Getting More of What You REALLY Want- Intentionality

Since Jonathan swore an oath and joined the United Sates Marines the day before Thanksgiving, I have been living intentionally. The intention was to make the most memories, accomplish what really mattered to each of us, and to feel like we had properly closed this chapter in our lives.

We had the best time! I cooked the things he requested, planned the parties, the baptism and whatever else any of us wanted to do “one more time” before he shipped out and the schedule was not our own.

We hung out on the couch and watched our favorite movies or shows. This might be considered by some to be a waste of time. Not for us, this is how we bond. We pile up on one couch and laugh together then later we communicate in movie quotes. Movie quotes for us is like a secret language. This was an intentional waste of time and it was the best use of that time. I got to feel him resting his head on me one more time just like he did when he was little.

The last two weeks were especially perfect. It all happened because we were intentional about how we spent our time and what we did.

I came away from this time with a renewed desire to live intentionally. This is not new for me or us, but life got really intense for a couple of years and the intention of the day was to survive. That, my friend, is not living.

All of our married life we have asked ourselves what we wanted to have in 20 years or 50 years. What did we want our kids to look back and remember about home? What kind of marriage did we want? Then, every action or decision we made was based on those answers. Dose what we are doing move us toward that end goal? We haven’t been as intentional as I would like us to be.

So, Tony and I are having conversations about how we want to schedule our time and what memories we want to create. We are now living with intentionality again. You do have to schedule the important things or at least schedule time that gives enough space that the important things can happen.

intentionality

Pronunciation /ɪˈntɛnʃ(ə)nalɪti/ 

NOUN

mass noun

1The fact of being deliberate or purposive.

‘Therefore, intentionality and deliberate programming done in camps often resulted in positive youth development.’

More example sentences

Synonyms

1.1Philosophy The quality of mental states (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) which consists in their being directed towards some object or state of affairs.

‘The latter, it will be recalled, is characterized by intentionality, directedness towards an object.’

http://www.lexico.com

Time goes by quickly. I want to look back as see a full life with the best memories.

Some of the things we are intentionally scheduling:

  • Sunrise fishing
  • sunrise kayaking
  • full moon gazing on the beach
  • family dinners
  • day trips with the grands
  • emails to family friends
  • hand-written letters
  • texts to friends and family
  • dinner with new friends
  • monthly hiking trips
  • weekly business meetings for us
  • regular fasting
  • prayer
  • and whatever else we think of.

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What Equals An Extraordinary Life?

Dead Poets Society- I love this movie. I find it inspiring and heartbreaking in equal parts. John Keating (played by Robin Williams) is attempting to open the eyes of his students to the idea that life can be more than what they have been told or what they have seen. Now, this causes problems but no one is left the same. Anytime someone challenges the status quo, there will be opposition.

Obviously, what some desired for their extraordinary lives others thought was wrong. So what makes for an extraordinary life?

Money? Huge House? Travel? Power?

I would wager that ,while those things above are out of the ordinary, these will not truely be extraordinary.

What I see people hungry for are those things that are not tangible. I feel I have an extraordinary life. What defines that for me is the relationships in my life mainly along with where I live and what I do for work and career.

Can I say that to have a relationship that is healthy and vibrant takes intentional work? These things do not happen by accident. Compatability is key, but compatablility is based largely on your perspective and reactions.

For example, Tony (my husband) is cautious and likes a book’s worth of information and time to think before he makes a decision. I lean towards risk and need only about a page of information and thirty seconds to make a decision. Tony does not love routine and scheduling or budgets. I adore routine and schedules and budgets make me feel secure. As you can see, our approach to just about everything is different. I looked at this as a positive, we balanced each other- and we do.

One evening while headed home from a Pampered Chef Party (about 20 years ago I was a Pampered Chef Lady) I turned on the radio and heard a program on marriage from Focus on the Family. Listening to the guests talk, I thought, “Wow, they sound just like me and Tony.” Because I jumped in the middle, I had not heard the title. Imagine my surprise when the title was announced, “How To Build a Marriage When You Are Not Compatible.”

Not Compatible?

What a shock, all this time I thought we were balanced. Actually, I did then and still think that is what we are- balanced. This is where perspective and reactions come in. I didn’t react to Tony’s need for more information as if he was wrong. He wasn’t wrong, he was just different. He doesn’t consider my tendency to jump before I look as a weakness. We balance. Our marriage is extraordinary.

I live in Galveston, Texas. I can walk to the beach daily, I watch the waves when I commute to work. Some may not really care about that, the beach doesn’t do anything for them. I find this VERY odd but you know- each to his own. Where I live is something and somewhere I consider extraordinary. Now, I could change my perspective. I could focus on the crazy traffic rules, the tourist that come here and act the fool, or the constant humidity of about 143%. But, I do not. I love this island and all its quirks.

Experiences- from buying ice cream from the ice cream truck on the BEACH (yes, that is a thing) with my grandbabies to snorkeling in Key West with my younger two kids and handsome husband is what makes life extraordinary. God has blessed me and I KNOW it!

What makes a life extraordinary? That is for you to answer. I hope you will pursue those things with all your heart.

These people make my life extraordinary. Thanks be to God in Heaven for the blessings.

Leave what makes your life extraordinary in the comments below- I want to know what it is for you!

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See You Later- What A Wonderful Thought

This past weekend, we traveled back to Canton, TX and celebrated Jonathan as he embarks on his new life.

He has chosen to serve and departs for boot camp in less than a week. It was time to say, “See You Later.” Watching him interact with his friends and family was such a gift. Knowing that there wouldn’t be another moment like this was sobering. All of his friends will be very different when Jonathan sees them again. As it stands, we won’t see him again before August. One set of newly married friends will have welcomed their first child, his sister will be in law school and who knows what that much time will bring to the rest of their lives.

So, we soaked it all up. Laughter was in abundance as were smiles. He won’t look the same when he gets back. He will not be the same when he gets back. But, that is a thing to be celebrated, not grieved. Nothing stays the same, he is choosing to become more.

See you later, Big Boy! We could not possibly be more proud of you!

Hope and Encouragement for Today

But blessed is the man who

trust in the Lord

whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted

by the water

that sends out its roots by the steam.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17-7-8

I can’t recommend Jesus enough.

When the news reels play or the social media feeds fill up with doom, despair, disrespect and every other negative thing- I wield this scripture like a sword to slay the anxiety and fear that threatens to over take me. This promise and every other promise in the Bible are without condition. It does not say in Jerimiah that if the Republicans are in power that I will be like a tree planted by the water. It doesn’t even specify which country I should live in to experience the promises of God. The only requirement is that I trust in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord= I do not need to fear difficult times.

I will take that deal. Notice that this scriptures does not say that drought never came to this tree. It says the tree has no worries in a drought. Not only does it not worry, but it never misses a year of production. Friend, this is a no brainer.

The world can keep their fear and fighting, hating and destruction- I will go with God. Regardless of what comes in this world, I will be like a tree planted by the water. God is my hope, my trust is in HIM. He has proven himself to me time and again.

Make no mistake, we are in a world at war. This war is between good and evil. It rages everyday. Battles can be bloody and I may take a hit, but my hope is in the Lord, I trust in the Lord to bring his promises to bear. So, turn off the television and internet feed and turn to the One who is able to save your soul and drench you with so much love that it drives out all fear.

Jesus Christ came and died for you and for me. He restored us to a perfect relationship with God. He didn’t come to steal all your fun and wrap you in chains of shame and guild. Jesus came to give you life. The only thing that Jesus want to take from you is fear and death. Give your life to Christ, you will be glad you did!

My Mile Marker Zero

Many of you may recognize this as Mile Marker Zero in Key West, Florida. Which might make you think that this is a travel blog post and it could be. We traveled there this summer, yes in 2020. It was my son’s senior trip, the handsome fellow you see in this picture. All he wanted was to go somewhere where he could snorkel. The Keys it was. What I did not anticipate was this picture.

God like to surprise us with little things that make our hearts happy. When we planned the trip, I know He was like, “This is gonna be so cool. You are gonna love this picture I have planned.” The reason it is so cool is that Jonathan is my fourth and final kid. I am officially done- he is my mile marker zero. It didn’t even occur to me when I took it. It was just a cool picture on a family vacation. But later, when we got home and I was looking at pictures, it hit me. Wow, what a way to wrap it up.

You would think that hitting such a milestone would feel so great. And it does feel great but at the exact same moment, it feels like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. When the older two left home, I comforted myself with the fact that I had two more kids at home. Then the baby girl left home and that hurt like a mother. But, I still had J. Now, it’s mile marker zero.

So, here I sit. I can’t say I don’t have any regrets. I firmly believe that if you get to the end of your parenting run and don’t have any regrets, you didn’t take the job seriously enough. I may have some regrets, things I would do differently but I have no guilt or remorse. I know that I did the absolute best that I could with the tools that I had. Yes, 48 year-old me could do a few things better than 28 year-old me- I should hope so! But, I gave it my all and I am very proud of the humans I turned lose on the world.

Jonathan has joined the Marines and ships out January 19th. Talk about an abrupt ending. I am going from having full control (that is different from being controlling) to having NO control over anything in his life. I am not going to lie, this is a difficult curve to navigate. I mean, if anyone else talked to him they will talk to him, I would have gone OFF on them. You do NOT mess with my kids.

I realized that I had this narrative in my head that the Core was intentionally going to destroy all that I had built. While talking to my family at Christmas, this came out of my mouth. Thankfully, my dad is a former Marine. He said, “No Honey, its not like that.” On the long drive back to my island, I processed through all of this. I decided to change the narrative. I chose to look at it from a different perspective. I raised a young man who knows his mind, knows himself, above all knows Jesus, and is so strong that no matter was the Marines throw at him, they won’t break him.

It is amazing how a human heart can feel so many big emotions fully at the same time.

I am incredibly PROUD of him.

I am so SAD I won’t get to hear his voice everyday.

I am so HAPPY he is moving into adulthood and following his passion.

I am AFRAID of where that path will take him.

I am so EXCITED to see where that path will take him.

The list goes on. I am so grateful to have been given the gift of raising this boy. So, I will focus on the positive and celebrate my Mile Marker Zero.

A Recipe for Christmas Fun

Way back when when I was a Pampered Chef Lady, I earned a stoneware gingerbread house mold. My oldest two daughters, the only kids at that time, were 2 years old and 4 years old. That was the first year we made a gingerbread house. We have made one every year since- with the exception of last year.

This year was the first with the grands. The grands are 4, 3, and 2 years old. Their mamas, the two toddlers from the beginning of this story, are 27 and 25 years old. That is a lot of gingerbread houses! That is a lot of really great memories.

Traditions can be a tricky thing. There can be a lot of pressure to continue traditions handed down to you and they can feel like a yoke. Those same traditions can also make you feel grounded, like you know who you are and where you came from. I don’t want my kids to ever feel like the things we do every year are a yoke. If we outgrow certain things, I don’t want them to feel guilty that things needed to change. But, I also want them to have a thread to hang on to that runs all the way back through their history.

The gingerbread house is one of those. It is also my tradition. They can develop new things with their own children, but this gingerbread house mold and this tradition belongs to me and Tony. Mostly me, he was usually at the station when the house was made. My family that I grew up in never made a gingerbread house, we have lots of other traditions. So this is a “new” thing. If someone wants to carry on the gingerbread house when I am gone, that is fantastic. If they don’t want to, that is okay, too. I will have made all the memories that I am going to make by that point and it will be their turn to make the memories they want. But, they will be able to look back at this blog and see pictures and know who I was- at least a little bit. I think that is the best part of traditions- the imprint it makes on family history.

I have included the recipe for the gingerbread just in case you wanted to create a new tradition.

A LITTLE EXTRA FLOUR MAKES THIS DOUGH STURDY ENOUGH TO MAKE GINGERBREAD HOUSES, BUT ALSO WORKS GREAT FOR COOKIES. PLUS, THE SMELL OF GINGERBREAD BAKING IS DELIGHTFUL. (pamperedchef.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp (7 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
  • ½ cup (125 mL) vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup (125 mL) sugar
  • ½ cup (125 mL) molasses
  • 1   egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, and cloves together in a medium bowl.
  2. Use a hand mixer to beat the shortening and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the molasses and egg and beat until smooth.
  3. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until fully combined.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and divide it into 2 portions. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for 30 minutes. Use the dough to make cookies with cookie cutters or press into mold.

Out of the Shadow- Vote for Your Favorite Cover

I had fun with the last cover reveal and I think you did to, so lets do it again!

Here is the book blurb:

Fierce- Beautiful- Unreasonable- Bulldog- Sexy- Unapologtic- Irreverent- Compassionate- Successful- Principled- all words used to describe Brett Bentley, all of them true.

Risk is not a word Brett runs from, frankly she likes it.  After her husband and voice of reason dies, there is no one to stop her from building a team of hackers to hunt sex trafficers down and drain their bank accounts.  Now trouble is stalking her.  A case of mistaken identity or has someone discovered her secrets?

Help is a four letter word to Brett.  When help shows up in the perfect form of a former Army Ranger, Brett’s first response is to have her Italian Mastiff clamp down on his family jewels.  If this doesn’t serve as a warning, Alex Jensen only has himself to blame.  Retirement has been a bore, he can’t resist taking a ride on Brett’s drama train. First impressions are deceptive, not only is Brett’s life really on the line, it becomes clear that neither of their hearts will be intact when this ride is over. A South American drug lord has Brett as the object of his rage and desire.  Cornered and alone, Brett must be her own hero.  Lethal is the word she needs now- does she have what it takes?

Now, which cover would you choose?

Cover #1

Cover #2

Leave your vote in the comments!

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Don’t forget, you can find me at Goodreads!

This One Thing That Will Bring Peace to Your Marriage

Grace.

That is the one element that will make your marriage better. Grace will make any relationship you have better- including the relationship you have with yourself.

What is Grace exactly?

grace

Definition of grace

 (Entry 1 of 2)1a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification

b: a virtue coming from God

c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

2a: APPROVALFAVOR stayed in his good graces

b archaic MERCYPARDON

c: a special favor PRIVILEGEeach in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage— Rudyard Kipling

d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency

e: a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE

3a: a charming or attractive trait or characteristic Among disagreeable qualities he possessed the saving grace of humor.

b: a pleasing appearance or effect CHARMall the grace of youth— John Buchan

c: ease and suppleness of movement or bearing danced with such grace

grace verb gracedgracing

Definition of grace (Entry 2 of 2)

1: to confer dignity or honor on The king graced him with the rank of a knight.

2: ADORNEMBELLISH graveled walks graced with statues— J. A. Michener

There is a lot to this one word, but I think the part that applies the most to marriage is “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency“. Frequently, we demand more from those we live with, especially our spouse. We let our anger show, our impatience colors our words, and we keep a long list of flaws and mistakes. But, what would our marriage look like if we responded with grace instead of “justice” or harshness?

I think sometimes, especially for women, we think it is our duty or job to fix everyone around us. The world tells us that we do that by pointing our every flaw and demanding perfection. That isn’t how God does it. He offers GRACE every second of every day. If we are in a new season, he offers grace. If we are struggling, he offers grace. If we are learning a new way of being or doing, he offers grace.

Grace is key to living at peace.

My therapist once asked me what I wanted to remember in January when I thought about the holidays.

Peace- Joy- Reverence-Laughter- Ease

But most of all, in every season of my life, I want peace.

You need grace to have peace. You can’t be at peace with yourself if you don’t extend grace to yourself. You can’t live at peace with others if you don’t extend grace to others. There is a time for calling someone on their sh*&$. But those times are NOT everyday and not in every moment. Plus, if you are constantly busting someone over every flaw and mistake, they are not listening to you. However, if you deal grace like a drug dealer deals meth, people will listen when you come to them out of love and talk with them about a problem or pattern that needs attention.

GRACE should be thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Give it freely because God has certainly given it freely to you.

I also looked up antonyms for Grace:

Bitterness. Disapproval. Hostility. Unforgiveness.

Wow, sometimes you can learn more by looking at what something is not than what it is.

Jesus is our Prince of Peace. How fitting that His Father is a God of Grace.

Talk About It! The Biggest Hurdle in a Marriage

On this Marriage Monday, I want to talk about the biggest hurddle you have had to overcome in your marriage.

For me and my love, it has been communication. I am betting, that this has been yours. Even if wasn’t THE biggest hurdle, I can guarantee it was key to you overcoming that hurdle. Communication is key when building a marriage and probably the most challenging aspect early on.

With us, it wasn’t even that one of us didn’t want to communicate, it was that we didn’t understand the other’s communication style. Every person comes from a nuclear family- even if they spent the majority of their childhood in the foster system. That nuclear family, for better or for worse, defined how that person communicated. Mostly, the ways of communication are defined by all the unwritten rules.

The unwrittten rules of communication.

Those little devils can really make communication hard. Its been said that the devil is in the details and the unwritten rules of communication are the details.

Think about it. For those of you that grew up with your mom in the house, what did it mean when she huffed? I know exactly what it means when my mother huffs. I have a whole vocabulary of sighs that my kids and my husband understand. However, a stranger would have no idea.

But this is what we bring into our marriage with us.

In my family, we communicated loud. Like all the time. If you wanted to be heard at a family gathering, you had to be louder than the person sitting next to you. I am telling you, it is an introvert’s nightmare. I married an introvert. I thought for a long time, that he hated my family. He didn’t, he just needed a nap- but that is a topic for another post!

So, in the beginning Tony would say “Stop yelling” and I was like, “I am not yelling. Would you like me to yell so that you can see the difference?” Tony on the other hand is a man of few words. I had to learn what his body language meant. After 28 years, I am pretty good. I still miss it sometimes, so I am still a fan of using your words.

Another example of different communication styles is the phrasing that is used. Tony, being a laid back guy who is, well, nice- would aske me, “Are you ready to go?” To this I would reply, “Yes” or “No”. In the early years this caused problems because in his mind, he just told me he was ready to go. In my mind- he asked me a question. Where I came from, I watched all the men in my family walk in and say, “I am ready to go.” I thought all men did it that way. So, we had to hash that out in the car.

As time went on, I still expected him to be more direct, but I also realized that that wasn’t his way. I needed and loved the steady love he gave me, with that came an indirect approach to communication. I choose to acknowledge that when he aske me if I was ready to go, that he was politely telling me that he was ready. I then showed him love and respect by leaving then, or at least communicating when I would be ready.

It’s funny, but because he didn’t grow up with direct communication- everything that was said had underlying meanings- he didn’t take what I said as what I meant. Trust me- I don’t know any other way to be. If I don’t want to have a conversation or I want to avoid conflict- I just don’t say anything or I make noises of agreement. I don’t speak in veiled meanings because I don’t know how. Now, learning how to phrase things so that it doesn’t sound like you are attacking the other person is important.

How something is said is just as important as what is said when you are communicating with your spouse.

Regardless of where you came from, learning to communicate in your marriage is essential.

On marriagetoday.com, Jimmy Evans shares this:

That’s how you overcome conflicts: You talk through them. Talk about money. Talk about sex. Talk about parenting issues. One study showed that 86 percent of divorced couples admitted they had communication problems in their marriages.

https://marriagetoday.com/the-six-levels-of-communication-in-marriage/

86% of divorces might could have been avoided if they had learned how to communicate. If you are having trouble in your marriage, get some help. There are a plethora of articles online to help improve communication. Apply what you know from communicating with people at work to your spouse. If you wouldn’t call your coworker an idiot, then don’t call your spouse and idiot. If you wouldn’t tell your boss that he was the biggest loser you ever met, don’t tell that to your spouse.

Sometimes, communication is hard because we think we should get to say whatever we want to our spouse. We don’t. That person we promised to love and cherish to death do us part should get the best of what we have to offer- especially our words.

So, what has been your biggest hurdle to overcome in your marriage?

The Power Is Yours

Thank God! My healing, your healing is not in anyway dependent upon the one who did the wounding!

Think about that a minute.

Your healing is not in anyway dependent upon the one who did the wounding.

This is so great because I have no control over the other person. Neither do you. Neither does God. Nope, not even God has control over people. He is a crazy risk taker and gave us this thing called free will. I have the freedom to do whatever I want, consequences be damned. This means other people can do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences to those around them. Now, don’t confuse God’s gift of free will as a blanket approval for every action- because He doesn’t like what was done to us anymore than we do.

Now, God does have control over my life because I freely choose to give him control.

AND THAT IS THE POINT

Because I have free will, when I chose God it is because I CHOSE God. This makes God over the moon happy because if a choice is forced, its not really choice. Love that is demanded and required is not LOVE. God so loved me that he gave his son. God so loved you that he gave his son. So, when I choose God, it means something. It sounds a lot like a love story, does it not?

My friend, it is the greatest love story ever told.

Since I have chosen God and his son Jesus, I have given them access to my heart, soul, and mind. I have surrendered my life, therefore he refuses to let me remain the same. He will pursue me, until I drop the barriers and let him see where it hurts. Not so he can add to the wound but so He can heal it. Kind of like the Alpha male in those love stories where he pursues the heart of the woman he loves, regardless of the venom she throughs his way? Yeah, just like that. God is the ultimate Alpha male and thanks be to Him, he has pursued my heart. This usually means that he keeps poking at the tender spot, not because He is sadistic but because He needs me to grant him permission to get in the middle of it.

As of late, any statement or question from Tony that could in any shape or form be construed as him saying that my best wasn’t good enough has brought out a huge reaction. Think angry mountain lion hissing, growling and baring her teeth- maybe even taking a swipe with the claws. He and God both just take all the anger and let it roll off. Neither walk away and for that I am so grateful. Nothing Tony has said was meant to imply that I wasn’t enough, for whatever reason he thinks I am freaking amazing.

No matter what I do, how hard I work, how much I accomplish- it’s NEVER enough. How hopless is that situation? Can you relate?

But, its not really a situation. It’s a mindset.

A mindset framed and built by words and messages from my past and fed by the enemy. Yes, we have an enemy whose whole purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. We have an enemy but we have a bigger God. The commander of Angel Armies has come to our rescue. Once again, I get love story vibes. God is writing the love story of your life. DO NOT give in to the enemy.

Seeing the truth of the situation, seeing the lie that is being told, this is the beginning of healing. The healing is not dependent upon the one who did the wounding. The healing is dependent on you- YOU have to power.

Hear that again- YOU have ALL the POWER over your healing.

That doesn’t mean you have all the answers. You don’t. BUT, your heavenly father does. Give Him control over your life and let him into the wounded areas and HE WILL heal you. You have the power to choose life and recieve the healing.

Now, please do not expect this to be an easy process. It won’t be. Healing is scary. But living with wounds unhealed is even more scary.

For me, I could not stand the idea that the enemy would have any power or control over my future. This meant the wounds had to be healed or they would steal joy and peace from my present and my future. I will NOT give the enemy one more victory in my life.

I have wounds because others did not let God heal their wounds. I am NOT riding that merry-go-round another minute. I will not hurt others by refusing to let God heal my wounds.

Hallelujah!

My healing is not dependent on the one who did the wounding- neither is yours.