Why It’s Important to Speak Well of Our Husbands

As wives, we’re partners. As moms, we’re leaders. As women, we’re influencers. I have discovered that if I want to be effective in any area of my life, I must first and foremost be effective in my marriage. When it suffers, everything else soon follows suit. And conversely, when my marriage is thriving, then the other areas of my life and leadership thrive also as my passion overflows into everything else I do. I have also discovered that nothing sabotages my marriage more than my own words, especially words spoken publicly.ID-10034235

Lately, I’ve been buried in my husband’s business requirements–calls to make, forms to fill out, and emails to send on top of my own tight schedule. I’ve been tired and frustrated, and I have not been silent about it (um, for those who don’t know me, I’m not silent on much). The challenge to use my words to build up and not tear down has been difficult, and it’s reminded me that to speak life is not always easy, but always worth it, especially when it comes to our marriages.

I am convinced that speaking well of my husband to him and about him is one of the most important things I can do for my marriage. 

Four reasons why our words matter:

1. It impacts our attitude. The more we speak anything, the more we believe it. The more we believe it, the more our actions reflect it. This helps us find joy in our marriages as well as protects it from temptation.

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23 (NASB)

2. It impacts our spouse’s behavior. Ever notice how inspired you feel when someone authentically praises you? Our husbands are no different. Our words are a powerful motivator. Be careful though to be genuine. Insincerity is manipulation not encouragement.

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)

3. It impacts our children. Oh how tempting it could be to give our children a front row seat to our grumbling, but what a mistake that is! Our children desperately need to trust their father, and right or wrong, our words can cost him his credibility which in turn have a powerful impact on every future relationship our children will have.

“A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1 (NLT) I would add that we do this most effectively with our own words.

4. It impacts our influence. Our marriage is the most visible way to demonstrate God’s unselfish love. It requires self-control to bite our tongues when we feel we’ve been wronged, but every time we choose to speak praise when we have reason to complain, we breathe life into our marriages and into those who are watching it. The world is broken and an intact marriage is refreshing and gives hope to those who get to witness it.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

I’m not talking about being fake with our words. I’m talking about being generous. All of us are fallible, imperfect, and at times difficult to love. Our husbands are no exception. Then again, neither are we.

I don’t want my husband to take my weaknesses and put them on display and I don’t want to do that to him either.

If you struggle in this area, then let me challenge you to make a change TODAY to find what is good and redeeming in your husband’s character and then be intentional to speak life-building encouragement, not soul-sucking complaints about him. It will change you, him, your children, and your world.

For more encouragement on the power of our words, please read, Toothbrushes and Other Things Not to Share.

Photo courtesy photostock at freedigitalphotos.net.

A Journey to Kindness

Kaila and Kieran, my grace givers

Kaila and Kieran, my grace givers

I remember the moment I spat the ugly words, punctuated with a piercing stare, “You act like children of the devil!” It was directed at my oldest children, who were then around nine and twelve years old. In the angry stillness that followed, Kaila, who has always been a mild-mannered child not given to back talk, looked at me with all her innocence and said slowly as though pondering some great mystery, “Mommy, if we are children of the devil, what does that make you?”

Time stood still and no one breathed as we waited for what would happen next.

The wind left my sails as I considered the answer and the truth in it. An apology followed and we salvaged what we could of the rest of the day, but my heart was pricked by yet another ugly stain on my checkered mothering past. We’ve since laughed about the day (along with others) Mom lost her mind and when they both were sure Kaila would lose her tongue, but secretly I’ve cried many times.

I’ve cried because I know love is kind, and I was not always kind. I was many things, but I was not kind.

I was intentional. I was nurturing. I was self-sacrificing. I was compassionate. I was generous. But I was not kind.

Kindness has been a journey for me, one full of determination and disappointment, but one also full of grace, both from God and from my children. I share it with you in the hopes that if you struggle with kindness, your own journey will be shorter.

My two youngest kindest teachers, Samara and Avielle

My two youngest kindness teachers, Samara and Avielle

Please don’t think I’ve arrived. I’m still broken many times over by my weakness in this area but I’m also reminded that it is my weakness that keeps me dependent upon God’s strength and that my children get to witness a life and a heart that is continually being changed by His strength as I remain teachable. I’m learning to love well as I learn to be kind.

Kindness changes everything. It softens hearts. It mends relationships. Kindness transmits love from head to heart, from knowing to feeling.

The scriptures say in Romans 2:4 that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. Doesn’t it make sense then that it is the kindness of a mother that leads to the same in her children? Why then do we often choose harsh words, fierce stares, and cold responses when we love so much? For me, it’s been because I like results and I want them yesterday. Kindness, however, requires patience. It is selfless and humble.

In the day to day, kindness cuddles a toddler when he’s fussy instead of scolds him, realizing we all have bad days too.

Kindness gives a soft answer instead of yelling at children who are yelling at each other AGAIN.

Kindness looks a pre-teen in the eyes and recognizes the doubts and insecurities instead of labeling it rebellion.

Kindness reminds teenagers to be faithful with what they have instead of telling them how ungrateful they are for all they’ve been given.

Each day, it is kindness that compels me to say I’m sorry to my husband even when he’s wrong, and it shows me how to fight fair. I’m good at fighting. I can hurl my endless words and he can’t compete and I can win the argument, but I lose him in those moments. Kindness shows me how to fight for him and for us instead of for my rights so we can both win.

Still the one I learn the most from

Still the one I learn the most from

Love is kind.

And if I want my love to translate to my family, if I want them to not just know with their minds, but feel with their hearts, that I love them dearly, then I must not love without kindness.

Memories of my failures often threaten to bog me down in the quicksand of guilt. The tears well up and spill over even now as I type. Still, I have to choose to let grace, not guilt, cover my yesterdays and carry me into my tomorrows. I hope you will do the same.

When I do, I am sweetly reminded of a good God who will never give up on me and of a husband and children who have always extended more grace than I have deserved. And in such moments, I am grateful that I am the daughter of such a merciful God, wife of such a kind man, and mother of such forgiving children.

And I’m grateful to all of you who visit me here and see my heart through all my flaws.

Ditch or Do?–Fueling a Lean, Healthy You

MWM blogger

MWM blogger

I’ve been dragging my feet on this post. I guess it’a because I’m really dragging my feet on getting started with new habits, and publishing makes me more accountable. Whew! That’s scary :-).

I hope you’ve thought about my last post and decided with me that the best you ever starts with fitness from head to toe–body, mind, and spirit. They are all interconnected and all contribute to wholeness and health. You were put here for great things, so please don’t underestimate the value of your health in living a fulfilled and abundant life.

If this is all new, don’t be overwhelmed. Start small and remember the old question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is still the same, “One bite at a time.” Approach health habits the same. Start with what is do-able to you and when you’ve mastered it, move on to the next. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to quit altogether.

So today, start small and move on when you’re ready. You’ll be glad you did.

1-Ditch sugar and especially sugar substitutes. Do choose more nutritional sweeteners like raw honey or stevia, keeping in mind that less is still more.

courtesy of papaija2008 at freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy of papaija2008 at freedigitalphotos.net

Not only is sugar highly addictive and a leading cause of obesity, it is also linked to a number of illnesses in the body. This is not new evidence so you can find a great deal of information on this, but one of the simplest sites I found was http://authoritynutrition.com/10-disturbing-reasons-why-sugar-is-bad. Beware also of hidden sugar. Search the labels for dextrin, dextrose or other “ose” words, syrups (especially high fructose corn syrup) and malts.

Sugar substitutes are not an option. These are chemicals, not food, and highly toxic to the body. They are linked to tumors, cancer, and surprisingly obesity as they inhibit the body’s ability to determine when it’s full.

2. Ditch all processed foods. Do choose instead real food, a.k.a. whole food. When you read a food label, you should see food. Crazy idea isn’t it? One of the best sites I’ve found regarding healthy food choices is http://www.whfoods.com/foodstoc.php. It’s a non-commercial site with a wealth of info. Avoid so-called diet foods such as those labeled “low fat” and “low carb”. These are most often filled with chemicals. Our bodies were meant to burn energy, not detox after every meal.

3. Ditch refined carbs. Do good carbs. No carbs are no good. Our bodies need healthy carbohydrates to function properly, so just stick with those that come from fruits, veggies, and whole grains and you will not have the spikes and crashes that come from junk carbs.

courtesy Suat Eman at freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy Suat Eman at freedigitalphotos.net

4. Ditch high-sugar drinks (which we talked about). Do drink more water. No argument from any health experts here. Our bodies need water–typically half your body weight in ounces daily. Don’t budge on this. Not only does it rid waste, but it carries necessary nutrients through the body, metabolizes fat and so much more.

5. Ditch hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Do choose butter and unprocessed oils like coconut and olive. This is a hard one to fully implement because these processed oils are everywhere, but they are incredibly toxic to the body and cause us to pack on the pounds. They are in virtually all baked goods and snacks on the supermarket shelves as well as refrigerated doughs and fried foods like yummy restaurant french fries. So, while it’s great to avoid them entirely, even efforts to limit them from our own cupboards will go a long way. To understand why, go to: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/09/07/ban-artificial-trans-fat.aspx

6. Ditch all processed meats. Do opt instead for grass-fed meat and wild fish. Of course, I’m a firm believer that wild salmon is the world’s perfect protein–and that is only partially because it’s what I sell for a living :-). All protein is not created equal. Again, processed meats are filled with all kinds of chemicals that keep our bodies from functioning properly while grass-fed and wild meats offer lean, healthy, Omega-3 rich protein. Want to lose fat and build lean muscle? This is a sure way to do it. And don’t forget other healthy protein sources like raw nuts and organic eggs. For easy, readable charts on this, please click this link from a site I love,  http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm

7. Ditch the idea that you have to spend hours in the gym to be lean. Do what you enjoy instead. Just DO. We were created to live life, not watch someone else’s on TV, so keep moving. Play with your kids, enjoy outdoor games, go to the park, take long walks alone to think or a jog through the neighborhood. Don’t complicate it. Just move and move every day.

You are well on your way to a healthier, happier you. You are not only shaping your own health, but little eyes are watching and you are shaping theirs as well. Give your children not only tools for a healthy life, but an example of it as well.

I’m in this for the long haul and I hope you are too. Contact me anytime and let me know how it’s going for you.

 

 

 

 

Gratitude, Not “Attitude”–7 Ways to Teach Thankfulness

My greatest blessings minus one :-(.

My greatest blessings minus one :-(.

I have always told my children that there is something to be thankful for in all situations, but finding just one in the port-o-potty of a Lancaster farm earlier this month was difficult for me. Although I was suspended between the door and the potty hole for mere milliseconds, to me it seemed much longer–long enough, in fact, to have a dozen possibilities race through my mind. You see, somehow I thought I could maneuver my way through the whole process of going pee in a 1X3 foot area with a cell phone in my right hand and the door slide in my left because, for whatever reason, it wouldn’t latch all the way. Somewhere in the midst of this task, I lost my balance and had a decision to make. Do I lurch toward the door and risk falling out with my pants down or do I lean back and…well, you know?

I chose dignity over sanitation and came down on my hip with a thud. Now any reasonable woman would know she can’t actually fit down a port-o-potty hole, but I was not exactly a reasonable woman at that moment, and I was certain there was the chance I’d be forever humiliated for having to be rescued from my toilet fiasco.

In any event, it all ended with little more than bruised pride and a bruised hip for which I was not the least bit grateful. Annoyed, I kept my little incident to myself and wanted nothing more than to take a bath in Lysol. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop my own words from creeping out from the corners of my mind, “Give thanks in all things.” Um, No. But after all day of listening to that nagging phrase, I finally threw up my hands and declared, “Lord! Thank you that my butt was too big to fit through the port-o-potty hole.” I know, it was pathetic and not very sincere, but sometimes gratitude is hard work. However, as in all things, practice makes perfect and the dividends are worth the investment.

For instance, new studies by R. A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis show that a heart of gratitude actually makes us feel happier, healthier, and behave with more kindness and goodwill toward others. Who wouldn’t like to see more of that in our families?

7 ways to move from attitude to gratitude that have worked in our family:

1. Say thank you. To everyone. The teller, the clerk, the waiter, and most importantly to those in your own house. Just the habit of saying those two words is very powerful and your children will catch on.

2. Teach your children not to compare themselves to others. They will always find someone who has more. Model this mamas. Please don’t let your children hear you wishing you were in someone else’s house or driving someone else’s car or living someone else’s life. Yours is an amazing one without someone else’s stuff.

3. Teach them to give and serve. This is huge and it doesn’t require much effort to find ways to reach out. Whether it’s as involved as serving regularly as a family at a shelter or nursing home or as simple as inviting a lonely person to dinner, making others a priority will help your children develop not only a heart of gratitude but a heart that cares.

4. Give thanks in all things. And now I’m back where I started. They’re really not my words, but the apostle Paul’s from 1 Thes. 5:18, and I have stood on a rather large soap box and preached endless sermons about this one to my children. I wholeheartedly believe that there is something we can be thankful for in every situation. Look hard; it’s hidden somewhere. While I’m still not grateful I beat myself up inside a smelly port-o-potty, I am extremely thankful I didn’t lose my phone in a pile of poop.

Courtesy debspoons at freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy debspoons at freedigitalphotos.net

5. “Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your blessings, see what God hath done!” It’s a great hymn and great advice. Whether you intentionally talk about them daily or encourage your children to write them down, recalling blessings helps us be conscious of all we have instead of focused on all we don’t. Let’s not limit it to a once-a-year ritual.

6. Pray. Gratitude is not easy so ask God to cultivate it in us and our children. James 4:2 says “You do not have because you do not ask”, so ask and believe.

7. Keep at it. Let your children know it’s okay if they are only going through the motions but don’t feel grateful at first. Eventually it will move from an exercise of the mind to a response of the heart. It will.

There will always be too many reasons to grumble, but if we choose instead to move from attitude to gratitude, things won’t only feel better, they will actually get better. I’d say that’s a reason to be grateful.