Tweaking … making fine adjustments

Why so Quiet …Shhhhhh, is anybody here?  Peeking around the corners hoping someone will noise the silence. It’s been very, very quiet around here lately.  Not much blogging going on.  This is definitely not due to the lack of thoughts floating around in my head wanting to be put on paper.  But, rather because having the time to write has been a bit patchy, to say the least.  This irregularity is primarily due to a life change – or better categorized, a season change.  As many of you know, I began a much needed sabbatical a few months back.  sabbiticalSabbatical – a period of time, when ministry leaders set aside normal responsibilities for the purpose of rest and renewal.  An all-inclusive release from the routine the ministry requires: physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. 

While on sabbatical (my own personal “TimeOut”) I had every intent to write more.  I was looking forward to all the things we were going to talk about.  I pulled out my scratch pad and was excited as I skimmed through the “TO” discussion list.  Picking and choosing topics the ladies had mentioned in earlier gatherings; they felt needed to be addressed….I was stoked.  Clearly, things did not work out the way I planned.  Yet, time away gave me the chance to shift through my life list of things that are good, verses things that are best.

Taking a“TO” was my chance to think about how I was doing life and if there were any parts of it that needed a little tweaking.

 I found there was much tweaking that needed to be done.

In 2009 my dad was diagnosed with dementia.  caregiverAlthough there had been signs of cognitive change, it was not until 2010, I – was given the gift – of being my dad’s primary care giver.  The idea of being a care giver sounded a little modestly doting at first thought.  After all, my younger years were spent adoring my dad and believing I was his favorite girl.  Today, dad and I spend the majority of our time in conditional care (all of dad’s care is in response to a condition), and we are currently transitioning into a phase I am yet able to label.  Now I know, that being a caregiver is more gallantly heroic than I could have ever expected.  (care giving perspective-tweaked)

With the most recent life changes in a clearer focus, taking a time out with “TimeOut” in 2017 will also look a little different than it had in the past.

logo new font 2Going forward, the “TO” wives only gatherings will focus on a marriage study, lesson, book, audio or video message.  The lesson source will be sent in advance, and the gathering will only be held at the conclusion of and in response to a particular lesson topic.  (“TO”-tweaked)

Also, “TO” hope to incorporate one evening that will include the husband of every woman who attends the wives only gatherings; understanding that no one can do married alone. 

The overall goal is to not only scratch the surface of marriage, but go deeper into the mystery of obtaining a healthy, thriving, God honoring relationship.  (marriages-tweaked)Ring5

Thought to Ponder

Take a time out and read Ephesians 5:22-33. Then tell me, is there any tweaking that needs to be done in your marriage? in your life? in your perspective?

 

 

Prioritizing

I work in an environment that prides itself on self-management, growth and development.  There seems to be a never ending supply of courses, classes, events, seminars and webinars.  All aimed to help every associate move forward in productivity and progress.  A few months back, I attended a Leadership Management seminar.  The objective of the seminar was to aid leaders on how to manage their time, their people, and their projects.

priorities3While attending the seminar, we were given a few principles to apply to our work life that could support us as we manage the countless tasks associated with our positions.  Oddly enough, weeks ago, I began a principle based women’s study on Sabbath rest that enforced some of the very same concepts visited during the seminar.  With the help of both, the seminar and the theological concepts God provided through the release of the Israelites from Egypt <Exodus 1>, I am learning to better work through what is most important to do, and elect to do those things.

 Thought to Ponder: Prioritizing can increase Sabbath time.

The majority of us have a two bucket view.  We have the things we believe to be needs/necessity, then we have the things we perceive to be wants.  Since I have deemed everything I do to be important, and I usually feel that everything really does need to be done, I have now put all my “To Do’s” in one bucket.  Actually,… all our “To Do’s” come with a certain amount of value.  At any moment, every item on our list can fall into the need category, depending on the day or the time.   

With that said, this is what I did to tackle the task of prioritizing my own Life “To Do” list.  But first, you must create a “To Do” bucket.  123

Now, spend some time determining how important each “To Do” is to you.  If you are like me and believe all your items are important, this process may take a while.  * High Items = urgent, required, critical. * Medium Items = required eventually; but can wait till later.  *Low Items = would be nice to have.

After determining the importance of your items, then prayerfully decide which ranking best fit each task. 

*Essential – This item is currently not adequate and must be changed immediately.  

*Conditional – This item can be changed or improved.  However, it does not qualify as inadequate if it is left as is.  

*Optional – This item may or may not be worth the time or the effort.

Even though I am not at all fond of 1-2-3 step answers, I pray this model give you a more clear view of your ever growing “To Do” list.  But remember, even as you work out the details …

 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  <Proverbs 16:9>

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Firm Decision to Do Something

I’ve never been a big celebrator of the New Year.  Not in the traditional sense anyway. The party before midnight was never one that held my attention.  Forcing myself to stay alert, pleasantly socializing without yawning and trying my best not to turn into “Grumpy” was typically my main party focus.  Yet, without delay, by ten o’clock p.m., I would begin to hear the words of the illusionists whispering in my ear, “You’re getting sleeeeeepy”.  All- nighters have never been my strong suite.  But no matter how the year ends, the very next morning is the beginning of anew.  Resolution resolve…..

When I originally began “TimeOut” I can honestly say my focus was not centered on how I could be of help.  Every month I would attend the gatherings with my two closest friends, hoping that by some stretch of the imagination, me getting time away would invigorate me to become more of what God was looking for in a woman, a helper, a wife.  I was sure having time away from the mundane would help me keep myself on track, regroup when necessary, and regain focus if needed.  We have all heard it said time and time again, that every couple needs time apart, right?  Believing that taking a life pause is a welcomed additive to any routine, a short breather is just what every couple needs in order for there to be a healthy balance.  This concept is true in theory.  But, what I soon discovered was; getting time away is nice.  But, by no means does getting away to relax on the beach help me to become a better swimmer.  To become a better swimmer, I need to use my time at the beach, building the skills it would take to enhance my swimming.

Group Swim

Just the same, if I am to become a true woman after God’s own heart, a committed companion to my king who pursued me, a sweet help to the man who holds the responsibility to lead, a wife who “does her husband good and not evil all the days of her life” < Proverbs 31:12>,   I will need to use my time away from my husband as a refresher in building the skills that will enhance my marriage.

Thought to Ponder

As we begin this year with intentional time away, let us firmly embrace the resolution to discover and live out God’s plan for us as Wife.

Next Wives Gathering – January 29, 2016. See you there!! ~ CharMaine

 

Ministry Misconstrued

The weather had finally changed.  It was now cool enough outside to justify having a tall Pumpkin Spice mocha with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles – extra hot.  Each lady entered the coffee shop, placed her order, and then eagerly took a seat.  Cups in hand, greetings and hugs, we all gathered in our usual circle.  But this time, we were without our usual agenda.  Tonight, there would be no diagram at all.  No forethought, no preparation, no planning, just impromptu discussion.  This is our Table Talk.  Anything put on the ‘table’ is open to be talked about.

men shoes

After hearing all the challenges each wife had with the prior months Wives Challenge, we quickly learned that the idea of “ministry” has been slightly misconstrued and somewhat commercialized. For years, ministry has been advertised with slogans, building signs, billboards, websites, and events. There is an excess of posters on the side of buses, stickers on cars, and t-shirts with catchy sayings. We recognize ministry when there are water wells to be dug, shoe boxes to be filled or can goods to be collected. Ministry typically looks familiar when feeding the homeless, visiting the hospital, or helping orphans in a poverty-stricken country. Expectantly, ministry is most easily detected within the church – when teaching a class, singing in the choir, leading praise or preaching from the pulpit.

Sadly, ministry has been tagged with its own invisible measures. The word ministry derived from the word minister. And although ministry has been synonymous with prestige and pious customs, it can – just as easily – be ignored when in its humblest form. Minister is defined as: (a) to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities: (b) to contribute, as to comfort or happiness. Simply put, ministry is from a Greek word meaning ‘to serve’.

 As shared during Table Talk; with lightheartedness and sure conviction, we can all smile inwardly as we grasp our many areas of wife “ministry’.

  • The Shoe Ministry – occurs every time you stumble over your husbands shoes in the middle of the floor and you pick them up to place them back into the closet.
  • The Cooking Ministry – when he (and the kids) is hungry, yet all the food in the freezer is frozen.
  • The Toothpaste Ministry – as you wipe the blobs of paste out of the sink and search the counter for the cap.Toothpaste
  • The Administrator Ministry – when he calls and ask you to do that one thing he could have done before he left the house.
  • The Pantry & Drawer Door Ministry – that you close (again) from the last time your husband retrieved something from it.
  • The Paper Stack Ministry – that you sort and place in the file folders after removing the ten piles your husband left on the dining room table.
  • The Bath Towel Ministry – which you pick-up off the floor as you make your way to the vanity.
  • The Planner Ministry – when you carefully add the month’s events to the family wall calendar and your husband calls you to ask what is the plan is for the day.
  • The Sub Ministry – when your husband was sure he could do it, now you need to do it for him.
  • The Shopping Ministry – when you have to make a special trip to the store for fruit, ‘cause your husband bought two boxes of banana flavored Twinkies.

Thought to ponder:

As a wife, we have been given our own special ministry, with our own special audience. Embrace it.  “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

< Colossians 4:17>

 

 

Next TO Gathering “Words Are Not Enough” ….

It is no surprise to call a customer service line and talk with someone who speaks a language different than your own. What begins as a simple discrepancy of an unknown over charge, can easily turn into forty minutes of ‘going nowhere’.

After nineteen years of marriage, there have been countless conversations between my husband and I that definitely resembled a conversation with customer service. Me thinking we’re talking about the overcharge, while my husband is thinking we’re talking about getting a new device. Before you know it, we have spent forty minutes ‘going nowhere’. The whole idea of interchanging thoughts, opinions or information through speech has brought many marriages to therapy, counseling and/or ruins.

Poor communication has also brought many wives to tears, while walking away feeling totally misunderstood, mistaken and misheard.  (Okay, maybe not many wives – maybe just me.)

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” ~ GBS

 During our next “TimeOut” gathering, we will talk more about Words Are Not Enough.

 We will discuss ……

  • Speaking Correctly – <Ephesians 4:15>
  • Careful Listening – <Proverbs 18:13>
  • Clear Understanding – <Proverbs 24:3>

 Our aim: For us (the wife) to begin to purposefully attune our ears to the words of our own mouth.

 See you Friday – June 26th!

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Intimate Issues

Who would have known, chapter eight of Enhancing Your Marriage would ignite such pertinent offline conversation?    I did……..   Well, at least, I was hoping and praying it would.  I was praying this chapter resonated with our inner most parts. That the truth of it all would engage our hearts to wonder even the more. Wonder about what you ask? Wonder about how it all connects. Wonder how the spiritual and the physical were completely designed by God. Wonder and be amazed by the truth of the Lord being interested in every – yes, every – part of our life.  Wonder about how the intimate part of our relationship with our husbands carries such a weight with our intrinsic desire to be loved and with our husbands’ inherent design to be respected. Wonder where the land mines are waiting and how a wife must be very careful where she treads. Wonder how our past can be a major roadblock to our present responses.  And, wonder how the grip of intimacy has taken on such a casual position in so many books, movies, commercials and marriages: when the Lord deems intimacy as the Ultimate Wedding Gift.

I so enjoyed our talks.  I am glad so many of you could hear the message jumping from the pages of this chapter.  God is still a healer of our intimate issues.

“Healthy intimate response is learned as God’s truth seeps in to the soul and takes root” ~ Judy Rossi

The Prescribed Way …

Fourteen easels, each holding its very own pre stenciled canvas; coupled with a set of painting brushes, a water bowl and a makeshift paint palette that included all the needed colors lying evenly side by side.  The picture to be painted had been predetermined and the instructor stood daintily in the front of the room awaiting our attention. There was only one woman there who attended this type of party before, but the rest of us were readily listening for instructions.

We were instructed to paint one petal at a time. Beginning with the darker color at the base and gradually moving to the edge with a lighter hue. We were shown basic stroke types to help blend the colors that would cause the petals to seem soft. We were coached on where to place the white paint so that the flower would appear to be hit by the sun in just the right spot. We were even told of techniques that would help hide mistakes causing them to appear as an intentional part of the painting. (This was my favorite “how to” since I personally had quite a few slip-ups to hide.)

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I had such a great time. Not one lady in the room held the title of artistes; yet, with the specific detailed assistance, we each sat at our easels with a small sense of possible. It was evident to us all, that if we listen to the tutor and follow the prescribed way, we could claim Leonardo da Vinci before this evening was over. Yet, right there in our mist, there was one. One who tired at the teachers directives, quickly moving ahead, utilizing just enough of the edicts to get the task done.

The instructor was there to help ensure our painting had the possibility of a masterpiece. Without a deliberate path, the evening would end with a room full of completed, kindergarten color-swatch posters. However, with clear guidance, our chances of feat were maximized. With given specifics, we were able to accomplish what would have otherwise been – precise doodle.

Thought to Ponder

We too, start out with the concept of readily listening to the Instructor. But to easily, we tire at the Teacher’s directives and quickly move ahead; missing out on much needed “need-to-knows” in our relationship with our husband.  Thankfully, God has provided each of us with a pre-stenciled canvas, a set of painting brushes, a water bowl and a well-made paint palette that includes all the colors we will ever need. All we must do to make our marriage a masterpiece….. is to “inquire of HIM about how to do it in the prescribed way”. <1Chronicles 15:13>