Monday, July 30, 2012

Marriage Now; Heaven Later

I've been thinking about Heaven lately--partially because I turn the big 3-0 this year (yikes!), and partially because my grandmother is nearing her return Home. 

Of all my goals in life--the top ones should be
1) to please Jesus,
2) to get to Heaven,
3) to do all within my power to help my family get to Heaven, and
4) to help guide and direct others to Heaven through the example I live.

I'm reading Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas right now--which so far is an incredible inspiration. It is making me think about how my marriage connects to all of those items. Jesus is pleased by my "sticking it out," keeping my promise keeps me from sin, my family is affected by my decision to stay married, and the world can see a strong, lasting marriage as something different in the world--which can point them to the Savior.

While marriage has its dog days, we are called to be holy in this beautiful life that isn't always beautiful--so that we can make it to the place that is Always Beautiful.

I keep feeling so inspired by different quotes from Thomas's book. 

During naptime this past Friday, I treated myself to a reading break. Yes--I see the irony in the book choices. Perhaps Hemingway should have read Sacred Marriage instead of having four wives?

 More excellent quotes are posted below. 

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ernest Hemingway

On July 21st, 1899, barely making it in before the turn of the century, the writer who is credited with defining his generation and changing American literature was born, and on July 21st, 2012—113 years later—I stood in the very room where he was born.

Ernest Hemingway has been a favorite of mine since I wrote a small thesis on him during my graduate studies. With the popularity of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Hemingway has been thrust, once again, in to the spotlight of current culture. He was a man known for his bravery, manliness, larger-than-life personality, writing talent, and many wives. Beneath all of that was a  cat enthusiast, an interesting lover-fighter mix, a well-traveled adventurer, and—in his heart—a sensitive observer of the nature of human kind. 

Click here for the rest of my guest blog on O'More College of Design's travel blog. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones—and Words Can Always Hurt Me

“Actions don’t always speak louder than words” (“The 5 Love Languages”), especially if your love language is Words of Affirmation.

Our homes are like our own little city or community, and the last thing we want to do is set our family “aflame” by ridiculing each other (Proverbs 29:8).

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is an untrue chant. Words do hurt—both those meant to sting and those meant to tease. Most humor comes from a true feeling, and teasing someone can be a sign of defensiveness, insecurity, or cruelty. We don’t want any of those motives in our homes.

My brother and I weren’t allowed to make fun of each other; our treatment of one another was supposed to reflect respect, and I am grateful for my parents’ institution of this ideal. Teasing too often hits on a painful nerve; teasers too often know just the right words that hurt, though they hide it under the guise of a joke. Taunting can bring anger, which the Proverbs say the wise “turn away” (Proverbs 29: 8).

Our homes should be a place of safety: a place each member goes to be uplifted and encouraged. Life is hard—our treatment of those we love shouldn’t be.

On the other hand, kind words are the best gift you can give someone with this love language. “Flattery will get you everywhere,” I part-joke. Words of Affirmation is my top love language, and sincere compliments and praise speak love and respect—“I know who you are, I see what you do, and I admire it and you.”

My mom isn't one to lavish me with acclaim. When she wrote the note below on some poetry I have been working to publish, I knew she meant it. High praise from someone who is always honest with you carries a lot of weight. 

If someone you love is Words of Affirmation, be incredibly conscious of your vocabulary. Perhaps it isn't in your nature to use words of praise, but you will have to make that effort. Also, remember that we affirmation-needers delight in hearing the actual words I adore you. Grab a thesaurus, and learn new ways to say it every day!

 each post in this series

The book my grandfather, father, and I wrote in reflection of the Proverbs is finally here! You can click on the photo below to go to the O'More Publishing website, and then scroll down to Proverbs through the Generations to purchase. Proceeds go to scholarships for O'More College of Design students. 

Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield, 1995. Print.
“The 5 Love Langugages.” The 5 Love Languages. Moody Publishers. n.d. Web. 11 May 2012

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What a Well-Thought-Out Gift Says

If your love language is Gifts, it doesn't mean you are superficial. A well-thought-out gift is the key: it communicates knowledge of the recipient. 

My top love language is Words of Affirmation (which I will discuss last), and Touch, Quality Time, and Gifts are all tied for my second place. I am slightly obsessed with buying presents for people. We re-assessed our budget this past spring, and I realized I needed to add a Present Line. I knew I was going to buy gifts each month, so I capped the amount of money I could spend this way. I explained to someone, "Saying I cannot buy presents for people is like telling me I cannot say, 'I love you.'"

I would define a "good gift" as one that meets the following criteria:
1) something I've wanted for a while (communicating you listen to and respect my needs and desires),
2) something to add to a collection I have (communicating you are observant of my likes),
3) something that reminds you of me--that represents me well (communicating you know me as a person and friend), and/or
4) something I wouldn't get for myself but want (communicating you think I'm worth it).

Giving a good gift requires attention to detail, which is why this love language means more than throwing money at a person. Though it isn't limited to special occasions (as giving a random present is an excellent idea for a Gifts friend or spouse), special occasions carry an extra weight of importance. Try as I might not to care, anniversaries, birthdays, and other holidays are overwhelmingly significant to me. The actual day needs to be celebrated. (With babies around, I know we might not be able to go out on the actual day, but I still need fanfare, even if at home.) If I say I don't want a present, that is my practical side taking over. You can ignore her.

I have to reiterate that the money spent isn't is important. When we were dating, Jay used to pick a leaf off of a bush every time he walked to my dorm to pick me up. Each time he handed me that free, random item, it was a little green sign of "I was thinking about you. You are important." If someone you love is Gifts, open your ears (perhaps keep a little notebook of ideas when you hear a desire communicated), and learn to love on a different level. 

 each post in this series

My father gives intensely wonderful presents: see the three images below (which were all for no reason gifts).

One day the note below was on an old typewriter Dad bought me and left in my office.

Jay got me a stamp for my vast book collection. I've wanted this for more than ten years.

My mom gives great "I saw this and thought of you" presents.

Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield, 1995. Print.

“The 5 Love Langugages.” The 5 Love Languages. Moody Publishers. n.d. Web. 11 May 2012.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quality Time Together

Jonas, my nine-month-old, can be bubbly and joyful…until you walk out of the room. Jay, Jonas, and I went on a short trip to Minneapolis and left Jack (who doesn’t fly free any more) with my mom. When we came home, I was surprised to see how happy Jonas was to be with Jack again. His face light up when he saw his brother, and the moodiness he gave us the whole trip was gone. Jonas missed Jack. Adorable.

If your language is Quality Time, “nothing says, ‘I love you’ like full, undivided attention” (“The 5 Love Languages”). If Jonas continues to show signs that he is Quality Time, I’ll have to make sure my busy do-twelve-things-at-once nature allows for some focus-only-on-Jonas time allotment. He isn’t happy resting his head against me while I write like Jack (Physical Touch boy) is—he wants to join in with the typing.

As I have looked at this love language, I’ve concluded that it is divided into at least two subcategories: quality conversation and quality activities.  I tend to fall into the first; my husband and one of my best friends fall into the latter. I’d love to sit around with a cup of tea and chat. Jay and my dear friend Megan want to go places and do things. I’ve also discovered I enjoy activities that are conversation-friendly: light hiking, shopping, going out to eat, playing Mah Jongg….

If your love language isn’t Quality Time, or if it is but your interests differ from your spouse’s, then you will need to re-wire your definition of “waste of time.” My dad, a “nearness” and quality conversation type, wants to sit on the couch with my mom and watch a favorite British show. She is Acts of Service, and it is hard for her to sit when that To Do List seems unending. And though I am Quality Time, since my husband likes sports (watching and playing) and I don’t, I have to stretch myself beyond feeling like baseball is a waste of time when I have a book I want to read or ideas to reflect upon.

With Megan, and other Quality Time friends who like that time to be in action, I’m trying to find activities that stretch my physical comfort zone while still lending themselves to decent conversation.

 each post in this series

Some Quality Time I've greatly enjoyed this weekend: attending a birthday party for Ernest Hemingway in his birth town of Oak Park, Illinois.  

Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield, 1995. Print.

“The 5 Love Langugages.” The 5 Love Languages. Moody Publishers. n.d. Web. 11 May 2012.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Physical Touch

Hugs, pats on the back, hand holding—all show “excitement, concern, care, and love” to someone who is Physical Touch (“The 5 Love Languages”). As I mentioned in the previous post, sometimes women jump to the conclusion that they are Acts of Service because they enjoy help around the house. I think some men assume they are Physical Touch because they like…you know: marital relations.

If Physical Touch is your love language, you desire for touch will go beyond sexual intimacy. You will find yourself hugging friends, patting people on the back, roughhousing with your kids, sitting as close as you can on the couch with someone special. One of the ways I know my husband really is Physical Touch is because he touches even his guy friends often: from hugs to shoves.

Dr. Chapman says it’s hard to pinpoint a child’s love language when he or she is under two, and that it is important to speak all languages to your kids as they form their language. Still, Jack (my two-and-a-half-year-old) has been obsessed with physical contact since he was born. The colicky baby needed to be held close, bounced, and whacked slightly-beyond-gently on the back for most hours of the day and too many hours of the night. These days, he adores hugs and kisses: from family, friends, strange babies, and even “beautiful girls” he doesn’t yet know but wants to. (I’m already praying God puts purity high in this boy’s heart!)

Once I was talking about this love language in a class. A student and I were both wondering why, scoring so high in Physical Touch, we are often reserved. We wondered if, mixed with our introvert status, we were naturally more cautious. She explained she held Physical Touch in such a high regard that it took someone being quite dear to her (“in my inner circle”) to get her love in that way.

A discussion with your spouse or some time thinking over how you treat a friend is in order if you aren’t both Physical Touch.  Any time you are speaking outside of your native tongue, you will find you have to make a concerted effort. Physical Touch is no different. Rethink where you sit as you watch television together, hold hands when you say grace, hug when he comes home from work, kiss when she has washed the dishes. With Physical Touch, distance can bring resistance, and nearness can mean dearness. 

 Jack hugging his best friend Malachi

 sweet brothers

 giving his Nana Sugie and unsolicited hug

 one of my mom's favorite photos of Jack randomly kissing his cousin Charlie

an old favorite of Jack and Jonas
Before bed each night, Jack and I snuggle in my bed and watch cartoons.

Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield, 1995. Print.

“The 5 Love Langugages.” The 5 Love Languages. Moody Publishers. n.d. Web. 11 May 2012.

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Considering Acts of Service

The words an Acts of Service person wants to hear most are these: “Let me do that for you” (“The 5 Love Languages”). Making more work or promising to help and then not can bring hurt feelings (“The 5 Love Languages”).

I decided to start with this language because it is my lowest. I thought for a long time it was tied with the rest, but I decided to take the “For Singles” quiz on the 5 Love Languages website and got a zero.

I think women can falsely believe this is our love language because we feel pleased when our husbands pitch in around the house. As progressive as we are, women, in general, are still often expected to take care of the majority of that work. I don’t say it to be controversial—I say it because I see it over and over and over again: in my generation, in ones before me, and in younger generations as well. “We’ve come a long way baby…” but some mindsets are still lingering. I also don’t say it to make some sweeping statement about who should be doing what in a home, but I do think a conversation on roles and responsibilities would be valuable.

If you aren’t married yet, you can watch how your possible in-laws handle things, or ask your fiancĂ© how things were handled in his or her house. Often we mimic the setting we grew up in.

One difference in the traditional mindset may arise when love languages are considered. Whether or not your father-in-law helped around the household chores, if your husband’s love language is Acts of Service, he might be more obliging to do these tasks because he is saying “I love you” with every sweep of the broom, every folding of the socks. In turn, your mopping, vacuuming, wiping, and cleansing will mean a lot more to him than you simply doing what needs to be done.

Men, if your wife’s love language is Acts of Service, then your helping around the house is far more than a comment on your stance on feminism. It actually has nothing to do with that at all, but everything to do with learning to show your affection for her in one of the ways she needs it most.

Just because I scored low on Acts of Service doesn’t mean I don’t need help. In fact, I find myself getting incredibly frustrated when this language is left unspoken. Why? Because, as I wrote before in this post, marriage is a partnership, and with us both working outside the home, I need us both to be working equally inside the home as well.

Besides taking the quiz on the book’s website, you can consider this question: do you feel loved, appreciated, and cared for when someone helps you with chores, lawn work, cooking, or cleaning? Do you feel neglected and extraordinarily frustrated when these things are ignored, or when it feels that each of these areas of work is left up to you?

Here is a question to discuss with your spouse: what are three things you’d love to have done around the house without having to mention it? Make sure you are careful with your wording. “You are such a mess; please just pick up your socks for once in your life,” isn’t the best way to say it. “I love it when you pick up your socks,” is much more positive. Once you’ve come up with some answers, it will be time to put intention into action.

Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield, 1995. Print.

“The 5 Love Langugages.” The 5 Love Languages. Moody Publishers. n.d. Web. 11 May 2012.

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