Monday, June 27, 2016

Broken Record

In the old days, the 70s, music was played on a record player or a phonograph. A record was a round flat disc with a small hole at its center that was used to place it on the turntable. As the turntable rotated the needle would touch the record. As the record rotated the music played beautifully. If there was a flaw in the record - it was scratched or warped, at each rotation. the music would skip or sound warbled. In order for this to stop, the needle had to be lifted and placed on a better part of the record.

Sometimes in life we sound like broken records - we are repeating the same thing over and over again with little variation. What leads us to this circular state? Do we feel unheard? Is our message important and no one is receptive? Or do we have the annoying gene?

When you constantly tell your children to pick up after themselves, yet they don't - you feel like a broken record.

When you ask your spouse to be on time, yet it doesn't happen - you feel like a broken record.

When you've suggested a better option at work and it's not acknowledged - you feel like a broken record.

When you tell your close circle of friends your relationship woes each time you get together - you are a broken record.

In all of these scenarios, you are talking to the wrong person. The next time you feel yourself spinning into broken record land, stop. As a flawed human, take the needle off the record. Look up and talk to God. Pour it all out - your frustration, anger, your minimized feelings, what you wish would happen....pour it all out. Then pause and listen. Ask God for the wisdom to deal with the situation. Perhaps it requires you changing your tactics, perhaps someone else will step in with the same message, perhaps you never mention it again, perhaps the solution has not materialized as yet.

Recognize that you are important and what you are saying is important. Be willing to live with an outcome that you may not have had in mind. If what you're saying is important enough, you will be heard and acknowledged, eventually. It's dealing with the eventually that's hard. Don't become a broken record to those around you, become a broken record to God - He doesn't mind one bit!

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. James 4:8 [KJV]

Casting all your cares on Him for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 [KJV]

Do you ever feel like a broken record? How do you handle it?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Yikes!

I just read a blog post, where a couple has been married for 37 years but they only have sex once or twice a year! Yes, you read that right. My initial thought was, "Yikes!" Then I wondered if these folks were real, but it got me to thinking.

Why would you build your marriage on such a horrible foundation?
Why would you get married?
Why would either of you tolerate this for so long?

Everyone is different, but 37 years ago you were younger and more amorous. Now time has taken its toll. Perhaps this situation could have been avoided if both were willing to talk about expectations and both were willing to try. If both had an understanding of the role sex plays in marriage perhaps they would not have started down this path. Sex is for pleasure and procreation, which leads to greater intimacy between each other.

I know as humans we all have our moments - sometimes we're rearing to go and other times we need to be jumpstarted but treating sex as a chore all the time, diminishes its beauty. Clearly, there's a problem in this situation - but the words duty and obligation should never be used in the same sentence with sex as it takes away all the joy, beauty, and intimacy from it.

Bad habits can become entrenched and before you know it 37 years has gone by. Make the effort to undo a bad habit once you recognize it, but don't wait for 37 years.

I wish this couple well and hope they find a way to restore what was taken away from them. A long time ago a visiting speaker came to our church. He was quite old, perhaps he was married for 50 years or more. But in his sermon, he had a twinkle in his eye as he talked about re-discovering the beauty of love. My husband and I looked at each other, and I whispered, "He's talking about sex!" and my husband nodded his head.  May that couple's 37-year drought be drenched with the waters of love.

The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. Joel 2:25 [NLT]

What needs to be restored in your marriage?


Monday, June 20, 2016

Random Thoughts

We had a deadline at work recently. Riddle me this - if everyone knows a deadline is coming months in advance, why do we wait until the last minute to get everything done? Since my completion now depends on your schedule, the one that's filled with panic - my output is now in a panic driven schedule vs a realistic one. I really don't understand this at all. I prefer to approach deadlines like this: "I love deadlines, I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” - Douglas Adams

My body is transitioning - as I approach the half-century mark sometimes I'm amazed and sometimes I'm saddened. It's amazing what the body can do - I can still run, move, lift weights and apparently could pass for someone half my age.  However, these hormones...these hormones! I can see how they can drive a sane person mad.  May they stabilize soon.

Crossroads - the way my life looks today is not what I anticipated it would look like. Well, that sounds worse than it actually is. I am so happy with my children and the people that they are. I revel in the fact that we can have conversations, real conversations. I'm glad that I'm on the other side of parenthood where I'm no longer responsible for molding and shaping but am now able to see the results of what was poured into our children.  I have a daughter that lives out of state who has no qualms about calling me in the middle of the day to ask me the most random and inane questions. Love this! I have two adult children who are still at home but we are traversing this new path with more success than failure. And in the mix is the Little One, who is now 13. Some days my life feels like a TV sitcom where we all have fun together.

My husband is a great father to our children in that he has strong principles that are the foundation of his life and he has been able to pass these on to our children. My husband loves to talk and he has no greater joy than talking with his children and hearing their thoughts. But he too is learning that we've raised some pretty well-adjusted adults and they don't always need advice, just a listening ear.

So perhaps I never expected these outcomes, but I'll take them. What I will say about what I thought my life would look like is simply this - some dreams just have not come true as yet.

When I read the newspaper and see the things that happen, sometimes all I can say is, "There but for the grace of God." Because I honestly don't know why some children end up in cages at zoos, or why some are eaten by alligators or why some are shot. I'll never know why things happen the way they do and I'll never know why we were spared from certain things.

We're all living in this world trying to make it through. Everyone knows you can't do this thing called life alone. It starts with a village but it doesn't end there. Trust in someone bigger than you so you can have the peace and the wisdom to traverse this life successfully no matter what comes your way. Trust in God.

Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. 1 Chronicles 16:11 [NLT]

Curious to know, what's happening with you?


Monday, June 13, 2016

In Sickness and In Health

Recently, I attended a BBQ where I met a lovely lady named LL. LL was distinctive in her appearance in that she obviously took great care in how she presented herself - she had a short natural hair cut, her face was naturally made up, and she wore white linen, which always makes one look extra classy. But what stuck out about her was that she walked with a cane.

She had a beautiful smile and took the time to smile profusely with each introduction.

But I was curious about the cane. During the course of the evening she told me that in the past year she had been diagnosed with MS. She said she's trying not to question God, because she's seen others worse than her; she used to be the life of the party now she feels like such a dud; she has 2 children who are teenagers that she is trying to be there for all without losing control, or as she said, "falling and busting her head." She's glad she has a husband but then she said, "and my husband doesn't like me." She is trying to maintain a positive outlook while dealing with the reality of the toll her illness is taking on her life.

For most of us, when our husbands get a cold it taxes us because they appear to act like they are at death's door. They can't move, and they need extra love and attention. But at least they are well after a couple of days. What it requires on our part is a sacrifice that we are not initially willing to make.

Imagine dealing with a chronically ill spouse. I would venture to say, initially, most of us can't handle it and we would have to learn to deal with it. We would have to tell ourselves that what seems like an inconvenience to us is the spouse's reality. Most of us are wired to deal with the good stuff, but when things aren't ideal we are forced to reevaluate ourselves. Some of us fight tooth and nail against our situation - you can't be sick, I'm sure you can do this yourself; some of us - just go with the flow; some of us harbor resentment until we realize that even in bad situations good things can come from it. We inadvertently make the ill person feel like a burden. I've never met a sick person - a chronically sick person who enjoys being ill. It is at this point the reality of in sickness and in health kicks in.

Perhaps LL feels her husband doesn't like her because now that she is ill he never spends any time with her. Perhaps all she needs is a kind word, some attention and a physical touch. Perhaps the husband is overwhelmed by the complexities of the illness and does not know how to respond so he does what he's always done - hide himself in work.

I've witnessed many facets of sickness and health. My brother was healthy when he said his vows but for most of his marriage he was chronically ill. The illness took a toll on both of them until he passed away. I've mentioned LL, whose husband does not seem to be attentive to her, and through my Bible study group I became aware of another couple. The husband is suffering from  a rare form of cancer that disfigures while being painful.  To get a sense of his well being, his wife may say "he is sub-par, but status quo within the sub-par."

When your status quo is sub par it's hard to remain optimistic and supportive. But this is the beauty of love and grace. It is in these instances that we are reminded that love is sacrificial, love is patient and love is kind. It is in these moments that we cannot rely on our strength but on Someone bigger than us to give us the strength that we need to take another step; nurse another wound; dispense more medicine; go to another doctor. The Lord knows we can grow weary in doing good which is why he tells us not to do so but to hold on. In our sicknesses, we get to know our spouses; we see that we really do care and though we may want them to get better we deal with the reality that it may never be the case here on Earth. Because we made a choice to love them we can love them through the good and the bad. 

It's only the grace of God that can give us caring hearts to deal with tough situations. Let us choose to accept this grace and extend it to our spouses. Don't let sickness or any other negative tear your love apart.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 [NLT]
Have you dealt with this part of your vows in your marriage? How did you handle it?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Book Review - The Illuminati

Have you ever read a book and wondered why you read it? Have you ever wondered how an author could come up with such an improbable plot? Have you lost a whole day because you wanted to find out how a book ends?

I had all of these questions as I read this book. First, I must reiterate, this book is a novel, a work of fiction or as the author says, "As best I know, I have a gift for teaching, a talent for writing, and no prophetic abilities beyond that of any other Christian."

The Illuminati is based on a rumored secret society that is as old as time, that has infiltrated it's way into governments with the sole purpose of ruling the world.

Divide and conquer is the oldest plot and yet it works like a charm every time. The Great Leader of the Society, who seems to be based on the Antichrist mentioned in the Bible - pits nations against nations, Christians against Jews, the religious right against everyone else, democrats against liberals. Wherever there was an opportunity for division it was exploited. Only one person can foil the schemes of the Great Leader and it's a computer genius named Jeff Wells. Jeff is the most brilliant person who can take the most complex thoughts and simplify them. He can predict weather patterns and build a one world computer system that only he can control!

There are hints but only hints of truth, with lots of fiction. There are many characters, so initially, it's hard to keep track of all the players and their roles. There is violence and bloodshed - but it's not graphic and there's the slightest hint of romance.

Once you get into this book, it's hard to put down.

On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I rate it 3.5.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Doubles

Bryan Brothers
It's your team's turn to serve. Your partner and you go to the baseline, you quickly converse about a strategy, you both assume your positions, you execute. Whether you win or lose the point, you regroup, show some physical contact and do it all over again.

Doubles tennis, though not as popular as singles is twice as much fun to watch - there's more energy and more surface area for play. It would seem that two are better than one, but it requires more coordination, communication, and grace.

As a single, your strategy is your own - it's in your head and no one knows what will happen until you serve. But in doubles, both parties have to be on the same page. Often times you will see teams using surreptitious ways to communicate with each other so that the other side is unaware. They may use the tennis balls to cover their mouths or whisper in each other's ears. The point is as a team, only they know what they're doing; no one else does. A doubles partnership is beginning to look like a good marriage - no one else needs to know every detail of your marriage; only you and your spouse are privy to that information.

Next, each partner assumes their position. The server stays at the baseline and the other player goes close to the net and crouches while her partner is serving. Once the ball is over the net, she gets up and is prepared to hit any ball that comes her way. The server moves in and covers the back of the court and is also prepared. They may have discussed what shots they were going to use and now they are executing. Some volleys are so long and exciting, the positions may change. Again, as in marriage, each person knows their position and plays, though sometimes each person's position may change based on the circumstance, but it's for the betterment of the team.

This is the point that inspired this post - I noticed that whether a doubles team won or lost the point, at the end of each point they always hi-fived or touched hands and then re-grouped. Physical contact is important as it says, we're in this together. It's almost as if it didn't matter the outcome of the point, but that you played your part and made the effort. You made the effort. High five, shake it off, strategize, and continue to play the game. Continue to make the effort.

Our marriages require more coordination, communication, and grace. We start together and we're on the same page. We strategize, execute, high five and repeat. We forgive and give grace. We keep putting the effort in, like a good doubles game until this life is over.

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? Amos 3:3 [NLT]

How is your doubles partnership?