Wednesday, September 25, 2013

40 Days and 3 Ways to Improve Your Marriage

My husband has this amazing fall back position that I admire greatly. When the going gets rough, he gets polite. More accurately, he stays polite. He practices niceness. Raised like I was in a culture of self-indulgence, he practices self control.

This could be my husband's mantra!

More often than not, if tensions are running high and my manners have flown out the window in a huff, he's as polite and kind as ever. It's rare that his emotions get the better of him.

In our Modern Life, where Emotion is King, that sounds so unfeeling. Media pushes emotionalism. Pop psychology lauds it. Our commercial culture wants us to react to every whim with abandon. An emoting person is so much easier to manipulate and so we make much "better" consumers when our emotions take the reigns and make our decisions for us. Our current psychology has told us for decades to let our feelings out; our feelings are our Truth; our emotional life is our only authentic life. As a result we have adults with the emotional maturity of toddlers. If you feel it, do it. Don't be afraid to pitch an authentic tantrum now and then, either.

Fair warning, though, the pendulum is beginning to swing at least in psychology. Self Esteem is slowly giving way to something called Resilience. Self control is coming back into fashion, though they'll wind up calling it something more palatable and marketable (like Resilience). You might want to pick up a few skills and get some practice under your belt and lead the charge rather than run to catch up later.

40 Days and 3 Ways to Improve Your Marriage

Bite Your Tongue and Then Some

This is an oldie but a goodie. Count to 10. Take a deep breath. Get some air into the moment. If you feel like snapping at someone, try that moment of silence first. As a Christian, this is the moment to pray. In fact, if you are determined to make a real change here, you need to step up your prayer life.

Prayer: Change It Up

If you pray habitually in the more Charismatic fashion of ejaculatory or improvisational prayer--making a prayer up from the heart and heat of the moment--now is the time to add the discipline of the prepared prayer. You can write out your own, or better yet, find a beautiful prayer that speaks to the Lord in a way you need to grow spiritually, memorize it and then really and truly discipline yourself to it. For those of you who find this a new concept, Christ Himself introduced the idea of praying a prepared prayer, so you may want to start with His prayer, the Lord's Prayer, first. Really pray it. Delve into each word and plumb the depths as you spend the next 40 days making a habit of turning to prayer rather than turning to your emotions to deal with those hard moments in your day.

If you pray the prepared or prewritten prayer regularly, now is the time to begin the practice of ejaculatory prayer. Eventually you will have the habit and will be able to compose a beautiful prayer on the spot, until then God will adore your first clumsy steps like the perfect Father that He is. As you are learning, remember that a complete prayer contains praise, thanksgiving, petitions for others, repentance, and requests for ourselves. Again, it takes about 40 days to begin developing a new habit, so don't expect to be an expert at the ejaculatory prayer style right away. You can simply begin with a quick, "Jesus, I trust in You!" or even a heartfelt,  "Help me!" in the heat of any given moment. To help you practice the practice, add a few sentences of improvised conversation at the end of your regular prayers at your regularly scheduled prayer times throughout the day, too.

God will reward these steps toward Him in His way. Be on the lookout for those subtle signs of change and remember to thank Him for His good work when you see them in you.

Pay Attention

If your spouse is cranky, it's a signal. It's very likely that they need something. More sleep? More affection? Appreciation? Chocolate? Being a human being, you may suspect that you've fallen short of your husband's expectations and can call to mind a few dozen handy excuses for yourself and your behavior. But before you go down that well trodden road, try a new route. Instead of reacting defensively to a moody person, react on the offensive. Pray a quick prayer and then do something nice.

Marriage is a work of the heart
and heart surgery always hurts.

Conflict is an opportunity to make your marriage better. It's a signal that it's time to work. The work of marriage is a work of the heart and you and I both know that heart surgery hurts. HURTS. Ask God for the bravery and the strength to endure the truth about your shortcomings and the necessity of your spouse's needs, and then set about setting those above yours.

Whoa! Hold It!

Yeah, I know! In an ideal world that idea of putting your spouse's needs above your own would not be a scary one. Ideally, every he would be serving every her and every she would be serving every him, and everyone's needs would be more than adequately met. In the real world, this will take trust, practice, and a whole lot of Grace to even approach equity. Let's face it, getting two Modern Western minded spouses to acknowledge that each other's needs are even on par is a minor miracle.

Psst...that's one reason you're doing all this praying.

Simply changing your focus from yourself
to others can relieve some of that inner pressure.
This is a practice, a process. Don't get overwhelmed at the thought. Try focusing on one need at this time. Pick one important need of his and put that one need on top of your priority list. You can mentally see yourself giving one of his needs top billing, can't you? Make meeting that one need a daily habit and see what happens. Ask God to make you see the fruits of your hard work. Ask Him to reward you with an awareness of His rewards.

One of the first fruits will be a lessening of your own inner turmoil each time you take a moment to step
outside yourself to identify the needs of others. It takes a bit of the pressure off when you take the focus off of your own pressure cooker.

Give It the Full 40 Days

You tell yourself you want to be a better person. You may even say to yourself you're a good person. Where the real work happens, though, is in the practice of the preaching.

You have to do the work. You have to fail miserably. You have to start again and again. That's just how we do it. Those of you who play a musical instrument know how much bad music it takes to produce good music. Learning a new song takes a willingness to sound like a fool. It is only a seasoned musician with years of ugly music behind him who can pick up a new song and sound pretty decent on a first go. They've put in the work already.
Practice makes perfect!

Just like with my husband and I. In keeping his cool, he logged in all his practice hours before we even married. I'm putting them in now. Comparatively, he has the mastery of a maestro. Between him and the Lord, I'm screeching out the first recognizable notes of this song. In this particular aspect, I'm patiently being tutored by my betters. By following my husband's lead, I can hear how well it is supposed to go as I struggle along.

All those years of practice make it look so easy.


This has been a Wifey Wednesday post. For an even more Wifier Wednesday click on over to To Love Honor and Vacuum!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

7 Quick Saturday Takes

--1--  It's Fridurday!

I am a day behind because we went to the fair on Thursday. We homeschooled today and morphed our Friday into Saturday. We shall dub it Fridurday!

--2-- Suspicious Nefarious Plots Are Brewing

We saw an exotic bird show that featured trained macaws at the fair. It has generated a lot of dinnertime discussion. On a related note, we are suddenly interested in visiting South America around here. I suspect bird smuggling could be on the itinerary.

--3-- It's Getting Cheesey

Wednesday I made a cheddar cheese. It's drying on a rack and will be ready in a few months. Today I made a mozzarella. That's a fresh cheese that is ready straight from the pot.

It's not too shabby to be milking one goat and still have enough spare milk in order to store some of it in an aged cheese.

--4-- Eye Surgery Update

I'm still adjusting and healing. As they heal I have fluctuations in my near sight. So far my mid and far sight is pretty steadily excellent. Eye strain is still a factor and will be for a few more weeks. So far so good, though. Thank you for all your prayers.

--5-- Mr. Baby Update

He is a real Summer Baby. He's not too sure about these cool Autumn breezes. He can't decide whether to be offended by them or afraid of them. He is certain, though, that they are an aberration and must stop.

--6-- ACTS Retreat Coming to Amarillo

Our Lord calls to us in different ways and wants each and every one of us to come into His arms to share His love and graces. If you are a Christian woman who wants to draw nearer to our Lord, renew her spirituality, and give new depth and meaning to her prayer life, then an ACTS Retreat is for you. The next ACTS Retreat will be in Amarillo, Texas, October 17 to 20 at the Bishop de Falco Retreat Center. To register or for more information, go to today.

As one of the ACTS Team Members, I will see you there!

--7-- Speaking of the ACTS Retreat

The acronym stands for Adoration Community Theology and Service. It's a great experience, and no, it is not just for women. They have Men's ACTS and Teen ACTS as well, and they are in many states. Go to the ACTS Homepage and see if there is one coming up near you.

P.S. Jennifer Fulwiler has a link for a free personality test over at Conversion Diary in this week's 7 Quick Takes. Go have some fun!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wifey Wednesday: Date Night Exclusive Report

Now that Mr. Baby is sleeping in five hour stretches, we are trying to rekindle the habit of Date Night. We usually window shop or picnic or something free-ish, but this week a supposedly "good" scary
movie was at the discount theater, The Conjuring (click here for Steven Greydanus' 60 Second review).

By the end of it, I was crawling up my husband's arm. In theory that's romantic, in practice, that's describing a person who was so freaked out that facing down an empty public restroom afterwards was only made possible by the terrors of a screaming bladder. On the way home and throughout the evening I processed the movie by discussing the creepy details and weighing the potential reality with the movie's reality. I commented again and again on the genius of the musical score which had lots of silent stretches that added to the realism of the experience. By bedtime, I'd analyzed and prayed my way into feeling much better. I drifted off to sleep, still chatting.

My husband, on the other hand, tossed and turned all night. We had a good scary movie experience, but romance? Not a chance.


This has been a Wifey Wednesday post. For an even more Wifey Wednesday click on over to To Love Honor and Vacuum!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Effective Catechesis

"How was your class today, Anna?"


"Really? That's great!"

"Yeah, great!"

"Great! What did you learn?"

"Oh, you know. Stuff."

"Yeah? What kind of stuff."

"Good stuff. The best stuff!"

"Oh yeah? What kind of good stuff?"

"The Jesus stuff!"

That, folks, is what's known as taking away the main idea.

Happy Catechetical Sunday everyone! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes in 3, 2, 1!

--3-- I Have 20/20 Vision!

Yesterday I had Lasik surgery done at the urging of my mother and husband. My last pair of glasses cost more than our iPad, so it made sense for us to invest in the surgery. It will pay for itself in just a few short years.

Today I am getting used to crystal clear sight and depth perception. That is one amazing procedure, I can tell you. I am feeling a bit drained and my eyes are not quite up to an extended session on the computer, so I'm going to truncate my post today. Only 3 for me today!

--2-- Since I skipped out on my Wifey Wednesday post this Wednesday in the preparation for being out of action this week, I thought I'd post several marriage positive takes to make up for it. The first one is for Couple Prayer. It's a nondenominational (not Catholic) resource that promotes couples praying together.  Research shows that couples that pray together tend to stay together. Couple Prayer is a program that you can purchase for individuals or for groups.

--1-- Retrouvaille

If your marriage has reached the crisis point or it has resolved into an uneasy truce, there is more for you. It can get better. You can rediscover your passion and love for one another. Retrouvaille is a weekend lifeline for couples for whom the stress of marriage has robbed them of each other.

From the website:

... a lifeline for Marriages

A program to Help Couples Heal and Renew their Marriages.
  • Do you feel lost, alone or bored in your marriage?
  • Are you frustrated, hurt or angry with your spouse?
  • Are you constantly fighting? Or, do you simply shut down?
  • Have you thought about separation or divorce?
  • Does talking about it only make it worse? 
    ... Retrouvaille provides marriage help!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Tune for Tuesday

Though the secret is out, I am still rather shy about my banjo playing. For the first time in, like, ever I will be playing in public in October.

To celebrate, I thought I'd share one of my favorite banjo players on the planet. I betcha if I hadn't warned you first, you'd never guess this was featuring a banjo.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Forgiveness: A How To and a Why To

If you're having trouble forgiving someone, you know that your life keeps circling back to that person and their actions. You can't keep yourself from discussing it, from thinking of it, from using that period as the go-to excuse for failures that truly have nothing directly to do with that situation. How do I know this? I have been there, circling that same drain.

Not forgiving someone is a trap. It makes that moment in time, that person the center of your life. You never, ever move on. If you don't move on, you don't ever get away from it.

You are still right there in that Hell.

To Be Crass...

Don't let crap rule your life.
Deal with it and move on.
It's in your best interests to forgive. It doesn't mean that what happened was right or good or anything. It just means that you are ready to set that person free from your desire to personally witness justice. You'll let God deal with that situation and that person.

Forgiveness is an admission that you are not in control,
You aren't now and you weren't then,
And you're moving on because
There is only one thing
You can actually

Forgiveness gets you out of the mess you were in. Finally. It gets you out mentally and emotionally. You get to finally be free.

Freedom! I highly recommend it.

So, here's the deal. If you find it hard to forgive, let me let you in on the Great Big Secret. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It's not a once and for all type of thing. It's a decision. You make it every time you are tempted to dwell on that person, that moment, that perfectly justifiable anger.

Here's how it works. You think of that person and you say, "Okay, that was bad, but I forgive it." Then you give yourself permission to think of something else. When your thoughts drift back you get to tell your thoughts, "Been there, done that. There's no more fruit here. I've forgiven."

It's that simple. It's a process. At first it's simply that: a mental action that you decide to make. After a period of time--days, weeks, months, years, or decades--you will find that this little mental ritual will not be necessary quite so often. If you had to struggle to think of anything else at first, then three times a day after a year or so is an improvement.

Here's the other thing. Some people with certain temperaments do have an easier time with this process. It's true. It's harder for you.

How do I know that? Because you're the type who reads this type of thing. You're like me: you need to learn people stuff. I've always needed Human Lessons. It's why I can write about it. Someone taught me or I went out and did what you're doing. I looked it up. There are those who seem born knowing this stuff. Not me. Not you either.

Life's complicated. People can wreck a person. It's tough going, for sure.

Just keep in mind that Christ told us we are to forgive someone 70 times 7 times. I'd always assumed that he meant to forgive someone every time they did something wrong. Now that I'm in the cycle of forgiveness I get it. He means sometimes you have to forgive a person that many times for just one bad moment. He's talking process here.

I hope you get it. Your life is worth the trouble it takes to forgive. In fact, you will only get your life back once you forgive.

Moment by blessed moment.

Friday, September 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Good, Bad, and Ugly

--1-- Ugly

Last month (more specifically the July/August polyglot that was the last 45 to 60 days) got away from me. We had the flu. We had a newborn. We had excuses! Literally. Though we homeschool and though it was summer, we were in such bad shape that our family physician and pediatrician kept trying to hand us official "Excused from School" slips. I took that as permission to flounder on couches and gripe with abandon, but the slips were unnecessary. My husband is a wonderful man who steps up to the plate every time he's called up to bat. Lucky for us, he's an excellent cook because he did more than his fair share of it these last few weeks.

Thank you, sweet guy!

--2-- Good

We have started homeschooling this week. The Kindergarteners are happily devouring their First Grade math program. The Fifth Grader is embarking on a study of the American experience from Greenland to the Moon. The whole lot of them are doing a Neighborhood Unit that will give me the excuse to take my homeschool group on a tour of our the fire station, airport, and local news station.

--3-- Good

I would like to ask prayers for an old, old friend of mine who is embarking on her career as a homeschooling mom. She, like me, has schoolteachers in the family tree, so there is a bit of self-imposed added pressure to do a stellar job. Since I don't have her permission to use her name, you may pray for her under the name of Scholastica, if you please. God will know who you mean.

--4-- Good

Since we are on the subject of homeschooling, I wanted to share this gem of a post from Tara. I like how she has been flexible enough and honest enough to modify her game. She has discovered that sometimes that wall that you beat your head against is a guide and not an obstacle. I also like how well she manages to put the purpose of raising children at the center of her homeschooling. Enjoy!

The Night Before Homeschooling…

..and all through the house, Tara is procrastinating.
That was the first line of my first blog post, written the night before our first official day of homeschooling.
That was three years ago, and much has changed.  The night before we start our fourth year of homeschooling seems like a good time to stop and reflect.

--5-- Bad
This one is so bad, it is ugly, horrific. In England, no one is interested in putting a stop to the abortion of girls simply because they have the misfortune of being girls. Feminism is so adamantly for abortion, that it is lining up against the birth of girls.
Like so many of the unthinking zealotry, do we now see that to be a feminist ultimately means to be against all things feminine? We modern thinkers have repackaged misogyny and pronounced it good. We have streamlined the ancient ideas that women are inconveniently fertile, that everything that makes us uniquely women is an inherent flaw. The result is the same and ages old philosophy: we women must be sterile and we must be as genderless as possible. Feminists are so for us, my friends, they are against us. As Victor Hugo describes this phenomenon, "It is to be a partisan of things to the point of becoming their enemy; it is to be so strongly for, as to be against." (Les Miserables by Victor Hugo)

Thank Heaven for Little Girls…Not

The UK law enforcement authorities decide that it is not worthwhile prosecuting abortionists who kill unborn baby girls…simply because they’re baby girls. Read about it here.
The silence of the feminist pro aborts in the face of this outrage is deafening. What more can one say except that these cruel women clearly prefer the “choice” of grown up females over the lives of unborn females. Why else would they be silent? What the pro aborts are saying is, “We would rather people continued to have the right to abortion for any reason than to have any restrictions at all on abortion. We would rather allow the killing of baby girls by selective gender-chosen abortion than see abortion restricted in any way.

--6-- Good
Speaking of modern heresies, modern dating has boiled down to using other people for entertainment purposes. Dating is more about culling your spouse from the herd than it is finding something(one) interesting to do Friday night. Here's a How-To on dating, in case this is all news to you...

Ask 20 people what a “date” means or looks like and you will get 20 different answers —different etiquette, different expectations, different experiences, different everything.
Apparently most of us are just making it up as we go along.
Done well, a date is an art and a mystery. Few things are more intoxicating and memorable than a truly great date. Unfortunately, it seems the proper date is becoming a lost art.

--7-- Good or Bad, Depending
Just to lighten things up a bit before you head off to your weekend jump here to hear the best a capella rendition of the Tetris theme song ever!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Homeschool Hostage Situation

Yesterday Mr. Baby got his first shots. This week we started homeschool. These two unrelated facts have collided in a very predictable manner today, though I managed to not see this one coming when scheduling the week.

The result is that I am trying to homeschool from the couch with a periodically screaming infant, two very jealous siblings who have decided to revert to earlier stages of development in a misapplied spirit of competition and sportsmanship, and the resulting attention span of a gnat. It has been one of those days where mommy is happy when only one maniacally angry little person is yelling at her.

"Oh good! We are learning to take turns!" I say with no discernible sarcasm whatsoever.

The baby has pinned me to the couch. "Tapping computer keys!" he screams. "You're thinking of getting up to go pee!" he wails. He can only sleep on my chest today. Not in his more portable baby sling, not on my lap, just on mommy's chest. Just like this.

It happens. Poor guy. It's the first time he's ever felt under the weather. Can't really blame the little tyrant for that.

I have a few more nerves left which means it's time for the older three to start guitar practice.