Thursday, January 28, 2010

Life Lessons from a Newbie

Ok, so I know I'm not that old, and I haven't been married all that long.  As a matter of fact, it has only been about 4.55 years since David and I tied the knot.  I am still relatively new in this field of life compared to many others.  Ok, most others.  But I have learned a few small things, and I have it on my heart today to share some of those things with you.

The Best Lessons I've Learned So Far

1. Never say anything critical to or about another person.
       This is one of the hardest things I have ever undertaken, and I still fail in this pursuit daily, sometimes even hourly, or even "minute-ly".  I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as constructive criticism.  And also, let me just say that there is a difference between confronting sin, and being critical. There is also a difference between parental guidance and criticism.  When I say criticism, what I am talking about is the (oftentimes mean-spirited) nit-picking, as in "Well this painting would have been great if they had used pink instead of purple on this little 1-inch-squared section right here."  Criticism, from what I have observed, often comes from a spirit of "it's only done right if it's done my way", otherwise known as pride.  Criticism is deadly in any relationship, but especially in the marital relationship. According to my understanding, relationships flourish with encouragement and peace. If you hear yourself starting to critique another, and you want to stop, just ask yourself, "What's something I like about them?" Also, if there is something that another person is doing that is hurtful to you, there is nothing wrong, critical, condemning, or devisive about saying, "Would you be please _______?" My example: Would you please put your drink on a coaster? (Heh, I'm usually the one who this request would addressed to....)  Here's a couple relevant verses:

Ephesians 4:31
Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. (NCV)

Titus 3:1-2
REMIND PEOPLE to be submissive to [their] magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be prepared and willing to do any upright and honorable work, to slander or abuse or speak evil of no one, to avoid being contentious, to be forbearing (yielding, gentle, and conciliatory), and to show unqualified courtesy toward everybody. (AMP)

James 3:17-18
Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (The Message)
2.  Accept others where they are, and continually look for what is admirable and praiseworthy about them.
    It's easy to get caught in the cycle of "if they would only.....". Do your best to stay away from that train of thought.  It leads to an abyss of misery.  A person is never going to change based on your opinions or suggestions. This path will only lead to your own frustration. "Never try to keep a pig clean- it wastes your time and annoys the pig" (source unknown). More can be accomplished in the attempt to help another by inspiring them with honest praise and exhortations than can be guilted or brow-beaten out of them. Plus, you and everyone else will feel much better afterwards for the experience if it is a positive one.

Some verses:

1 Corinthians 13:3-7
7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Ephesians 4:29
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
(Both quoted from The Message)
3.  I cannot control another person into changing what they believe or who they are.
       Change comes from a place of brokenness, and only God can bring them there. Criticizing and arguing with a person will not bring them to that place.  In the case of salvation of another person, the only thing that we as believers can do is to plant the seed by telling them about Jesus and directing them toward the Bible, praying for it to take root in their hearts, and then loving them through the process.  Loving them means giving them a soft place to fall and leading by example.  There is nothing I can do to "get someone to help me help them."  The seed of truth will take root if the ground is fertile, and the only one who can do the work to fertilize it is the Holy Spirit.
    This is one of those things that I have had a supreme struggle with.  A lot of times I can look at another person's life, and it's easy to see what it is that they are doing to hurt themselves.  It is so easy to know where another person is making mistakes, and so tempting to think, "If I can just explain it right, or shout it loud enough, then they will see what they are doing, and change it." Oh, if only it was that easy. However, that approach never works.  Almost always, that way of dealing with someone just ends up damaging the relationship- they feel judged, and I feel frustrated.  Plus, pointing out to others their mistakes causes them to go on the defensive.  When people start defending themselves, it just makes the problem worse because then they feel they must prove they are right, and the problematic behavior becomes more deeply entrenched.
     It all comes back to the same basic principle of letting peace rule in our relationships. We do this by encouraging and nurturing the good things we see in ourselves and others, and leaving the rest to God to sort out.
Proverbs 3:12
For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 16:6
By mercy and love, truth and fidelity [to God and man--not by sacrificial offerings], iniquity is purged out of the heart, and by the reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord men depart from and avoid evil.
Drop me a note and tell me your thoughts!  :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kitty Cat Television

There is no greater pleasure for my two cats than the priviledge of sitting and staring out an open window.  It dazzles their senses, especially their senses of sound and smell.  They pick up snatches of information with their ears and nose, and learn more about the world around them than I could from watching the television for a week.  They get so excited whenever David opens the window for them that they begin humming, purring, and prancing in circles.  Here are some pics:

 Gizmo just gets so excited that she has to be crazy for a couple minutes to vent some steam!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Good Stuff

This week has gone super so far!

Last night, on the spur of the moment, I decided to try making Chex mix for the first time ever in my whole entire life.  I looked up the recipe on good ol' google, gathered up husband, and headed to the store.  While we were there, grabbing our required cereal ingredients, we noticed a too-delicious-to-pass-up recipe on the back of the corn chex, and decided to make that too.

An hour later, we were at home enjoying about 10 pounds of various chex cereal concoctions, revelling in the tastiness.  I could seriously get addicted to the Muddy Buddies, although a lot of the time I can't remember the name of it, and called it Monkey Munch instead (it looks similar to the recipe that Kate Gosselin made for her kids on "Jon and Kate Plus Eight", hmmm perhaps she just ripped off the recipe from their website and added some pretzels or marshmallows or whatever to make it her own....).

On the original Chex mix, I decided to add some Goldfish, roasted and salted sunflower seeds, and extra cashews and almonds. Plus I made it with a whole stick of butter instead of 6 tablespoons.  It was super super yummy.

Plus, other good things have been afoot in our cozy little household.  Aaron and Amie, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law (David's brother and his wife), came up to visit for David's birthday this past Friday and Saturday.  Let me just say that I am totally in love with them. D and I have been married for four years and three months, but it wasn't until this past Christmas that we had the chance to connect on a deeper level with his side of the famly (everyone lives pretty far apart).  This year, we had an early Christmas, and the more relaxed atmosphere gave more opportunities to truly enjoy each other's company, and get in some good girl-talk.  Also, being older and wiser and more accepting of my own flaws helped give me confidence to give someone else a chance to get to know me a little better.  It's not very often that you find someone that you can connect with at the heart level, and I'm lucky to have someone like that for a sister-in-law.

Another good thing about their visit is that it gave us the motivation to get even more done on our house in the department of decorating and organizing.  I even got a new shower curtain out of the deal!  :)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Adventures in Toddler Land

Yesterday and today I have had the pleasure of spending some good, quality time baabysitting my little neices Shayce and Kylie.  Shayce is four and a half.  She has given me some very enlightening information over the last couple of days.

Yesterday she was explaining traffic lights to me.  Everything she told me was accurate, and I was impressed, so I asked, "How did you get so smart?" Her response? "From my thumb.  One day I bumped it, and that made it smart.  Then it made me smart.  It was a magic bump."

This morning I let her play on PBS kids website for a little while. I turned it on, went out of the room for a couple minutes to change Kylie's diaper, then came back.  When I came back in the room, Shayce was carefully watching a little video on the website, with a pen and paper in hand, drawing little circles and squiggles on the paper.  I asked her what she was doing.

"I'm bizerving."
"You're observing?"

Her mother is a [completely awesome] school teacher. It's testing season at school.  Need I say more?

Also, on Wednesday, Kylie was hankering after Shayce's trail mix that she made at school.  My mom had told Shayce to share with Kylie, so Shayce very happily picked out the pretzel sticks from the mix and poked them into Kylie's mouth. Then, Shayce was finished sharing. Kylie, however was not. So, for the next two hours, Kylie hunted, stalked, and tried to sneak some of the delicious M&M's or marshmallows out of Shayce's bowl of trail mix. Every time I would catch her trying to sneak some, I would tell her no. Finally, after a couple of attempts, she made a grab for the bowl, I started to say no, and she looked up with a pout and exclaimed "Shhh!"

Thursday, January 07, 2010

An Open Letter to my Lovely Sister

Dear Carrie,

I've been thinking about you a lot lately.  It is probably because of the time of year- your birthday was last week.  I wanted to take a minute to tell you exactly what I think of you.

You are Wonderful.

That's right.  You heard me. With a capital W, too. Be complimented-- I dare you.

There are many reasons why I love you- among them are that you are smart, kind, gracious, and sweet.  But most of all I love your heart.  I love the fact that you are one of the most accepting and least critical people I have ever known.  I love your heart, and that you celebrate with people.  I love that I can talk to you about things and you get me.

I love that I got to grow up with you leading the way.  I have admired and looked up to you since I was a couple weeks old (yeah, you know the pictures, where my little eyes were bugging out of my head with you peering down at me-- how come you got to be a cute infant, and I resembled an insect???).

I appreciate your creative spirit and desire to be a Godly woman. I think you are brilliant and original- you inspire me to think outside the box.  I feel so blessed to be your little sister, and I am a better person for the time we have spent together.  I look forward to future times together, and to being mommies together one day  :)

Thank you for sticking with me through thick and thin (literally, ha). And thank you for being you.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Wonderful Husband

Today (the 5th) was David's birthday. It was a pretty good day overall. We went to see a movie for his birthday- he chose Sherlock Holmes. I enjoyed it very much. I had heard from some that it was horrible or got a bad review from somewhere, but I have never read the books, so was unbothered by any comparison with the original story. It was wonderful. It had many humorous moments, suspense, intrigue, mystery, and some beautiful camera work and editing. Plus, I think I have a thing for Robert Downey, Jr.

But I have a much bigger thing for my David. In the spirit of celebration of the wonderful man who was born 29 years ago today, I have decided to take a moment to make public my appreciation of him.

Things I like about him as a person:
1. He has a great smile, with dimples and squints.
2. He has a kind heart.
3. He is very gentle and loving.
4. He is brilliant.
5. He is compassionate and caring.
6. He is resourceful, responsible, and a hard worker.
7. He is very thoughtful and considerate.

Things he does well:
1. He makes a mean Gumbo.
2. He remembers every anniversary of every little thing
3. He goes out of his way to let me know how much he loves and appreciates me
4. He helps me feel so special, valuable, and loved
5. He is considerate and thoughtful- he does a great job of living and loving with meaning and purpose.
6. He is soooooo patient, accepting, and content- he really inspires me in these areas.
7. He, like his Biblical namesake, is a man after God's own heart, in that he wants to do what's right and give the praise and glory to God through it all.
8. He is a man of feeling, and shares his heart with me. Alot of the things he thinks about are so deep and insightful- he amazes me.
9. He is very talented in many respects. He can solve any logical or technical problem that ever could come up. He does a great job at his work. He is thorough and dedicated in whatever he projects he takes on at work and at home, and whenever he finishes something it's not only complete but a work to behold.
10. He is beautifully artistic and poetic. The other day he let my mom read a poem he wrote, and she cried. He's that good.
11. He is a technical genius too- he works as a systems engineer, and spends some of his idle time at home building his own computer and writing the software for it. I'm not even sure what it will do when he is finished; when I ask what his computer will do, he says "compute things". He's like Michaelangelo- until it is revealed, the work must remain a mystery. :)
12. He is very funny- he is always coming up with jokes, puns, and little comments that keep me laughing ( or at times smiling painfully).
13. He is great with children and pets. One of my favorites is when he does impressions of our pets and what they must be thinking. He even does the "Mackenzie Dance".

He is the greatest friend and partner I could ever ask for. I feel blessed every day when I wake up next to him, and I am so so looking forward to the rest of our future together.

I love you, David!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Digging Into the New Year

The last few days we have been busy as little bees around in these parts. Christmas/New Year's is always a busy time of year for us because of the proliferation of holidays and birthdays. this was our schedule this year:

December 18- Leave for Crockett for B--- Family Christmas
December 20- Drive back from Crockett to Dallas for Kylie's Birthday Party
December 24- Mc--- family Christmas
December 25- Christmas
December 28 - Mom's Birthday Party
January 1- New Year's
January 2- Carrie's Birthday and family party for her and David
January 5- David's Birthday
January 8-10 - David's family comes to our house to visit for his birthday, with many days previous spent furiously cleaning, sifting, organizing, and in some cases discarding our lovely junk from all the nooks and crannies in our sweet little 950-Sq. Ft. house.

This year is the first year that we are having David's family up for his birthday. Only one of his brothers (and his wife :) ) is spending the night, so that relieves some of the stress of trying to figure out where to put everyone.

Plus, it is the first year that we didn't spend the 25-28th on the road. Moving Christmas with David's family up to the weekend before Christmas made things so much more enjoyable, and less stressful.

Plus, we also chose not to go anywhere or do anything on Christmas Day or New Year's, so that also lessend the stress by quite a bit.

Now I just have to get my house back into a semblance of order, and we're all good.