Monday, October 26, 2009

Elkanah- The “You-should-count-your-blessings” Guy

And Elkanah, her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is you r heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” 1 Sam 1:8

Wow! What is Hannah supposed to say to this? Now not only is she mourning her infertility, but she gets to feel guilty because her husband feels he is inadequate to meet her need. In his defense, Elkanah is trying to get Hannah to acknowledge the blessings of her life (namely himself) which certainly, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. In fact, shining a spotlight on the positive in life is often a great way to help someone going through a tough time gain perspective, but it must be done with tact and grace.

I’ll admit that these are two qualities that I don’t currently own in abundance. I am often looked as a Pollyanna. I consistently spin things around to look from an optimistic perspective. It is often, not well received. But as a blogger buddy, Bud Hennekes, of mine ( says, “If I were flawless I wouldn’t be qualified to write about personal development.” Amen, brother! We are all works in progress; it is only when we begin to realize our flaws that we can truly grow.

Last night, Alexander was diligently working to solve his first Rubik’s Cube. He read somewhere (in the Guinness Book of World Records, I believe) that a person completed the Cube in just under 8 seconds. (How extraordinary is that? It takes me days to get one side!) He spent about an hour working on it when he, exhausted and deflated, said, “I never should have messed it up. I’ll never get this!”

“Really?” I said. “You’ve almost got the red side finished! That’s awesome!”

Turns out, a pep talk was not what he wanted to hear at that moment. He totally melted down. Shoot, just call me Elkanah. Now I’m not saying that I did exactly the same thing. Elkanah took Hannah’s pain and made it about him- that is a whole other chapter. But we were both in essence saying, “It’s wrong to be frustrated about this- count all of your blessings.”

How often do we do this to our friends, loved ones and even to ourselves? Elkanah was telling Hannah, you don’t need a baby, you have me! I was telling Xander you don’t need to be upset, you are making progress! Neither statement meant harm. In fact, both were well-intended, but both hurt and bruised an already wounded spirit. By failing to first acknowledge and affirm the difficulty and pain of the current situation, we failed to support our loved one and really only ended up making them feel worse.

I think that as a human beings created specifically to walk and talk with God, our most significant need in life is to feel we have been heard.

Xander didn’t want my pep talk. He wanted me to listen, to hear and to acknowledge his remorse for doing something that could not now be undone. Hannah didn’t want Elkinah to remind her of the love she had in her life, she simply wanted him to listen, hear and acknowledge the desperation in her soul.

I watched my husband, Charlie, flawlessly model the behavior that I needed to learn I that moment.

“What’s up Xanman?” he asked, quietly.

In the desperate cry that only a seven year old can muster, he said, “I’ve messed the whole thing up and now there’s yellow here and green there. It’s impossible! I’ll never fix it! I should have never started it!”

“I hear ya. It is sad when you can’t fix things right away. I’m sorry that it is harder than you thought it would be. I was always scared to start these myself when I got them. But, there’s no fun in not trying. Right?”

Sniff. Sniff, “Right,” Xander muttered.

“And you do have the red side almost all finished! That’s awesome! Give me a high-five! I am sure you will figure this all out. It will probably take some time.”

“OK,” said Xander. “Hey Dad?”

“Yes, son?”

“You think Google would know how to do this?”

Simply by acknowledging Xander’s problem, and letting him know that he was heard, Charlie completely diffused the situation, and opened Xander up to exploring a possibility other than giving up. Wow! I am a blessed woman! Of course, now I have an incredibly focused seven year old who won’t put down the Rubik’s cube to brush his teeth this morning, but I suppose this is the price you pay for teaching your children that persistence and perseverance pay off. I wonder if Google really does know how to solve a Rubik’s cube…

Friday, October 23, 2009

Company Girl Coffee10/23/09

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones from Karina's Kitchen

I am getting a little bit of a late start on the Company Girl Coffee this welcome to afternoon tea! I am just beside myself with joy, ok, well, honestly...I was beside myself with joy until I just sat down to right this and realized that it is already 2 in the afternoon...ugh!

Anyway, today we had parent/teacher conferences. I want to take a moment to say how blessed I am that my children are able to go to such a wonderful, Christian school and are taught by such a wonderful Christian woman. My children got glowing reports and I was so pleased! Most wonderfully, Mrs G talked about how responsible they were becoming and how they were always fantastic at being lights for Jesus! My babies are so awesome!

I say that kind of in reminder, because they are home from school today and I realized that I am desperately trying to fit them into MY daily routine. This is NOT working. And I am growing increasingly frustrated with the situation (not to mention I forgot to take my hormones this morning, so Lack of Estrogen Rage is starting to set in. ;) So I am desperately reminding myself that they are blessings and that this is a special day, so it is ok to put my schedule, agenda and routine on hold for today. I think instead of the usual house blessing that I do on Fridays, we are going to go shopping for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Yep...that's what we are going to do....Thanks for listening to my ramblings and well, sorry to sip tea and kick you out the door (but here's a beautifully decorated bag of gluten free, vegan strawberry choco chip scones for you!) Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Smiling Socks:

I Love You's From the Dresser Drawer...

This week our Marriage Champions discussion group focused a very heavy topic, you ready?….duh-duh-dun….household responsibilities. And while at first, it may seem like small potatoes in the land of marriage enrichment (I mean we are discussing difficult topics like communication, conflict management and sexual intimacy here), what we discovered is that “neglect of home and family” is second only to “mental cruelty” as a stated reason for divorce. That’s right, household responsibilities are no small potatoes in marriage.

I don’t think that revelation came as a surprise to most of the women in the room. I pray that it didn’t come as a big surprise to most of the men. Get this: it is estimated that 86% of all marital conflicts are over division of labor in the household. 86%! More than money, or disciplining kids, or sex- more arguments are over who is going to do the dishes tonight. I knew it was a big deal, but I was kind of floored by the numbers.

As we were sharing about the common stumbling blocks that interfere with a healthy relationship, there were several that caught my attention. But I think my own personal revelation as I was telling a story about socks really drove home what this whole Marriage Champions thing is all about in a nutshell. It’s about how we show love. I know, deep epiphany, right? But hang with me here.

Early on in our relationship, Charlie and I had a huge fight about laundry. This one was a yelling, screaming hissy fit (for my part anyway). Over socks. Yep, I almost walked right out the door of the home that God had made for me….over socks.

It shouldn’t have been a big deal. Charlie approached me very gently with a pair of socks in his hand. A pair of socks I had carefully smoothed, rolled and folded together with the happy little smiling face shining out at him. He said calmly and sweetly, “Hey, Sweetie, do you think that you could not fold my socks like this? It stretches the cuff and they don’t stay up as well.” To Charlie, this was a reasonable request. He was even helping me out by lightening my load a bit…he certainly didn’t expect the total meltdown that ensued.

“I guess the way I fold socks is not good enough for you! Do you know how long it took me to do that!?” The conversation just went downhill from there. Then I proceeded to dredge up all the other recent discussions on laundry we had had in the last few months. (He and I do it very differently, to this day.) Charlie, for his part, reeling in the shock of my explosion, disengaged. Ugh! Not a good move. Disengaging only fed my anger and we began a vicious feedback loop which only went away after a four hour cool down period.

My point to my ramblings is this. None of that was about socks. It was about love.

You see, my Daddy was a navy man. From the time I was a little girl, I had learned to fold socks with little smiley faces (it's a military thing, I suppose...helped me a lot in the Army). It was how he taught me, and how he liked (and still likes) his socks folded. I don’t know if my mom likes to fold socks that way, I just know that she does. Because it is not about socks…It is about love.

When Charlie rejected the way that I folded socks, in my mind, he wasn’t rejecting the socks…he was rejecting me. My love. My service. My smiley faces. He had no idea, to him, it was just a sock that wouldn’t stay up because the cuff was stretched out. To me, it was an act of love. You see, it wasn’t the tip of the iceberg (doing laundry) that sank the Titanic, it was the huge hunk of ice beneath the surface of the water (my emotional attachment to that task) that ripped the hull in two.

Of course, at the time, neither of us understood that the laundry wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t until we went through the Marriage Enrichment training with NWA Healthy Marriages ( that we were given the tools to identify the real issues behind the seemingly little things that can hurt or build a relationship. Some of you have the opportunity to attend that same training this weekend, October 24, 2009 from 9-4. It is inexpensive ($39) and well worth the investment of time. I have included the link to their website. I invite and encourage you to check it out, you, your spouse and maybe even your socks, will be glad you did!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 10/16/09

Good Morning Ladies! It's been so long and I have missed you all so much! Life has been a whirlwind of activity! The first Strings Attached Retreat was a great success and I learned so much from the ladies that I worked with! Now on to the rest of fall....So here is what I am up to now...please pray that God will be the extra tough superglue that holds all my seams together 'cause wow things are only speeding up!

This weekend marks the last of my downtime until, well until the end of the year really so I am hoping to put on a big pot of chili and rest and relax with my family. Bear with me, this list/schedule is more for my benefit th10/24 an yours, but any commiserating about the craziness hectic-ness that I call my life would be more than welcome :)!

So for the next several weeks I am still leading a Marriage Champions class on Sunday evenings. I love the group of couples and the opportunity to help strengthen marriages in our church, but I have been rewriting the manual each week and that takes a lot of bandwidth. (More than I had bargained for really). I have a marriage conference I am helping with next weekend, a retreat to plan for my home church, a fall festival to attend, two banquets and four volleyball games (that's all next week). My husband and I are leaving for Mexico Oct 31 for a week...I need to plan meals for my son (he has a severe allergic disorder and it is much easier to provide meals than for his caregiver to worry about them the whole week), as soon as I return I speak at a youth leadership conference, a ladies retreat and then travel for the next two weekends! WOOSH! I am tired already!

And guess what? I decided to table the book I am currently working on for a project I feel is more imminent. SO, I need your help to make that happen! Here's the idea:

I am writing a book about how women can help each other through difficult times in healthy ways (non-codependent ways). I realize that my Company Girls probably have some wonderful stories to share that show/tell how you were lifted up and supported through a tough time by your girlfriends. I would love to hear them and possibly share them in my book (which would in turn be your book, too.) In the spirit of the Strings Attached Village, let's write a book together, combining our stories and experiences with good and bad forms of support through difficult times. If you are interested in learning more and contributing, please email me at and I will send you more info including parameters and style and the like.

Happy Coffee Day! Thanks for listening! I can't wait to see what you all are doing this week!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 be home again...

Hello Blogosphere! Anyone still out there?

I apologize for my prolonged absence from you and purpose to do much better in the next few days. I have experienced so much in the last 3 weeks that I am not sure where to start it all. Know this...the next few days will be full of posts. I have so much stuff running around in my head that I can't help but write, and I promise to share these thoughts and insights with you. But for now, I am going to take a shower and start some laundry (there are piles 11 days * 4 people *3000 miles= Mount Washmore)...I will be back with stories soon....I promise!