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Fight Fair

argumentWhen 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 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. 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 your 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.

Great and Terrible

great&terribleNot so long ago we had a tough year in our house. We had teens that were struggling, but who were not talking to us about it. The result was that one got into a pretty big mess and pulled others into it, as well. I won’t go into detail because it’s not my journey, although as the parents, we were greatly affected. For a few months, I was receiving phone calls from concerned parents, relaying information that I did not know about my child; details that made me question if I had ever known this person at all. There were nights when I would walk past my teen’s closed door, on the way to bed, and not want to stop. I just wanted to let it slide for a night. But each night I would knock, and go in and face the truth. After a time of confrontations, confessions and consequences the behavior eventually was back on track, and I am happy to say that we have all come out of this stronger, and closer than we were before.

I don’t think I realized how hard it had been for us until recently I received a phone call from one of those parents and when I saw who it was, I froze. Questions and accusations came screaming at me all over again, I did not want to know, I did not want to answer that call. But I did answer, and it was a benign request for a fundraiser. I could barely speak I was so relieved and I sobbed after we hung up. It occurred to me that I had been holding myself very tightly for months, just waiting for another call.

Hard things come when we don’t expect them, and rarely do they go away quickly. It’s bad enough when it’s the result of our own mistakes, but when it’s your child, it can feel particularly hopeless and very isolating. I’m not writing this to bring attention to my child, but to the fact that we all make mistakes sometimes. The best that we can do is pray, drawing closer to God as we hand over the issue, and continue to do the hard things.


forgetfulFixing breakfast, making sandwiches, writing checks for school while swilling coffee this morning. Like every morning, thinking about when I would accomplish the things that need to be done today. My guy tells me about a dream he had last night, and then about what he was reading this morning and what he was praying for.  We connect for just a second, it’s going to be a very long day for him. As he is leaving the house he says,”Man, I wish I started every day like this. Why do I forget so easily how good it is to get up early and read and truly pray?”

How about lying there after sex and exclaiming,”We should do this waaayyy more often!” The connection made is so much more than just sexual, it’s a way that you commune with that one most special person in your life….and yet sometimes it’s easier to just watch TV, read a book or fall asleep on the couch.

Have you ever dreaded a workout, put it off as long as possible….choosing to do anything but actually sweat? When you finally put forth the effort you feel strong and invigorated afterwards? All of the time for me.

Why do we forget? It can be so easy to allow other things to creep in and steal that time. These are the three areas of life that get pushed back during times of stress or just busyness for me, and I don’t think I’m the only one. The irony is that these are the same areas that scripture makes very clear we are to be intentional about. It’s part of the greatest commandment.

Love God.

Love Your Neighbor.

Love Yourself.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, love your neighbor as you love yourself. There is no great er commandment than these

Homemade Carrot Cake

IMG_464705105This is my guy’s all-time favorite cake, and his birthday was yesterday, so we had cake! It is from the ‘ol red and white checkered Better Homes & Gardens cookbook I used to learn to cook in our first years of marriage.

Carrot Cake

2 c flour

2 c sugar

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 t cinnamon

3 c carrots, shreded

1 c oil

4 eggs

Oven 350 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside. Blend the last three ingredients, introducing the dry slowly. Mix till well blended. Pour into 2 round 9 inch greased cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake springs back at your touch. Cool ten minutes in pans, then turn out until completely cool. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 c butter

2 t vanilla

41/2 – 43/4 c sifted powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients, blend well and spread over cake. Will cover a two-layer cake.

What Can You Do With It?

superpowerHave you ever noticed how some people seem to get the good seats every time? The best parking places, tables at a restaurant, or just the permission to go where others cannot? I am not one of these people, but I am married to one, and it’s a great perk to join in with a person who has access. People allow him to go behind the curtain, or upgrade his hotel room, or tell him about some great deal that is only available to some.

And then there are those who can simply suggest an idea and before long it becomes a reality. You know this type; excited and excitable, kind of a cheerleader who can motivate the hearts of others. A person who has influence tends to have people around them most of the time, just waiting to see what’s going to happen next. We have a child with this tendency and it is fun to watch the wake.This person is often successful in sales.

There is another type that seems a lot like one with access, but it is the person who is often let in to the hearts and minds of others. This one is allowed to speak into people’s lives because they have permission to do so. You will often find this type sitting off to the side of a large group, talking with one person at a time, either giving encouragement or saying hard things.

Finally there are the people who take command of a situation, who speak in proclamation, not in questions and make statements with confidence. People rely on the one with authority to take a stand and point the way, bringing clarity and either relief or frustration to those around them. This person is often polarizing because they have the ability to see all the issues and comment on them while others are still processing the situation.

Which of these tendencies describes you best? This isn’t really about personality, it’s more of the effect you have, and I believe these are areas of strength that we use all the time, but not always for good. Have you noticed that you are allowed information or special circumstances more than most? You probably have access. What can you do with it? Do you find that you need to be careful endorsing ideas publicly because others are taking notice? That sounds like influence. What can you do with it? Maybe you are the type who people open up to and share their deeper hurts or fears, even those you don’t know well. That would be permission. What can you do with it? Or perhaps others rely on you to lead the charge and speak for them. This could be authority. What can you you do with it?

We can use these super powers for good or for our own good, it’s a daily choice.

Teen Time Out

super-nannyWhen our children were little, a time out was the symbol of trouble, somebody had pushed Mom past the point of understanding and they needed to take a break. Truth was that break usually as much for me as them.

These days my teens still take time outs. Some more often than others, depending on the need and their individual personalities. For example, our oldest daughter was away at college last year and every few weeks would have a strong need to come home. We would be tempted to make plans to go do fun things, but she just wanted to be home, hearing the music that plays in our house almost constantly, resting on the couch while I cooked dinner. She needed a time out from the stress of college, some home cooking and to be reminded that she is loved.

Last week out youngest daughter texted me while at school, middle of her morning and said she was struggling with friends and that maybe she should come home for the day. I picked her up at lunchtime and took her out to lunch. Just the two of us for less than an hour. We talked about school and Homecoming and plans for the evening, and a little about what was bothering her. I dropped my girl off at school in time to get back to class and she had a great afternoon. She just needed a time out for fresh air and a sandwich, and to be reminded that she is loved.

Later this week my guy is taking our son on a trip to New York City for a long weekend. He’s off to a great start on the school year that is normally known for being a stressful one, and this will be a time of refreshment and bonding with his Dad. He just needs a couple of days away in a city he’s admired for years, and to be reminded that he is loved.

In our family, a teenage time out can be a late lunch at a downtown restaurant, a quick trip to the a favorite store for a special skirt, or just a walk with the dogs through the neighborhood. The trick has been figuring out what works with whom, and making the time to do it. I love having big kids for many reasons, but one of them is because I actually enjoy their time outs these days.

Swiss Chard Pie

IMG_463942856We have so much swiss chard in the garden these days! I planted five plants and expected it to act like lettuce did last year, one big return and that was it, but this stuff is hearty and keeps replenishing every couple of days. I found a cookbook called Jerusalem last week that has beautiful pictures and explanations of Middle Eastern foods. My guy and I went on several expeditions to find all kinds of interesting ingredients, and now we are ready to start cooking some new foods. This recipe came from that book, but it they call it Herb Pie, we found it to be delicious.

Swiss Chard Pie

2 T olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 lb swiss chard, stems and leaves separated andfinelt shredded

5 oz celery, thinly sliced

2 green onions, chopped

1 handful arugula or spinach

1 oz parsley, chopped

1 oz mint, chopped

2/3 oz dill, chopped

4 oz anari or ricotta (I used ricotta)

3 1/2 oz cheddar cheese, grated

2 oz feta

grated zest of 1 lemon

2 large eggs

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

1/2 t superfine sugar

9 oz filo pastry (I used 10 sheets)

Oven 400 degrees. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet at medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the chard stems and celery and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the chard leaves, cook for 4 more minutes until the leaves wilt.Ad the onions, arugula and herbs and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer into a colander and allow to cool. When cooled, squeeze out as much liquid as you can and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the cheeses, lemon zest, eggs, salt and pepper and mix well.

Lay out a sheet of filo dough and brush it with some olive oil. Cover with another sheet of oiled dough to make five sheets and place in the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate, covering the entire plate with some hanging over. Fill the pie plate with the swiss chard mixture and place another stack of five sheets of oiled filo dough over the top. This does not need to be flat orneat, scrunch up the dough on top to produce a wayvy, uneven texture if desired. Brush the top with olive oil and bake 40 minutes .



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