Bumping Into Each Other # 1

God placed us in a tight space and called it “a home” and gave us people to bump into and called them  “family.”    I think it was part of His design to help us learn to love other people as we bump into each other in ways that reveal how much we love ourselves and want our own way. It is in this “family space” that we have the most  opportunities to grow love.  Isn’t it sometimes also  the hardest place?

This year my hubby Don and I are celebrating fifty years of living in our tight little space called “family.” Our kids left to make their own spaces over twenty years ago. Don and I still bump into each other daily, and we still are learning how to love and prefer each other daily.

If you live with someone, may I suggest 3 ways to make the bumping  smoother and even more fun along the way. Here is Bumping Bullet # 1 — I’ll share more later.

Bumping Bullet #1. Be someone your partner can trust.

God often reminds me of this Bible verse: Her husband can safely trust her & she will greatly enrich his life.”  from Proverbs 31.

When you are with other people, can your partner trust you to build him/her up or do you tend to tear him/her down?  Do you choose the relationship over being right, what is best for the relationship, or what is best for yourself?

How do you enrich your partner’s life each day in ways that he/she enjoys?

An Extraordinarily Ordinary Birthday

Happy 68th!

When I was 17, loving Don was simple. I was thinking of him all day long, wanting to be with him, talk with him, please him, do things for him, and enjoy him. He was the love of my life.

He still is! So on his 68th birthday, I decided to celebrate this extraordinary man of mine and to think of him all day long and say “I love you” in three ordinary ways using his love language, not necessarily mine.

First, I took the time to be with him and let him know how important he is to me. The day began as usual sipping steaming cups of coffee in our recliners reading our One Year Bibles. Then came a favorite treat, a home cooked breakfast–bacon, eggs, and pecan pancakes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Mid-morning I took a truck ride into town with him for a Menards run. In the afternoon I brewed sweet tea and took a tall iced glass out to him in his shop and lingered to listen to him explain and show me his current projects.

Our plans for a birthday dinner with friends at the Black Dog Smokehouse fizzled. Dressed and ready to go out at 6, I decided to wait without comment until Don decided to come in for dinner since he was obviously enjoying his passion, working in his shop. At 8:30 he moseyed in, and we went to a late dinner at the Outback and split a great steak as we laughed and reminisced and talked about life. I shared what I loved about him and then gave him a birthday bag with little index cards describing the little things I had done throughout the day to celebrate him.

Secondly, I did what was important to him. Admittedly the things I did were just little things, but to my hubby, they said “I love you” louder than an expensive present. I ordered customized invoice pads for Vincent Fabrication (only had been on “to do list” for six months), got bills out to his customers, and ordered his 3 month niacin supply. Then I did some unordinary birthday shopping: 1) getting a certified check to pay his speeding ticket from our Texas trip, 2) finding him a set of his (not my) ideal kind of water glasses – 22 oz. tall, heavy, and clear glass, and 3) getting a few favorite things when at Meijers like two tubs of his nightly staple – Breyers ice cream, along with mixed nuts, cashews, two dozen bottles of Gatorade, two packs of his favorite Pilot v7 pens, some specialty beer, all his refills of heart meds, etc. I also set a yard sale date at a friend’s house so that Don can once again use his trailer that now holds all the waiting yard sale treasures. Then I called AT&T and extended his cell phone ring from 15 seconds to 30 seconds so he has time to answer. (Yes, they will do that at no charge if you ask.) Little ordinary things indeed, but he liked them.

Thirdly, I made plans to continue to bless him. I researched the web for musical events going on and although none were on his birthday, future events are now posted on the frig to enjoy this summer. On Facebook I also shared that he was having a birthday, and he heard from 56 friends (some even from high school) and had another 66 likes. This blog was another small gift, one really special to Don, as he consider my writing a part of our destiny as we share our lives and Godstories with others.

And yes, I made him a birthday cake (inspired by a Pike County friend’s comment that she remembered this delicious wedding cake I made 31 years ago.) I whipped up the recipe again, but the cake didn’t come out of the oven until 10:30 that night so I decided to continue his birthday celebration the next day. I explained that it takes me longer now to get everything done to carry out all that I plan.

The next morning I stocked up with fresh fruits and vegetables at the Farmers Market and for lunch I fried the Mississippi catfish our kids and grandkids had caught along with his brother Lester’s melt-in-your-mouth sweet corn, fresh tomatoes, slaw, and watermelon, and of course, the carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Then we topped it off with the most important ingredient for a perfect lunch, the company of good friends, this time, Tom and Nancy Moser, who were visiting from Texas.

Another birthday is over. Don enjoyed it immensely and so did I. I’m really tired, but happy. Yet the celebration of life continues, extraordinary life in ordinary days, according to plan. After all, this is what the Jesus whom we follow has promised,

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

Jesus has truly given us a rich and satisfying life and we are learning to appreciate each ordinary day of it.

My challenge to you is to now go and do something  extraordinarily ordinary  for your loved ones. Enjoy the ride.

Flaming Boxes pt. 2

“No, don’t burn my boxes!” I cried out as the flames echoed back, “Too late.”

My last blog detailed our battle when Don threw away the boxes I was saving.  This blog asks a question:  “When we disagree, how can we talk things over and connect so we both feel closer to each other, not farther away?”  During much of our married life we have argued and just gotten over it often without taking the time to talk about issues, but lately we have decided to be more intentional to work out our differences so that our 49th year together is our best year ever – it is never too late!

A great marriage is hard work.  It takes a little time and a lot of relationship, but it is so worth the outcome of enjoying your best friend for a lifetime.  When Don or I have a dramatic disagreement, we try to discover what is really going on so that we can respond and get connected to each other again. Here is how we go about it (and need to have a go at it more often, I might add.)     

                                          Dealing With Rocky Moments

1) We find a good time to calmly revisit a rocky time, sometimes letting things simmer a little while as we both think over what happened and ask God to help us.

2) We take turns talking, sharing “what happened?” from each of our viewpoints. Often we don’t even agree on what happened, let alone why. We are beginning to see that this doesn’t mean one of us is right and the other one wrong, but that we just see things differently.

3) We focus on really listening to each other until we understand the other’s perspective and try to understand where he (she) is coming from, rather than taking offense. You do you have to choose to  “take” offense, just like you choose to take hors d’oeuvre waiter offers. Often our partner just wants to be heard and respected. Really listening says, “I want to hear you. I am here for you because you matter to me.”

3)Then we go deeper and try to share what triggered our disagreement, identifying our raw spots.  We try to name our  core fears, whether it is fear of  rejection, failure, abandonment, disapproval, loss, or lack of trust.  This step is key because most of the time we find our argument often triggered a response that was not only about the recent event but also about some underlying feeling, usually a felt need being unmet like the need for affirmation, value, security, intimacy, purpose, or control.

4) We affirm each other with the assurance that “I will be there for you when you need me. I care about you and your needs.”

We have so much to learn as we try to be a safe haven for each other in times of trouble and doubt, standing together against the things that try to pull us apart.  Togetherness takes practice, and we plan to keep practicing till we say, “beam me up, Scottie.”

In my next post I’ll share our actual dialogue about the flaming boxes.  In meantime, I challenge you to have a “Dealing with Conflict” conversation with a spouse or friend.  Let me know how it goes.