Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts

Friday, November 23, 2012

1 Question to De-Crazy Your Calendar

During November and December, I'll be studying hope. I'll be sharing what I learn here, in a series called "Hope for the Holidays and Everydays". This week, I'm giving away a copy of Karen Ehman's new book LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.  

I'd LOVE your input on the cover and title of my upcoming eBook based on May's The PURSE-onality Challenge!  If you take this short survey, the final question invites you to leave your name & e-mail address so I can send you a FREE copy of the eBook when it's done!


I think I’ll just skip LET. IT. GO. Chapter 7: “When Your Schedule Screams (and You Want to Scream, Too).”

I mean, really: what could I possibly need to learn about schedules or screaming?

  • Just because I once fit a dog show, birthday party, and sewing lessons in the same calendar square...
  • Just because my daily schedule relies on every person, vehicle, and piece of technology working flawlessly…
  • Just because I get a surge of adrenalin every time I check something off my list…

Karen admits:

I often clog up any calendar white space with even more to-dos.… A hefty chunk of the reason is that in being in control of my time, I can influence others’ opinions of me.… And let’s face it, women who have control of the clock are viewed as confident and capable.

I recognize that craving such an outward appearance is utterly prideful. The Spirit reminds me to find my identity in Christ, not in a facade of capability and certainly not in others’ opinions of me.…

And she asks:

When our schedules scream, must we always shout back?  What if we stepped off the treadmill of life long enough to do a little evaluation, deciding whether the problem lies in the speed to which we’ve cranked the machine’s dial and the incline we’ve set for the climb?”

The Truth About My Priorities

In October, I borrowed a phrase from Proverbs 31 Ministries and defined “a holiday-ready heart” as one that causes me to be “a woman whose love protects.” 

Now that the holidays are upon us, the #1 question I have to ask is this:

Am I making accomplishments or people my priority?

And it’s a hard question, at least for me.

The Truth About Multi-Tasking

I pride myself in my ability to multi-task.  

(No, I’m not going to discuss the research that says we really don’t multi-task; we just toggle back-and-forth between tasks. Whatever you want to call it, I’m good at it!)

But multi-tasking only works for tasks.

Multi-tasking does not work in relationships.

In fact, multi-tasking is one of the most subtle destroyers of intimacy. 

The Truth About Intimacy



Those closet to me -- my husband, my children, my family, my friends -- can’t see into me if I’m a a perpetual motion machine.

Oh, my whirling dervish of multi-tasking act may impress the masses!

But it alienates me from those with whom God has called me to connect.

To love. 

The Truth About My Schedule

I won’t deny that I pack my schedule full because I love impressing other people. There’s plenty of self-ish truth there.

But a far more honest explanation for my crammed calendar is that I like doing things I can do well.

And I can do almost anything well, as long as it doesn’t involve love.

  • Love is messy.
  • Love is time-consuming.
  • Love is unpredictable.
  • Love is inconvenient.
  • Love is vulnerable.
  • Love is demanding.
  • Love is frustrating.

And if I’m going to do something messy, time-consuming, unpredictable, inconvenient, vulnerable, demanding, and frustrating then I want some sort of end product to show for all my efforts, thank you very much!

  • Let me show you the wall full of dog showing ribbons, rosettes, and the championship certificate!
  • Let me show you the photo album of photos from that amazingly planned-and-executed birthday party!
  • Let me show you the pillow case and shorts I taught eight people to sew in 3 hours or less!

The Truth About Love

My testimony begins, “Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wanted to be good...good enough to be loved.”

I have always associated accomplishments with worthiness for love.

But when I slow down long enough to just “hang out” with my family and friends, they are far happier than when I’m checking things off my lists.

When I quit doing and start “being” with them, their response is “finally!” as if they’ve been waiting for me to simply show up.

When I listen in the moment, without rewinding the past or projecting the future, they feel connected.

And now these three remain:
faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

The greatest thing I will ever “do” is love.

So I am learning to filter each schedule item, each To Do List task, each calendar event through this question:

Will this make accomplishments or people my priority?

Accomplishments that block or break relationships must be re-evaluated.

Only those that facilitate loving relationships with people are tasks that God is calling me to do. 

Your Turn:
  • Do you tend to be a multi-tasker?  How do you do at setting tasks aside when it's time to focus on relationships?
  • When your schedule gets over-full, what's the main reason?
  • How does your calendar look for the next month? 
  • Anything else on your heart!

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5: RIGHTEOUS (+ Rituals vs. Relationships)

Each day during The PURSE-onality Challenge: "A Holiday-Ready Heart" in October, Untangling Christmas by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice, will be our give-away prize!  

Enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the blog post or click here to enter!

How It Works (via Bullet Points & Videos!)
Day 1: LOVED (+ 2 Vital Questions to Ask NOW)
Day 2: CHOSEN - Making Right Holiday Choices
Day 3: COMPLETE (+ 5 Gift-Giving Questions)
Day 4: PURE (+ Goodbye, Ghosts of Christmas Past)

Starting Our Own Traditions

For our very first Christmas as newlyweds, Daniel and I didn’t visit his family or mine. Instead, we wanted to start our own family traditions. 

Anxious to be a good wife and do everything “right” for our first Christmas together, I got up early that morning and started cooking enough food for an army. 

Once Daniel was awake, I asked him the all-important question of the day:

“What time do you want to eat?”

He replied, “I don’t care.”

I was stunned by such an unthinkable response. Clearly, he had misunderstood my question, so I spoke more clearly the second time I asked, 

“What time do you want to eat?”

He enunciated his repeated response with equal care:

“I. Don’t. Care.”

With more patience than I felt a Choleric should ever be required to demonstrate, I gave this man I’d promised to love, honor, and cherish one last chance:

“What time do you want to eat?”

This time, his response came out as one exasperated word:


Fine. I’d had enough, too!

“Then we’ll eat at three o’clock.”

Christmas Dinner My Family’s Way

I cooked and baked for hours, keeping my eye on the clock and wishing I had the double-decker ovens that gave my mother such an unfair advantage. Still, I was determined to have all hot foods on the table hot and cold foods on the table cold between 3:00:00 and 3:00:30, just as she’d raised me to do.

At 2:45, Daniel laid down on the couch. 

By 2:50, he was asleep. 

Not just “resting his eyes” asleep. Deep, snoring-up-a-storm asleep.

I was dumbfounded but undaunted.

At 2:59, I woke him up, telling him, “It’s time to eat,” and at 3:00:10 I started serving.

Daniel came to the table, ate a few bites of everything on his plate, and -- true to his Phlegmatic nature! -- at 3:04 laid back down on the couch. By 3:05, he was snoring again.

I will spare you my reactions, both as his napped and after he woke up. Suffice to say: I shed tears. And we had words.

Christmas Dinner His Family’s Way

The next year, we decided to join Daniel’s family for Christmas. Imagine my surprise when several family members showed up, unannounced, around 8:30 in the morning, bearing a couple of casserole dishes. 

A stack of paper plates was produced and everyone started eating.

Everyone except for me, that is.  

Paper plates?

On Christmas?

Is this even allowed? (I half expected the police to show up at any moment!)

An hour or so later, more family came. With more food, which was added to the growing collection on the kitchen table. 

Everyone helped themselves to the new offerings as well as seconds of the original dishes.

Except for me. After all,

  • I’d never eaten Christmas dinner off anything other than my mother’s special china dishes. The ones she’d brought over from Germany after she spent a year as an exchange student. The ones she didn’t let anyone carry except for herself...and me.
  • I’d never eaten Christmas dinner anywhere other than seated stiffly at my mother’s formal dining room table, with a place card bearing my name between the small salad bowl and bread plate. And with a gigantic centerpiece blocking my view of half my family.

By mid-day, the kitchen table and counters were covered with food. Dozens of family members mingled throughout the house and all over the back yard, some reclining on lawn chairs.

Lawn chairs

I made it through that day without having a nervous break-down (but it was a very close call!)

I finally did pile a paper plate with food.

But I could not bring myself to sit on a lawn chair. 


A few months ago, my friend Julie–who converted from Judaism to Christianity as a teenager–and I attended the play Fiddler on the Roof. On the drive home, we discussed the struggle the father experienced each time one of his daughters wanted to defy tradition. 

Julie fondly recalled some of the Jewish rituals she’d grown up with. But she observed that what made these rituals meaningful was the close relationships she had with the family members who performed the rituals. Because the relationships were already strong, the rituals bonded them together as a family.

However, for those who did not already have the foundational relationships, rituals not only failed to create closeness, they actually caused division. They alienated family members from each other.

Rituals without relationships disintegrate quickly into rigid rules.

Relationships over Rituals

At Christmas, we get to celebrate the gift of righteousness God gave us by sending His Son.

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, 
declares that we are righteous. 
He did this through Christ Jesus 
when He freed us from 
the penalty for our sins. 

Romans 3:24 (NLT)

Too often, though, we get caught up in defending the right-ness of our rituals. 

At the time of year when we sing in church about peace, joy, and love, we too often go home and fight to the death of our relationships over 
  • gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day
  • everyone around the table or eating in shifts
  • home-made or store-bought

I posed this question on Facebook:  So what's the difference between the rituals of a wonderful family tradition that brings people closer together...and the rigidity of old rules that drive a wedge between people?

All generations are different. I was thinking about the story about how three or four generations in the family always cut the ends of the ham off to cook it. When asked why they did it, they said that whoever was in the generation before (ie. mom, grandma, etc...) had always done it that way so they did it, too. When they got all the way back to the reason that the first generation had done it, it was because the ham wouldn't fit in the pan to cook without cutting the ends off. Here all of this time later they were still doing it, just because the others had done it that way. When we really look at why we do things, we may realize that we don't have to do something just because that's the way it's always been done. It's okay to change things.  


When traditions get in the way of the togetherness...when sticking to the "right" way makes everyone so stressed that they are miserable, or not allowing for changes in life circumstances, i.e. you CANNOT have a big meal and all eat at the same time when there are 10 kids, and six of them are under the age of three! You have to be flexible. We ate in shifts, but took a big family photo first, and we all prayed together.


Talking About Traditions NOW

NOW –- long before the expectations and pressures of the holidays are bearing down upon us -- is a great time to talk about the traditions, the rituals, the “always been done this way”s in our families. 

Some conversation starters:
  • What is the history of our family’s traditions/rituals? 
  • What was the original purpose of each one? 
  • What relationships did they strengthen?
  • What has changed since these traditions/rituals were first started? 
  • Which ones meet my PURSE-onality needs? How/why?
  • Which ones meet your PURSE-onality needs?  How/why?
  • Which ones violate someone's PURSE-onality needs? How/why?
  • Which traditions/rituals might we discard? replace? revise?

Your Turn!
  • What is one of your favorite family traditions/rituals? Why is it a favorite? What relationships does it strengthen?
  • What is one of your least favorite family traditions/rituals? Why is it a least favorite? What relationships does it stress?
  • What family tradition/ritual would you like to discard / replace / revise this year?
  • Anything else on your heart!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Good News, Bad News: Light Bulb Moment

(We're gearing up for The PURSE-onality Challenge holiday edition"A Holiday-Ready Heart"–in October! Stay tuned for full details...Warm-Up Week starts September 24!)

September 5-23, I'll be blogging through Mary DeMuth's soon-to-be-released book Everything: What you Give and What you Gain to Become Like Jesus. Each week, I'll be giving way a copy of the book. You can enter the drawing via the Rafflecopter at the end of each Everything blog post!

* * * * *

"We want to believe the lie that the Christian life is all about our comfort and happiness; surely it's never about suffering or working hard or bearing up or being resilient. It can't be about God's disciplining us or growing us. We would rather grow in a flowered garden, not be exiled to the tumbleweed desert. Yet we can't escape the fact that God disciplines those He loves. He sometimes sends us to hard pressing places."

Mary DeMuth, Everything -- download 2 free chapters here!

24 years ago today, these two crazy kids said "I do"...without a clue. I was so sure that my marriage was going to be one big "happily ever after." It's taken me decades to recognize that my marriage is actually one of the "hard pressing places" where God disciplines and grows me.

Good News

I heard the "good news" about my marriage at the taping of the Wired That Way Personality video series with Florence and Marita Littauer.

Marita pointed out that while every marriage can work, some marriages require more work than others.

The "less work marriages" have one square in common. A Sanguine/Choleric married to a Choleric/Melancholy: they share the Choleric need to achieve.

My marriage didn't fit the "less work marriage" description.

In the "more work marriages," both spouses are somewhat extroverted and somewhat introverted. A Sanguine (extrovert)/Phlegmatic (introvert) married to a Choleric (extrovert)/Melancholy (introvert). In this marriage, each spouse understands the other's needs for some socializing and for some solitude.

My marriage wasn't a "more work marriage".

In "most work marriages," the spouses are total opposites. A Melancholy/Phlegmatic (Daniel) married to a Sanguine/Choleric (me.) Whatever one spouse needs to have in order to thrive the other spouse needs to avoid in order to survive.

My marriage is definitely a "most work marriage".

At first, I was ecstatic to hear this. No wonder it's seemed so difficult, over the years. No wonder it's felt like so much work. We have the hardest type of marriage! That explains everything!

Bad News

By the next morning, however, reality sank in. Wait. Woah. Oh no. We have the hardest type of marriage! What meets my needs violates Daniel's needs; what meets Daniel's needs violates my needs. What kind of no-win martyrdom are we trapped in? Talking about bad news!

I do know how to meet Daniel's need for, say, solitude. But while he's enjoying his solitude I certainly can't meet my need for us to socialize! And Daniel knows about my need to achieve. But when I drag him on a 6-hour shopping spree, he doesn't get the downtime that he needs. Talking about incompatible!

But Daniel and I have always known that God brought us together. That He had a plan in mind for each of us, as two individuals, and for the "one" we were to become.

Why -- why on earth?!? -- did You put two such totally opposite people together in a marriage that only allows one spouse's needs to be fulfilled at a time? What is Your plan, here?

Light Bulb Moment!

I prayed for days. As I pondered, the light bulb went on.

I had spent years dwelling on how unfulfilled I feel when my husband's needs are met but mine are not.  What if I could learn to feel satisfaction when I see my husband's needs being met? What if I could learn to experience something new -- perhaps not the fun or achievement my Personality craves, but maybe something that transcends my needs?

I tried it: enjoying seeing Daniel's needs being met instead of focusing on mine going unmet. And sure enough! The reward for unselfishness is peace. A peace that passes all understanding.

Practicing unselfishness has led me to understand God's plan for my marriage. Because the only way I am able to think and act outside of my self is to surrender every aspect of my life (especially my marriage!) to Jesus Christ. To give up all my wants, my shoulds, and -- yes! -- even my needs. To trust Him to take complete care of me.

A "most work marriage" is the only one in which God could teach me to rely on Him alone. If I'd married someone with whom I had more in common, I would have found my fulfillment in my husband. I would have set him up -- a mere man -- to be my all-in-all. My savior. And that is never God's plan for any marriage.

Daniel and I are in a marriage of total opposites on purpose. And as we live according to His purpose, two selfish people are truly becoming one.

Now that is good news!

Your Turn:
  • Think about the easiest relationships in your life. What makes them easy?
  • Think about the harder relationships in your life. What makes them hard?
  • Anything else on your heart!

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