What the heck…National Spouse Day?

View More: http://bradcole.pass.us/carpentercircusYesterday was National Spouse Day. And I missed it. But, I guess it’s a pretty accurate picture of the reality of marriage-at least, it is with ours! Maybe your’s is a little more “put together” and perfect. Lucky ducks! But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. I tend to be a bit of a scatterbrain- just ask my sisters. I am not the best at keeping up with all the National Days, unrecognized holidays, birthdays, etc. I think I’m doing well if I get things done on time. Instead of posting cutesy pics of us together, I posted about needing caffeine, dry shampoo and concealer! Real life, people! Some wives sent sweet texts to their husbands of I Love Yous and kissy face emojis. My sweet love got a text that I finally shaved my legs!

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. Some days, he walks in to an immaculately clean house, content kids and a dolled-up wife that has conquered the world! Some days, he comes home from work to a hot mess of a wife, a house that seems to have had an internal tornado ravage it, and kids that are bickering. Some days are harder than others. And like the best husband ever, he greets me with a kiss and asks, “Do you need a trip to Target?”

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. We don’t always agree on everything. At times, I am ridiculously unreasonable. Yet, he is so patient with me even when he is giving me “the look.” You know, “the look.” The one that conveys all the thoughts going on inside his head- “What is she talking about? Where did this come from? Does she realize that is not even reality? Pretty sure she just invented those statistics. We’re going to have a good laugh over this when she realizes what she has been saying.”

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. I am a starter, but I struggle to finish things. I get on all kinds of whims. I take up new interests all the time. Instead of eye-rolls and “not another crazy idea,” I get words of encouragement. It’s amazing what encouragement does for a person’s soul and for a marriage! He has every right to remind me of all my failed attempts, unfinished projects, or self-inflicted stress to do things perfectly. But he lovingly tells me that I can do it, he is proud of me, he will support me however. And my favorite, “How can I help you?” Some people know exactly what they want to do in life, what their passions are, and every little thing that they are called to do (or at least it seems they do!). But I am convinced God knows exactly what he is doing in this little adventurous spirit when He slowly reveals new ideas, new passions, new things that excite me. You see, I would be too overwhelmed to just know it all and do it all at once. I enjoy the process of discovering the little things that excite me and light up my soul! It’s like a puzzle- tons of random pieces that begin to find their place and reveal the Big Picture of Me.

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. We have committed to doing whatever it takes to make our marriage successful. For us, that means it is not just surviving but thriving. It means we are growing together. It means we love each other more as we learn more about each other over the years. Why do I love him more now that I did when we first got married? Because I have learned so much more about the amazing man he is. He has had many years of proving to me that he is trustworthy, loyal, a man of his word, generous, selfless and, most of all, desires to love me no matter what. This may surprise you, but I’m not always lovable. I’m not always sweet. Sometimes I can be spicy. Sometimes I’m a little tart. Sometimes I might be sour. But we are committed to our marriage and to each other.

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage or perfect spouse. In fact, every marriage is doomed to fail UNLESS you are committed to do the work necessary to make it a success. {Please note, NO condemnation for anyone who has been divorced! The past is the past; learn, grow and plan for a successful future} There are many important factors that contribute to a successful marriage. I find myself always thanking God for a spouse that is committed and loves me, despite my flaws!

But Do I HAVE To?

I really admire those disciplined people who have their Jesus time first thing in the morning. You know, the ones who don’t do anything until they’ve spent time with Him? They wake up, read their Bible, pray THEN they go about their day. I understand the idea behind this routine. It even makes sense to me. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to make myself do it. Some would argue that I lack the discipline to create the habit. Or maybe I just can’t get my act together enough to make it work! Or maybe it’s that my body is naturally attuned to Island Time.

By nature, I am a morning person. I wake up and instantly my brain kicks in. Full conversations start the moment I become awake. Others need an hour to get the process started, 3 cups of coffee and a small jolt of electric shock!

Don’t get me wrong. I believe it’s important to get in some one-on-one time with God. It’s impossible to cultivate a relationship (of any type) without communication. But I will no longer be guilted by well-meaning Christians that early morning routines are “God’s way.” [Those poor, unfortunate, non-morning souls!]

So, here are a few of my thoughts:

1.  Quality, not quantity. There is no point wasting my morning pretending to read my Bible or pray. Is it better to wake up early with the intention of spending time with God, only to fall asleep while praying? Or to get in the daily reading but have no idea what you just read? My husband and I could sit in the same room for hours yet have no connection. However, life is much fuller when we are present and enjoy each other’s company! The point should be to spend time with God, to commune with Him, to get to know Him more.

2. Relationship, not religion. Religion says I have to do certain things in order to be a proper Christian. Relationship makes me want to do things differently. When my heart is connected to God’s heart, amazing things happen! The entire theme of the Bible is to bring mankind back into relationship with a loving Heavenly Father. Religion may know tons of scriptures and all the “rules” we are suppose to follow. And, let’s be honest. Our flesh so badly wants to break rules once we know them! I don’t understand it. There is just something enticing about the forbidden. But out of relationship, I want to make right choices. I want to live up to a higher standard. I want to follow after things of God.

3. Love, not fear. If my relationship with God is founded in love, there is freedom. I make mistakes. Sometimes, they are small and easily remedied. But sometimes they are bigger. What do I do then? I find myself running TO God, not AWAY from Him. Our relationship is founded in His love. I am not afraid of correction because I know He wants what is best for me even more than I do! But if fear controlled my response to God, I would be filled with anxiety. I would want to hide every time I messed up because I am sure He is about to unleash the wrath of God. I would be burdened with guilt any time I fell short of perfection (which is often).

4. Self-awareness. Even though I am a morning person, I am aware of my attention first thing in the morning. If I woke up and immediately went into deep prayer and Bible study, my thoughts would be competing for attention. The To-Do list starts kicking in right away. The random reminders that only seem to pop up when I first wake (seriously, why can’t I remember these things later in the day when I can actually get to them?!?!?!). I am aware that the ONLY way I can give my full attention to God is AFTER I have unloaded aaaaaallllllllllll these thoughts. I love to get up, head into my office and begin a To-Do list. I just unload the random thoughts. I’ve heard it called a Brain Dump and that is exactly what I need to do. Dump all the thoughts, the lists, the things fighting for my attention onto a piece of paper or into my planner. Now I have cleared space in my head. I can give God my undivided attention, which is what He deserves. And, I can sit and BE STILL! There is no restlessness- just peace. I can’t be still on the inside if my mind is racing a million miles an hour. I doubt you can, either.

5. Be intentional. My life phrase this year has been LIVE INTENTIONALLY. It is so easy to go on autopilot through life. We make decisions without much thought. We create a routine that is comfortable, but it doesn’t help us to grow. Last year, God began showing me that I was on a path to just drift through life. It wasn’t a bad path, but it wasn’t His best for me. It felt safe, but it wasn’t exciting. After some soul-searching and many exercises, I realized I was losing one of my core desires- adventure! Saying YES to God will take you on the best adventures in life! The places you see, the people you meet, the lives you impact- it makes an adventurous heart happy! In order to do great things for God, you have to hear Him when He whispers to you. It is the daily, consistent acts of obedience that leads to great adventures. It isn’t a one-time, larger-than-life experience. And, yes, sometimes those acts of obedience mean being woken up at 4am with the urgency to pray. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Maybe I’m doing this all wrong. Maybe I’m not. What I do know is this: I love to spend time in His presence. We talk throughout the day. My spirit yearns to be connect to Him. I love Him, because He first loved me. I trust Him, because I know Him.

Build the relationship. Connect your heart to God’s heart. Learn to say YES!,

Goals- Yay or Nay?

  Every month I have goals that I have to reach, need to reach, and want to reach. A few of my goals for this month are realistic. But I also have crazy, BIG goals that make me laugh and nervous at the same time. I have one so big right now that it scares the crap out of me, yet it is something I believe God placed in my heart.  I need something bigger to live for than the mundane everyday. Some goals are so big that they can’t be accomplished in just one month-they need several months or even years! Some are easy goals I know I can hit with a little bit of work. 

I believe in goals. I have seen too many people, especially women, that drift through life with no focus or sense of purpose. Working towards your goals keeps you moving on the path of life that YOU desire. What do you want your life to look like?

In order to reach your goals, you might have to change. Maybe it will require you to stretch yourself, develop more, grow. That’s not a bad thing! Yet, often in these uncomfortable moments is when people quit. Don’t quit! You can do it!

At the end of each month, I plan out the next month’s goals. Each goal, no matter the size, requires action steps. What steps do you need to take today? This week? This month? This year?

I would love to hear from you! Are you a goal-setter? Do you want to be? How often do you plan out goals? Leave a comment and share with the rest of us!

Wife Class 101: Pull Over, I’m Driving

Desk

I am so glad you made it back for another Wife Class 101! These posts are intended to help you become the best wife to your husband. These are not finite rules, but principles that can help your marriage to flourish. There are some things you don’t understand about marriage until you are married. Many of these are based on requests, what we have learned during 10+ years of doing pre-marital counseling, and our own experiences. Often, these are topics I wish someone had told me. You can read previous classes here.

Early in our marriage, I would get so frustrated when Jeremy would drive in unfamiliar territory. One particular memory was driving around downtown Seattle. He didn’t have a clue where he was going, but he refused to ask for help. The more wrong turns he took, the more frustrated he got. The more frustrated he got, the more frustrated I became. How hard was it to just say he didn’t know where he was going and ask for help? Instead of being a patient wife, I blurted out, “Just pull over. I’m driving!” The irony is that I had no clue where we were or where I was going. But I did know which way was east and that would get us back on the freeway.

Just pull over. I’m driving!

What does this have to do with marriage? I’m glad you asked. Think of your marriage as a car. As wives, it is easy for us to become frustrated when our husbands don’t seem to have a clue where they are going. Maybe we know, maybe we don’t. God placed our husbands as the heads of our households. God placed them in the driver’s seat. It’s a big job! They are responsible for the direction our family goes on the roads of life. If they mess it up, they don’t have to answer to us (although we do a pretty good job of letting them have it!) but they get to answer to God for the decisions they made. Many times we think life would be easier if we were in control. We just want to kick them out of the driver’s seat and take over.

When we were first married, Jeremy was not great at leading our family. It’s ok, he will admit to this. I so badly wanted to take control, but the Holy Spirit kept whispering to me, “Let him try.” Believe me, God and I had MANY conversations about this! Not only did my husband have to learn to lead, but I had to learn to be led. I’m pretty headstrong and independent, so God had His work cut out with us!

Husbands don’t always get it right the first, second or even third time. Maybe some do, God bless your darling little heart. Sometimes our husbands make mistakes. How often do we get everything right on the first try? It is easy to give grace to ourselves yet be harsh on others. Maybe your husband needs to make a mistake in order to learn the right way to do it. Instead of waiting for our husbands to mess up, let’s be praying wives that are asking God to clearly show our husbands the way God wants them to go. This even applies if your husband is not a Christian. I met a lady who loved God with all her heart but her husband wanted nothing to do with Him. This lady chose to honor her husband and still let him lead his household. She never nagged him. She didn’t criticize him when he failed. She loved him, supported him, encouraged him, and PRAYED FOR HIM! She reminded him that she trusted him and believed he would make decisions that were best for their family.

Jeremy has come to me and said, “Babe, I’m sorry. I think I messed this one up. But I talked with God and I believe this is the direction we are to go.” Those words brought comfort and built my trust in him and our relationship. Sometimes I knew he was making a wrong turn. We would talk about the possible decisions (I’m a pro/con list maker) but I would tell him I trusted his judgment and I would let him make the final decision. Then I went back to God about it!

Wives, remember your husbands weren’t taught how to lead you when they were bachelors. Some may get it right away and others may need to learn along the way.This transformation doesn’t happen over night. Time is necessary. And, yes, you still get to have a say in your marriage and life. But if you want your husband to lead, you have to be led. When  you want to jerk the steering wheel away from him, stop, and just sit on your hands.

Be patient. Be loving. Be kind. Be gracious. Trust your husband. Trust God. Believe me, you will enjoy your marriage so much more when you allow your husband to be the husband. You will find a security, a calm, a peace that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

HOMEWORK: If this is an area you are struggling, over the next few days, take a step back and let your husband transform into the leader he wants to be. If this area is strong in your marriage, helps those wives that are struggling. We are all in this together. When marriages win, we all win!

Up next: We All Need Help Sometimes

Live on Purpose

live your life“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” -Steve Jobs

There is so much buzz going around these days about living your own life. It’s a great concept, but how many people truly live their own lives or fulfill their purpose? I first started thinking on this idea when one of my children asked me, “Mom, do you like what you do? Did you always want to do this? If you had asked me this questions 10 years ago, I probably would have said, “No.” Ten years ago, I worked a job that added a great income, but I wasn’t passionate about it. I didn’t love getting up and going to work. In fact, the only thing I loved about my job was vacation! I felt I was living how I was SUPPOSE to live but not how I WANTED to live!

What would happen if you created a life that was fulfilling? What if you woke up every morning with this thought: “God, I am so grateful for another day to pursue the things you have called me to. Thank you for trusting me with this assignment. I get to live a life of purpose- that will impact others, that blesses people, that excites me, that inspires and motivates me to do more and become better. Thank you for placing the right people in my life. Show me the new friends that are waiting to be met. Guide my words and my actions as I go about my day. Thank you for a life of JOY, BLESSING and ABUNDANCE!”

This life doesn’t happen by accident. This life happens by choice. The power of choice is amazing! What excites you? Do you know what God has asked you to do? Have you discovered why you do what you do? Is it full of purpose? Or does it just get you through life? Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT saying quit your job and just “do more of what makes you happy.” That would be foolish. Just because eating cheesecake makes you happy DOES NOT mean you should just keep eating more and more of it!

If helping single moms gets you excited, how often do you do it? Do you even volunteer your time? Did you buy backpacks and school supplies for that family you know is struggling financially?

Sadly, I have met too many people that think in order to do the things that fulfills them they have to find a full-time job doing exactly that thing. What if God blessed you with that well-paying job so you were financially capable of doing those things? But it is also possible that God gifted you with the desire, resources and ability to start a business doing exactly what you love. Have you started it yet? Are you working towards it?

It takes courage to go after those dreams and desires. What holds you back? When I asked my children what they wanted to be when they grow up, the answers are always BIG! Most kids think they can do anything when they are adults. Somehow, as we get older, outside voices tell us we can’t. We hear things like: You can’t actually make a living doing that; No one from our family has ever been able to do that; You’re not talented enough; You’re not smart enough; That’s an impossible dream. Yet, those same people are ok with you helping them achieve their dream!

Most BIG dreams require more than just you. In order to accomplish it, it often requires God, you, and a team of like-minded people. It is important to surround yourself with encouragers and go-getters. It is good to have a solid support system to help you along the way.

I want to challenge you this week:

  • Take time to really reflect on the things you are passionate about. What fulfills you? What has God placed in your heart that is just waiting for you to take action? Be real about those things. Some are big, some might be simple.
  • Remove all negative thoughts and doubts. If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you do? If anything was possible, what would you do?
  • Make a list of baby steps you can take NOW that will move you towards those things. Maybe it means taking a few classes to learn what you need. Maybe it means doing research to find organizations to join that are doing what you want to do. But do something! Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way. It takes one step to get started!

DREAM BIG! LIVE BIG! LIVE ON PURPOSE!