“I Do” and I’m glad I Did!!!

Forty-one years ago, on September 2, I married my high school sweetheart and best friend, Terry Carlson.  We dated for five years and couldn’t wait to begin our life together as husband and wife. Terry was 20 and I was 19 years old…but we were both very mature…haha!

Planning the wedding was a blast!   I really didn’t know what style I liked or what colors I wanted so I picked out the first material I saw at the fabric store and my mother-in-law sewed most of the bridesmaid’s dresses.  Back then there were no smart phones or a computers but with pen and paper I checked off each item on the list of all that needed to get done before our big day

*Order wedding cake from Scandia Bakery.               *Ask my cousin, Kathy and our friend, Mich to sing.
*Ask our high school English teacher to play the organ.
*Order wedding invites.
*Order flowers.
*Ask friends to be bridesmaids and groomsmen.
*Ask my nephews and nieces to be flower girl,   ringbearer, Jr. bridesmaid and Jr. groomsmen.
*Buy wedding dress.
*Reserve church and Son’s of Norway for reception.
*Choose songs to be sung during ceremony.
*Find photographer.

Everything checked off and our day finally arrived!  As I waited anxiously in the cry room, guests took their seats in the nearby sanctuary.  Organ music softly  played through the walls of the cry room.  This was the moment Terry and I had dreamed about, talked about, planned for and saved for.

The music paused and I heard Mich and Kathy begin to sing our song, Baby, by John Denver.  I was overcome with emotion and began to cry.  We changed a few of the words to make it a wedding song.  The lyrics of the chorus goes like this:

“And the wind will whisper your name to me
Little birds will sing along in time
Leaves will bow down when you walk by
And morning bells will chime.”

We changed morning bells to wedding bells will chime. ( I know…the lyrics seem cheesy today but 41 years ago  it was romantic.)

You can hear the orginal song if you click here:

https://www.bing.com/search?q=john+denver+song+baby&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=e15f1b8bd5504d78b8de78042b100dc8&refig=f51aa0cb61994ff7e47a98afa63fa6d3&cc=US&setlang=en-US

I could not stop crying. I didn’t wear any make up, and it’s a good thing because it would have all come off.  I’m not saying a few tears were shed…I’m saying I was full on UGLY, cannot stop, crying.

After all my bridesmaids arrived at the altar, I anxiously took my Dad’s arm.  The “old traditional”, Here Comes The Bride began and all the guests stood.  I tried to quit crying but, oh no, there was no stopping it.  Terry took my trembling hands as we stood in front of the pastor.  He repeated his vows and then it was my turn…I could barely breathe.  I began to repeat my vows, took a breath which burst into a loud snort!! Our ringbearer and flower girl began to cry…Years later I found out they cried because they thought weddings were sad.  Several guests were in tears, too. We made heartfelt vows of “I Do” before God for better or worse, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health…til death us do part.  And we lived happily ever after….ha ha!!!

Terry and I didn’t know Jesus personally when we got married but He knew us!!! God’s Hand was on us. He knew the plans He had for us and we would accept His gift of grace and salvation five years later by acknowledging our need for Him and proclaim Him as Lord and Savior.

Have we lived “happily ever after”?  Some days…sure. But honestly, no, not really. Would I marry Terry all over again?….YES, YES, YES!!!  But in real life we walked through seasons of good and bad. Seasons of great times and seasons of hard times and losses. I used to think love was a feeling and if you lose that feeling…uh oh.  Love is oh, soooo much more than that.

I’m so thankful to God for Terry.  Is he a perfect husband?  Uh…noooo!  But he’s the perfect husband for me.  Does he ever irritate me…Uh, yessss!  Does he have some habits that truly annoy me…Oh yeah!!  Oh, please quit fidgeting and flush the toilet even when it’s just yellow!!!!

We are experts at pushing each other’s hot buttons. Some days we don’t like each other at all.  We are two imperfect persons God continues to change and grow and love on…not sure we will ever reach perfection… haha!  One verse God keeps bringing to mind when I feel like being snitty…“A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1.  It actually works, if I choose to apply it.

Looking back, 41 years ago!!  Wow!!!  We didn’t even know the meaning of love, but we humbly continue to learn from God through the Bible how to love, honor, trust, respect and stay committed to each other even when times aren’t great.

The Lord has allowed very tough things to come our way in our forty-one years of marriage.  As John Denver’s song said, I’ll walk in the rain by your side.  Boy, that was more than prophetic. We lost our family home and most of our possessions in the flood of 1990.  We tore the remains of our home down to the studs and began to rebuild.  For thirteen months our family weathered that storm together and faithfully walked in the rain by each other’s side.  We made a flood video of the year documenting the faith filled journey God took us on. We laugh now at the end of that video when we all decided to celebrate by rapping a grand finale song.

Terry and I were blessed with three beautiful children:  Katie, Jaymi and Michael.  Terry walked by my side in the season of being a mother of preschoolers.  I thought everything would come naturally to me, but it didn’t.  By God’s grace, through His Word in church, Bible study and MOPS, He blessed us as parents. Now we enjoy our ten grandchildren and are very excited to meet #11 this February.

Through years of chronic illness and chronic pain, Terry has been by my side. He’s been my tour guide on many expensive, painful dental vacations…we both would have preferred Hawaii or the Bahamas. He has loved me through:

*Eleven painful root canals.                                 *Mercury toxicity.                                                        *Chronic fatigue syndrome.                                       *Eleven teeth extracted because of the root canals. *Years of horrific tmj pain.                                      *Kidney infections.                                                     *Chronic neck pain.                                                               *All teeth extracted.                                                  *Adrenal fatigue.                                                  *Depression.                                                                *Surgeries for bone grafts and dental implants.

Through it all, Terry is still loving me despite me having no teeth, failing bone grafts, failing implants and another bout with heavy metal toxicity. I look like Grandma Pitypoo, but Terry sees my beauty. (I think his eyes must be going bad!) I know his hearing is…we play Scrabble quite often with each other and we each drew our letters to see who goes first.

Terry got up and told me, “I got the letter C and I have to go pee.”

I drew my letter and yelled to him, ” I got the letter T.”

He said,”What?”

I repeated loudly, “I got the letter T!”

His response was, “Well use the other bathroom then.”

He has hearing aids but doesn’t wear them around me…hmmm!

I once told Terry he should have looked into my mouth before he married me. He may have changed his mind when he saw my teeth. He said, “You never look a gift horse in the mouth…and you are a gift to me.” AWWW!! So Sweet!!!

I’ve walked by his side through:                               *Many painful job transitions.                                 *Two kidney stones.                                                           *A heart surgery, stroke, and a botched stent surgery.

But, by God’s grace, today we love each other even more and remain best friends. He will finish my sentences before I do. I will finish his thoughts before he speaks them. I couldn’t have picked a better Daddy for our kids. I wouldn’t want to be an Ama/Grandma with anyone else…what a joy it is to enjoy grandchildren together. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through or grow through life with anyone else by my side, than you, Terry.  I love you!!!  Happy 41st Anniversary to you!! And I thank you Jesus for giving us the strength and power to walk through each storm you permit in our lives. We could not do it without you!!! I pray you will bless us with many more years together!!!

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Communication Is The Key To Prevent Your Marriage Train From Derailing

 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy driving for Lyft and Uber.  I enjoy the freedom of scheduling my own hours, listening to music and sports radio all day long (without driving Karen crazy) and talking with my rider’s.  Being able to hear and understand some of my customers though was difficult at times because I’m completely deaf in my right ear.  Karen may call my disability, “Selective Hearing Disorder” but I really have a hard time hearing people who talk to me from the right of me, especially in the car.  All the road noise will pummel my good left ear while drowning out the words spoken by anyone in the passenger seat.

I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy hearing aids.  They aren’t normal hearing aids though.  Sound coming from my right side is captured by a transmitter in my right ear and transmitted over to a hearing aid in my left ear by a wireless signal.  Hallelujah, the deaf can hear…at least that’s what I thought until this morning.

Most mornings, Karen and I have been getting up at 7:00 to go swimming in our community pool before I take off driving for Uber and Lyft.  This morning I woke up a little before seven.  Karen was sound asleep so I decided to let her rest while I powered up the computer, opened up EveryDollar (our monthly budgeting tool) https://www.everydollar.com/ and did some much needed tweaking.

Karen joined me at the computer around 8:30.  She was disappointed I hadn’t woken her at seven to go swimming.  She asked what I had been doing so I told her I was working on our budget.  The following is the short version of the conversation that ensued.

DISCLAIMER…The following conversation is presented to only state the facts, not as a vehicle to pass judgement or take sides.

Terry:  I was working on EveryDollar.

Karen:  When are you planning on actually doing it?

SIDE NOTE:  I had actually began EveryDollar in February but temporarily stopped in May because of all the craziness from the move to our new home.  I had told Karen numerous times I would resume the budget beginning June 1st.

Terry:  I’ve told you numerous times I’d start June 1st.

Karen:  I don’t remember you telling me that.

Terry, while vigorously scratching his head in frustration:  I’ve told you at least five times.

Karen:  When I’m in this much pain from my neck you know I don’t retain things.

Terry:  You seem very irritable this morning.

Karen:  It’s not just the pain I’m trying to deal with today.  Yesterday was four years since Mom died, I’m adjusting to living here without a car and….

Terry:  What does that have to do with EveryDollar?

Karen answers with tears welling up in her eyes:  Sometimes you need hearing aids for your heart instead of your ears.

Our marriage is like a powerful train chugging down tracks laid by our communication to each other.  Once in a while, like this morning, those tracks we lay are full of defects and our train derails.  When that happens, we both have to dig deep into our tool chests to begin repairing the damage done to our relationship.

What tools do you ask?  That’s a good question.  Let me tell you.  Our tool chest is the Bible and every tool needed to repair a damaged relationship can be found inside.

1.   The first tool is actually a lubricant for the prevention of a breakdown and is found in Ephesians 4:29.  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.”

2.   The second tool is listening.  We don’t listen when we concentrate on a snarky rebuttal or interrupt.  Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame.”

3.   The next tool is to share a response which is sincere and proper.  I may have heard what Karen said, but my heart had tuned her out.  I ignored the advice of Galatians 6:2.  “Share in each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”  Romans 12:15 gives further insight.  “Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.”

4.    The final tool is a sincere apology.  James 5:16 says to, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  And don’t wait to make amends.  “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:26-27

So the next time your marriage train begins to wobble on poorly laid tracks of communication, grab your Bible and take out these tools before your locomotive derails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IF YOU ARE THE KING OF PEOPLE PLEASERS, YOUR QUEEN IS AVOIDANCE.

LOVE MEDSC_0893I have a secret.  I don’t want to share it for fear of being judged.  Why do I fear being judged?  Because I have a behavioral dysfunction; I am a people pleaser.  I want people to like me and at times am tempted to manipulate the truth to gain acceptance.  Why am I sharing this with you?  Because I am also a Christian and the real Truth will set me free.

While preparing to write this blog I did a little research.  I typed in, people pleaser symptoms into my search engine and was surprised to find out I really suffer from a disorder: Avoidant personality.  Wow!  That sounds so much worse than just wanting people to like me.  This is a self-diagnosis based on what I read from a website article.

The following article listed five possible manifestations of this Avoidance Disorder.

http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/isdivorcethesolution/a/avoidantpersonality.htm

  1. Needs To Be Well Liked.
  2. Not Open To Intimate Relationships
  3. Uncomfortable In Social Settings
  4. Avoids Work Activities
  5. Avoids Conflict At All Cost

I have all these symptoms in varying degrees.  I falsely believe that by practicing these behaviors I’ll protect myself from uncomfortable situations.  I have discovered though that there are negative consequences for believing these lies.

Needs to be well-liked:

During my school years I was always teacher’s pet.  Why?  I wanted them to like me.  I strove to never do anything which would land me in trouble.  One day a boy cut in front of me in the lunch line.  I loudly complained.  Our teacher walked over demanding an explanation.  The other boy said I was the one who had cut in line.  Before I could reply, I was led by the ear back to the end of the line.  I was mortified that I had gotten in trouble.  I remember apologizing, hoping that would once again get me in good graces with my teacher.

Not open to intimate relationships:

As a child, I could only fit into what was then labeled “Husky” for the size classification of the blue jeans I wore. I was teased about my weight.  I remember going home one day and asking my mom why everyone was so mean when I always tried to be nice.  In my young mind, friendships meant having to endure ridicule, so I kept my classmates at arm’s length.

I did find one friend who didn’t laugh at me when I tore my pants bending over playing Four Square or who didn’t pinch my belly fat.  We became inseparable. We were best friends all through elementary and junior high school.  We hung out every day, even during summer vacation.  I don’t remember having one argument with him…ever.

During my sophomore year of high school my friend started branching out and developing new friends.  He didn’t dump me but I took offense and when I met my future wife, at a high school dance, my relationship with my inseparable friend slowly disappeared.  I had found another best friend, and in my world, I only needed one.

Uncomfortable in social settings:

I caught the mumps when I was four or five.  During the course of this illness, I awoke one morning with blood on my pillow from my infected ear.  I was later diagnosed with permanent hearing loss in my right ear.  I quickly adapted to hearing out of only one ear.  In school I always sat in the front row (which also made it easier to catch the teachers adoring eye).

As I grew older though, I turned my disability into an excuse to avoid social gatherings.  It’s true that having only one working ear makes it hard to talk in noisy environments but it became an easy justification why to leave school dances early, or years later, to avoid weddings and other social events.

Avoids work activities:

The article states that people with Avoidance Disorders seek a low profile at work to keep from interacting with others.  While I still feel uncomfortable at meetings mingling with everybody, I prefer one-on-one interactions.  Instead of having to please a large group, I only have to please the person sitting across from me.

Avoids conflict at all costs:

Recently, I talked to someone a few years older than me who rode the same school bus I had.  He laughed and asked if I remembered my first day riding the bus.  He recalled how excited I was after my first day of school on the bus ride home.  I hopped from one seat to another introducing myself and asking everyone about their day.  Suddenly the bus screeched to a halt.  The bus driver marched back, picked me up and literally threw me into the empty, trouble-maker seat in the front of the bus.  That was my seat for the rest of the school year.

I didn’t remember the happy-go-lucky, little boy self, from that story. I did vividly remember the embarrassment and shame I felt in front of all my peers that day.  I remember being afraid to talk to anybody on the bus for the rest of the year and having that carry over into the classroom as well.

That avoidance of conflict has unfortunately carried over into adulthood and my marriage.  I’m overweight and know it.  I’ve been diagnosed as pre-diabetic and my loving wife, Karen tries her best to get me to eat right.  Over the years, I have resorted to hiding candy and soda pop so I won’t have to deal with the guilt I would feel and conflict which would arise by having to admit my failure.

One time in particular, she asked me if I had bought a pop at the store.  I said no.  Later on, she asked me again.  I became enraged.  I did everything I could to heap guilt on her for suggesting I had lied to her.  Then she held out a receipt.  It showed Mt. Dew had been purchased earlier that same day.  I accused her of spying on me.  She said she went to the car for something, and when she closed the car door the receipt blew out and landed on her.  I believe God wanted to reveal my sin that day to help me face my misbeliefs.  After tempers calmed down, Karen and I had a good talk and I promised to never deceive her again…but I did…over and over again.

I know this sounds so trivial compared to lying about having an affair or a gambling problem.  But this is what I am tempted to lie about to my wife and this breeds distrust which could undermine our marriage.  Karen only wants to spend a long and healthy life together with me and I feel guilt over not taking care of my body and want to avoid confrontations (even mild ones) over my deceit in this area of my life.

I know I’m not the only one who is a people pleaser.  All of us have some varying levels of dysfunction in our lives.  Some of us have addictions, we’re co-dependent, we have anger problems, we live through the lives of our children, and so on.

It all boils down to this: Who is in control of your life?  If you have a major level of dysfunction in your life that dysfunction rules over you.  It is your king.  If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, they have power over you.  If you have anger issues, you are in bondage to your emotions.  If you live through the lives of your children, your happiness depends on their success.  I have made pleasing other people king of my life.  Even if you are a control freak, making yourself king is not the answer.  You will never find peace trying to control the lives of the people around you.

Through counseling I have gained a better understanding of my dysfunction and have more weapons to help me in this battle.  My therapist is great but he doesn’t have all the answers.  The question still is this: Who is in control of my life?  Who has enough intimate knowledge of me to share wisdom and truth which is both unbiased and unchanging.  It’s not my wife, Karen.  She knows me intimately but not wholly.

There is only one who knows you inside and out; there is only one who created you; there is only one who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Jesus is the only one who can heal our wounds because He knows us fully.

Psalm 139 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar…before a word is on my tongue you know it completely…For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body…Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Isn’t this our greatest longing:  To be understood; to be heard; to be thoroughly known without fear of condemnation.  This is the relationship we all yearn for.  And this is the relationship you can have with Jesus as your King.

Have I arrived in my relationships with others?  Heavens no…but I have come a long way.  Have I arrived with my relationship with my King…again, not by a long shot.  By yielding control over my life to Jesus though, I have hope for this life and for the next.

Who has control over your life?

 

 

 

SUMMER TIME BLUES….Part 2

DSC_0057DSC08863In my last post, http://desiretoinspire.life/avoiding-summer-vacation-blues/, I promised to share some ideas on how to build a legacy of stress free summer fun with your kids while still enjoying some time for yourself.  My mother had the right idea.  She loved to spend time with me, my sister and brother.  She also wanted to instill in each of us the value of learning how to work and save money.

We lived in the country on five acres.  She enjoyed taking care of her many flowerbeds and her vegetable garden.  After breakfast and an hour of watching cartoons on T.V., we would all go outside with her and help weed and pick out rocks (which seemed to magically grow faster than the weeds).  When the weeding was finally under control, the lawn needed mowing, sapling Alder trees needed to be chopped down, cows needed to be fed and manure needed to be shoveled into a  wheelbarrow and spread in the field (my least favorite job).

After helping her, she would fix us lunch and we were free to play.  She was a good basketball player and took great pleasure at beating me in  games of h-o-r-s-e (she was the master of the, back to the basket, toss the ball behind you and over your head, shot).  On rainy days, she would teach us card games and play Monopoly with us.  After dinner, we helped her with the dishes and then the evening was her time to relax (Dad was often available for a card game after dinner).

Once a week, we were paid an allowance for our services.  We put 1/2 into our savings and we could keep 1/2 to spend on whatever we wanted.

As each of us grew older we picked strawberries for farmers within bicycle riding distance.  Sometimes my mother would wrap a bandana around her head, drive to the strawberry field in the early afternoon, and help us fill our flats until it was time to go.  Our bicycles were shoved in the trunk and she would drive us home.  One time, she brought our dog, Fluffy, to the strawberry field and left him in the car while she helped us.  Unfortunately, Fluffy wasn’t too keen on being locked up in the car and proceeded to show his displeasure by ripping both the front and back seats to shreds.

Okay….Let’s transition from my visit down memory lane and jump ahead fifty-years.  My how things have changed:

  • 49% of mothers didn’t have a job outside the home in 1967.  Stay-at-home mothers hit an all time low at 29% in 1999 but has steadily risen to 39% in 2015.
  • Another fun fact:  From six men who identified themselves as truly stay-at-home fathers during the 1970’s http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/08/stay-at-home-dads_n_7234214.html   rose to 1.9 million in 2015.  Many of these men became stay-at-home fathers due to unemployment, sickness of a spouse, retirement, etc. but 20% made the choice to give up their careers to raise their children.
  • Interestingly even though most mothers had more time at home fifty-plus years ago statistics say that the modern mother and father spend more time with their children.

I believe because of the vast quantity of parenting material made readily available on the internet and social media over the past 35 years, parents are much more in tune with the needs of their children’s and their own needs.  All this information has created its own problem….FALSE GUILT.

Many working mothers still feel guilty about having to leave their children with others.  Some try to make up for it by spending their way out of guilt. They smother their children with every kind of indulgence hoping gifts and entertainment will quiet the self-condemnation they feel.  Others will pour every spare minute they have into their children, while neglecting their own needs and the needs of their husband.  This often leads to either burnout or resentment.

Stay-at-home mothers may also suffer from feelings of guilt.  They naturally have more time on their hands.  They often use this time with friends, for community service, hobbies and with their spouse.  Even though they spend time with their children, they wonder if the time spent was enough or if it was regarded as “quality time”.

Even fathers can fall into this trap.  How do I know?  Because the sharp teeth of this trap had clamped onto my leg one too many times as a young father.  You see…. my father drove a milk truck for a living.  Cows are notorious for not taking days off from giving milk.  That meant my father didn’t take many days off when I was young.

He tried his best to spend time with his kids, but he was often too tired to spend as much time as we all wanted from him.   When I became a father, I made an inner vow.  No matter what job I had, I would always make myself available to my children….no matter how tired I was.

My first mistake was making a noble but silly vow like that.  The second was actually trying to keep it.  I often failed and then felt guilty.  It’s crazy to feel bad about something you didn’t do.

So all of this is a lead up to how you can avoid the summer time blues.  Here are 10 things you can do to make this summer memorable for you and your kids.

  1. STOP FEELING GUILTY!  Enough said.
  2. No matter what age they are, teach them how to help you with the daily household chores.  No one is going to call the CPS on you for developing in them a good work ethic.  I know….I know; It’s easier just to do it yourself.  Well it is at first, for sure.  But don’t underestimate them. Start out with one task and when they master that, give them another.  Like my Mother did, offer them an incentive they will value more than the work.
  3. Organize your week ahead of time.  Include your kids in this and not only will they learn valuable planning skills but they will take ownership in the activities (including daily chores).  Unplanned things are bound to throw a monkey wrench into your detailed plans from time to time but again, use these as teachable moments to instill in them flexibility and to come up with creative solutions.
  4. Plan a special summer vacation with your children.  Planning a vacation often times is just as much fun as the vacation itself.  Young children don’t need much extra prodding to get excited….including your teenagers in the process is critical.  I have video footage of us packing our mini-van for a much-needed vacation; well, at least to my wife and I it was much-needed.  My two daughters were not too thrilled about hijacking them to a place they never heard of and were not shy about sharing their feelings at the crack of dawn.
  5. If you can’t afford a big summer vacation, give your kids day-trip options they can choose from.  Make sure they leave their cell phones at home, bring a picnic lunch or find a restaurant you have never eaten at and make memories at a local park or beach.
  6. Arrange time for your kids to play with their school friends.  Many children really miss their schoolmates.  Have a sleepover.  Put up a tent in the back yard, barbecue some hot dogs, make some smors, tell a ghost story and take pictures for show and tell once school starts back up.
  7. Be creative.  Make a movie.  Let your kids write a script, pull out your Halloween garb, help them build a simple set and record their epic adventure.
  8. Encourage them to read. Offer an incentive for reading a set amount of books throughout the summer.
  9. Encourage them to learn a new sport.  Give them swimming, tennis, golf, or martial arts lessons.  Teach them favorite sport or hobby.
  10. And finally….fill the kid’s pool, put on some sun screen, pour yourself some ice tea, grab that neglected novel and relax.  You deserve it.

You might also enjoy reading Cheryl Butler’s article on enjoying your summer vacation with your kids at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/parenting/school-age/how-to-enjoy-summer-vacation-without-losing-your-mind-part-1