Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Power of Words

There are only 26 letters in the English language. These letters put together can do amazing things! They also have the ability to break a person. The old saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me isn't necessarily true. Ask any child who has ever been told they won't amount to anything or that they are stupid and they can tell you about the emotional scars left by words. Words can lift you up or tear you down. Words can make you feel beautiful or ugly. Words can make or break you.

In elementary school Becky Russell told me I had pointy elbows and trust me when I say it was not a compliment. I am now 37 and I am still very aware of   my pointy elbows. Not one other person in all those years has ever said anything good or bad about my elbows, yet the scars and embarrassment Becky caused me that day in the lunch room has stuck with me for years. If I were to see her today she more than likely would have no idea who I even was.

This weekend I went to the Encounter with my church which is a ladies weekend retreat. One of the speakers said "If the words you have spoken this weekend were to pop up above your head in a little box would they be words that speak life or filled with poison? Such a great analogy! We  all say things we don't mean sometimes or at least I  hope I am not the only one who has spoken in anger before. Do I wish I could say I have been perfect and I have never raised my voice and spoken to my kids or husband with harsh words? Heck yea I do! I am human and I make mistakes. Let's take a look at the power words actually have when we use them.

Words have the power to bring unmeasurable joy! The first time your baby says momma or dada! Need I say more? Such happiness over such tiny words. The first time you hear I love you from your significant other or when they whisper sweet nothings in your ear. The compliments from a friend or even better a stranger! The news of a baby, or that you got the job you wanted, the words "Will you marry me?" All of these bring joy beyond belief!

Words have the power to bring sadness and hurt. Words like cancer, death, and  miscarriage can bring on a crippling  amount of sorrow. The moment when your child says "I don't want to hold your hand anymore" or " please drop me off here so my friends don't see me with you." Phrases like "You did not get accepted" or "you have not been approved". Unimaginable hurt can come from the words "I don't love you anymore", "I hate you", "I want a divorce", or " I have met someone else".

Words can bring on love and confidence. When you hear "I love you! You are awesome!" Things like "I am so proud of you!" "You are beautiful and funny and wonderful!" "I can't wait to see you!" "I have missed your face!" " You are a great mother, friend, person, wife, husband, or child." Words like "I love you no matter what."

Words can bring on anger and self doubt. "You will never amount to anything", You're just like your father/mother and he/she was good for nothing!",  "I wish you were more like your sister/brother", "You must be stupid to not have known that", or  "What's the matter with you!". Words like hate, idiot, loser, ugly, pathetic, stupid, fat, wimp, are just a few of the words people say on a daily basis that can cause everlasting emotional scars.

Words have to power to forgive and be forgiven  by saying " I am sorry" and "please forgive me". Words can teach children to talk and preach the word of God.

I for one am going to be more mindful of the words I say. I want to speak life into my children. I want to speak always in love to my husband. I want my friends, family, children, and spouse to know I adore them. I want my children to be confident that as they fall asleep they are loved and cared for. I want them to never doubt how I feel for them and I want them to never regret anything I have ever said to them. I want my husband to know my love for him runs deep. I want my words to express respect and love to my parents for raising me. I want my words to express gratitude to God for sending his son to die on the cross for me. I want my words to speak like and not poison. What do your words say? What do you want them to say?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fairy Tale Marriages

   Do they really exists? From the days of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty the idea of a Prince coming and sweeping of off our feet has been a magical dream. These stories always end with "And they lived happily ever after..." I think today's versions of a "Fairy Tale" marriage may be a little different.

    In my opinion it is unrealistic to think your marriage will never involve arguments or disagreements. Your marriage will be different from everyone's because  you are marrying your soul mate and you love him/her with every fiber in your body.

    So the question remains do they really exists? Sure they do, but it is not as simple as "and they lived happily ever after". A fairy tale marriage involves first and foremost commitment. The desire to be committed to each other no matter what from day one till death do us part. They also involve being submissive. If women submit to their husbands and the husbands love their wives  as Christ loved the church  as the bible states in Ephesians 5: 22-33 then we will be striving to please each other. Another important aspect of a fairy tale marriage is compromise. Compromising your wants, needs, and desires for your spouses. Fairy tale marriages also have couples who are willing to work hard at it. Marriages are not easy and as humans we have the tendency to be selfish which doesn't work in a marriage. We have probably all heard the expression "rose colored glasses" which simply means you are looking at the world  with a "distorted" view making everything amazing. You look at your spouse  like they are the most amazing, beautiful, sexiest thing you have ever laid eyes on. The 3 D's are a part of this marital equation as well and they are devotion, dedication, and desire. You are devoted to your spouse and only your spouse. You have their back in every situation. They have your dedication to be there through the good times and bad and through sickness and in health. You have the desire to be together and you enjoy each others company. You choose to hang out together in your free time. Last and certainly not least fairy tale marriages involve patience. Patience to deal with the husbands when they have the common cold, yet act like they are dying. Patience for the wives when they are PMSing and cry over everything. Patience to love, learn, and grow old together.

   Love in patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  Fairy Tale Marriages don't just happen they are earned.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Facebook and Marriage

     It's Friday night and your are doing your usual super exciting routine of browsing Facebook. You mindlessly scroll through reading about everyone's day ( the good, the bad, and the boring). " Oh look" you think to yourself  "Jim and Barb are celebrating  15 years today and she loves him more today than the day they got married. Really?? Is that even possible?? Michelle and Jason remind everyone they are going out on their weekly date complete with a ooey, gooey, snuggly picture of the two of them. Caption saying how essential it is to have one on one time if you want  a happy marriage. You continue to scroll and continue to read all the while you don't realize you are setting yourself up for failure. It may not happen the first time, but slowly and surely you start to compare yourself/your marriage to these fairy tale marriages that only exists on Facebook.

     Sure parts of it are true, but so much is left out.  Jim and Barb are in fact celebrating 15 years today and yes Barb is hopelessly in love with Jim, but what she didn't post is last year she and Jim felt they had no other option and were headed for divorce. And yes Michelle and Jason make it a priority to go out each week because they both came from divorced families and they know the devastation it can cause to a child. Social media is awesome and I for one love it and no I do not think you should share every fight you and your spouse have. But I think we as a society need to be mindful of what we post and more importantly what we read.

    Over the years I have personally talked to two women who called to vent ( venting is good for the soul). Both felt their marriages were doomed and headed for divorce. Less than 24 hours after speaking on the phone with these ladies they posted a status saying how in love they were with their husbands and how awesome their spouses were. Instead of happiness I felt sadness because I knew that some other wife was struggling right now in her marriage and she needed someone she could talk to who could support her, pray with her, listen to her, sympathize and understand her. What she found on Facebook was another woman who has the best husband and is so very much in love. I imagine her walking away from her computer feeling lonely, hopeless, sad, and defeated. All of her friends have these "perfect" husbands, and "perfect" marriages, and they are "perfectly" in love. They could never understand what it feels like to be married to  a stranger. To go to bed each night with your spouse with in arms reach, but feeling absolutely alone. They have no idea what you are going through. Social media is a flip book of our lives and we are the author and publishers and  usually only allow the good to be published.

      For me personally  I have been married almost 17 years and we have had our ups and downs. I have wanted a divorce more than that I care to admit, I have loved him more than the day we got married over and over again. We have fought and yelled and kissed and made up. We have gone to bed angry and  we have held grudges for more than a day. We have forgiven and moved on and grown up together. We will do all these over again in the next 17 years and if I am being honest probably in the next 6 months.
We can not compare ourselves to  Jim and Barb or Michelle and Jason ( fake people by the way) for the simple reason we are not them. Imagine going to  the library and all the books had a different family on the cover, but the stories inside were the same. We would never go to the library! God created us all as individuals and our marriages should be our own unique love stories. When you read someone's status update keep in mind that is one sentence in the book of their lives.

What is in your book?

I am a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend and woman. Each of these come with their own emotions and responsibilities. Each with their own stories. Most of us like to talk and share these stories, but do we really tell everything? We all have heard the saying " You can't judge a book by it's cover" well this is especially true of women. We all have our cover photo that represents us; we are smiling, happy, clean, and perfect. Our back cover tells a little about ourselves; how long we have been married, how many kids, hobbies, where we attend church etc. This is what we share the people.....the exterior of our "books". Rarely do we take the time to read/listen to the pages of someone's book. It usually goes like this
"How are you today?
"I am great!" "You?"
" We are doing wonderful! Great to see you! Let's get together soon!!"
"Call me!"
Inside you are screaming "I not great!! I am sad,I am lonely, my marriage is struggling, I need a break, I need advice, I need a friend.'
We as a whole do not take the time to get to the nitty gritty of the book.....our lives. We have all been there and we have all needed that someone we can call and really talk to and know that  they will not judge and they will  listen. Be that someone. If you see a mom struggling with her child go over and offer your help instead of thinking " gosh that child is a brat!! The parent must be doing something wrong. Mine would never......" It is so easy to forget the struggles you once faced yourself when they are behind you. We you say "Let's do lunch!" make the effort to actual go to lunch with them. Take the time to listen and "read the pages" of their books. Pursue friendships and show that person that you care and they are important. It can mean the world to someone. It can change their life.
Each part of us has it's own unique story, but we can all find common ground when we are  honest and share our stories. Do not let your attitude rob  you of one of   God's greatest blessings. Friendship


      So you have decided today is the day!! You are going to lose weight and get healthy! You already have a membership to your local gym that has been going to waste for months or maybe even years like mine had. First week goes by and you are doing awesome! No ice cream after dinner and the water intake has doubled. Weight in day comes and you are envisioning big weight loss numbers!! You step on to see how much your hard work has paid off and the numbers are the EXACT SAME as day one!! Ok Ok no worries you think to yourself I got this and you start week 2. At the end of your second week you step on the scale again only to see the same stinking number as day one. Week's 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are the same. No weight loss. Frustrating right? You want to quit and eat cake right? Well this is exactly what happened to me.
     I have been overweight for 14 years since the birth of my first son and I have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight several times. I have always failed and that my friend can be hard on the self esteem. In June 2012 I changed my goals so instead of being obsessed with losing weight I wanted to be able to run a 5k with my oldest son. If I lost weight great, but if I didn't that would be ok because I knew every day I was off the couch was a step in the right direction. As I mentioned previously I went 7 weeks with no weight loss. I worked out at a minimum of 3 days a week and drastically changed my eating habits ( good bye taco bell drive thru- moment of silence for that.....) and I expected the 40 lbs I needed to lose to get to my goal weight would basically slide right off my body. I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that damaged my thyroid so I knew it would be harder for me to lose weight than your average gal, but now that I was putting the effort in surely it would work!  In those 7 weeks that scale did not move, but I could tell I was getting stronger and that my endurance was increasing. I could also tell that I was in fact getting smaller.
      June 18, 2013 was my one year anniversary of day 1 of couch to 5 k and my scale is only 16 lbs lighter. If I were on a weight loss show I would have been kicked off a long time ago for that tiny number! Those shows are great for motivation and tips, but when we compare ourselves to their drastic numbers it can be very discouraging. Many times I have literally cried to God asking him "why can't I lose this weight!? Why do I have to be the fat twin ( a position no one wants)? Why do I have to work so flipping hard when others are already at their goals in half the time!?? Why is that scale not moving!? " I know that God does not desire to see us unhappy, or unhealthy, or overweight just as we parents do not desire to see our children hurting. I know he has plans for me and maybe that is to help motivate those who are struggling to lose the weight and it is not falling off of them, or maybe it is for me to take this entire year to really make sure I have my act together and I won't fall off the "bandwagon" when things get tough. I know the numbers on my scale do not define me.  I know I have to earn my body and take it one day at a time. I know I am stronger, healthier, more confident, more able to keep up with my children, adding years to my life, setting good examples for my kids, encouraging others, down 2 pants sizes and 10 inches off my waist and I know that I worked so hard for those 16 lbs!! It did not take a day, week, or probably even  a year for your body to get in the shape it is in so it will take some time to get it in the shape you want. If you fail today and give into that cake that is ok just start fresh tomorrow. Don't beat yourself up on the times you fail. Each day is a new day and just as God forgives us each time we fail we have to forgive ourselves each time as well. If you are deciding to start today then I am already so proud of you and your decision! Be proud of yourself!! You are taking that first step which is always the hardest! Be sure to take measurements and do not weigh yourself everyday! Find friends to help keep you on the right track and ones that will not bring you the cake I mentioned. I read a thing once that said "six months from now will you regret not starting today?" Make today the start of your journey and keep pushing forward.

James 1:12
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.