When You Just Don’t Understand Yourself

“Stay open to conversations instead of confrontations.” – Nicki Koziarz

Listening to a session about how to engage millennials in our churches, I was struck by the quote, above, by this wise young speaker. (Ten years younger feels like forever ago young!)

Each word she poured out was filled with exceptional wisdom regarding her generation. I felt, by turns, convicted, encouraged, and hopeful. And, as you can imagine, I’m especially thankful for that last one.

Grace equals hope, for me. Listening to each point made, I realized how many opportunities for connection I’ve passed up. But, mercifully, there is grace. And every time I move toward conversation and away from confrontation, I speak Grace a little more fluently.

That quote, though? Sweet Moses! I was also made fully aware of just how quickly I am prone to launching toward the confrontational aspect of an issue. While the speaker made a special point to encourage us to be wary of doing this on social media, I instantly saw how this behavior could carry over in my relationships.

Has carried over into my relationships.

Ouch.

I recalled words exchanged between Sweetman and myself. During one particular and recent incident, hurt layered over my words in ugly ways. I winced as I remembered details of my portion of our discussion. Leaving the conversation on the floor, and opting instead for confrontation, I felt justified.

At first…

I didn’t give near enough thought to my end game, though. Harmony in the household is not achieved by angry confrontation. We all know this. I know this. And yet, I don’t do this! And this frustrates me.

I feel like Paul.

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15 NLT)

Paul’s admission reminds me that I am human (hate that), and that I’m not the first person to experience this dilemma (love that).

He also rightly points out that we don’t fully understand ourselves.

I think this is the part I keep forgetting. We humans can have all the self-awareness in the world. We can be deeply introspective and highly conscious and widely informed about our foibles and propensities.

But, God…He fully understands us.

And loves us anyway.

What delights me is that He continues to use things, like this speaker’s talk on engaging millennials, to reach into my ignorance and show me better ways. He takes what I am and makes me into something kinder. He shepherds me toward grace when I chase after confrontation.

Oh, thank you Lord!

And, when I’m feeling like I just don’t understand myself, I can rest knowing that God surely does.

Yes indeedy!

You Know When You Can’t Find That One Hair?

If you’ve got hair, (and I’m not judging because, Sweetman… well, he doesn’t) then you will totally know the feeling I’m about to describe.

You’re going about your business and you feel a hair that has clearly sprung loose from your head. It’s somewhere right… over… there. No! Maybe farther down your back, right down… there. NO! Dadgumit! Where is that blasted hair?

You can feel it. It tickles the back of your arm every time you turn slightly left. Or bend down to get the stray cheerio off the floor.

Determined to find it, you start grabbing at the back of your shirt in quick grabby bursts, hoping that you’ll nab it.

And suddenly, you find yourself on an all-out assault on this errant hair.

But, then, you’ve had it! So, you remove your arms from the sleeves of your shirt and turn the thing around so that you can do a full-on search for this dratted hair.

AH! There you are… gotcha!

Except, your darling husband walks in to find you standing in the middle of the room, eyes all wild, with neither of your arms through the sleeve holes in your shirt, irritated as all get out, muttering about a hair.

He looks at you like he doesn’t know whether to snap a picture and Instagram it, or potentially have you committed.

So, you say, “You know when you can’t find that one hair?”

And he calmly says, “No.”

And you realize that you are directing your question to the (nearly) bald-headed love of your life.

This leads to a deep sigh.

From both of you.

Followed, thankfully, by laughter.

And that, my friends, is marriage.

Yes indeedy.

It’s Okay, Try Again

I’d just had a rotten argument with my husband. One of those oh-so-un-Christ-like moments during our discussion, I chose to assume the worst. It went downhill from there.

As I huffed upstairs to cry on my bed, I realized that once again, I had led with my feelings and not my mind.

Or, the truth.

This always, always gets me into trouble.

How about you?

But, I go back to a tender and beautiful and true comment that The Gammy made to me, recently. We were talking about how our mouths can get us into so very much trouble, how human we really are. She wisely pointed out that we are loved by a God that, when we come to him with tear-stained faces, says, “It’s okay. Try again.”

And He says it with the gentleness of a soft breeze.

He means it with Ultimate Authority.

He is the God of grace, after all.

I clung to that as I sat on the bed and cried my little heart out. And, we are resting in that regarding the uncertainty of fractured relationships.

We long for healing. For Love to win out over the hurt. For understanding and grace and joy to creep back in.

We’ll wait as long as it takes.

Because, doesn’t He?

What I Learned in 2014

2014 was a year full of new challenges, grand adventures, goals met, lessons learned, and a whole host of moments where dark chocolate was desperately needed! I’m including my favorite posts from each month. But, I have to tell you – it was not easy to choose which posts to include. In fact, reading through each month sent me running for the tissue box more than a time or four (not to mention the stash of dark chocolate chips I realized I was going to need to keep on hand just to get through the month of June!)

So, grab your favorite cup of something warm (or cold) and join me as I reflect back on 2014.

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In January, I learned that I was one in a million. I also realized how very deeply I love my Dermatologist.

February reminded me that Sweetman is wicked smaht, and that I need to pay better attention during our conversations.

March was the month where I finally pursued a long-held goal of mine to enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. And, although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped, it felt good to give it a go.

And, of course, in April, Dentists became dead to me, as we learned of sweetgirl’s boo-boos on her teeth.

May was where I reflected on the BOOM created by the very different Myers-Briggs personalities in my marriage.

June brought a painful lesson in turning the other cheek, from Sweetboy, and reminded us how Autism can have painful ripple effects for a parent – but that it doesn’t win!

July reminded me that Sweetgirl is always watching, and that Autism can sweeten the interaction between siblings – especially when a yoga ball (or two) is involved.

August is when I finally realized where my mission field is. And, OH, how I yearn to work it well!

September was the month where I learned that I can both set a goal and reach it and set a goal and fail! The women’s triathlon was successful. The goal I set afterwards was not. (There is always 2015!)

In October, I proved that I can indeed get along with Commitment, after all. I accepted the Write 31 Days challenge. Because, Grace, I know Him well.

November was full of masks, casts, and WINS! (P.S. If you need me on January 1st or, LORD WILLING, January 12th, I’ll be parked in front of the television, yelling encouraging my beloved BAMA’s football players to RUN THAT BALL!)

And, December, of 2014, taught me to shop a little earlier for the “classics”, as I reflected on the beauty of the lesson in the The Little Drummer Boy.

Such grace laces my days. I was reminded of that on more than a hundred occasions over this past year. I’m encouraged to keep moving toward new goals, maybe even toward an old one, or two, that got dropped along the way.

Hope sparkles on the horizon for 2015.

I’m praying that it does for you, too.

Yes indeedy!

What were some of your favorite lessons learned in 2014? Please, share them! I’m linking up with the lovely Emily Freeman, over at Chatting At the Sky, for her “What We Learned” link up.

 

Let’s Recap, Shall We

Last week, we were all about this:

Hot_Pink_Cast_MissindeedyBecause, Lord knows there’s not enough drama around here. And, I can now add reason number 237 to my list of “Reasons Why I Detest Trampolines”. All I can say is, thank goodness for Hot Pink Castery. (I’m becoming my own veritable dictionary, aren’t I?)

Thankfully, the weekend was more celebratory!

First, this happened:

masquerade_missindeedyWe attended a fundraiser for our kids’ elementary school. It was nice to get all gussied up, talk to other parents (sans children), and hit the dance floor! (I don’t want to brag, but I do a mean Y.M.C.A.) And, although I had to practice wearing heels (again) for a few minutes a day for the week leading up to it, the night was a huge success.

Then, Saturday, it was all this:

Bama_Movin_MissindeedyThis move up in the AP Rankings made me all sorts of happy, because

SEC_Funny

We ended the weekend on this note:

B_day_MissindeedyAnd, I don’t feel even a little bit older. I will say, we counted up the number of teacups and saucers that my grandparents have faithfully sent The Birthday Flowers in over The Years, and… there are a few decades worth. That can age a person real fast.

In the ebb and flow of life, though, I’m feeling like the tide is pretty high. (You see what I did there? No? It’s a Bama thing.)

Yes indeedy.

Hooked on a Feeling

A study was published, about a decade ago, that intrigued me. It claimed that hugging your partner for 20 seconds significantly lowers your blood pressure and promotes a better stress response.

I’ll speak for myself, here – I. Need. That.

Boatloads.

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I know that I’ve mentioned the whole “hugging thing” before. I guess it’s no secret that I’m a Hugger.  There’s a flip side to that, in my marriage, though. When I’m hurt, angry, or disappointed, I withhold the hugs.

And, it hurts both of us.

I need my oxytocin!

Our marriage needs The Oxytocin!

Before you go worrying that I’ve gone down a bad path, oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in our bodies that lowers stress. It’s also commonly referred to as a “bonding hormone”. It doesn’t take a rocket researcher to figure out that a marriage can use all the bonding support it can get.

Indeed.

Knowing that a little extra hugging does a marriage good, is helpful. It also means that when I withhold the hugs, it’s a double-whammy.

Not to mention the fact that Sweetman and I desperately need the grace that those extra seconds of hugging bring to our feelings. Because, I don’t know about you, but for me?  Feelings don’t always cooperate with monogamy, commitment, or love-as-an-action-word.

And, For The Love, I wish they would!

But grace courses through our veins when we hug it out. We are given the opportunity to press pause on the marital discord. Fueled by proximity and a whole lot of blood pressure lowering oxytocin, our bond is strengthened.

A cord of three strands is not easily broken. But, when it is, an extra long hug will reattach those strands, and firm up the tenuous ones.

Go on, now… give it a try!

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Today is day 30 in the Write 31 Days challenge over here.

One More Day! Wait till you see how hot it gets tomorrow…

Grace Blazes a Trail

I think God likes fireworks.

My marriage can be considered exhibit A.

He knew that putting my Explosive with his Implosive would make for lots of Lively. But, I’ve figured out that what that also means, is that things need to get worked out in a timely manner, or there are going to be some major fireworks up in this house. Or car. Or, wherever it is that we happen to be having a “growth opportunity”, as Lysa TerKeurst calls them.

The noise can be deafening.

But, God also provides the venue for fireworks with my Sweetgirl and Sweetboy. They each have personality traits that work in direct conflict with my bliss. All the live long day, some days. What feels like flat-out warfare on my parenting soul, sometimes comes in the form of my children saying “red” just because I said “blue”.

BOOM!

But wait, there’s more! God also provided me with The Nana and Ahab. I can’t even tell you. Let me try. The Nana thinks she knows what’s best for me. (In her defense, she is often right.) Until I get there, though, I will fight tooth and nail to get my point across. (I also have to remind her, repeatedly, that I’m an adult.) (This doesn’t seem to matter.) (I’m beginning to think it never will with parents.) Ahab and I get into some political discussions that will clear a room. Clear. A. Room! There is a clash of worldview and those opinions blow sky-high.

KABOOM!

And it doesn’t even have to be the fourth of July!

Inevitably, though, Grace whispers “do your best to live at peace with everyone”.

Peace_Romans12_18_Missindeedy

Do your best.

Dang.

It stings when I am confronted with the fact that sometimes it’s me who lays that trail of gunpowder, or fires one across the bow, or lights that match.

That I’m most certainly not doing my best.

But grace blazes a trail of peace as it blows away contentiousness, anger, and indignation. It leaves calm in its wake, with harmony as the goal.

I could take a lesson. Or seventy-seven.

I still believe that God likes fireworks. (Who else would bring James Carville and Mary Matalin together in marriage? I ask you!) But, I also believe that Grace comes quietly and gives us a more beautiful show than any fireworks ever could.

Oh, yes indeedy.

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This post is day 28 of the Write 31 Days challenge. I think I can! I think I can! I think I can…

Twenty-Two Times a Day

In my sidebar over there, where I introduce myself, I tell you that I try to remember that I’m saved by grace, mishap by mishap.  And I do! There are days… Oh, there are days, where it feels like I’m stumbling through a dozen mishaps, one right after the other. And then some.

Anyone else have days like that?

Hours like that?

And, it’s not even Monday?

Sweetman and I are attempting to establish healthier eating patterns around this house. But, there I am, reaching for the candy corn right in front of little eyeballs? At 7:25 in the morning.

I get good at telling the sweetkids to remember to speak about others the way Jesus speaks about us. And then I turn around and utter harsh words about the turtle driving in front of me.

The Twitterverse calls, and I answer. So lost in a sea of favorite-ing and replying that I forget to set an alarm to leave in time for an important doctor’s appointment.

In fact, just this morning, this happened:

And the littles in this house need underwear, for the love!

But then, Grace is faithful to enter into my myriad in-competencies. Softly He enters a momentary mishap and overwhelms it with His kindness, gentleness, and humility. He is waiting to rain down on my mishap mania. And when He does, I am washed clean.

Again.

And again and again.

Like last night. I had some harsh words for Sweetman, venting them from the safety of the kitchen. I know that each one that ejected from my mouth was more rotten than the last. Until, That One grabs a hold of my tongue, and helps me determine, in my heart first, that an apology is needed. Only, as I round the corner, I find that man clickety-clacking away, with his earphones on, never having heard a word of it.

Thank you, Grace.

Whatever mishap I’m mired in at the moment, the daily grace waiting for me is immeasurable. Literally. More than I could ask or imagine! And He provides it all, every time, already knowing that I was going to need it.

While I’d like to think that some of my ridiculousness must shock The God Who Made Me, the reality is that He is never surprised.

There is an indescribable beauty in that truth – that I can’t surprise the God of Grace.

It brings comfort in the midst of all the mishap mayhem.

At least twenty-two times a day.

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This post is day 22 in the Write 31 Days challenge.

Day 22. I don’t want to overstate here, but Y’all! Commitment and I may end up coming to terms. Stay tuned.

Fifteen Years Strong

Sweetman and I have been married for fifteen years.

Can we just stop and take a few moments, please?

I’d like to take one moment to marvel at the fact that this girl, right here, who never thought she’d get married, ever, has settled pretty comfortably into married life with this guy.

Monogamy isn’t something that’s necessarily glorified nowadays, is it? Add Christ into the marriage equation, and most folks find that downright antiquated.

But, here I am – in a marriage that is not only centered on Christ, but that is also thriving.

And I LIKE IT!

I apologize for the yelling letters, but it’s true.

There are surely days that I most definitely do NOT like it, just as there are days that I pretty much love it. I know I’m not alone in that. Some days, we have to apply a thick layer of grace to our interactions. Finances, anyone? And, I’m just going to admit what many of us probably experience – many a married morning starts out with a quick smooch for the day, and that is all that carries us from one to the next. But, just like you would find the average in math, all days considered, I am solidly in the “liking it” camp.

I’d grab another moment just to celebrate and say WOOHOOTY! I mean, as Sweetman always says, that like Thirty Celebrity Years!

Indeed.

And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take one final moment to thank God for yoking me with a man who will bear more than his share of our life’s burdens. Because, he does. Man… does he ever! Grace, modeled right in this house. Almost daily.

The days in and out of a married life aren’t always seamless. We’ve ridden some bumpy roads together, Sweetman and I. But, God, in His desire to see mutual honor and respect in this commitment, has proven faithful to get us through. Together.

I’ve learned a couple of things about staying committed. I’d like to share what works for us, here.

1. Hug once a week. Like, a good long hug. It doesn’t have to be that kind of hug. But, I can assure you, standing in your kitchen after a week of being ships passing in the night, one good 20 second hug will do something pretty great for you both.

2. Have a good fight once in a while. And then make up. I’d like to just remind you that I’m sharing what works for us.  I know there is research out there saying that “strong disagreements” aren’t good for a marriage. But, I’ve looked at plenty more that says the opposite. And, quite frankly, I’ve lived my own stinkin’ study, right here in this house! A good strong disagreement, once in a while, does wonders for the spunk of a marriage. Reminding yourselves, after the making up, how your strengths so nicely dovetail his weaknesses, is a very good thing.

3. Get wise counsel. I’m going to boldly step out and make a statement here that might lose me a few online friends. Your girlfriend that just called off her engagement? No matter how godly she is, that is not the wise counsel you should be seeking about marriage matters. And, men? Your best bro that just signed divorce papers? Nope. Neither is he. That older couple from church that always holds hands, even at 88? Yeah. Them. Find someone who’s been around the block a time or four. Wise counsel knows that those fiery feelings burning a hole in your heart Right This Minute? They’ll pipe down a bit soon enough. And they’ll tell you that.

These few things aren’t going to make a bad marriage good. Nor will they repair deeper heart hurts that require some pastoral care, and maybe a PhD. But, they will help move you in the right direction.

Oh, yes indeedy!

Fifteen_Years_Strong_missindeedy

So, what works for you? Do you have some tried and true marriage tips  that you’d be willing to share here for us?

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This post is day 15 in the Write 31 Days challenge.

Fifteen Years is Better Than 15 Pounds

This guy right here?

anniversary_15_missindeedy

He and I said “I do” fifteen years ago, today.

Oh, yes indeedy!

I might have whispered it, I was so scared witless to be in a dress. With heels. And sequins. Or beadery. Or whatever you call All The Fanciness.

But he heard it.

And I meant it.

And I still do.

Oh Sweetman… you roll with it more than any man should have to.  You bankroll adventures with emotional checks that would bounce in this mental bank.  And you look at me with eyes that are more loving than any I ever could have imagined.

These fifteen years with you have been so much better than the fifteen pounds I’ve also accrued.

Thank you for laughing with me.

And at me.

And for me.

I pray you never grow tired of my antics.

Or my “fawns”. (Bless you, Solomon, for the imagery.)

And I only ask one thing…

Do you wanna do this for about fifty more years?

Because, I do!

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