Sunday, March 30, 2014

Unintended Hiatus

Sometimes life gives you the breaks that you won't take yourself - that's what happened here in LifeNotes.

My current day job is heavily rules based and deadline driven; that deadline occurred on March 26th. This year seemed the most harrowing as it was close to the wire. For my sanity, I kept visualizing March 27th knowing we had made it.

Source - this was how I felt

I didn't have time to write.

I didn't have time for the multiple Bible Studies I was involved in.

I almost didn't have time for friends, but they understood and knew it was temporary.

While this deadline consumed me for the past weeks it was good to take a break and just do something else even if it was only for an hour.

I made time for the things that were important, and everything else had to fall by the wayside.

The stress of the deadline wreaked havoc on my body but it also helped to provide some much needed clarity.

It takes time to write; it takes time to create; it takes time to inspire.
These are the things I want to spend most of my time doing and to that end I'm making some changes to ensure that outcome.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Thanks for reading and for the new followers I've picked up along the way.

I was able to write a series on Marriage, which I'm quite happy with. Being able to do this restored some of my sanity. If you haven't read it yet, please do.
Read all of this series:
Part one - Believe The Best
Part two - The Gift of Marriage
Part three - Unload Your Baggage 
Part four - Romance is NOT Dead
Part five - What Keeps a Marriage Together?

LifeNotes is here to encourage you. Be encouraged.

Monday, March 24, 2014

25 on 25 - What Keeps a Marriage Together?

Today is our 25th Anniversary.


When I completed my Masters in Educational Administration, I was surprised to learn that reflection was such a huge part of the educational landscape. Many scholarly articles and research have been written on reflective practices in education. Reflection in education is - "the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning." If reflection is pivotal in Education, it seems a natural progression that reflection can be applied to other areas of life particularly marriage. As I reflected, the questions that kept coming up were, "What keeps a marriage together? What makes a marriage thrive? What makes us so special, when so many quit?"

From my vantage point the answer is shared values. That may not have been the answer you expected but shared values are foundational to everything else.
Values are things you believe in, that anchor you, that in today's lingo are "non-negotiable". Values keep you when you don't feel the love or when you're on different pages. Shared values force you as a unit to unite.
Artist's Rendition of us on our Honeymoon

Shared values over the years:

  • Shared faith - for us our faith,our Christian beliefs determine how we live. It is intertwined in everything we do. In our marriage we have seen the truth of the scripture "Iron sharpens Iron", as we have both benefited from the sharpening affect of iron. We both take our faith seriously and we both want to grow. Sometimes we challenge each other but more often than not, life also challenges us. We have hung in there and are better for it.
  • Mutual respect and trust - I trust my husband without reservation and he does the same for me. Now I know this is uncommon, but what's the alternative? I don't have a reason to not trust my husband, and if there is ever a doubt we can talk it out.
  • Support - My husband has said he wants the best for me, he wants to see me happy, (BTW, I don't always remember this when I'm annoyed with him) but he is unwavering in his support. It bothers him when he can't do something to make me happy, but since I know his heart and his intent, that is often enough for me. I'm in California as a show of support for my husband, and he's hugely appreciative of the efforts made on his behalf.
  • Children - we both wanted children but differed on the number. We both valued raising Godly children but our methods were different. Over the years we just kept working it out: sometimes both of us have no clue what we're doing; sometimes its clear one person has great insight in a particular area so the other just steps back and sometimes it is absolutely reassuring when both of us are saying the same thing and passing on Godly wisdom to our children.  It's at times like these we know we have shared values.

These may be the most important, but there are others - such as friendship, honesty, perseverance, and  generosity, just to name a few.

So, we're here. It's important to remember and reflect. It's important to celebrate. We feel blessed to have made it this far and we hope to have many more years together.

Read all of this series:
Part one - Believe The Best
Part two - The Gift of Marriage
Part three - Unload Your Baggage
Part four - Romance is NOT Dead


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent, Ash Wednesday, Etc.

Today is my son's 24th birthday.

Today is the 4 yr anniversary of my brother's death. That means it's about 4 years since I've been blogging. I never knew I'd still be here.

Today is also Ash Wednesday, which takes me back to my childhood in the Bahamas. I went to a Catholic School - St. George's. On this day, we would all go forward and the priest would put a mark on my forehead. It had no significance to me back then and to be honest it doesn't hold any today. I don't usually give up anything for Lent, but at this time of year I become very reflective thinking about the past, the present and the future.

According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting or abstinence. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes (formally called The Imposition of Ashes) on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday. Ashes were used in ancient times to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. [source:]
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, alms-giving, atonement and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Friday of Sorrows, further climaxing on Jesus' crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. [source:]

For a large part of the world this day is huge - it's even a holiday in certain countries. Though many are not deeply religious the day still holds some significance and many give up something that's considered a great sacrifice for Lent. I found this interesting article on Bible Gateway.

What Twitter is Giving Up for Lent

Are you giving up something for Lent? So are thousands of Twitter users—and Stephen Smith has crunched the data to show us the top 100 things Twitter users are giving up during Lent. Here are the top twenty, followed by the number of tweets mentioning each one this week); as you can see, there are a few joke items in the list, but most are in line with expectations:

  1. chocolate (6,313 tweets)
  2. twitter (5,643)
  3. school (4,638)
  4. alcohol (3,782)
  5. swearing (3,620)
  6. social networking (3,032)
  7. soda (2,840)
  8. sweets (2,432)
  9. fast food (2,238)
  10. lent (1,597)
  11. coffee (1,558)
  12. junk food (1,545)
  13. meat (1,517)
  14. chips (1,442)
  15. homework (1,299)
  16. sex (1,289)
  17. bread (1,263)
  18. facebook (1,162)
  19. you (984)
  20. pizza (888)
So Happy Birthday son and keep smiling big brother. Today may be a good day to give up something and start anew. Because, life can change in an instant.
Any surprises on that list? Are you giving up something on that list during Lent? Does this day hold additional significance for you?