I am My Husband’s Girlfriend

Have you ever heard Dr. Laura ask a caller if they are their husband’s girlfriend? The first time I heard this, it made me stop and think. It took me back to high school when my husband and I were dating. How was it different in 1977 than 2009?

I Flirted with Him
You remember how to do that, don’t you? The batting of the eyelids, the sultry sideways glances, the winking, the come hither smile, the soft, feminine voice, the lingering EYE CONTACT. Wowsa! It sure worked back then. I just got a chill!

I was Playful
My husband had a fantastic 1964 Chevy Impala convertible. It was immaculate. We had excellent adventures in the Chevy, top down and radio blaring. I always sat in the middle, right up against him, wherever we went. My father in law once told us he couldn’t see the light of day between us in that car! We laughed and teased and understood FUN. I was carefree and looking toward the future.

I was Careful with my Appearance
I never left the house without a final check: Farrah Faucett hair, Lindsey Wagoner (The Bionic Woman) makeup, nails, Cachet perfume, fresh breath. I dressed for my man, and he always showed his appreciation.

He had Top Billing in My Life
I never would have dreamed to be too busy if he called for a date. I longed to be with him all the time. There was nothing or no one that had a higher priority in my life than him. I was willing to drop anything to be with him.

I was Passionate about Him and with Him
The one thing that says teenage love is passion! Am I right?! And we had it. Within Biblical guidelines, it is normal and right. God created it for us to enjoy. I loved to look at his face, his hands, his hair, his body. I loved to look into his big cow brown eyes. (I definitely hated his feet for the first few years but they have grown on me.) We loved holding hands and walking arm in arm. We brushed up against each other as we walked by. Our kisses were lingering, our words affirming. I loved how he smelled.

That’s how it was in 1977 …

We’re still choosing love daily in 2009. I admit I am sometimes guilty of falling down on the job of being my husband’s girlfriend. He still responds in a big way to all these areas of care. During the intense child-rearing years it was more difficult to nurture our marriage in these ways. And we definitely go through seasons of intensity in a long-term relationship. But overall, we would do well as women to keep these priorities in mind as we travel down the road of marriage. There’s a big payoff!

    Personal Note:

If you’re reading my posts from somewhere else (like Facebook) or email, I would love it if you would actually link to my blog to make your comments. It helps get the word out. Thank you so much.

Fall Screams Busy

All the chit chat on email and the social networks seems to be about gearing up for the busy Fall. The sense I’m getting is that this time of year is met with some dread. The Fall does bring more of a regular routine no matter what season of life you’re in. But my heart’s cry is that we would live intentionally during busy seasons and not let activities control our families. Since we all know ahead of time that the Fall is extra busy, we would benefit from pre-planning rather than letting life hit us with no plan in place.

Start with prioritizing

Decide what the “big rocks” are in your family

o The things you won’t compromise on like play/down/quiet time, meal time, family worship, homework, hobbies, work requirements, maintenance of your home, conversation, solitude, SLEEP

After you know what MUST go into the family’s schedule, decide which additional activities can be added without compromise.

o There are many good things for our families to participate in. But an intentional parent thinks first about the impact on the family. It isn’t reasonable to think that we can allow every activity in which we want to be involved into the family schedule. Spread things out as much as possible; pick and choose. Get everyone involved in the decision-making. This helps train our children to learn to set their own priorities.

o Stress kills; manage the family schedule to minimize stress. A family with too many activities going at once is a stressed out family. We get irritable, grumpy, angry with each other. Many times we choose to keep ourselves busy to avoid dealing with the things God is trying to speak to us about.

o Learn to appreciate silence and solitude so you can think more clearly and refresh and restore. This is a generation of entertainment addiction. Do some free stuff! Unplug! Picnic, swim in the river, watch a sunset, play with your pet, reflect on your blessings, look at photo albums together, talk about the past and the future, have actual conversations. Big payoff.

Family Calendar

– Record all known events, deadlines & appointments

o Make this calendar the official one; all others must be sync’ed with this one, not the other way around.

– Keep it updated and check it at strategic times during the week. Check it every evening and especially check it at the end of the week so you can be prepared for the following week.

– Check it before committing to anything new

– Make a command center in a central location in your home that is accessible to everyone. Here is a great post from a blog I follow about how to set up a command center.

There is so much more to say but this will get us started. My heart says especially to the younger ones … stop and think: make home a winsome, inviting, comforting place to be for you and your family. Do it your way, but I encourage you to have an enjoyable yet intentional Fall season.

Somewhere in Time …

Young, beautiful, healthy, vibrant, in love!
Young, beautiful, healthy, vibrant, in love!
Lately I have been slightly lost in time. I’ve been remembering the past and dreaming about the future. There have been times in my life where I think I’ve actually experienced “visions” (sounds creepy, I know, but I mean it in the most normal way possible). When I first became a Creative Memories Consultant and started developing talks about family photographs, I was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a photograph of my grandparents when they were first married. The picture was taken in a logging camp in northern Idaho, where they lived when they were first married. My grandmother was wearing a HALTER TOP!

I don’t need to tell you that I had NEVER imagined my grandmother in a halter top. To me, she was always “Grandma.” She was always old, walked with a painful limp, seemed to be ill frequently, was a fabulous cook, and had the beautiful gift of hospitality. She loved me unconditionally and I loved her very much. But this picture opened up a whole new world of Blanche Bertholf to me. I began to think about her as a WOMAN instead of a grandmother.

Grandma sang soprano, was a church bookkeeper, hosted Sunday Schools in her home, put on fancy dinners and events for young people, didn’t have the modern conveniences until late in life, recycled-repurposed-reused, loved cookies and ice cream, was always kind to animals, and was a gamer before gaming was cool. She was once young, beautiful, vibrant, healthy and passionate about her man! What a woman!

I had a similar revelation when I realized my mother was a person … a woman and not just a mother. Years ago when I was going through some counseling and learning to move on from a difficult childhood, the counselor helped me realize that I could look back at my childhood from an adult perspective and see it for what it really was. I could also look at my mother in this way, realizing that she made the best choices she could in the times she lived in. She is a whiz at English and grammar and punctuation, is a very talented and innovative musician, has a strong administrative ability, loves the computer and looks younger than she is. What a woman!

The other day my married daughter was over visiting and we talked until late. About halfway through our conversation I was absolutely stopped dead in my tracks again. Our topics of conversation were no longer about simple girlie things as in the past. We talked about career choices and children and finances and friends going through marriage struggles. Now we were talking about adult things … woman to woman. My DAUGHTER was now a woman! And what a woman she is! She is a fabulous photographer, talented musician, is confident and strong, accepts people as they are and gives great advice.

So I’ve been rather floating between the generations of late, enjoying the memories of my mother and her mother and feeling grateful for the things from them that make me who I am. And also cherishing my own adult daughter, feeling pride in who she has become and knowing that she carries pieces of me in her that make her who she is. I am thankful for this “timeline”. Grandma, mOm, Abbey and I are all part of the ages, after all. We are all passing on our faith, influence, character traits, values … our legacy. So far, I’m pleased with mine.

What are you leaving to the next generation?

Love for a Lifetime

My husband, Scott, and I were cuddling in the hot tub last night at the club after water aerobics, something we enjoy and feel very spoiled doing. When I went into the dressing room to change, a woman spoke to me. She told me that my husband and I looked very much in love. I told her we certainly were … 32 years worth of being in love. She asked the usual questions about how old we were when we were married, etc. But then she asked, “Have you had some tough times, some REALLY BAD ones?” I told her the answer was a definite yes. She asked what our secret was. I prayed. I knew this was a divine appointment.

I told her that during our premarital counseling, our pastor had told us three things we should live by in order to stay married for a lifetime: 1) we had to be more committed to the covenant and relationship than to the other person; 2) we couldn’t base our relationship on our feelings because they ebb and flow; and 3) love was not a feeling but a moment by moment choice. I then said that during times of impasse and emotional tension, we always went back to these foundational principles. These principles always brought us back together.

After a moment of taking it in, she then said, “Oh, you had pre-marital counseling. That was probably a good idea. What church was that?” And I told her. I looked into her eyes as we chatted briefly about churches. As we both prepared to leave, I told her my name and that I enjoyed our chat. She told me her name and said the same. I told her I was sure we’d see each other again at the next class.

“Nancy” has been on my mind. Who knows what was really behind her questions and comments. All I know is that our paths crossed; I believe she needed me right then. Me … someone who had been through some REALLY BAD times in my marriage and stayed married through them. I certainly wasn’t thinking how much God would use those times in the future when I was going through them! Those times felt lonely and hurtful and dark.

I think most people have an unrealistic view of marriage. Most people live as though everything revolves around themselves. But this view leads to hurt, frustration, unhappiness, resentment, anger and divorce. God wants to give us a different list: oneness, contentment, fulfillment, purpose, companionship, lifelong love. This list comes with hard work and sacrifice, not because we insisted on our own way. It only comes when we’re willing to give up our own preferences and meet the needs of our loved one. As we give, our loved one gives back to us. It always works … every time.

No matter where you are in your relationship at this moment, fight for your marriage! Nurture! Sacrifice! Speak encouraging words! Be willing to feel some pain if needed to push through to enjoy the next season together. At the end of your life, you won’t remember the painful times. You’ll remember that you loved for a lifetime … and it was worth every day of choosing.

More of Me to Love

I have always loved the water. As a child our family spent a lot of time enjoying the lakes and rivers of the Pacific Northwest. I have great memories of special “swimming holes” we loved to go to. Dorena Lake and Sharp’s Creek in Oregon and Sanders Pond in Idaho are my favorites. I always felt so relaxed and free when I was in the water. I loved how refreshing the cool water felt on a hot summer day, and how quiet the world became when you put your head under the water. I even won my leg of a relay race once in 8th grade P.E.

But as I grew older, I started gaining weight. And by the time I was an adult, I no longer spent any time in the water because I didn’t want to be seen in a bathing suit. I have always been overweight. Through the years I’ve tried a few diets, tried a few exercise programs, and studied about my “whys” of being overweight. I had “learned” a lot but I remained overweight.

When I turned 50 last year I had a knee ligament repair surgery. It made me stop and pay attention. The ligament wore out sooner than it should have because of being overweight my whole adult life. After surgery I went through six weeks of physical therapy. Three of those weeks were in the pool. It seemed to be a natural transition to begin a water aerobics class when the therapy was over. That was 18 months ago and now I can’t see myself NOT doing water aerobics.

At first I wore shorts and a tank top to the pool. And I had to go purchase these items because I never wore shorts. I certainly didn’t have a swimming suit. But after a few weeks, I grew tired of the shorts falling down and the top flying up during exercising and purchased a suit. I saw that everyone else in the class felt the same way I did. There was no longer any reason not to be comfortable in the class.

I am experiencing so many daily benefits of this new joy of exercising! I can wash and scratch my own back again. I can steady myself in the shower and when walking. I can sit straight up in bed without having to just roll out. I can lift and move my legs in any direction and height. My arms don’t ache from my carpal tunnel syndrome. (I still don’t have any strength; no cure for it. And I can still overdo and re-injure my wrists. But the aching is gone.) I can bend over and pick up things. I have real muscles and they are actually working for me. I don’t mind walking longer distances. I have full range of motion.

I am slowly losing weight.

I have made simple changes in my diet. No more DIETING for me. It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work now. I try to eat more fruits and veggies. And speaking of veggies, I don’t really enjoy them cooked. I’ve always forced myself to eat them because I knew they were good for me … except for potatoes and corn on the cob, of course. But I’ve always loved raw, crunchy veggies. And recently something clicked in my head … why force myself to eat cooked vegetables when I actually LOVED them raw?! Well, for heaven’s sake! So now I throw a few radishes and carrots or sliced cucumber on my plate and I am happy.

I try to order salads sometimes in a fast food restaurant instead of fries. I don’t always. I drink less Diet Pepsi, which is my biggest sacrifice of all. I try to drink more water and iced tea. I am thinking more REASONABLY about food. I know that I’d lose weight faster if I made better food choices, but my head isn’t there yet and I’m going with where my head is.

All this to say, that I am finally making the changes I wish I had made when was 20. And the changes aren’t putting me in my dreaded “box.” I hate structure and boundaries and lines. Diet and exercise always seemed like being confined to me so I avoided them. But I finallly connected my passions and joys with what was good for me … crunchy veggies and water and exercise! Who knew that was my winning combination?!

My husband and I go to water aerobics class together three times a week. We have a great time together there! We have a whole new set of friends there and laugh and play together and sit in the hot tub afterwards, feelilng very spoiled. When I think of the years that I deprived myself of the joys of being in the water again, I want to weep. I deeply regret this.

There are other joys I’ve missed … like amusement parks and concerts because I didn’t like the long walks from the parking lot and felt uncomfortable in the rides and seats. I’m not there yet but I will be. I am MOVING TOWARD JOY!

Young women, find YOUR winning combination. Take a deeper look at who you are inside make it work for you on the outside. It isn’t about how we look, it’s about being healthy and strong enough to enjoy this beautiful life God has given us.

Saying there is “more of me to love” has a new meaning to me now. There is more of ME to love now, not more of my flesh. And that’s the me I want to project to the world.

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