Everybody’s a Fixer Upper

fixerupper

I’m not sure who was more excited. My four daughters or me. You see, we were about to attend Frozen on Ice.

Unlike many moms and dads and babysitters and grandparents and teachers, I haven’t grown weary of the tale of Anna and Elsa. You won’t find me plugging my ears and humming loudly when “Let It Go” plays on our Pandora Disney channel. Nope, I jump right in and belt it out with my girls. And when my kids hit “play” for the five-hundredth time on the Blu-ray disc, I seem to cry harder at this story that so beautifully illustrates the power of love to cast out fear. And I marvel once again at how well-crafted the script is. (You can graduate the film student from film school, but you can’t take the need to analyze films out of her … even 11 years later.)

That said, I was still stunned to witness what a morning performance of Frozen on Ice could do to downtown Atlanta traffic. We’re talking a slow, and I mean slug-like slow, crawl. All the little Annas and Elsas and their moms who took to the sidewalks on foot were making better mileage than our mini-van was.

Thankfully, we eventually we made it to the arena. And, fortunately for us, it was a show that did not disappoint.

It was toward the end of the second half, that my 3-year-old asked me if the on-ice “love experts” were indeed “real.” After I carefully explained that the trolls were people in disguise, I found myself reflecting, for perhaps the five-hundredth time, on the lyrics to this unusual choir’s song, “Fixer Upper.”

And you know what?

I came to the same conclusion that I have in the past. This is not a tune to simply write off. Rather, it’s one to stop and ponder. You see, I really think that this Disney silly song offers a sobering reminder to each of us when it comes to our relationships – specifically in our marriages.

With this musical number, Disney hits on a universal truth: we are all fixer uppers. In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul puts it like this: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Not some of us. Not a merely a few. All of us. We are all in need of fixing up.

Yep, my husband Ted and I will both attest that we not only married fixer uppers, but we each remain one too. We can both use improvement. Lots of it. Yet what we’ve discovered over the last decade of marriage is that our best improvements haven’t resulted from the other’s concentrated efforts to force change in us. Rather, they’ve blossomed from the other’s resolved attempts at practicing Christ-like love. Yup, love.

Love that offers patience when we’re mad.

Love that extends kindness when we’re scared.

Love that responds with gentleness when we’re stressed.

Love that ultimately doesn’t focus on our worst, but as both the song and the famous 1 Corinthian love chapter explain, seeks to bring out our best.

The fact is, it’s not easy to love each other when our fixer-upper status is especially evident. Sometimes it’s just plain hard. Just ask Ted on my bad days. But, as the rock-like trolls in Frozen sing, love really is “force that’s powerful and strange.” It’s amazing what happens when we choose to “throw a little love” someone’s way. My husband and I can testify to that.

Unlike me, maybe you have grown weary of Frozen. Maybe you do cringe when the song “Let It Go” comes on or when your kids hit play on the Blu-ray for the five-hundredth time. If so, it’s okay. We can still be friends.

Ashleigh
AshleighSlater.com

teamus

For more practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in your marriage, check out my book, Team Us: Marriage Together.

12 Fun Family Traditions To Try This Holiday

traditionsEntering the holiday season can be familiar and exciting, but it can also be overwhelming because it comes so quickly. If you are like me you wish it was extended over a longer period of time just so you can savor all of the seasonal benefits such as holiday themed cups at coffee houses, the smell of wet concrete from rain or even snow, pumpkin everything, and of course eggnog.

This time of year is special and can often times bring up fond memories of the past, especially if families made an effort to incorporate traditions. We find ourselves taking turns in conversations reminiscing of past seasons and what made it the most special to us. Don’t you agree?

I want to encourage you this year to incorporate fun family traditions that will leave a lasting impression on you and your family. In this list I share 12 fun ways to embrace the holidays and spend quality time with family.

I highly recommend you go over this list with your husband and together choose one, a few, or all to do together. You can adapt any of them as you consider your family’s needs, preferences, and boundaries. But most of all, be sure to have  a ton of fun!

  1. Eggnog French Toast – This is one of my family’s favorite holiday dishes. Use any kind of bread you like, sourdough is a good one, two cups of eggnog, one egg, two ripe bananas, and cinnamon to taste! Mix, dip, and cook until browned.
  2. Advent Calendar – An advent calendar is basically a countdown until Christmas. My son gets one of those paper calendars that have a piece of chocolate hiding behind each date, however I have seen many different types on Pinterest circulating lately including small sacks with wooden representations of elements of the birth of Christ, and numbered mason jars with candles.
  3. Kind Elf on the Shelf – Instead of a naughty elf destroying parts of the home during the night to get a chuckle out of your children, promote the kindness elf who does nice things for others!
  4. Bucket List – Make a list of all the things you want to do with the family during the month of December or come up with the list together with everyone. Then each day do one thing from the list!
  5. Movie Night Gift Box – Prior to Christmas, stuff a box full of cookies, a set of pajamas, and a few Christmas classic movies. Wrap up the box and present it as a pre-Christmas gift for each child.
  6. Christmas Photo Shoot – Crazy is encouraged with this one. You can wrap the family up in lights, all get ugly sweaters, or recreate an old family picture. Each year try and outdo the previous family Christmas photo.
  7. Hot Cocoa Bar – Hot chocolate is a must have during Christmas, why not spruce it up one night with a whole cocoa bar with jars full of peppermint sticks, cinnamon, marshmallows, caramel, and anything else that would be fun to add.
  8. Gingerbread Nativity – Ditch the gingerbread house and create a full candy nativity with your family.
  9. Thankfulness Wreath – Use gift tags to hang on a wreath and have everyone in your family write on it what they are thankful for.
  10. Organize a Drive – Invite your family to organize a jacket or canned food for those in need. You can even make flyers and make it a community event.
  11. Grandma’s Recipe – Invite Grandma over to share with the children a family recipe. Allow the kids to help her cook in the kitchen and build up those cooking skills.
  12. Bless The Moms – Ask your children to join you in blessing other moms you know. Take time to brainstorm if you will bake cookies, make ornaments, or just write encouraging letters, then do it!

If you would like to know 5 reasons WHY you should create traditions with your family you should check out this BetterMom post HERE. I can share with you one thing I have noticed from implementing family traditions and that is it strengthens marriage. You will realize quickly how excited you and your husband become to get everyone together to do the tradition or traditions each year. It is something to look forward to and requires thoughtfulness and planning, a great way to bond with your husband.

Also, please add your family tradition in the comments to add to this list and give other moms inspiration for ways to embrace the holidays and build lasting memories with the family!

– Jennifer Smith                     Unveiled Wife

When We Are Given More Than We Can Handle

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 “I’m tired of being afraid
I’m wondering how I got this way
I’m trying to remember what life was like before
Panic moved in without even knocking on the door

Have mercy on me
I’m not who I used to be
Have mercy on me
Jesus, please…”
Have Mercy on Me lyrics, -JJ Heller

I remember so clearly, as though it was only yesterday and not nearly three years in my past, those overwhelming feelings of panic that would run through my veins every minute of every day and night for what seemed to be months on end.

I can close my eyes and instantly recall the constant unrest that would swirl around within my mind, and the tears…the most sincere and heartfelt tears I think I may have ever cried in my whole life, that would fall day after day after day.
Night after night after night.

I felt my soul being robbed, my laughter being choked, and my days became a battleground filled with fear and trembling. Yet I remained rooted in the word and constant in prayer as though my life depended on it.

Because truthfully, it did.

I remember the kind words and helpful quotes that people would offer so as to bring me hope and comfort when it seemed so far beyond my reach. The one I remember most often repeated was, “The Lord will never give you more than you can handle…so know that He must really believe that you are incredibly strong!”

Only, I didn’t feel so strong.
In fact, I was weak and defeated and there truly wasn’t even an ounce of “strong woman, hear me roar” left within me.
And on top of already experiencing a little bit of what I felt hell must be like, I also began to feel as though I was letting the Lord down because I couldn’t live up to the strength he apparently felt I should possess.

And while I know we mean well when we say these things, what I’ve come to understand of Gods word, is that He does, in fact, give us FAR beyond what we can ever handle.

Anxiety. Death. Cancer. Abandonment. Depression. Illness. Pain. Poverty. Hunger.

The list goes on and on and on…

But there is good news my sweet friends, and it’s the truth that got me through those very dark days, and it’s the truth that gets me through the tough times even now.
And that hope is not in that God thinks you’re strong enough to handle all that life may bring to you.

2 Corinthians 1: 8-10

…For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

I don’t know what troubles you may be struggling with right now, and I can’t pretend to know how long God will allow you to be in the midst of them, but what I do know is that God’s power and strength and comfort and love never fail. They never run out.

And so I urge you to look to Him. Run to Him. Abide in Him. Rest in Him. Make everything you have, everything you do, everything you walk through, about Him.

Because where we are weak, HE IS STRONG.

Blessings, S

Summer Saldana
www.summersaldana.com
www.youtube.com/lemusingsofmoi

Do his Hobbies Leave You Parenting Alone?

It’s hunting season here in Montana, which means the men in this family are pouring over maps and pulling out camo.

Saturday night my husband and his brother headed out, going east for a scouting trip. This wasn’t a big deal for us, but it was hard for my brother-in-law to leave his wife and three young boys alone for Sunday.

Twenty-four hours is a long time when a woman is parenting little kids by herself.

A really, really long time.

Here's a helpful tip for when your husband needs some recreation but you feel alone in parenting. while he's gone.  -christyfitzwater.com

After the men got back (and for any guy readers –no, they didn’t see anything), Matt and I were enjoying a cup of coffee on Monday morning and were remembering how hard those hunting trips were when our kids were little.

I remember fighting an internal battle, I said. Part of me felt resentful that you could just take off and be free of responsibility for 24 hours. The other half of me was happy for you to get a day in the woods with your hunting buddies.

I know there were times when he left with a hunting pack weighted down with guilt because I pouted him off at the door.

Have a good time, I would say with my voice. While my eyes would say, Don’t worry about me here just going crazy being a mom all by myself, with no rest or any fun for me. No big deal.

My husband is a professional counselor and very wise, so over coffee I asked, What’s the answer? What would you say to the young mom who wants her husband to have fun and pursue his hobbies but who also is weary from 24/7 parenting?

His answer made me cry right there in the kitchen.

Nothing brings me home quicker than a wife who sends me off joyfully, he said.

Why is that? I asked.

It cements the value of the relationship, he said. Why would I want to stay away when I have her?

Here’s his message to you moms with young kids:

Women, if you want to be a magnet, cheer them off as they leave.

That got me thinking about being a magnet, and I said, What if I were to slip a piece of lingerie into your duffle bag?

He answered, Then I would say to my brother, “Oh, I injured my knee. I’ve got to go home RIGHT NOW.” 

So there you have it.

Anyway, my kids are just about raised, and I’ll tell you my husband’s words are true. The more I have celebrated and encouraged him to pursue his hobbies and enjoy some guy time, the more he seems to care tenderly for me.

(And then there is that whole lingerie thing. Don’t think I’m joking about that.)

You don’t have to feel happy that you’re going to be alone with the kids while he plays. That part is still hard work. But you can smile sincerely when he leaves, as you consider his needs above your own. I think you’ll find that as you encourage his rest and refreshment, he’ll have more energy for you and the kids down the road.

What could you encourage your man to go do for enjoyment in the next few weeks?

Blessings,

Christy Fitwater

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