A Challenge

Alright wives, ready to be challenged?  It’s a simple sentence.  Yet it drives so deep into our humanness that it deserves some time and thought and it will probably speak to each one of you in a different way.

I will preface it by saying this.  It may be especially challenging for those of us who tend to hold things in our lives tightly in order to create our own safe little world because we know whats happening and we’re in control.  No harm can come because we’ve got all the bases covered, we know what to expect, and how we think we need everything in our life to play out.
 
We’ve got it all under control.
Well, that only works for so long, and it’s also a very very false sense of “peace” and “rest” in your life.  (Am I the only woman with this subconscious tendency?!  Please say no.)
So.  On to the sentence.  Deep breath. Relax.
“Our goal must not be to get our husbands to do what we want, but rather to release them to God so He can get them to do what He wants.” Stormie Omartian The Power of A Praying Wife
 
There is a deep peace in releasing your husband to God.  It’s a sense of peace that no amount of planning or control could ever bring.  It allows you to relax and go with the flow.  I think this is the big take away for me personally: It allows you to watch joyfully as your husband functions in how God created him to function (even though it’s so different than yourself) and it’s ok.  You are not the creator, molder, shaper, or sustainer of your husband.  Do not play that role.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy being a wife at peace who trusts in her God and daily releases her husband over to God.  Take joy in seeing God work in your husband and seeing him grow into the man God (not you) has intended him to be.

The Pause Button

My husband has a show that he loves watching.  I’m indifferent towards it.  The content, the humor, the story lines…eh…take it or leave it for me.  But I did catch an episode lately that, surprisingly, God has reminded me of.  

The pause button.  In this specific episode, the young married couple display what they call “the pause button”.  They are in the middle of a huge fight regarding important matters, and at times they choose the pause button.  The fight gets put on the back burner.  And then at a later time, they return to their fight.

This unexpectedly happened for me in the past couple weeks.  Grant and I are were discussing something, I don’t remember what at this point, but I do remember feeling agitated, annoyed, and it may have been a tense conversation.  We were out and about at the time and we didn’t get to finish the conversation. Life continued on.  And later we returned to that conversation to hash it out.  

Here’s what surprised me, I actually enjoyed my time with Grant during that inbetween time.  Even though we were just in a tense conversation, both of us worked up about something, I clearly remember still enjoying that inbetween time.  I subconciously hit the pause button. (I’m usually more stubborn than that.)  As I thought more about this and realized I did this (and remembered the episode of Grant’s favorite show) it really sunk in how critical this was.

The pause button does a couple things…

One, it allows you to enjoy time that’s in front of you, even though the issue at hand may not have been resolved yet.  How often are your disagreements or tough conversations resolved instantly?  Some couples may stick it out and talk and talk until it’s resolved, and that works for them.  That’s great.  But the times I’m thinking about kind of go like this…you’re on your way to meet up with some friends, a topic of frustration comes out, a little bickering begins, and before you know it, you’re both pretty agitated.  And then you’ve arrived at your friends house with a full night of socializing ahead.  What will your attitude be towards your spouse that night?  Will you respect him even though you just wanted to punch him?  Will you be kind with your words towards him tonight?  Will you mockingly jab at him with your words?  Or. Can you hit the pause button for a couple hours?  Can you finish the car ride with, “Pause.  We’ll finish this conversation later.  But right now, I want to enjoy this evening with you and our friends.”  Then enjoy your evening!  It may seem like a simple example, but come on, no one enjoys being around a couple all night who obviouosly just wants to throw something at each other. And the part that always gets me, I really don’t want to waste this time we have together.  Sometimes a date night doesn’t start out as planned, do I really want to waste this entire evening by being grumpy and upset?  Or can I hit the pause button, and genuinely enjoy this time I have with my husband?  It’s my choice.

Two, hitting the pause button gives time for God to speak.  This may be the best cause for the pause button.  By choosing to pause, being willing to step away from a conversation and from the emotions that surround it, I’m giving God a time to speak.  In the short time I’ve been conscience of all this, I’ve seen God use this time to speak to both of us.  We step away from our frustration and our own voices, and then God steps in to knock a little sense and wisdom in us.  When we do return to the conversation, we hopefully have a refreshed point of view, our emotions have simmered down a bit, and we can finish the conversation on a high note.

Three, marriage is for life, that’s a long time.  What I really mean by this is that I know conflict will come. I’m human.  My husband is human.  We will have arguments, disagreements, conflict, annoyances, and frustrations.  But I want to put into practice something that keeps those times from consuming us.  It’s humbling and super hard at times to step away from something where you want to be right and you want to have the last word and you’re intent on hashing it out.  But it’s so rewarding to be able to enjoy time together and return to that conversation at a later time.  I’ve wasted a couple days or evenings being annoyed at Grant.  And I hate that every time.  I want to get into a good habit of being able to pause my words, my emotions, and fully enjoy the time at hand.  

I know I’ve heard all of this taught before.  But putting a silly name on it and seeing it come to life in my own relationship is really encouraging.  So I will lovingly refer to it as “the pause button”.  It’s a reminder to enjoy the time I do have with my husband, give time for God to speak into my heart, and not let conflict consume our time together.

Pasta with a Side of Humility

Mids pasta sauce.  Ever heard of it?  Ever tried it?  Well in our household, it’s treated like gold.  We’d say it’s that good.

So Monday my husband, Grant, was starting to work with a new personal trainer and his meal plan consisting of pretty much plain chicken, eggs, and rice would kick in Monday morning.  So Sunday was the day for pasta, bread, cheese, and my new favorite sweet treat, Talenti Gelato.  (Another product that is now a serious splurge item and treated like gold.)

Our Sunday meal was coming together wonderfully.  Fresh parmesan was grated and being sprinkled over artisan bread to be melted and toasted.  Pasta was sitting in it’s bubbling bath, just about to the perfect tenderness.

And the Mids.  There was the Mids.  Simmering in it’s own little pot.

And the timer goes off.  Pasta drained, garlic cheesy bread toasted, salad on the table, water glasses filled.  I dumped the pasta into a beautiful serving bowl. I grabbed the pot of Mids sauce which now included meatballs smothered in the delicious red sauce.  I was thrilled to create a heaping bowl of pasta and sauce and meatballs and serve it with pride!

And then he saw me.  Grant was quickly at my side saying, “What are you doing!?!”

I knew what he was referring to.  He didn’t like his pasta sauce and pasta actually combined in the serving dish, he preferred to do that himself, on his own plate.

With another frustrated “Mmph!” and some muttering of how the sauce all sinks to the bottom he walked away, quite obviously agitated and disgusted that I would dare to combine all of the pasta and all of the sauce at once.

Well.  Normally I would serve it separately and it wouldn’t be a big deal but today I wanted to serve my pasta as that heaping bowl of pasta and sauce and meatballs. So I continued pouring and created that glorious bowl of comfort food, not giving attention to Grant’s disgust.

As we sat down to eat, Grant was still visibly upset by this.  He started to eat lunch with an agitated edge and our dinner guest (my dad!) even commented on this happening, joking that this would be the next blog.  Well dad, you’re right, here it is!
And I write this not to simply poke at Grant for him getting upset over how his pasta is served, but for what happened ten minutes later.

I questioned Grant as to why he was so upset about this and why he let it bug him so much.  And he simply agreed that it was silly and he didn’t have a reason to why he reacted so intensely.  And that was it.  As quickly as he reacted, he admitted his reaction had been silly, and he moved on.

How quick are we to humbly admit when we’ve been out of line?  For me, I respect my husband for being able to quickly say that his reaction wasn’t the right one.  Even in regards to something as meaningless as how the pasta is served.
But if that would be a daily interaction, with no repentance, it would begin to build animosity and hostility.
How then do we expect the delicate issues of life to be handled with grace and gentleness, when we have not even learned to humbly respond and repent in regards to the minor conflicts?

I couldn’t be more thankful for my husbands quick heart to humbly admit a mistake and then move on.  It keeps the air clear.  It keeps communication happening.  It keeps hearts soft towards each other.

So the lesson Grant and the Mids pasta sauce has taught us… Be very aware of your reactions to one another.  Have a humble and repentant heart even in the things you think are minor.  Start getting in the habit of repenting quickly and moving forward in a positive attitude.

And eat Mids pasta sauce, go buy a jar. Talenti Gelato, that too.

A Sabbath Spouse

It was a Monday night and she sat in front of me, her shoulders draped in plastic and as I began coloring her hair with a beautiful bright red hue, we began chatting.  

So what’d you do today?

She responded, I read all day.  

The moment she said that it encouraged me and I knew what she was saying.

She continued on, “It’s kind of like my sabbath day and I try really hard to protect that.”

A sabbath.  What does that mean?  To me it means this: rest, quiet, refocusing on the Lord.  And the words could continue on and on to describe characteristics of what this kind of day or chunk of time can mean…renewal, growth, calm, peace, recharge.  Does any of that sound appealing?  Do we desperately need any of that in the culture of busyness that we’ve created? Yes.

I constantly hear people say how they are so busy, and I say it myself.  We fill our calendars and run ourselves ragged.  Time flies by.  Days go by, weeks go by, and we feel as though we’re just going through the motions.  Sure we may be enjoying the contents of our schedule, but is it really setting us up to flourish?

Over the past four months, I’ve experienced the lows of anxiety, stress, busy schedules, and the tendency to try and handle everything myself.  I knew something had to change in my life or else I was going to break, soon. I immediately requested to cut back to four days a week at work.  I vowed to myself that my day off would be my day.  I would use that day to unwind, refocus, and rest.  It had to become my sabbath day, and I needed to protect that space in my life.  

 
So for me, I needed to cut out even certain things I find enjoyable.  No running errands, no cleaning the house all day, no shopping trips.  I needed a quiet space.  A space where I wasn’t constantly on the move.  A space where I wasn’t completing tasks. 

I’ve begun to fill that space with things that allow my heart and mind to rest and bring me back into a place where the Lord wants me, a place of peace, with a focus on Him.  This is where I will flourish.  Reading, writing, flipping through my favorite magazine, in a quiet house (the dog is not even allowed inside at this time, if you know him, you know the chaos he brings!), after a good breakfast and accompanied by a hot cup of coffee.  

I’m creating a space and time where my heart can focus on the Lord.  I’m open and prepared for him to speak to my heart and once again bring me back to where he wants me, focused on the things He wants me focused on.  No distractions.  No tasks.  This quiet space leads to focus, which leads to growth, which leads to peace, which leads to rest, which allows me to live in a way where I will flourish.

So this writing is supposed to relate somehow to marriage and families right?  I think it’s pretty simple really.  The person I am with a sabbath day engrained in my life, is absolutely a much better spouse than me without a sabbath day.  That’s how it relates.  Find your time for your sabbath. Protect it fiercely. Make it a place and time of rest and quiet, and watch how it effects you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and then carries on into your relationships.  We were created to flourish, not to drag ourselves from day to day, barely above water.  Protect your sabbath. Flourish.

More Than My Love

As a spouse sometimes we allow a mentality to creep in.  It’s the mentality that thinks we can fix our spouse, that we can change them, that we are the source of all motivation, inspiration, and change. I’m reminded this week, that I am not this to my spouse.

On June 9th, just about two weeks ago now, my father in law unexpectedly passed away.  He was only sixty one years old.  He was a close friend to my husband, Grant, and they navigated through life’s ups and downs together, side by side.

Through the grieving process, there are up days and down days.  This morning as I left for work it felt more like a down day.  My heart was sad for husband today as I watched his normally carefree demeanor a little more heavy, a little more weighted down.  I found myself repeatedly telling Grant I loved him, subconsciously hoping that would fix everything and he would feel better.

A few hours into my day, after again professing my love to my husband, it hit me.  My love will not heal his heart.  My love will not comfort him from this deep loss he’s experiencing. My love cannot protect him from pain.  As much as I want to fix this and see his carefree demeanor return, that is not my place and I do not hold that power.

As a wife, I was not placed in Grant’s life to change him, guard him from pain, or fix his human flaws.  This is simply not what I was ever intended to do or to be.  I am not the source for healing.  I am not the source for hope.  I am not the source for supernatural joy.  And I have to release that expectation and burden off of myself.

I am simply an instrument.  I can bring joy, laughter, and happiness into my husband’s life.  But only God has the power and ability to truly comfort his heart in a way that I never could.  That doesn’t mean I stop extending hugs and support.  But it means that I pray all the more that God covers my husband and does supernatural things I could never do.

In my love for my husband, I release him to our Creator, our kind and gentle God who loves Grant more then I ever could and who knows exactly what Grant needs at every moment.  I would release my husband to no other, but I know the God we serve, and I trust Him and His plan for my husband.  Grant and his dad

 

Post by Amy Snyder

A Grace-Filled Spouse

There are so many times my husband blesses me.  He fills my heart with love, laughter, kindness, joy, and encouragement (and often a kick butt workout in the gym).  But some of the most important times, are when he exemplifies grace.  He reminds me often of the high value of a grace-filled spouse.  

Being in relationship with another person, especially a relationship as close as marriage, is awesome, but is also just asking for trouble and conflict.  After all, we are human.  Yes, if you are a christian, God has changed you immensely. Hopefully you are in the process of becoming more and more reflective of Christ’s character.  But the fact of the matter is, we’re still on Earth, we’re still in a sinful world, we’re still human.

And because of that, a grace filled spouse, is crucial.  To have one, and to be one.  

What does a grace filled spouse look like?  To me, it’s this…when I have sinned (specifically against my husband), when I have messed up, I don’t come home to condemnation, anger, frustration, or guilt throwing comments.  I come home to forgiveness.  I come home to patient and gentle words.  I come home to encouragement to continue pursuing Christ.  Nothing fills my heart like these times do. A husband’s response that is slathered in love and grace, so quickly disperses guilt and frustration in my own heart.  What a powerful thing.

So here’s the challenge. Am I a grace filled spouse?  Do I offer that same grace, kindness, and gentleness when my husband most needs it spoken over his heart?  Especially when the offense is against me, what is my response?  Anger, frustration, condemnation? Or gentleness. Mercy. Patience. Kindness.

You see, I cannot control how my spouse responds. I can only choose the measure of grace I extend. God has extended much grace to me.  He extends enough that I can soak up what He’s poured over me, and pass it on to my husband.  This grace, this kindness and gentleness, can not be conjured out of my own human response.  It must come from somewhere much bigger than me, a well much deeper than my own humanness.  That grace, gentleness, love, and patience comes from what I’ve experienced in my relationship with God.  It starts in our relationship with God, and then overflows into our relationship with our spouse.  And then, I become a grace-filled spouse.  The type of spouse my marriage needs to thrive.  Never doubt the power and influence of a grace-filled spouse.  I have surely been blessed with one and am so thankful for him.

Post by Amy Snyder

Lessons From My Laundry Basket

So what has the Lord been teaching me lately about marriage and relationships?  Well, lately, the lesson has been all about a basket of laundry.
Let me back up a little and explain.  I value a clean house, things being put away and organized. (At times to a fault.)  Not so much for vanity reasons, but for whatever reason, God has wired me in such a way that I take great pleasure in knowing our home is kept up with, a place of peace and rest, and a comfortable environment for all to enjoy.  Now mind you, there are many weeks where I don’t give as much time to this as I’d like.  And there are many days where the only clean places in our home are the ones people will see when they walk in.  But to have a fresh, clean, inviting home is wonderful to me, lets me rest, and it’s my prayer that as people walk into our home, they also find peace and rest.
Now.  Back to that basket of laundry.  I’ve allowed myself to get quite irked each time I walk past that laundry basket, especially when my husband also walks past it each day.  And especially  on a day where he has plenty of time to put those clothes away, and I’m at work for the day.
Here’s what the Lord is teaching me…there are things that I value (laundry being put away).  And that does not mean my husband instinctively values the same thing.  And that is okay.  
 
As two people in a marriage, we must learn to value what the other person values.
Not for the sake of the act itself (putting laundry away), but valuing those things because we value our spouse.  For my husband Grant, he is becoming more aware each day of what I value.  And I must make the same effort to discover, appreciate, and value what he values.
If day after day and year after year we look only to our interests and we only value our own values, sadly, our relationships will turn selfish and defensive.  But if on a constant basis, we look to our spouse, we observe, we pay attention to, we ask what is important to them and then we make that important to us, we will be building into our relationship and creating trust and a support system for one another that is deep, true, and selfless.  We must communicate about this with our spouse.  Wake up call: they can not read our mind.
You choose.  Choose today if you will only value your own values, or if you will look beyond yourself and notice your spouse, notice what they are placing value on, even those small “insignificant” things.  Also, choose to show grace as your spouse learns about what you value.  As a good friend put, let “grace be a pause button”.  Before reacting because your husband didn’t put the laundry away, extend grace.  Maybe he didn’t put it away because he doesn’t value that, and he forgot that you do value it.  That’s ok, and it’s all part of the process as we grow together in our marriage.
Post by Amy Snyder