The Handbook

 

I believe it is high time we all stood up and gave the adults around us a round of applause. Why? Because they’re grown-ups!! And I don’t know about you, but being a grown-up is pretty tough stuff.

In the movie Sabrina, (the new one, with Harrison Ford in it) a fiance who is aware that she is trying to hang onto her betrothed asks him, “do you even know what marriage is?” The nervous man, caught off guard by the question, furrows his eyebrows and concentrates hard on the floor tiles while he slowly answers, “sure! It’s that thing where you hangout a lot and scratch each other’s backs and button each other’s hard to reach buttons.” While humorous as that answer is, how accurate it is in the way we think about being grown-ups when we are younger!

Being a grown-up in my mind as a child meant no school work. It meant being able to drive. There was a certain kind of freedom attached to the word and idea. Being the type-a that I am I was well aware that there would be responsibilities involved with being an adult, but as I approach that stage of life I realize just how little I actually comprehended of those responsibilities.

Once I heard one of my pastors give an illustration of how there was a severe storm in his area. He had experienced a minor surgical procedure earlier that day and was on meds for the pain while scouring the internet about the storm and tolerating his four children running and playing throughout their home. Panicked because of the storm and also a bit out of sorts with his normal calm, cool, and collectedness due to the drugs, he felt overwhelmed by the impending possible danger and was trying desperately to determine what to do to keep his family safe. While this was an illustration used to make his audience laugh at the time, something he pointed out has stayed with me. He said, there is no handbook to being an adult. There is no chapter that says, “When in a severe storm in a 2-story home in Maryland with 4 children, wife, dog and doped on meds.”

My husband and I moved to Rhode Island 3 weeks ago. We moved for a new job to this place where we know no one and have been excitedly anticipating the new adventure. What we did not appropriately anticipate was our vehicles breaking down one after the other for the course of 3 weeks. Our two vehicles are very old but have run fairly smoothly and all the repairs we have done on them have been relatively cheap. Our prayer has been that they would last us another 2 years. Our first day in Rhode Island, after driving from Texas, resulted in one of the vehicles breaking down. Fixed it. 3 days later the same vehicle broke down. Fixed it. 5 days later, same vehicle catches on FIRE while I am driving it.

Did you know that there is no chapter that says, “When the car catches on fire in a place you have never lived before with no friends or family and husband can’t get to you because he rode to work via carpool”?

There is no chapter that says, “How to get a new license in a new state when yours is about to expire but the DMV is only open during the hours you’re at work at your brand new job.”

There is no chapter that says, “How to get a job in a new place when you have a dumb-phone and unreliable vehicles.”

There is no grown-up handbook. Nothing that gives you all the answers. When life throws questions in your face, decisions that MUST be made and you’re all on your own to make them, there are no guidelines. And this is why I think it 100% necessary that we stand up and applaud those people that you consider to be awesome adults! In my feeble 22 year old opinion, my parents have surpassed any synonym of “awesome” that I could come up with. I find it fascinating that they not only kept me alive, but kept me alive, fed, and clothed along with 3 other children at the same time!! Incredible. 

*applause*

I cannot even comprehend the number of tough decisions my parents have made during my lifetime that have caused my life to turn out so great. How did they know what they were doing?!? It amazes me how little we understand about adulthood until we realize we’re entering into it. It amazes me how I can be 22 years old and remember days of playing on the trampoline and running around the backyard with a hose on the swingset as if it were yesterday. I still feel like a 10 year old. I get silly to the point of annoying other people sometimes, I pitch fits when I don’t like things sometimes, and every now and then a good cry is necessary. I want someone to fix the physical and emotional hurts I feel with a kiss and a moment of cuddling, and I want an older authority to tell me the answers to my questions with confidence that they have the right answer, without saying “I don’t know”. 

It’s not the chores that I can’t handle. Those responsibilities I’ve learned. When to wash your sheets, vacuum the floor, do the dishes, put gas in the car etc… (if you don’t have answers to those…just get on pinterest!) It’s the bigger things that I didn’t know existed that I want a handbook for. And yet, people keep growing up and surviving and having babies and keeping them alive. 

When I got married I remember thinking about my feelings. My feeling was that I was 10 years old, not old enough to get married! And yet there I was, on the threshold of matrimony. And I remember the moment when I really began to grasp my mother’s views, thoughts, and feelings. I had no idea what I was doing to get married, move away, and be a grown-up. And that’s when I realized, neither did she. She didn’t know how to handle her daughter doing all of those things or how to handle only having 3 children at home. This was all new to her TOO. And neither one of us had the answers, we both just had to keep moving forward. So far we’ve both made it. But I did know something that she didn’t…I knew she would be splendid. I knew she would make the right choices and know all the right things to say and do because I’d been watching her do it right for 20 years. I’d been watching her be a grown-up for all that time. And in all that time she always seemed to do it right. Little did I know until that time that we were in the same boat. Moving forward, making decisions while holding our breath and praying it was the right one. 

So all you 20-somethings out there! You’d better stand up and give the generation before us an applause and thank them for being grown-ups so that we can have an inkling of how to do it ourselves!

Sincerely,

A Grown-Up in Training

 

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Choose to FEEL Worthy

I do not remember a time in my life when my Dad did not tell me, “they can’t make you feel that way. You choose how you’re going to feel about it.” This statement of wisdom I remember most profoundly in my sophomore year of high school when I had a nasty spat with a couple girlfriends. While emotions, hormones and gossip were flying I went home everyday from volleyball practice feeling rejected, unwanted, and bruised to my core by these girls. And every time the conversation turned to that topic with the whole family my Dad would remind me that nobody can make me feel a certain way. The way I feel is a choice of my own. If somebody says something mean or hurtful, I get to choose to let it pierce me down deep or let it roll of my back.

I believe this is harder for women than for men. Or maybe it’s just certain women and men that I am relating that to. My Dad, being the tough guy Marine that he is doesn’t let things bother him. To this day I watch him run to Lowe’s on a Saturday in his grass-stained jean shorts, work boots and cowboy hat and he could care less who he runs into or what the cashier gal thinks of his outfit. While the outfit may not be the most stylish thing it is a symbol of my Father to me. It is a symbol and a reminder to me that he doesn’t care what others think and will not let their potential thoughts of him affect him or his day.

Now, this does not mean he let’s everything run off his back. Obviously, some things bother him too. But none-the-less, he has always been the encourager in our home that we always have the choice on how we will let others make us feel.

 

This morning during my quiet time, as I was journaling and praying and allowing my thoughts to run freely through my pen on the empty lined paper, I came to a small realization that reminded me of this simple but profound encouragement that my Dad has drilled into me. I’ve been dealing with some feelings of failure these past two weeks. Feelings of failure, primarily as a wife to my sweet husband. At no fault to him, but as an example; on a rare occasion he may say something about the dinner I have prepared, or am about to prepare, he may state that he wishes it were something else or that it won’t fill him up because today he is REALLY hungry, or something along those lines that is completely harmless and suddenly the words have hit my soul and I feel like an utter failure that my meal choice has not completely satisfied and delighted him. And these past two weeks I have been feeling that my meal choices, cooking, housekeeping, financial contribution, conversation etc… have been terribly unsatisfying to him. But that is a lie. He has gently told me that I am crazy to feel that way and that the feelings are entirely un-called for. I know this in my head, but I am still fighting the feelings.

As I journaled about this today I blamed the feelings on him. I noted that it’s things he’s done and said that make me feel this way and I’m just going to have to buck up and learn to get over it. But that simply is untrue and I was wrong to choose to feel that way. The truth of the matter is that I’m allowing these thoughts that I am a failure to creep into my mind and nest there. On top of allowing them in, my attempt to rid myself of them has been mild. I have been trying to push the thoughts aside rather than put them to death. The difference is that if I put them aside, they are welcome to try to come back to me. If I put them to death then I destroy them completely and they are no longer permitted in my mind to control my feelings of worth.

Rather than blame my husband for things he does that I dislike, it is my job to change my attitude and make sure that my thoughts, emotions, and worth are Christ centered. It is my job entirely to make sure that I do not let the enemy’s lies creep into my mind and make a little nest there in the corner somewhere.

My own shortcomings are all over my home. I can see them loud and clear on a daily basis. But it is my choice, through scripture-based prayer, how my failures are going to make me feel and direct my day. And that goes for something my husband does or says that makes those feelings come on me as well.

I believe the concept of “positive thinking” has been misconstrued. If our hearts are focused on God and our heads are focused on scripture then thinking positively is a side effect. It is a result of something being done, not a clench-your-fists-and-just-do-it thing. If I am constantly connecting with God emotionally through prayer and worship and intellectually by hiding His Word in my heart then there will be no room in my mind for lies to nest or feelings of failure to reside within me. I will know my worth as a daughter of the King and nothing will be able to deter me from that constant attitude and knowledge. My daily feelings will be based on the gratitude I have for God sending His Son to save me because despite anything else, HE thought I was worth it. No matter how much I fail in a day, or a week, no matter how emotional I am or how many simple or unhealthy meals I fix, no matter if I don’t finish the to-do list, no matter if I was not the very best I could be that day…HE still thinks I’m worth it. He still thinks I’m beautiful, and lovely. He still desires me.

 

I encourage you to begin memorizing scripture. The only way to kick those lies out of your thoughts is to know the Word of God and be able to fight lies with Truths.

2 Right Brains

My husband and I have been married a year and a half now. Yay! One thing we decided before even exchanging our vows is that continuing to date one another is, and will always be, important. We agreed that, for the time being, we need to strive for a date night every week. By that, we simply meant at least one evening each week where it’s just the two of us, no company and no appointments. Something we also know is important but aren’t very good at is dating outside the home.

We got married while we were both still in school. He had only one semester left to graduate with his bachelor’s and I had 2 semesters to finish up with my associates degree. The first 6 months we lived on a shoe string with a budget that we couldn’t figure out how to do together. We both had our own ideas of what the budget should look like and couldn’t figure out a compromise. Part of this problem was our sporadic income of both of us working for hourly wages at a hodge podge of jobs. But we survived those 6 months in newlywed bliss.

Since then we’ve gotten the budget under control, have our priorities and goals laid out for us and are working together to get where we want to be. All that is well and good, but in the tight months of our still hodge podge of an income our “outside dating” budget often gets swept off the budget first. But I’m not writing this to complain about how we choose not to budget for weekly adventures to the bowling alleys or full-price movie theater tickets and over priced pasta restaurants.

Another funny thing about me and my husband is that we are both right brained thinkers. As most know and understand, we tend to use one side of our brains more than the other. We call these left brain or right brain thinkers. For example, my mother and sister are extremely creative and can dream up possibilities of all shapes and sizes. While I, on the other hand, want to know the details, the to-do list, the steps to get to the dream before I’ll begin to fully comprehend what the big dream is. THAT is the difference between right brain and left brain.

With both of us being primarily right brain thinkers we have realize that we are greatly lacking in creativity in our household. And while we think it would be great to add some creativity to our home, we kind of fear that one day we will have a household full of left brained children that we have no idea what to do with! The perks of this 2 right brains bit is that we work well together. We adore spreadsheets and crossing items off lists and sitting and reading books together. Where this becomes a problem is when the “outside the home date” budget has been swept off the table for a month…or 2 or 3 and we have yet another evening together…at home. After dinner, read a book? Watch a movie? Play a game? Go for a walk? We love all of these things, but after a while it is necessary to do something different.

On Saturday night we found ourselves in this situation once again. The to-do list for the day was done, our right brains were shot, and our left brains seem to be too weak to function when we call on them. So as my husband flopped, face down on the bed, I grabbed a box in our room that says “Josh & Kylee’s Box of Dates.” A clever little idea that someone came up with for my wedding shower. Each guest was to write a creative date idea down and drop it into the box. Cute. But after going through all of the dates Josh said, “I have an idea, how about we spend all night trying to figure out what to do for a date!”

*Sigh*

I appreciate the sweet ideas the ladies closest to me shared on their little slips of paper, and I also appreciate the posts on pinterest that are titled “50 cheap date ideas” or “26 dates at home” but when it comes down to it, about 5% of these are actually do-able. Maybe I’m the one with the problem here. But none-the-less, we still need some spur of the moment, free date ideas.

So this is a shout out to share what we decided to do with other 2 right brained households as well as a plea for your ideas for cheap to free date ideas.

For our Saturday night date I made a deal with Josh. Because we could not come up with a single great idea and neither of us wanted to suggest anything we decided to take turns. I declared dinner to be on his shoulders. You take care of dinner, dishes, whatever, that will be our first activity and then I will choose an activity. We will take turns until we get too tired to continue.

He scrounched up about $15 and called and made a reservation at Macaroni Grill. I haven’t been there in 2 years and had no idea where he had called, so the surprise was delightful. We always drink water and split meals when we go out, thank goodness for amazing bread and olive oil at the Macaroni Grill! With our remaining $2 we stopped by Trader Joe’s for some fabulous $2 wine to take home with us.

My turn!

First, pour the wine! Josh loves a massage but I hate giving them about equally as much as he loves them. So I told him, alternating back massages to a song. We turned on the good ‘ole Frank Sinatra Pandora playlist and took turns giving 2.5 minute back massages to one another.

I opted to take the next activity as well since my first one was short. I found a list of “50 things to ask your spouse on a date” list off of pinterest. As I browsed through it the list looked petty, silly, like things we already knew about one another. But I figured it was worth a try. Over our wine we took turns choosing questions off the list that we both had to answer. Whether it was “What is your favorite color” or “What makes you feel the most fulfilled as a man/woman?” we had a wonderful time being completely honest and laughing over the questions we asked.

It turned out to be a wonderful evening full of honesty, discussion, fun & laughter and quite the workout for the left side of our brains. 😉

I am SO open to additional ideas and suggestions for at home date nights!!

Revolutions NOT Resolutions

I do not make resolutions.

Did you hear me?

I said, I DO NOT make resolutions.

A resolution gives a human being the feeling that the first of a new year means lot’s of good things. It means a changed life. It means that person will be more focused, will be better and do better than they did last year. It means they’ll get angry less, slow down more, stop worrying etc, etc, etc… Upon watching the New York ball drop this year one of our host’s asked someone in the crowd what her new year’s resolution was, her answer, “to make this year better than last year”…..

……really?

That is NOT a resolution. That is a hope. A wish. A fleeting thought.

Now any of my other fellow Type A folks out there are probably thinking, “Not me! I make resolutions but I made S.M.A.R.T. resolutions” which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Well good for you, you Type A-ers! But what are they? And how are you going to achieve them? Are you really RESOLVING to do this thing that you may have written down?

Resolve:

to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something)

This thing that you’ve decided on (whether you’re my Type-A friend or not) have you come to (which implies that you’ve toiled over this thought, you’ve wrestled with it, walked with it, thought about it, and after all of that you have come along with it to this end of the road) a definite (a clearly defined) or earnest decision (in all honesty to yourself and others)? Or have you merely listed a few things you wish would change themselves in this grand new year that will be like no year before it?

Obviously, there are some people who HAVE done this. They do have real resolutions and they actually do make changes in their lives, whether they be made in the first month or they take all year to accomplish. Kudos. It’s the other folks that claim resolutions for themselves that use such a serious word so flippantly that make me one ounce crazier.

I’m not against resolution making. Make resolutions! Wrestle with a topic, walk with it down the road of decision and make the hard choice that you will change or improve something this year. Then, set a plan in place, stay focused, keep the resolution in front of you constantly, and I earnestly hope you succeed!

For myself, I do not make resolutions. I choose to make revolutions. And I make revolutions on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. My husband and I keep a white board in our living room (so it is always in front of us) where we have listed our “Long-term”, “2014”, “Business”, and “Monthly” revolutions we are working towards. And while I prefer to make monthly revolutions I’ll admit that some of those just so happened to begin on January 1st, much to my frustration to start them with the rest of the “resolution” crowd in America.

Some of these revolutions will take me a year, but the key to my year is to begin with the first 30 days.

Here are some of my 2014 Revolutions:

I choose to revolutionize my vocabulary by having a “Word of the Week”

I choose to revolutionize my relationship with my Savior by reading through the entire Bible in the span of 12 months

I choose to revolutionize my handwriting by learning calligraphy this year

This is just a peek at a few of my revolutions. I hope you achieve all that you want to this year. But I also hope that you make lot’s of goals, that you write them down, and that you work towards achieving them every single day and that the accomplishment is as sweet as honey for you.

Good Luck!

What I’ve Learned From Spider-Man

This was the first year in 10 years that my youngest brother was not Spider-Man for halloween. He sadly reported to me the day after halloween, “I didn’t have a Spider-Man costume that fit.” Literally, since he was 4 years old he has been Spider-Man every year. At that ripe young age he was the kid who didn’t take the costume off, ever. It was peeled from him in his sweet slumber so that my Mom could wash it and return it to his body before he awoke. As the youngest, he also had, what our friends now inform us was, a mullet. The baby of the family had long ringlets all the way down his back and Mommy couldn’t bear to cut them yet. So our little Spider-Man with the strawberry blond ringlets is a picture none of us will ever forget.

But this Spider-Man fad (that has lasted over 10 years) was not just about an obsessive 4 year old. It’s amazing what comic book characters can teach you. In fact, until today, I don’t know that I had fully realized it myself.

Spider-Man found himself with something he did not seek out; a skill, a talent, a power. And it was something he did not necessarily want. At times it was a gift and at other times it was a curse. And throughout comic books and movies he battles with it. He uses it as a gift to benefit himself and others. He also uses it as a curse to hurt others. And sometimes, he tries very hard to be rid of it completely. But he can never succeed in that task. It is a part of him. A piece of who he is.

And as it goes, the whole premise of the Amazing Spider-Man hinges on a single sentence.

‘With great power comes great responsibility.”

I recently began attending a women’s Bible study at our church. The first lesson I attended was on Jezebel – a strong-willed, controlling woman; something I can be guilty of myself. But what was realized in this lesson is that I (nor anyone else) do not have to be ‘guilty’ of being strong-willed, or powerful. God gave me these attributes not so that I could spend a lifetime being stripped of them, but so that I could use them effectively under God’s covering and learn when to pipe down and allow God to use them in me. These attributes are gifts from God. But they are responsibilities as well. And as we all know ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ A gift from God, meant for good, is what our enemy will go after, to try and make it into a curse.

In the beginning, God gave Eve as a gift to Adam and satan took that gift and made her into something less than what she was supposed to be.

If God has given me a strong-will, the enemy is going to attack that. He’s going to try to make me go overboard with it so that I’m left believing that it is something negative. With that thought, I will proceed to pray for God’s assistance in ridding myself of this “sin” that is in me. I will then spend my life trying to not use something that God actually gave me to use for His glory.

It is my responsibility to use the gifts I have been given under God’s authority and to redeem them from the negative ways that the enemy has prompted me to use them.

God created each of us for His glory; a gift to Himself per se. And the enemy continually attacks each and every one of us, trying, everyday, to turn us into beings that will curse God rather than bless and glorify Him. It is our responsibility to use our lives, our talents, our personalities, to bless His name and to continue to be a living gift (living sacrifice) for Him.

We return to Spider-Man, who was given something he often deemed as negative, something he tried to be rid of on more than one occasion. Something he cried out against, with a desire to be what he thought he should be as a person. But he often forgot, or refused to realize, that it was a part of him. It was a piece of what made him who he was. His job, his responsibility, was to harness the power, the skill, the talent, the personality, the attribute, and to use it for good. To use it for God’s glory.

God has given you the power to influence others and to be a light for Him in your own unique way. Are you misusing or trying to subdue or hide that power?

Don’t.

Seek God and learn how to harness it.

Responsibly.

What is your gift turned negative? What is your trait the enemy tries to turn into a flaw?

Marriage Messes You Up

After returning to our home from lying poolside for a little over an hour I was admiring my slowly darkening skin and I thought to myself, “I feel so relaxed and refreshed.” It occurred to me, I love lying by the pool in the sunshine and reading. This isn’t a new revelation to me as much as it is something I needed to be reminded of.

Having been home schooled all through my life, I used to love the Pennsylvania months of May and September when all my friends were trapped within the confines of a building only left to admire the sunshine from inside while I was able to don my swimsuit and bask in the sunlight with my school book in hand. During high school this was a regular afternoon routine for me. In college, we got out of school in early May and my schedule was not so full in September that I needed to cut this part of my day out of my routine. For many years I enjoyed this luxury.

This year, I assumed I would have less time to lay beside the pool because of being married and having work and home responsibilities that were greater than when I was in school. I do have more responsibilities now than before, but not so many that the pool had to be cut from my schedule and I have been determined this week to make this relaxing activity a “must achieve” on my to-do list each day.

When it comes to spending time lying by the pool there are a few factors that have caused me to neglect making this a priority this summer. One would be my new responsibilities, and then the other reasons would be silly such as the pool is not right outside my door as it is at my parent’s and I have to share it with other people now. But these are silly reasons. What this whole thing has caused me to recognize today is how marriage kind of messes you up.

Now, for you non-Type-A people out there it may not be such a big deal. But for a routine-setting, schedule-organizing, to-do-list-fanatic, marriage kind of messes with you. Before marriage I did a number of positive things everyday: as stated before I would bask in the sunshine and read a good book, I had a daily quiet time without a time limit, I exercised 5-6 days a week with a program, I completed chores organized by specific days of the week, I had a bedtime that was not broken, I drank over 8 glasses of water each day, I read every day, and low and behold we had a date night set aside every week. Upon getting married, instead of simply incorporating my new, dearly loved husband into MY schedule it all just fell apart instead.

My new husband did not set out to destroy my schedules and routines and to-do lists. He actually, in one sense, married me because he loves my organization and discipline. But when you get married it is not simple fitting another person into YOUR schedule, it is completely re-configuring a brand new schedule that you have never seen before. Back to the drawing board if you will.

As I expressed this to some of my in-laws over dinner in a humorous manner a few nights ago, one of them said, “it takes a year to get back on track.” Why did no one say this to me at the beginning of marriage? Not that this re-configuring has caused any strife or turmoil, but it did cause some discouragement. Numerous times I have felt like a failure because I have not taken care of myself or our household as specifically and daily as I felt I did before marriage. And we are 367 days into our marriage and I am just now beginning to feel as though I am pulling things back together. Workouts, water intake, to-do lists completed, quiet times, poolside sunshine, etc…

For the newly-weds or those soon-to-be brides, take heed; your husband will not purposefully pull you away from the ways you currently take care of yourself, your spiritual life, your disciplined ways. He actually wants you to continue doing all of these things that are good for you and your soul, but he wants to be a part of it and he wants to spend time with you and he wants to do things together. It might take you only a few weeks or months for you two to figure out what things can be done together and what needs to be done apart, but don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. And you won’t be able to do EVERYTHING together, and that will be ok. But take your time figuring out what things go where and which ones will be done together. Prioritize, be patient, and communicate. And it might take a year. And that’s ok.