Archives for June 2013

Crazy Busy Love

Lake Arrowhead

My hubby and I arose early on Saturday morn, climbed in the car and drove a mere hour and fifteen minutes up the mountain into another world. 

We were the keynote speakers at the Radar Love Conference up in Lake Arrowhead –a mountain community so resplendent in the summer all I could think about was the movie “Dirty Dancing.”  For some reason, the lovely lake resort where Baby danced her socks off kept coming to mind.

Radar Love was a Southern California singles conference focused on finding love, how to love and God’s plan for love –all the easy stuff, right?

But what surprised me the most about our little getaway was how often in our crazy busy schedule my husband and I forget to take the time and effort to practice the very things we  preach on.

I’m sure none of you would never forget this “oh so simple” principle either?

There are always plenty of and GOOD reasons and justifications why we slack in our effort towards our spouse.

Here’s mine:  Tim and I have struggled through a tough season.  Circumstances beyond our control have buffeted our ship through stormy waves.  We have clung to each other, held on tightly to our kids and trusted God to see us through the squall.

And we have survived –yes, and we have grown closer –certainly, but there are also wounds and nicks to our heels that we have allowed to sneak into our marriage and quietly steal our smiles.

And sometimes we don’t even realize how much we miss each other. 

Without three kids distracting me, without teen angst and toddler meltdowns, no work stress and ministry challenges, without seminary weighing Tim down with a paper due every stinking day–we were left with nothing to do but speak to the group –something we adore doing together and focus ALL our attention on one another.

In the afternoon, relaxing in a beautiful cabin with endless views, I watched my husband practice his talk for the evening event.  And as he wove together a message of hope and practical dating application, I sat there on the comfy sofa and fell in love with my husband all over again.

I watched him tell hilarious schticky jokes and “cat” analogies that rolled me.  I took in his passion for single adults, clear calling from God to minister and bursting energy to do God’s will –and I let it roll over me and penetrate my heart. 

And once again, I was in awe of the man I call my own.

I remembered how funny and smart he is and I let go of my resentment for the seminary who steals my husband away from me.  I watched his hands waving around to enunciate his words and I thought of those same hands that care for me and hold me when I am scared.  I caught the twinkle in his eye when he looked at me with longing and I felt the same spark deep within me.

Later that afternoon, we had lunch on the lake and took the time to date. 

We walked hand in hand by the water, laid down on a dock in the sunshine side by side as the speed boats gently rocked the floating platform, and shared our hearts with one another.  We explored the little lakeside village, slurped down cappuccinos and met friends for an impromptu chat.

We spent the day giggling and loving and lingering –and it filled my low bucket to the brim with “Keller Love” (which is the best kind of love of all).

Even though I know better –I sometimes forget that one of the best investments I can make is in my marriage.  One night away in a cabin with my sweetheart is worth six months in counseling fees.  And certainly a week away would be even better.

Now, your idea of fun might not be preaching together –but for Tim and I who share this passion it was restorative.  Maybe you and your spouse love to scuba dive, or watch indie films or climb mountains.  Every couple is unique in their bonding method, love language and shared interests –but however you love, don’t stop making the time to do the little things.

Don’t let the JOY slip through your fingers.

My friend Nick Arnette (master emcee and comedienne extraordinaire) sent me this great article from Single Dad Laughing.  The author –Dan is twice divorced and shared a long list of all the things he wished he had done differently in his marriages -“16 Ways I Blew My Marriage.”

And it resonated with me because of the weekend I spent making the effort to love and ENJOY my husband.  As I read this blog, I mentally checked off all the things we got right in one tiny weekend. 

Love is a choice.

It takes concentrated effort, sacrifice and time.  It takes letting go of the walls we build around our hearts and letting God restore us so that we can fully give and receive love.  Love is NOT EASY but there are moments where despite our humanity –God reaches down and we get a glimpse of the divine.

I have a perma-smile when I think of this weekend and the time I spent with my husband. 

Because this is the man who makes my heart sing.

Do you need to sneak away for some intentional love time with your spouse?

Not So Cheap Thrills

I should have known I was in over my head when the woman in reservations asked for my credit card to hold our brunch seating.

But after all my diligent research I figured it couldn’t cost TOO much to celebrate our Daddy in style.
I threw out my old gift giving ways this year.  No ties or sauces for daddy, no sports visors or knick-knack items –this year I wanted to dazzle my man with creativity. 

 My husband Tim adores Bloody Marys so I did a little sleuthing.  I discovered the famous drink was initially formulated by the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan, New York.  I also found out the St. Regis in Monarch Beach, not far from our home, offered a three-tier Bloody Mary bar on Father’s day. And the best part…each custom concoction was only a mere $10.

It sounded reasonable, so I called and made a reservation at Motif –the main restaurant at the hotel.

Father’s Day arrived and my hubby was dressed up and amped up for his special DAD activity. After an early breakfast in bed, church, and dropping off the big kids, Tim and I and little Kolby headed over to the stunning hotel overlooking the azure blue sea.

The valet whisked our car away and we entered the grandeur of the St. Regis.  Vistas and views met our every turn and rich people glided and tottered by in impossibly high heels.  We found our dining establishment and checked in with the hostess who handed us glasses of champagne while we waited.  I people watched and played with Kolby who climbed up and down the majestic staircase.

Tim ventured into the restaurant to take a peep at the Bloody Mary bar.  His eyes were big when he came back and he bubbled over with energy as he described the decadent condiments and accoutrements.  Then he casually inquired how much the brunch cost.

“I’m not sure,” I replied.  “The drinks are only $10 so it can’t be that much, maybe $45 a person?”

This seemed like a large number to me.

Tim wandered away again as I downed my bubbly and played with my little girl.  He came back a few minutes later with a giddy and dazed look on his face.

“You must really love me,” he stuttered.

Quizzically, I turned.  “Yes, I do…why do you say that?”

“Because the brunch is a bit more than your highest estimation,” Tim gulped.

“How much is it?” I whispered.

“It’s $115 a plate and the Bloody Mary Bar is on top of that,” he frantically giggled.

I furtively looked around.  “Maybe we can run?”

Then I remembered they had my credit card.  We were stuck.

My eyes filled with tears.  “I’m so sorry; I didn’t know it was so much.”

Tim looked at me with laughter, kindness and mirth.  “I know honey.  It’s ok.  But we are going to get our money’s worth today.”

We stayed for almost three hours and ate and ate and ate and ate.  And truthfully, it was the finest buffet experience of my life.  Kolby even took a nap and they brought her a blanket to lounge.

I’m realizing over and over again, that although I have plans, God loves nothing more than to mess them up.  His ways are mysterious and daring.  He invites me to trust and to lavish love on my husband. 

It wasn’t in my budget.  I had to charge my almost $300 brunch, but my husband felt treasured and esteemed in a different way than normal.  It was extravagant love and maybe that’s reason enough to be a little crazy and a lot of broke.

Oswald Chambers said…

“It is more and more impossible for me to have programs and plans because God alone has the plan, and our plans are only apt to hinder Him, and make it necessary for Him to break them up.”

iPad Babysitter?

baby-with-iPad

As a parent of a three-year old, I know the quandary a parent faces when their toddler melts down in a fine-dining establishment. 

We silently play a mental game of tug of war.

“Do I pull out the iPad and soothe baby or wait outside in the cold until daddy pays for the meal I didn’t even eat?”

Hmmmm…tough call.

In the days of old, babies clutched a rattle in their tiny fists for amusement and played with their toes –but these days just as many parents hand over the iPad or SmartPhone to: (A.) develop fine and gross motor skills (swiping and poking) and (B) passively babysit.

Do a Google search for “toddlers with tablets” and images and videos of toddlers maneuvering hexagons and triangles bombard the screen.

(Seriously though…my baby could sort shapes way before yours)

But critics shake their head at this early embrace of technology, suggesting addictive behavior and behavioral disorders could follow.

But are parents heeding expert advice?  Am I?

Urvashi Sen of New York City claims her 11-month-old son Ishaan could swipe a tablet before he was 9 months old.

Sen, a member of the group Upper West Side Moms, says she feels conflicted about handing over the technology to her children. Suzy Wolfson, another member, also expressed concerns about her 13-month-old son Leo’s interaction with tablets.

“I feel guilty when he’s sitting there with it,” Wolfson said. “But at the same time, I know I’m going to get him to eat dinner if I give him the iPad. I do think there is real learning and value.”

A study by Northwestern’s School of Communication discovered that 37 percent of parents of kid’s age 6-8-years use their tablet or Smartphone to entertain; despite the fact that over half are concerned the mobile devices may have a negative impact on their physical activity.

But research reveals, the more their kids beg for technology the less parents seem to care.  Because the truth is when the Smartphone is at arm’s length and the baby starts crying, many parents will reach for the easiest solution at hand. 

And once patterns are set, it’s tough to resist.  The baby knows if he cries hard enough in public, mom or dad will cave to the pressure.

What’s even more frightening is the addictive nature of technology.

ABC News conducted an informal test to see if babies would prefer mommy’s arms or the iPad.  Sadly enough, the toddlers were irresistibly drawn to the touch screens.

Infants over and over again are mesmerized by digital toys. When Leo was given the option of his mother Suzy, or the iPad, he went straight to the tablet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for children age 2 and under –zero “passive screen time.”

Not even for Elmo or Baby Einstein or Yo Gabba Gabba.

Just to fess up…in our home, we cheated by a few months, but generally deferred technology across the board until age two-ish (translation 20 months).  We also set limits on media but occasional fail during the summer months.

Instead, the AAP suggests unstructured play and talk time because they believe these approaches help children learn while supporting development.

This means mommies and daddies might want to consider turning away from their SmartPhones at the park to play pirates and princesses; it means we bring crayons and toys to the restaurant instead of the latest “Cupcake Maker” app, read books at bedtime and pull out the Little People for a game of pretend. 

It means we need to engage with our kids and not use technology to do OUR JOB.

We have to step up as parents even when it’s SOOOO easy to be a boob tube, iPhone, and iPad SLACKER. 

Because who is going to tell on us, the baby?

“That’s a time when these young kids need to be developing language skills and learning to recognize a facial expression, not scanning the Internet on an iPad,” said Gary Small, author of iBrain and professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Alright, exhausted parent’s of the world, as summer begins let’s virtually pinky swear to play more and tune in less.  Let’s turn off Playhouse Disney and go make a real fort with pillows and stuffed animals.

(Either that or your baby is going to turn into a techno-zombie who prefers his virtual mommy.  Just saying…)

How do you feel about toddlers and technology?

Source: ABC News

Plan B

cute-baby-pictures-hd-114

I love meeting young people who have a plan.  They have known since they were five years old they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or a mommy or a teacher. 

They are the PLAN A types.

My dad drilled this idea into my head starting in pre-school. 

“Sammy, what does PPMF mean?”

(imagine me as a three year-old with blond pigtails and a seventies smock with knee socks)

“Daddy, it means Piss Poor Planning Means Failure.” 

“That’s right honey, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Big wink and thumbs up dad!

But sometimes our plans and God’s plans collide.

I was the Type A kid on the mommyhood track.  I had a plan to marry, have kids and graduate from college in a certain timeframe.  In fact, I was 8 months pregnant when I graduated from UCLA.  I took my last final, came home and laid out my cap and gown and cute little maternity dress.  Then I worked on decorating my girly nursery.  I gently folded the delicate baby girl clothes I received at my first baby shower and placed them in my new baby chest of drawers. 

But instead of going to my graduation ceremony and party that weekend, I ended up in the hospital with a kidney infection and pre-term labor. 

During my fifth ultrasound of  my stay in the hospital, the tech looks over at me and says, you know what sex baby you are having right? 

I tell him yes, I am having a girl.  And he starts laughing. 

“Lady, I see a penis.” 

“The heck you do, I’m having a girl.” 

And he keeps laughing because the evidence is nonnegotiable

Plan B is my awesome amazing son Kyle Riley who was supposed to be Alexis Whitney.

We like to make plans and we want them to align with God’s plan. 

(It makes things so much easier when we are all on the same page, right?)

But how do we determine God’s will for our life?

How do we know what job we should take or what person we should marry or where we should live?  How do we know what kindergarten to put our kid in or what church to attend?

Questions like these get even harder when we think we are following God’s plan and then everything falls apart.  Maybe we misunderstood God or misinterpreted the signs. 

But it’s never really that simple. 

Knowing God’s will for your life is not a science.  There is no equation. 

No “I do this =and God does this for me.”  It’s often just a matter of trial and error. 

But I’ll let you in on the secret:  The answer to knowing God’s will is to KNOW GOD; because when you know God the questions change.

Chapter 16 of the Book of Acts tells an interesting story about Paul who is preparing to go to Asia to preach. 

He believes its God’s will and we all know Paul to be tight with God.  If anyone is going to get this right it’s going to be Paul.

But something is off.

Think about when you plan a mission trip.  You raise support, send out letters, plan, pray, plan, buy a ticket and get on an airplane.  And that’s modern times.

Paul had to raise support, wait until spring (because traveling in the Mediterranean in the winter is a recipe for death) and find a crew and a boat.  It was complicated and it involves a massive amount of prayer and planning.

Acts 16:6 tells us:

“Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.  So instead they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. 

So Paul heads for Asia and ends up in Troas?  That’s disheartening.  He thought he heard God but maybe not. 

Was he wrong?

You may remember a time you have hit a roadblock like that.

You got into a great college, but you can’t afford it.  You meet the perfect girl and then right before the wedding the relationship unravels.  You get the job you always wanted and then you hate it.

You were pretty sure you were going in the direction God wanted you to go in and then all of a sudden you are filled with doubt because it didn’t work out the way you expected.

So when the Bible says Paul was stopped by the Holy Spirit, it’s not exactly clear what that means.

We are never told how he was told not to go –was it a storm or a vision or a buddy who said, “Paul, I’m not feeling up to Asia.”

We just don’t know.  But then he ends up in Troas and he doesn’t know where to go next.

This comforts me.  I’ve been in that Troas place lots of times.  I thought I knew where God wanted me and then all of a sudden it’s Troas time.

Sometimes our God plan doesn’t work out.  Sometimes we end up with a blue nursery with circus animals instead of a pink one with daisy’s.

And then we hit Plan B and it’s hard and awkward and we are uncomfortable.

But if we sit around, complaining and second guessing Plan B, we miss something important along the way. 

Erwin McManus, one of my favorite authors and the pastor of Mosaic Church says when Plan B hits; part of the problem is that we ask the wrong question.

Paul doesn’t know the what, when and the where of his circumstances. He doesn’t know what he is supposed to be doing or if and when it will happen. 

But he does know the most important thing, he knows the why.

His purpose and his mission are to bring glory to God with his life.

Most of us though freak out about the other questions…

  • Where am I going to live?
  • Will this relationship work out?
  • Is this the right job for me?

We are so focused on the what, when, where and how that we forget about the “why”.

Pastor Pete Wilson suggests…”Often in life, the what, when and where are not going to turn out the way you want them to.  You don’t always get to choose, but you do get to choose the why.  You may not get to choose where you work, but you do get to choose why you work.    You may not get to choose what your future is going to be, but you do get to choose how you live.”

If you can keep your focus on the why, the other questions tend to sort themselves out.

Proverbs 16:9 reminds us:

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the LORD establishes their steps.

In this life, many of your questions will remain unanswered.  But through it all, God will never change.  This is why our faith must remain on his identity and not his activity.

Our task then is to do what we would do if we were confident God was with us.

Once we know our purpose and our mission, “who, what, when and where” become less important.

We become people who care more about the why.

Is there a situation in your life right now where understanding the why might change your perspective?

 

Cross references:

  1. Proverbs 16:9 : S ver 1; S Job 33:29; S Ps 90:12

 

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