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?

 

 

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>

 

 

Don’t Judge Me!

To my surprise, after their brief walk over the land behind our house, the three of them returned with their hands filled. As I stood there looking surprised, thinking they were only going for a quick walk with grandma, the kids were excited about their new found treasure.  And my mom was proud to be the pioneer of this unpredicted treasure hunt.

The kids begin to share with me how grandma noticed the tree from afar off. As they got closer, she immediately knew what type of tree it was and did a speedy inspection.  There are no spots or holes on the leaves or the fruit, no white coating or branch dieback, no yellowing or browning of the foliage.  Mom’s findings were confirmed.

Mom had come to a measured decision, a sensible conclusion – a common sense observation – based on the factual findings of the tree.  This was not just a see then say.  It was after an actual assessment, then a judgment was made; the tree was good and the apples were able to be eaten.

It is a sensible conclusion to see an apple tree and expect it to bare apples.

Apple treeUsually, when we think of judgment, we think of a trial or jury; us grudgingly standing before our peers, waiting for a verdict.  Often believing our actions are being weighed on top a conclusion that is based on the opinion of the observer.  We so easily tie judgment to our person, and all the while, missing obvious judgments to things that are straightforward and real-world, every day.

We all are one and the same to the apple tree.  As we go about our everyday lives our actions will be noticed from a far and the words we speak will be evaluated.  As others come close, they will quickly consider what type of ‘tree’ we are and they too will do a speedy inspection to determine the condition of that which we bare.  We all would find it strange to see an apple tree baring kiwi.  Even Jesus the Messiah expected the fig tree to bare figs.  “ And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it.  When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves… ”, 

It is unrealistic to exclaim to others,   “Don’t Judge Me!”  We openly ask those who encounter us to not weigh our actions/words/behaviors.  We often attempt to thwart their common sense observation based on their findings.  But, if we have proclaimed to be an ‘apple tree’, those observing us will undoubtedly expect to see apples.

“Do not make a determination of anyone according to mere appearance, not by their titles, the notoriety they make in the world, or their pretentious show; but make a sure judgment based on the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit displayed through their conscious, conduct and their character.”  John 7:24

Judge Me

Thought to Ponder

What do others conclude when they make sensible observations – based on the factual findings of your “tree”?

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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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>

Tank Life ….

On our second round of pet ownership, we decided a fish aquarium would be the best choice. Taking care of fish would undoubtedly be much easier than taking care of a puppy. There will be no scratches on the door to come in or go out, no daily walks with the infamous plastic bag, no need to remove hair off my favorite rug, and even better – no quarrels of whose turn it is to pick-up the “left behinds” in the back yard.

The trip to the pet store was exciting. Each new occupant of the freshly filled tank was given a name similar to their physical appearance along with being assigned to a family member.  One of the most beautiful fish in the tank received the name Night. Its coat was the deepest, darkest, black and its fins flowed through the water like long flowing locks blowing in the wind. It swam with the grace of an experienced ballerina and could hover in one spot like a star.

black fish 3

Soon we began to notice Night spending most of its time under the artificial greenery and peeking from behind the oxygen tube. We would sometimes tap on the glass in hope of luring Night back into general population. During feeding time, Night would allow the food to slowly float to the bottom of the tank directly in front of the bush before coming out of hiding to quickly grab a morsel to eat.

Little did we know; that Night’s desire to not mingle with the other fish was legitimate. We had no idea the other fish did not take well to the natural beauty Night brought to the tank.  Instead of idol swimming – as I assume all fish spend their time doing – the other fish used their swim time to pick away at Night’s flowing fins. The once stunningly flowing fins, soon became short prickly attachments. A sad eye sore. Night was trapped in an environment that brought continuous bouts of attack. And, what better way to defend itself; than to retreat and hide.

Thought to Ponder

Many of us wonder why our relationships with our husbands are not much of what we expect them to be. We blame our husband as we notice him using his surplus time and energy in activities that seldom include us. He may be hanging out with his friends, spending countless hours in his favorite recliner, refurbishing that old 67 Chevy, or simply watching endless episodes of ESPN. As much as we would like to believe we have nothing in common with the fish in the tank, many of us have taken on the offensive habit of picking at our husband’s fins and making tank life practically unbearable. Yet, we are frustrated and disgruntled – questioning why our husband has retreated behind the artificial greenery?

 Numbers 35:34 ~ “ Do not defile the land where you live ….”

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Ten Things

10 ThingsI’m always amazed by the things life teaches. Often times it’s something someone tried to tell us, share with us, or even warn us about. There may be a book written on it, a documentary advising of it, or even a reality show exploiting it.  Ironically, it seems we find more value in experiencing life’s lessons on our own, rather than making applicable notes of the bloops & blunders of others. I once read a quote, “A smart woman makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise woman finds a smart woman and learns from her how to avoid the mistake altogether.

Time and time again, right when you least expect it, out of nowhere, is a teachable moment. So, here are ten things God has taught me about marriage and my husband.

  • The more thankful I become of the things my husband does well— the less resentful I am of the things he does not.
  • My husband is totally incapable of telepathy! If I don’t tell him directly what I need or want, he will not know.
  • Obsessing over my husband’s weaknesses, will not make them go away.
  • My husband’s past hurts will inevitably show up in his present responses. I am to do my best to recognize them and be gentle toward him.
  • Often, I bask in the lengthy extensions of grace God shows me in my missteps and imperfections; God wants me to extend that same measure of grace toward my husband.
  • The more I respect and affirm my husband, the more vulnerable he is to change.
  • Respecting my husband comes with the position of “Husband”. God did not provide me with any additional qualifiers. ~ Ephesians 5:33 – Wives, respect your husbands.
  • The sooner I die to all the unrealistic expectations of marriage and of my husband, the sooner my husband is able to be free of trying to live up to them.
  • My husband is not responsible to be my ‘everything’. That is why God has given me great girlfriends who have no problem spending an entire Saturday at garage sales.
  • The more I focus on the wife my husband needs and the woman God wants me to be, the flaws of my husband become less and less apparent.

Oh’ and one more thing…..

  • There was never any real need for me to sarcastically tell my husband, “I am not your mother!” …….. He was fully aware of that fact when he married me.

Thought to Ponder

Whenever I get a chance to talk with women, be it at a speaking engagement or during our TimeOut time at the local coffee shop; my message is always to promote a work toward cultivating a tender marriage that starts in the heart and mind of The Wife. No matter the length of your marriage, it is without doubt that God has also taught you a marriage life lesson. Take a minute to think of one. Then share it with us. Your lesson may just be what another wife needs to hear.

With Love,

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