thankful notes

My sister is the Queen of Thank You notes.  I get a box full of them from her each year.  Thankful for my nephew’s birthday gift, her and her hubbie’s birthday gifts, anniversary gifts, and my nephew’s 1/2 birthday gift (yeah, I’m that kind of aunt!), and others.  And, January is my big thank you note writing and giving month.  We celebrate Christmas, our anniversary, and my birthday all within five weeks.

January has been my most thoughtful of all months.  It’s the reset button with the New Year, and the reevaluation that I am another year older.  Plus, now, it’s another year that I’ve been married.  Am I wiser with age?  Am I better with money, health, and time?  Am I a better person or near any of my goals?  And, how am I aging?  Am I aging well- inside and out?  Yes, I become both a little more vain and less vain with each passing birthday.

I think this year, though, I truly am more thankful.  I try to look at the upside of things more, even as I write each thank you note.  I am grateful my husband would rather play XBOX on a Wednesday night than go out with the boys.  Grateful that he laughs at my jokes and still grabs my tush.  *smile*  Grateful that he works hard and is driven.  Grateful he is “particular” and focused.  Grateful when I don’t want to cook dinner, but grateful we have dinner.  Grateful for the roof over our heads, even though it needs some repairs.  Grateful that my husband got me flowers for my birthday, made me garlic risotto for dinner, and made me a birthday cake.  Grateful we threw the cake out after we gleeful ate half of it throughout the day.  haha  And, grateful we have plans to work out together tonight (him on the treadmill, me on the stationary bike).  Also grateful for his help in still helping me rehabilitate my knee.  Grateful that I want to work on myself and my marriage more than my husband and things I cannot change.  Being grateful makes me not want to change them.

Life is so beautiful when we live it with a grateful heart.  We should live our lives with the daily thought of thank you notes, thankful for so many not perfect, but beautiful things.  And, I am thankful for you, dear reader, and hope you have a happy Wednesday!

Love, another year older, and, hopefully wiser, Laura

p.s. my birthday prayers were answered this week!  My hubbie got to spend my birthday with me due to weather!  Hallelujah!  G-d is good :-)

happy birthday, baby

It’s my birthday week.  I am a BIG fan of birthdays.  I (technically) celebrated my husband’s birthday THREE times our first year of meeting.  Lucky guy!  I think the day should be done big and well.  I only ask for three things to make it “feel” like my birthday: birthday cake, the birthday song, and flowers.  Dinner at my favorite restaurant and a gift are always nice, but it’s unnecessary.

I narrowed the list down in my twenties.  A simple list, a grateful list, in my opinion.  And, I always got all three.  Or, maybe, I didn’t one year and then made the list?  Either way, my parents were good providers and made sure I got each thing, without even asking.  Until I turned 28.

I was born and raised an Arizona girl, and I felt the Lord calling me to Colorado in my late twenties.  “I will go where you go.”  I knew I was meant to be in Colorado, so- without ever being there, having no place to live, no friends, and no job- I packed up my car and drove north.  I loved Colorado because that’s where I was suppose to be.  However, I got sad weeks before my birthday wondering how I’d have my three birthday requests met, so I took my requests to G-d.  He would answer them.  I didn’t know how, but I knew He would.

That morning, I woke to find my roommate made me birthday blueberry muffins.  Yum.  Not on the list, but still made my day!  My co-workers had cake for me.  Check.  My cell phone was bombarded with dozens of birthday wishes from friends and family, and one of them was singing my Happy Birthday.  Check.  As the day drew to a close, I realized my birthday flowers weren’t going to make it.  I was bummed but still blessed.

As I planned on meeting friends for dinner, the group was getting smaller and smaller.  I couldn’t blame them: the winter storm was bad.  I had three friends show up that night.  And, one of them brought me flowers.  G-d is good.  My friend said she “felt led” to get them for me, and I almost teared up telling her my prayer.  G-d answers prayers.

I know I sometimes put G-d in a box.  It is so cliche, but it is true.  But, I have dozens of beautiful moments in my life where He has been so good to me, on my birthday and any other day.  He is gracious, loving, and kind to all who call upon Him.  It’s possible to have a beautiful, intimate relationship with the Lord who created this earth because He also created you.

This year, I have a wonderful husband to get me those three things.  He knows the drill by now.  *smile*  It works well for both of us.  I feel like I’ve added a fourth item to the list this year: I want to spend it with my husband.  Yes, I want the love of my life to spend the day with me, but we agreed he should save his day off until later.  Houston is excepting winter weather though this week.  So, I present my request to G-d.  PLEASE bring snow on my birthday!  I would LOVE snow for a gift, as I am homesick for Colorado right now.  But, the city shuts down, and my husband can stay home.  That would be a great birthday gift.  FIVE things: song, cake, flowers, hubbie, and snow.  He can provide.  And, I have faith that He will.

Happy birthday, baby.  And, may all your birthday wishes and prayers come true.  Laura

opposition

I love a good quote.  All my high school and college teachers will attest to that; my essays always began with a quote.  Quite poetic!  I poured through my quote books before any essay was due, finding the perfect quote to tie everything together.  Although, I don’t write essays anymore.  Well, not to be graded, and I don’t think of my blogs as essays.  Okay, rarely.  *wink*  I miss the Land of Quotes, though, it was such a peaceful and happy place.

I tried going to that happy place last night.  A friend was pressing me yesterday on an issue.  She’s passionate, which comes across as aggressive, and, to me, opposition.  I wrestled with our discussion most of the afternoon and then talked it out with my husband.  I feel so juvenile sometimes, but I think we all want people to agree with us.  There’s a part of us that wants people to think we’re brilliant and have all the answers.  We want to be liked, and we want to be loved.

As much as I hate to know this: opposition is part of life.  It’s also part of every movie we all go to see and TV show we watch.  Conquerors are good stories.  I didn’t need to win her over with my argument, even though I wanted to.  She didn’t win me over with hers.  However, her opposition to me helped me strengthen my defense.  It gave me clarity and reminded me of what I stand for.  I opened up my quote book (on my little black phone) and looked up opposition quotes.

“Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.”  Dorothy Height

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”  Albert Einstein (not that she has a mediocre mind, but this quote sure did make me feel better!)

“I have spend many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.”  Eleanor Roosevelt (she seems like such an amazing woman!)

So, no one won the argument yesterday.  No one needed to, but I still felt like I did.  I was stronger coming out of it that I was going in.  That’s a true warrior.

vacation Bear

My husband’s co-workers saw a different man return to work a couple weeks ago.  They were surprised how relaxed and happy he was, and I knew what they saw: vacation Bear.  My hubbie is my “Bear,” and I am always delighted when he transforms in vacation mode.  He’s more laidback, laughs more, and plays more.  He usually lets his facial hair grow in (so hot!) and smiles a lot.  He tells more jokes, and you can tell that he’s enjoying himself more.  That’s what his co-workers saw after our holiday and anniversary time off.  He was still enjoying himself.

My husband takes on a lot of projects at work and is working to get his MBA.  He is a good provider and strives to take care of our house and his wife.  Plus, he is constantly trying to outdo himself whether at work or in his workouts.  (Totally bias opinion here, but: he is amazing!).

So, when one of my girlfriends gushed that her husband last week was like the man she once dated, I understood.  For a brief moment, her husband was not the father of children, the mortgage payer, or the man who brings home the bacon.  He was just with his best friend and lover- the girl who stole his heart.  And, he was happy.  Sure, he’s always happy with her- and even with the kids- yet he had a moment of pureness.  He was in vacation mode.  His wife told me she never wanted the moment to end.  I get it.

I delight my time with vacation Bear.  There’s no schedule to keep, and he is more go with the flow.  He’s adventurous and fun, and he starts to take on my spontaneity.  But, I still love my everyday Bear.  He’s the one who tucks me in at night and appreciates the dinners I cook.  He’s the one asking me to send him the budget for review and asking when we paid certain bills.  I love my Bear, vacation or everyday.  As his wife, I need to capture his heart no matter what mode he is in.  Our lives are only going to add responsibilities, so I need to steal moments with him.  Moments to laugh, cuddle, and talk.  Moments to dream and enjoy each other.  Moments to bring out vacation Bear every day.

Laura

brave

I am starting my own business.  Have I mentioned that before?  I find myself so thrilled and excited on minute and overwhelmed and nearly sick the next.  I use to think I was brave.  Yeah, I think I’ve always thought of myself as brave, but now I think it was something other than bravery.  Since it was my twenties, it was likely stupidity mixed with spontaneity.  Yep, bad combo.  It wasn’t entirely a bad combination, I mean, boy, do I have stories I can tell!  Stories I will tell my grandchildren and get scolded by their parents.  Or, stories to smugly keep to myself and smile at the warmth of yesteryear.  Definitely stupidity.

I think about my thirties, though, and some days are equally filled with confidence and anxiety.  Do we just know better when we’re older?  Like, roller coasters.  Sure are fun when we’re fifteen.  Last year, though, my hubbie and I went on a dozy, and we’ve both been hesitant since.  I almost always have a plan now.  Plus, it’s after nine at night, and I can barely keep my eyes open.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”  Who is that quote from.  I don’t like to be scared.  I don’t like the idea of failing in business.  However, the idea of becoming outrageously successful can scare me, too.  Suddenly, just taking the first step is brave.  Thinking that there’s something more and something I am called to do makes me think it’s worth the first step.  Some dreams are just dreams, but some dreams are there for us to make a reality.  If I do crash and burn, it will be a glorious plummet.  *smile*  Ha, that’s a nice way to look at it.  I can survive it.  So, here’s to taking steps and making dreams realities, even if it’s years later.  Be brave.  More to come, L

disservice to ourselves

I have been intense in reading “Created to Be His Help Meet” this month.  I was determined to (finally!) finish reading it.  [I am a great starter but not finisher when it comes to books and home projects].  I was going to get it read in fully this week.  And, I did.  YAY!

What’s been on my mind this week the most is that the older women are to teach the younger women “to be sober.”  Man, I thought I was in the clear- I haven’t had a drink in years.  WHEW- I am awesome!  I am awesome until I read up on what sober means.  In that context, it means to be diligent in the home.  A man’s home is his oasis, and Joseph and I have gone rounds with that one.  He’s the neat, orderly, and organized one, and I am the messy one.  I appreciate and enjoy a tidy home, but it’s just so hard to keep!  So, whether I am the older woman or the younger one, I needed to get my tush in gear.  A happy home is a clean home, and the clean home means a calm and happy hubbie.

I have been very diligent in the home this week.  Cooking meals, ironing shirts, working on the budget, and taking care of laundry and dishes and day-to-days.  It’s been exhausting.  It may be because I’m still recovering from knee surgery, but I think that more than that I’m not use to such focus and discipline.  The latter is a dirty word in my book.  I put so much pressure on myself to put every dish away immediately and fold every last item of clean clothes.  The sun sets long before I my duties are done.  I have had such pride and such disappointment; it is never ending.

In my overwhelmed state this week, though, it hit me: I’m just beginning.  I understand the importance of a clean home as respecting my husband.  I don’t need to figure it all out today, tomorrow, or even next week.  Change rarely happens overnight or in one a-ha moment.  It comes daily and over time.  It’s with little steps that add up to real change.  It’s only when we keep focusing and moving ahead that we can turn around with pride and see how far we’ve come.  We do ourselves a true disservice when we don’t cheer ourselves on and look back over longer amounts of time.

Where were you five years ago?  Think about five years, not five days.  If you are on the right track, suddenly, you will look back one day and think WOW!  Look how far I’ve come.  I’ve already done that in my marriage.  This is the longest I’ve been faithful to someone and almost my longest relationship.  I never would have thought I’d make it this far, but I have.  Plus, I’m just as smitten with my husband today as the day we met.

Housework may not come easy to me, and it may not be my strength, but, little by little, I will get better.  And, I will be proud of what I have achieved.  We only need to do one thing: Keep Moving.

Happy Monday, Laura

I told you so

What horrible four little words we can speak to our spouses, yet I want to scream them from the rooftop today.  I want a giant megaphone and an eighteen foot banner hanging outside our home.  Gracious, I know.

In my early relationships, I was advised to choose whether or not I wanted to be right or happy when it comes to disagreeing with a significant other.  No contest: I’d rather be right because that made me happy.  I didn’t care if my past loves were mad and sulking as long as I had the win.  That’s what mattered to me.

Fast forward to a good smack-down by the good Lord in 2007.  He changed my heart and life, and I knew that I wanted to be a wife.  A good wife (pretty as Julianna Margulies but without all the primetime drama).  I prayed and worked my countenance to be that of a good helper for my future husband, and I thought I was ready to be a submission wife when Joseph and I married about four years ago.  Yes, submission can be considered a dirty word in society today, but I truly wanted a biblical marriage.  Surprisingly, submission in marriage is the easiest thing I have ever done.  Well, it is when we agree.

I can be feisty and opinionated.  Stubborn and passionate.  A driven leader and true manipulator.  That doesn’t fly in a good marriage.  A house divided cannot stand.  My husband is a man of integrity that strives to make the best decisions, and I know it is best when I let him take lead (i.e. submit) to his authority.  I trust him to do what’s right for our family.  I have said my peace on many occasions then let him make the final call.  It worked well… until last year.

If there has been a dark spot in our marriage, it is my husband’s MBA.  He wanted one school; I wanted the other.  I loved the first school he checked out.  It was warm and inviting.  We met one of the head guys at the info session, and he was great- smart, personable, and funny.  I don’t look good in greens, but I knew this was the school.  When we checked out a second school, we agreed it was a wrong fit for my husband.  Cold and uncaring.  I sensed it was all about the money and prestige.  I couldn’t believe they made us pay for parking when we were considering paying tuition for two years.  I was not a fan, and neither was my husband.

Over a couple of months, my husband’s mind and thoughts shifted.  He wanted the second school, and I didn’t want any part of it.  I disagreed with his reasoning, and I let him know.  I wanted so much for him to choose the first school.  I gave logical reasons and ran the numbers.  When he didn’t respond to my reason and logic, I lost it and got very emotional.  We were mean and hurtful in our fights over it.  I finally conceded and tried to be a good sport, even buying him the collegiate memorabilia.

The first week of class started, and I realized I was right.  One by one, all the reasons my husband chose the school were refuted.  Reason after reason that was dispelled killed me when I had to bite my tongue.  I wanted to scream: I told you so!  That wouldn’t have helped the situation.  Eventually, my husband humbly told me I was right, which didn’t give me the satisfaction I really desired.  It was disappointing.  Still is.  Sure, I could have forced my way (again, in this case the right way), but I feared he would have resented me.  And, he likely would have.  He got his way, and I fight against the resentment.  My husband made a bad call.  It didn’t ruin the world, but it still sucks.

Today, his choice school upset both of us again.  Oh, for the love of Moses.  I want to tell them off.  Oh, yeah, right: it’s not my place.  I want to remind my husband he should have listened to me, but he already knows.  I have been striving to be a good wife, which must be like praying for patience.  Praying for patience rarely gives you instant patience but rather puts you in situations to practice patience.  So, apparently I am getting the chance to practice being a good wife, which in this instance is biting my tongue.

I haven’t said those bad four little words.  I think my husband and I are grateful for that.  Hopefully, he’ll give more weight to my words next time I persist.  There’s a crash course in being a good husband like being a good wife, I guess.  In the mean time, we will stand as a united front.  I will keep loving, respecting, and submitting to him.  And I will keep trusting the Lord as we are Learning until we enter the land of Mastering.

Laura

State of the Home

Every year, my husband and I sit down and have a “State of the Home” meeting.  Our first one was just weeks before our wedding and immediately after one of our premarital meetings with our pastor.  We left his office deciding we needed to be on the same page with our life and future and needed to set goals for the year ahead.  We took off to Panera (oh, how I loved the broccoli cheese soup!) with a pen and a napkin.  I was inspired by my former church that had “State of the Church” sermons every year; they evaluated where they were at and where they were going.  Joseph and I did the same thing.

We finished our fifth “State of the Home” last week.  We’re getting better at them.  The first one we did had lots of travel in it, but we changed that when we decided to get out of debt.  We are more detailed, too, in not just saving more, but saving X amount of money by a specific date.  Or, not just “become healthier” but “reduce daily sugar intake to X amount” or “include 1-2 servings of produce in every meal.”  We don’t follow the list perfectly.  It ebbs and flows.  If we were to grade ourselves, we’d likely get a B, which is okay with us.  Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  To us, it’s better to hit 85% of our goals than neither having or achieving any.

Most good, successful businesses have yearly reviews.  We want a good, successful marriage, so we are adapting our plans.  We look at ours periodically to check the pulse of our accomplishments.  This year, we are editing our State of the Home to be not only yearly, but monthly.  It’s easier to reduce debt and save money when you are intent.  Likewise with losing weight and reaching goals.  This year we plan on being intent and, hopefully, getting that “A.”

I encourage you to make a “State of the Home” list.  What do you hope to achieve this year in health, business, relationships?  Start setting targets so you know what to aim at.  You might not hit it every time, but surely you will get better and close to making it every time.

Laura