many more times in my life, if ever again and marking a big item off my bucket list is a lot more fun when you do it with someone you love. Happy birthday, Coleman!

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Buy the Ticket

rideMy guy is out of town this week, and last night he sent me an email about another trip he needs to take in a couple of months and he was asking me if I wanted to join him.

For some reason, I hesitated. Why is that? I love getting away with him whenever possible. I had to think through all the possibilities, expecting there to be a reason why I couldn’t go. Isn’t that close to a holiday? Is there a football game that weekend?  Fortunately it was an email, not a conversation, so he didn’t witness the turmoil.

It frustrates me that I default to ‘no’ so much of the time, and have to be talked into ‘yes’, especially when it comes to my guy. He has great ideas, so many more than I would ever think of.

So, I took a deep breath and quickly replied with one word, YES!

How about you, do you find it difficult to say yes to the people closest to you? Is there any correlation to having a difficult time saying no to others?

Lessons in the Garden

greenthumbEvery summer I try my hand at gardening. Some years it’s four tomato plants in the side yard that result only in enough to feed us dinner, and other years it’s a full blown plot of land filled with herbs, peppers, tomatoes, lettuces and squashes. This year we are going big, we rented a garden spot a mile away and now I have a good excuse to walk the dogs each day, to monitor the progress and water and fiddle around, and go back home with satisfied pets. I never know what will result of my time and effort, I don’t make big plans and I am rarely disappointed. Give me a handful of produce that came from my own work and I am quite pleased.

You see, for me it’s all about the growing. I love having my hands in dirt, and feel closest to God when I am planting seeds and plants. As I drop each seed into the little square at the beginning of the season, I am ridiculously optimistic, believing that something big and wonderful will grow from there, and I wonder if God doesn’t feel the same way about each of us? When I place the plants into the tilled land I am reminded of the importance of cultivating our environment, keeping it diverse and fresh. When I show up each day to water I am reminded that good things take time to grow and require patience, and when the water is provided by God so much more growth occurs than when it’s been provided by me. Every single time.  When I am pulling away the parts that are starting to decline, in order to make room for new growth, I am reminded of the importance for us to do the same in our lives even if it looks like there is still some good stuff left. And at the end of the season as I am closing up the garden, this magical place where food has developed from the ground, I am reminded that we all have seasons of growth and rest, and that’s what allows us to continue each year.

If you have the time and inclination, I would be happy to walk you around my little garden, it may not look like much to most people, but to me it’s a pretty special place.

 

My Name is Jennifer and I am a Manipulator

manipulatorI wasn’t always this way. Okay, maybe I was. Honestly I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to influence others to ultimately get my way. According to Strengthfinders, I am strong in the area of Strategy, meaning I am able to look ahead and see the easiest, most efficient route to the goal. This could be a strength when used in many fields, but I have learned that it can also be a weakness, particularly in relationships.
When my guy and I were dating and ultimately engaged, we fought a lot. That may not be totally accurate, because there wasn’t much fight left in the poor guy after going a couple of rounds with me. We joked that I could probably murder someone and convince him that he had done it. I would go for the jugular every time, and if I saw that my argument was going to nowhere, I could change the trajectory slightly so that I always had the upper hand. Honestly I saw it as a weakness in him that I could always win the argument.
And then we broke up. For almost three years. Apparently it’s not very fun to always be wrong in a relationship. It was the first time in my life that I couldn’t get my way, no matter how hard I tried. He closed down and shut me out. Suddenly he had the upper hand, all the power.
During the years that we were apart I found myself in a relationship with someone far more advanced in the art of tearing down arguments and for the first time, felt the hopelessness of not being heard, only defeated, in a relationship. I also leaned into Christ more than ever, and began to see that although I had some skills in the area of arguing, I was no expert in strategy. Turns out winning every battle doesn’t mean that you win the war. Having all the power in a relationship means being willing to hear the heart of the other and to try to come to an agreement.
Over time, God brought my guy and me back together. I learned that God had been working on him too, and my husband started to push back and show me boundaries. I realized I had been like a child, craving rules and consequences because how else do you know that someone really loves you? I needed boundaries to feel loved and he needed to be heard.
I wish I could say that today I am free from manipulation. But like an alcoholic, I will always have this weakness; if I am in an argument or a power struggle, my fight reflex kicks in to win at all cost. I can usually see every step to take to be declared the winner, but that’s not really the goal, is it?
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2

Baked Avocado Eggs

IMG_458317873We are trying to eat a little leaner these days, and breakfast is the toughest meal of the day when there are so many bread and pastry temptations. Saturday morning I tried this out, and it was so simple and family approved! Combining the protein in eggs with the good fat in avocados, the fiber in black beans and the cancer fighting cooked tomatoes in salsa is a great way to start the day right.

Avocado Eggs

2 avocados

4 eggs

salt

pepper

green onions

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.Halve the avocados and remove the stone inside. Scoop out some of the filling, enough to make room for a whole egg. Place the avocados into a loaf pan or small baking dish so they fit snug together, to prevent them from tipping over. Carefully crack each egg and pour them into the avocado shells one by one. Salt and pepper as you like. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle chopped green onions on top. Serve with black beans, salsa, sour cream, tortillas.

 

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