May 21, 2010

Make Him Number 1

Chapter #4 Make Him Number One

Have you ever ridden on a merry go round? I mean a real old fashioned sit your bum down on the cold steel and spin and spin and spin. I loved it as a child. I loved the riding and spinning and hanging over the side and I even loved the pushing and watching the other children go round and round and the joy and pleasure on their faces and then trying to jump myself up on to enjoy the ride too. I didn't even mind the stopping when someones mom said it was time to go home or someone was sick and wanted to get off. Ah, to be young again.

Do you sometimes feel like your on a merry go round? I mean.... your here... your there, the world is spinning quickly past you, the wind is chasing all your hopes and dreams away, someone is telling you not to hang off the side you might get hurt, someones stepping on you as they try to climb their way on board. You can't make it stop, your going to be sick. Hey, I think I just described my house yesterday :)

Have you ever stood in the middle to the merry go round and looked straight up or straight down? There is something about standing in the middle that is different from hanging off the edge, or jumping on the side, there is a place of calmness, a place where you can't feel the motion (as much) , where you can't be swayed or pulled or moved....If you can stay there :)

Have you ever put your husband as the center of your merry go round? We all live lifes (sorf-of)like a merry go round...the washing, the dishes, the children, the schooling, the cooking, the cleaning. All speeding by us at an alarming pace just to see the next spin coming around the corner. But what is at the center of our merry go round? Where is that middle place that is different... that is calmer and where you can't see those other things flying by? It is our husbands. He is the center of our lives around which all other activities revolve.

In the know that one I am always talking about lately...Are you sick of it yet? :) She mentions a few of those activities that we sometimes put in the center of our merry go rounds. I've done it...have you?

How about Kids? Ever put your kids at the center of your merry go round. There is a sure way to get dizzy :). I love my kids and I often am tempted to put them in the center of my merry go round. But, even though it is my job to nurture and help them to grow they are one of the things on my go round that will pass by....did I mention that it is at an alarming pace? I cherish this place on the merry go round, the place of teaching and working and helping and loving. But this view will all too soon be gone. My children will be pushing their own merry go rounds some day and although I can visit theirs I won't be able to stay too long. If I put them at the center of my merry go round then when they move on all I will have will be an empty merry go round with a hole in the middle. A hole that should have been filled all along. How many times have you heard...the best way to love your children is by loving their father? Read any good marriage book and I promise you'll hear it. Because they all know it is true. The best way to strengthen your home is to strengthen your marriage. My kids are not the center of my husband is.

How about the house? Ever put your house at the center of your merry go round? This is a sure way to get sick :) I love cleaning and organizing and if I'm honest I could spend all day doing it and nothing else but thinking and listening and singing and taking care of my house. But, even though it is my job to have my home neat and tidy and clean and peaceful and calm my merry go round will pass this by too. Some day when I look out from my merry go round the view may show me exactly what I think I want..a quiet, empty, spotless house. But not a home. Not a place where others congregate and where love is spoken...even if it is loud voices. Some day I will spend 15 minutes spinning my way around my house and it will look like I've spent hours, but today is not that day. Today I will spin by a few loads of laundry waiting for tomorrow. Today I will spin by a not-quite-nutritious-enough meal...but it's hot and ready and not from Little Ceasers. BUT what about getting to the center. How will I get there. I will have to run to the center of my merry go round to make sure I said hello as he walks in the door from work. I will have to wait to spin my thoughts into cyber space until he is busy and doesn't need me. I will have to not worry about making sure that this house looks just the way I think it should because the house is a place. A place to come and grow and play and be together. A house is NOT nurturing or playful or giving in any is just a place. A husband is to come and grow and play with and be together and to be the center of it all...of all the growing and playing and togetherness.

How about your appearance, your scrapbook, your novel, your sister, your friend, your mother, money...prestige...sucess? Are those things at the center of your merry go round? I could go on and on and on, but I think you get the point. What do I put at the center of my merry go round that doesn't belong there. Because he does. That place belongs to him. I gave it to him on the day I said, "I Do" I agreed that he could be the center of my merry go round. And so sometimes I have to stop all the spinning and the fun and thrills that I see whirling by me and I must focus on the thing that really matters...him.

Have you ever put your husband number 1 in your life. I mean really sit your bum down on the cold hard truth and give up some things that you thought were really important to you and love him, and love him and love him. I love being a wife. I love the sharing and giving, and blessing and moments that come from giving myself wholly unto my husband....not just when it's convenient, not just when I wanted to stop cleaning anyway, not just when all the kids are out of the house, not just when he wants me too...because he is #1. Ah, to be a wife!

(disclaimer....beware of dizziness while reading this post. You may want to refrain from driving or operating heavy machinery for a few minutes :) )

May 20, 2010

Admire Him

Chapter #3 Admire Him

I love flowers.....I'm not the best gardener, but I enjoy the beauty of those who are. In my limited experience I do know a few things though. A flower needs three things : Water, Sunlight, and Dirt with nutrients in it. If my flower bed could talk mabey it would say things like. " You watered me yesterday, what I really need from you is to be put in the sun." Or "compost, compost, compost...PLEASE I'm dying over here!" Wouldn't it be nice if all the things in our life could just tell us what they need. I think I would bend over backwards to give others the things they asked for.
I love my husband...I'm not the best wife, but I enjoy the friendship of a great man. And in my recent limited experience with being a wife I've learned a few things. There are a few things a man needs (acceptance, appreciation) but the greatest thing he needs from me is Admiration. The need to be admired for his manliness. Is that even a word? It feels like a silly word no matter how I say it or how I spell it. And why does it make me feel silly? Because it makes me feel like a little girl. It makes me feel like a child who is looking up to someone bigger and stronger and taller and grown up and saying WOW, you are a man.

This is admiration ladies.....and we resist it! (We) I resist it because it makes me feel like a little girl...helpless, small, insignificant, out of control, young, becoming. But if I'm honest I am small and weak and helpless and insignificant, out of control, and becoming. I am still a little girl. And my husband is a big, strong, fearless, brave, true MAN. He is a man. And sometimes I am a little girl...and it is okay.

I watch my daughter with her grandpa and she is already showing signs of resisting her girlishness (my fault, I know) My core daughter just gigles and smiles at grandpa when she passes by and he tries to tickle her to say I love you. My older daughter wants to fight and rage and win. She wants the struggle. Because somewhere inside her she is fighting to become a grown up and not a little girl anymoe. I think this change is is necessary. We cannot always be little girls...that would not be fulfilling our purpose. And yet.....and yet, we can be a little girl in our admiration towards our husbands and even in some ways our fathers. In our admiration of all the traits that we are not. In his strength...of body, mind and character. In his dreams for himself, for our family. In his manhood, in his protection, providing and passions.

Helen Andelin in her book Fascinating Womanhood says that admiration is not something a man can get for himself...admiration must be given. I am reminded of the commitment I made when I married this man of give myself unto him. I think of my friends and all that I would do for them...or for that flower I wish to grow so badly and I I doing the same for my husband? Am I giving him the thing he needs...even if he doesn't ask for it? He needs that little girl who lives inside me to say. I love you big strong man. I love that I feel safe in your arms. I love that you make me feel calm just by holding my hand (this is a proven fact by the way). I love that you think of me and try so hard to help me solve all my problems. I love that you do all those hard things that I cannot do because I am weak and simple.

Part of us is to be a silly little girl. Have awe in the greatness of the things he the home he helps to build, in the grass he keeps neat and tidy, in the pinewood derby car he worked so hard on. Have awe in his the grandeos ideas, and the silly ones, in his dreams and in his failures. Have awe in his character...his boldness, his gentlness, his courage, his humility. Have awe in the gifts he bestows upon me...his small acts of kindness that show me each day that he thought of me, that he wanted to ease my burden, that he wanted to be a better husband just to make me happy.

Part of us is to stay like a little child. God's child. Have awe in of the beauty that He created...this beautiful world he built, the mountains he keeps neat and tidy, other flawed people just like me that He is working so hard on. Have awe in His perfect his plan for me for ALL His precious children...even those of us who fail, and fail miserably He has a plan for Me. Have awe in His perfect character....His justice, His mercy, His unfailing ways, His charity. Have awe in His magnificent gifts which He bestows upon us as His children...his small acts of love that show me each day He is still there, that He eases my burdens, that He wants me to find joy and happiness in this life and in the next.

The Lord teaches us to become as a little child. "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:4

Just like I desire that flower to grow to start from the seed and become what it is meant to be. I want my husband to grow. I want him to become that man that he wants to be, and the man that God wants him to be. Sometimes that means I must giggle and smile and snuggle up next to my big strong manly man and say I love that you are so big and strong and handsome and I love your beard for the play, and I love that you picked that big goat up and slapped it down on the stand for me to milk, and that you gave me a heart attack by pretending the last goat had disappeared. I love that you want to tease and poke and say I love you to me in your own special way. I want to be humble as a little child and give you ALL the admiration that you need because I want to give myself unto you, because I want you to grow...Grow...GROW and I want to enjoy the greatness and beauty that is inside of you.

#3 Admire specific....give him what he needs to grow

(disclaimer....I am not a great gardener or wife...anything I say should be planted at the readers own discretion )
This is completely unrelated....and not written well, but I thought that I should mention here something that happened the other day. I was reading this chapter and my youngest brother had been over a lot that week and I realized something about him. He is always working out and taking his shirt off (which I hate) and talking about his muscles and on and on and on...and I discovered something about this young man who is desperately trying to become a man. He wants someone to admire him. He wants to hear: Wow! Look at your muscles. Look at the man you are becoming. You look really good. Geesh your shoulders are so broad ( I feel silly just typing this, by the way ). He NEEDs someone to tell him this. So I did. And, I felt silly. And, my other brothers all teased me and him. And, it is weird to say things like that to your brother. BUT. He loved it. He had a big beaming smile on his face. He felt loved. He felt in that minute like a man. He knew that someone else saw him as the man he is and the man he is trying to become. This is so simple....and yet so hard. Be silly! Be a little girl who loves muscles, and cute bums, and plays with his hair, and snuggle next to know like you used to when you were that little girl. Be that girl in whose eyes he couldn't do anything wrong. And while your at it....maybe you have a brother or a father or a son who is screaming...PLEASE ADMIRE ME. And mabey you think...but I hate that he spends so much time working out, or so much time in front of the mirror, or so much time without his shirt on (UGH), so I don't want to encourage him. But maybe, just maybe if you give him the admiration he needs he will have his plant food and he can grow some more in other ways...and even if he doesn't... that huge grin, or smirk, on their face is worth me.

May 19, 2010

Appreciate Him

Chapter #2 Appreciate Him

Eyes....they are pretty amazing things. I have been reading a book about a blind man and I have been amazed at all the things he points out that our eyes do for us. Yet sometimes they trip us up too. Sometimes our eyes get in the way of the things our hearts really see.

Karen Andelin in her book Fascinating Womanhood tells us:

Learn to see him through new eyes. True love has three eyes.
One eye is dim, dim to his faults
A second eye sees him as the world does
A third eye sees him as no one else sees him and appreciates him as no one else does

She also gives a list of things to appreciate (in case you need a few ideas)
What He Does for You

I made up my own list (pretty much the same)

Virtue: I learned recently that Virtue in it's pure latin form really means to do what you were meant to do...what God wants you to do. What does my husband do that he was meant to do? He provides for our family, He is a great husband and has always put me first in everything. He is a great father to our children in his teaching, his mindfulness, and his patience with them.

We may not SEE that our husband are the men WE think they should be. We may be blind to the generous person he is at work, or to the great athlete he is when he rides his bike, or to the thought he put into that note he wrote to his daughter.

I think when we open our other eyes and become blind in the first one ...I know for me I can see so many things that surprise much virute and strength and willingness, and greatness that is to be found.

Genius: A few years ago Oliver DeMille gave a great talk at a TJED conference about genius. It was brilliant and has stuck with me for a long time...obviously. But I was really struck by it as I read this chapter. My husband is a genius and I don't appreciate it nearly enough.
Why? Because my genius is different from his....and because what my first eye know the one that is supposed to be first eye saw that his genius wasn't what I thought his genius should be. But when I closed that eye and the other two popped open I realized that he is a genius.
We all are...every husband out there is a genius. Because God is a genius and as His children he has given ALL of us some of that....I need to SEE it though... I need to LOOK for it though....and then I MUST appreciate it... HIM.

Duties: One of my hugest flaws is my lack of appreciating the little things. Sometimes my husband is working is tail off to please me and I think well...he's just doing what he is supposed to do.
How many wives complain about this very thing?....I did the dishes, cleaned the house, did like 100 loads of laundry, got my hair cut and had dinner on the table...and no one even the way it's not his job to's YOUR job to notice.
When he comes home on time do I say...I love that you are home on time it is so nice to see you.. When he takes the garbage out on garbage day 15 minutes before the truck rolls down the road do I say Thanks so much for doing that job for me...I completly forgot and I'm so glad you rememberd. When he goes to work every single day and every single week and month and year do I say thank you...thanks for taking such good care of us.

My husband has great virtue, genius and does ALL his duties with a willing heart and I love Him for them. AND I need to tell him and show him and gush over all the great things he does. And when I do...he loves me even more and he becomes even more virtuous and his genius grows and he does more duties with a willing heart.

Eyes: I've decided I have too many. I am hoping that one day I will only have two eyes...the ones that appreciate and see the good that everyone around me is doing every day...and the eye that sees others genius, that sees the potential and the gifts that God has placed there. Because lets be honest I don't really need the other one...EVER. It does not help me to become the person I want to be and it does not help anyone else in their pathway either.

#2 Appreciate...every day, the little things, and the big ones. ..(and CLOSE THAT EYE! :) )

(disclaimer....still not an expert on marriage)

May 18, 2010

Accept Him

Chapter #1
How do I accept my husband?

a. Accept him by: Loving him for the man he is today, right now, without any changes.

I have realized that everyone wants to be loved for who they are...even though we all know that deep down we are flawed. I still want to be loved even though I often fail at being a wife and mother. My husband feels the same way. He wants to be loved with all his flaws and I am happy to say with all his strengths, and when we are honest our husbands strengths often outweigh his flaws.

b. Accept Him by: Understanding that it is NOT my responsibility to make him into the man he is to be.

About a year ago I think I might have been a semi-control freek...mabey :) I thought that if it was to be.... it was up to me. How is that for prideful selfish thinking. Then I learned that the only things I can control are : me, myself, and I. Phew! What a relief.

c. Accept Him by: Giving him His freedom. What does a man really want? As a great man once said (Patrick Henry) Give me liberty or give me death. A man wants to be free. Free to come home and feel free, not burdened with a check list, not given a list of the nights agenda, not commanded to continue working, earning, giving. A man really wants to do these things anyway...he wants to take care of those things that need fixed around the house, he wants to go to his son's scout meeting, he wants to give time to his wife and his children. But HE wants to choose it. He doesn't want it to be forced upon him. (ps. if you don't believe it, try it. Give up your naggin and nettling and lists and see all the things he will do without you even asking... I did and I wouldn't go back! )

So, what Do I do? Learn to appreciate the things that really count about your husband. Does he provide for you family?....that is huge! Does he come home and tell your kids stories about the interesting things that happened at work today? ....that is quality bonding time as they lean in closer not to miss a thing. Does he get up early and stay up late trying to fit everything in and meet your every need and still have a moment for himself...wouldn't trade that for the world. What does he do that you just love and wouldnt want to change? Love that one thing!

What Do i do? Humility and love. I am not a better person than my husband. We are equal. We are two human beings living a glorious and flawed life. We both receive tender mercies from the Lord and we both have trials to endure. We are both blessed. He has many great strengths that I marvel at and thank the Lord for. He has a few...very few...faults and I trust him completely to become who he is to become. I love him for both. I love him for the good and the bad and for the journey which we struggle on together.

What Do I do? My job is to be a secure safe haven where he can relax, be himself and feel secure.....don't all little boys want this too :) A place of complete love and acceptance for who they are...even if it is dirty, muddy, smelly, squishy, silly, and completely unruly (husbands and little boys) they just want to have someone love them despite all the snips and snails and puppy dog tails just because they are worth loving.

And I feel my husband is worth loving. He is worth loving for all the good things he does. For getting up in the middle of the night to fix those darn goats...again! for the sweet backrubs he gives me when the stress is mounting, for listening while I share my huge ( small ) problems, for putting up with all my changing over the years...and then changing again (he really hates change), for being a true friend who loves me with all of my faults and silly girl hopes and dreams. Because he has great character and strength and because he is all that I am not but hope to be one day.

The Lord asks me to accept some things of Him. To love Him, To put nothing else before Him, to Obey Him, to Keep His commandments. What does the Lord ask us to do in our relationships with our husbands. To love him, to put nothing (except the Lord) before him, to obey him, to keep his commands.

And I feel the Lord is worth loving. He is just and true and good and merciful and he blesses my life and my heart every day...when the stress is mounting, while I share my huge (small) problems, while I sin over the years...and then sin again. He is all that I am not, but hope to be some day.

#1 Accept (the end)

(disclaimer...I am not a marriage counselor, I do not have specific advice for individual cases. I believe in principles and truths and try to make my actions conqruent with what I believe is right and wrong. Any with marriage problems should find their own answers or seek help with a qualified conselor or religious leader....I am neither. Just my opinions...enjoy or reject at your leisure :) )

May 7, 2010

The Bow and the Cord

The man and woman are not like a team of horses which pull together equally. They are like a bow and cord.... (Facsinating Womanhood)
From Longfellow's Hiawatha
"As unto the bow the cord is
So unto man is woman
Tho' she bends him, she obeys him
Tho' she draws him, yet she follows,
Useless each without the other"
I am not a bows-man or woman. ....I don't even know that much about bow's and arrows, but I now know that:
I am a cord
I bend him--my beau or bow-- I bend him towards truth, towards love, towards greater vision.
I obey him in all he says, in all he does, and in all he desires of me.
I draw him. I draw him nearer towards me, towards our family, towards God
I follow him wherever he leads, wherever he guides, wherever he dreams.
Useless without each other.
The Bow:
The basic bow is a piece of flexible wood. A husband is a piece of flexible man. A man who wants to be used, wants to be strong, wants to fulfill his purposes.
The wood for the bow would have to be fairly flexible, yet strong. It needs to be strong enough to withstand pressure and strength from outside forces. A man is strong. It is his job to feel the pressure of the world and he has the strength and the ability to withstand it.
Each bow has it's own natural curve of the matter how slight. Be mindful of the curve. Each husband is different, unique and unlike any other. Be mindful of him, of his natural talents and strengths.
The Cord:
The cord is a taut string or rope tied on each end of the bow. A woman who is a true cord has strength of character she is strong and firm and tied to her husband.
The string can be made from many different things, but it may be difficult to find something to use because it need strength. A woman is strong in her convictions in her virtue and in her willingness to be the kind of wife she needs to be.
The string should not be stetchy, the power of the bow comes from the wood, not the string. Her job is to assist, to support, to strengthen his purposes. She gets her power from him. She should not be given to whims, to fancy or to follies. Her role is to assist to use his power wisely and to be aware of it, and grateful for it.
The bow and the cord are connected, combined, tied to each other. But the cord does not desire to be the bow, nor can she. The bow cannot be bent or stretched into the cord. It is not what he is meant to be.
When a bow and a cord work together they create kinetic energy. They create a force that is greater than both of them. They create something bigger than they together are....they create a family.
I am not a bow
I am not to bend.....I am to obey
I am not to draw myself towards something...I am to follow towards something greater
I am to strengthen the connection, to do my part.
I am a cord

Not in a million years

Have you ever done something all the while thinking...there is no way this is going to work!

I have....several times actually. :) But this time I didn't actually go into it thinking that. I went into this new life thinking I want to be a better wife and a better mother....mabey this will help me. I didn't go into this hoping my husband would change or be a better husband. I didn't go into this hoping my children would become better children. My only desire was to find a way to be better myself. To be a better wife, mother, and homemaker.

This new life comes from a book called Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin. And, I love it.

The more amazing thing about it is, that it works. The book says "Do _____ "and you think..there is no way that just by changing my attitude or my actions in this one thing is going to make that much difference in my marriage. Or, even (have you ever thought this one...) there is no way that by "going back" to traditional roles and values that I will be a better wife and mother.

I personally am a recovering feminist...I hate to admit it. There was once a time and place in my life where I didn't want to have children, and where I just wanted a carreer...and I even wanted to pass up others and beat men at their own game. I have since repented and repented and repented. And even though I didn't consider myself a feminist anymore I still found as I have been reading this book that I have a LLLLLOOOONNNGGGG way to go on being a better wife and woman.

I have found that by taking care of my husband physically by cooking him a hot breakfast...or lets be honest sometimes a smoothie and toast....keeping his laundry clean and tidy, and taking care of our home every day so that he doesn't have to worry about those things has given him the freedom to do some of the things that I never thought he would do...but always hoped he two goat milking pens, take care of the sick animals, finish the wood floor that's been waiting for six moths, and so many more things that are too long to list.

I have found that by taking care of my husband emotionally like admiring his manly qualities, his skills and abilities, his achievements and his dreams; accepting him for who he is right now and realizing it is not my job to change him; appreciating him for the kind things he does for me and for our family, for providing for us, for his character, and for his intellect; and making him more important than the children, than the house, than friends, than appearance...(unfortunately I should take a little more time with this one :)) than the internet (okay, I may take too much time with this one :) ) that he feels strengthened and supported in our relationship and he gives back to me emotionally, physically and in kind loving ways.

I have found that by giving my husband back his roles of guide, protector, decision maker, managing the money, and provider that I have peace. I am not worried about money, I am not concerned about our future, I am not worried about becomeing a great leader...these are his jobs not mine...and I truly have given them up, not just a little bit. They are his, no longer mine in any way. I am free not to worry. I am free not to fret about things I do not control anyway. I am free to worry about the things I am in charge of...if you haven't noticed it yet...those are being a wife and mother and he actually enjoys being in charge of his roles as well. It is empowering for both of us.

I have found doing my jobs of being humble and loving, being thrifty, being the homemaker, and the nurturer, the child rearer, the child bearer, cooperating with his ideas and dreams, and making home life more peaceful I have found a great joy that I have never felt before. I have been fulfilled. I have found more peacefulness in my own heart towards others and especially towards my husband and my children.

By the way, I am only on chapter 12 so there is much more that I have to learn. The most surprising thing to me is that by doing the very things that I think are unimportant, useless, or atleast uninfluential I have found the most purpose, joy and blessing in and from.
Cleaning the home, wearing a dress, not shopping, admiring, appreciating and accepting my husband (these are done by actual words and by actions), giving up of my own selfish wants and needs, and too many more things to list, but you can probably figure it out...all those things that we want our husbands to do for us or atleast help us with, these are the very things that have changed my own heart and inturn changed the heart of my husband....
I'll go into this more later....I'll probably go into a lot of it again later...for my own benefit so that I won't forget to keep doing what I know is right and remembering the blessings that come from doing what is mine to do.

So, have you ever said..that will never work, not in a million years!...well, it just might. It just might bring joy and peace and love and caring and exactly what you have always hoped for and wanted in your home. But it may be painful, you may resist it, you may think that you can't do know that ONE thing your still hanging on to :) But if it is your mission to be a better wife and spouce and companion and helpmeet then mabey you might enjoy this journey too. I'd love to have a few more strong willed, independent, beautiful, thoughtful, passionate women take this journey with me.