Outside the Ministry Zone – When God Leads You Down a Desert Road

Outside the ministry zoneHave you ever learned something new only to then read your own journal or notes and realize it isn’t actually the first time you’ve learned that very thing? You’ve learned this before, you just forgot!

Yeah, me too.

It happened to me again this week. I was doing my “homework” for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). In this study, we go through one book of the Bible each year, chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse. I’ve been in BSF for about 9 years, and I enjoy the learning. The group discussions are so interesting. The lectures are illuminating. I even like the homework. (There’s almost never math involved, so that really helps!)

This week, we learned about Acts chapters 8 and 9. I read about Philip, who is a believer, and disciple of Jesus, going to Samaria and preaching and doing miraculous signs. Things go well. There’s a response. People hear and believe what he tells them about Jesus. The leaders of the early church, Peter and John, come and affirm his ministry there by praying for the Holy Spirit to come to these new converts.

Ministry is happening here.

And then I read further. Right after this ministry-rich time in Samaria, God asks Philip to

“Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Acts 8:26

Philip obeys. He travels down the desert road.

Wow, I thought, he’s going away from the perceived “ministry” spot, and going by himself on a desert road where there’s no ministry opportunities in sight.

And then I read what I’d written in ink in the margin of my Bible.

“Away from where the ‘ministry’ is happening.”

Oh. I’ve learned this before. Okay. Good thinking, Christy. Good thought.

Apparently, I need a refresher. I need to learn this anew. In this particular season of my life, this idea means something different to me than it must have years ago when I wrote with a pen in my Bible’s margin.

Let me be clear. God’s Word doesn’t change. It was true last time I read it too. And, I am not to take verses out of context, or make them mean only what I want them to mean. But, God’s Word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and it teaches me and impacts me in fresh ways as I apply it to different seasons and experiences in my life.

Such is the case with this passage.

This week, I was struck by the fact that Philip could have thought that his ministry opportunity for the day, or the week, was complete. Check that off the scroll, buddy! Good work.

But it turns out a man, an Ethiopian guy, was on this desert road, sitting in a chariot reading the Old Testament book of Isaiah, and needing someone to help him understand it.

The man was not in the perceived, “ministry zone,” but away from everyone else. He was in the desert. On the side of the road. Not waiting for Triple A, but waiting for someone to help him find The Way.

And Philip was God’s chosen instrument that day. God partnered with him to help this Ethiopian understand who Jesus is.

For me, in the season of life I’m in right now, I sometimes get into a rut of thinking that ministry is a “regularly scheduled program.” My husband is in full-time ministry. He has official ministry duties. I write and speak about faith and hope. Ministry does happen in these zones.

But, who is out the ministry zone waiting for me to help them know Jesus?

Is it the woman cutting my hair in the salon?

Is mom in line behind me at Starbucks?

Is it my own child who wants me to take time to listen and help them understand something they’ve been wondering through in their faith?

Philip was so obedient to travel down the desert road with no ministry plan or programming in place. He just climbed up into this guy’s chariot and started right where the Ethiopian was reading and told him about Jesus from there.

I like that.

What empty seat can I slide into? What searching heart can I help? Am I listening to God’s leading and allowing myself to partner with Him where He calls me?

I hope I can put this thought into practice. That’s what really helps me learn something for good – putting it into action.

Writing it in my margin was a good start. This time, I’m looking for the chariot on the side of the road.

Our Marriage Needs a Prefix.

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Last night I told my husband that I miss him. He nodded in agreement as he sat beside me.

We are together a lot, but our moments of non-distracted, non-exhausted, non-sick, non-stressed, non-necessary, non-rushed, non-interrupted communication are slim. We’d like to add those little nons into our relationship, but they’re elusive little prefixes.

We strive to have non-distracted conversations, but texts, and emails, and demands keep breaking our concentration. Not to mention our kids.

We desire to talk about non-necessary topics, but there are fires to be put out before we can intentionally try to fan into flame our love for one another.

We want to give each other our non-exhausted selves. But, we can’t seem to find them.

We need the nons in our marriage.

But adding that prefix takes work.

And it should. Life moves forward after the wedding day and so should our relationship. It should grow and blossom instead of wilting. But it takes effort to remember to care for it in the midst of dizzying schedules and bursting calendars.

The daily, “What time should I plan dinner?” and,  “Did you remember we have that thing tomorrow evening? Did you find a sitter?” questions cause us to put a finger in the leaking dam and leave us in a bind the next time we hear, “Babe, can you give me a hand here?”

The days of long uninterrupted dinners and fun filled dates are taken over by quick, “How was your day?” volleys and conversations squeezed in while sitting in the bleachers.

You have to make an effort to add those nons. But how? What does that look like?

I think it takes many different forms.

Some days you make your kids gag as you kiss in the kitchen. Other days you put a movie in for them and you finish that difficult conversation that’s been driving a wedge between you. Some days you splurge on a nice dinner for two after they’re all in bed, and you tuck your phones away in another room too. Some days you go out to a movie neither of you really care to see just so that you can sit beside each other and hold hands.

And some days you simply acknowledge to each other that you miss the nons. Both of you do. That you’re striving to find them and you believe in each other and miss each other in the meantime. That the effort to find the nons is a small price to pay for the love of your life. You’re a team in this daily work.

Marriage. It sometimes needs a prefix.

And together, we’re going to work to add it.

Non-stop.


 

This post has been re-shared from its original publish date of September 21, 2016

Our Marriage Needs A Prefix.

 

IMG_1276

Last night I told my husband that I miss him. And he nodded in agreement as he sat beside me.

We are together a lot. But our moments of non-distracted, non-exhausted, non-sick, non-stressed, non-necessary, non-rushed, non-interrupted communication are slim. We need those little nons in our marriage. But they’re elusive little prefixes.

We strive to have non-distracted conversations, but the texts and the emails and the demands keep breaking our concentration. Not to mention our kids.

We desire to talk about non-necessary topics, but there are needs and fires to be put out before we can intentionally try to fan into flame our love for one another.

We want to give each other our non-exhausted selves. But, we can’t seem to find them.

We need the nons in our marriage.

But adding that prefix takes work.

And it should. Life moves forward after the wedding day and so should our relationship. It should grow and blossom instead of wilting. But it takes effort to remember to care for it in the midst of dizzying schedules and bursting calendars.

The daily, “What time should I plan dinner?”,and, “Did you remember we have that thing tomorrow evening? Did you find a sitter?” questions cause us to put a finger in the leaking dam and leave us in a bind the next time we hear, “Babe, can you give me a hand here?”

The days of long uninterrupted dinners and fun filled dates are taken over by quick, “How was your day?” volleys and conversations squeezed in while sitting in the bleachers.

You have to make an effort to add those nons. And that looks like many different things.

Some days you make your kids gag as you kiss in the kitchen. Other days you put a movie in for them and you finish that difficult conversation that’s been driving a wedge between you. Some days you splurge on a nice dinner for two after they’re all in bed, and you tuck your phones away in another room too. Some days you go out to a movie neither of you really care to see just so that you can sit beside each other and hold hands.

And some days you simply acknowledge to each other that you miss the nons. Both of you do. That you’re striving to find them and you believe in each other and miss each other in the meantime. That the effort to find the nons is a small price to pay for the love of your life. You’re a team in the hunt.

Marriage. It sometimes needs a prefix.

And together, we’re going to work to add it.

Non-stop.

In Plenty And In Want.

It was a few tissues and an empty Starbucks cup that tipped me over the edge. They were strewn on the floor around the empty trash can instead of being out by the curb with the rest of the trash that my husband had collected. Didn’t he see he’d dropped it and he really hadn’t completed his task of taking the trash out? I would be sure to mention this to him.

And I did.

“You left a mess of trash on the floor out there and you forgot to put a trash bag in the upstairs trash can. Basically, you completed half of your job.” I said in a huff later that afternoon.

I wanted him to get it right. I wanted him to do his whole job with no mistakes and no delay. I wanted him to make me happy and not leave extra work for me. I wanted him to be perfect.

Somewhere along the way in marriage the “wants” change.

IMG_5301When we were dating I wanted him to sit by me. To take me out to dinner. To kiss me. To propose. I wanted him to want me and choose me to be his forever.

When we said our vows we said we’d love each other “in plenty and in want,” and we meant it. Of course, that meaning of the word “want” in that context is to be in a struggle or need of material possessions or money. And that is a “want” that we, middle class Americans, have never truly known.

Somewhere along the way in marriage the “wants” change.

The focus changed. It went from me wanting him to choose me, to me wanting him to do things for me.

My focus used to be on him, and now it is more often on myself.

I want him to provide and protect.

I want him to help with the kids.

I want him to help me keep the house in order.

I want him to take all the trash out.

Somewhere along the way in marriage the “wants” change.

And each day I need the reminder to strive to change them back.

To ask myself how he’d want me to serve him. And to faithfully put him above myself.

To love and cherish the wonderful man I married. In sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.

In plenty and in want.

———-

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers write about a topic, based on a one-word prompt, for about five minutes. To join us, check it out here: http://katemotaung.com/2016/06/09/five-minute-friday-want/

This week’s prompt: WANT

8 Things My Dad Taught Me

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It happened again just recently. A new friend was asking about my family and when she learned that my dad was the pastor at a local church she said, “Oh! You’re Denny’s daughter?!”

Yep. I’m Denny’s daughter. I’ve been known that way all of my life.

It used to get on my nerves to be known as “Denny’s Daughter” instead of just as Christy. I have an identity outside of being the pastor’s kid, you know. But, I have to admit that being called Denny’s Daughter has grown on me over the years. It’s a title I’m honored to carry.

I’ve learned a lot from having my dad as my pastor for more than three decades. What a blessing it has been to sit under his ministry. However, it’s been even more of a blessing to grow up sitting around his kitchen table. Sure, I’ve learned things in church, but I’ve learned even more while riding in a Toyota Previa mini-van and while playing video games as a family in the basement as a teenager.

I’ve been so fortunate to grow up with such a wise dad. He’s taught me many things. And so today, in honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d sit down and list a few.

8 Things My Dad Taught Me

8. Trust Earns Freedom.

My Dad always told me that if he could trust me, then I could earn freedom to do what I wanted to do. For example, if I wanted to go places on my own after getting my driver’s license, then I could earn the right to do so in increasing measure. If I was told to only go to my friend’s house and then home again- I’d better follow the rules. If I did, then maybe next time I’d have the privilege to drive somewhere else as well. If I had a 10pm curfew and I respected the clock and got home on time, then I’d be given a later curfew in the future. It was pretty simple. If I could be trusted to follow directions, then I would be given more freedom over time. I always liked that, because I knew the opportunity for more freedom and privilege was possible and it made me desire to be responsible.

7. Get Your Head in the Game!

I have to admit (embarrassingly) that I can clearly remember my dad yelling this phrase to me during one of my middle school basketball games… and I had no idea what he meant! Get my head in the game? What on earth is he talking about? Of course now I understand that he was telling me to be mentally present on the court and to think about what I was doing. Where did I need to be? Where was the ball going to be next? How should I react to this play, that pass, that shot? I needed to be mentally present and not allowing my mind to be thinking about something else when I should be focused on the game at hand.

That advice has stuck with me long after my basketball career (and I use the term ‘basketball career’ very, very loosely!) I’ve often thought about hearing my dad yell “Get Your Head in the Game!” while working on various tasks throughout my life. Whether it be studying for a final in college, planning an event in my first job out of college, or having an important conversation with one of my children, I need to be mentally present and focused on the task at hand.

6. The Apple products don’t fall far from the tree.

We’ve always joked that my dad is so far on the cutting edge of technology that he’s bleeding. The man loves his technology and he LOVES Apple products. We were getting email in our house growing up (I can still hear that noisy old modem and the voice from AOL saying, “You’ve Got Mail!”) before most of society knew what email was. My dad talked me into buying an iPod before most bands had probably heard of iTunes. And, my dad gave me a laptop in college and encouraged me to carry it to class to take notes.

“Dad, that is so embarrassing!” I said. “Nobody else carries a computer to class!” But it turns out he was on to something there. It seems that now several (million) people have laptops and carry them with them on college campuses.

And Dad’s love for the Apple product has truly been passed on to me. What’s that other kind of computer called? Window something?

5. You are very special, but don’t think too highly of yourself.

Humility is a trait that I’ve always noticed in my dad. He’s not one to “toot his own horn” and I appreciate that about him. I remember being taught a lesson in humility from my dad when I was a freshman in High School. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget, and yet my dad didn’t even say a single word. He didn’t have to.

I was playing on the JV basketball team as a 9th grader, but one week the JV team didn’t have a game so I was bumped down to play with the Freshman Squad… at least “bumped down” was how I saw it. I was proud of the fact that I’d played JV and I was wrongfully quite full of myself during that freshman game. In fact, I’m embarrassed to tell you that during a time-out our coach called a huddle and I stood about 10 feet outside of the huddle thinking that I didn’t need to hear whatever it was that the coach had to say. (Ugh!) I remember tipping my head back to squirt my water bottle into my mouth and when I did my eyes drifting up into the bleachers. There sat my parents and my eyes locked with my dad’s eyes. Not a word was spoken verbally, but I could hear a paragraph’s worth of words coming from Dad’s eyes. That was all it took. I walked into the huddle and changed my attitude from that moment forward.

4. If the ship is sinking and there’s something we can do to help, we’re going to try to fix the problem… or we’re going down with the ship!

In the early years of my dad’s pastorate at our current church, the church building was tiny. As the church grew in membership it also needed to grow in size and so we experienced several building programs. I remember one time in particular that it had been announced that the new building and all of it’s sparkly new classrooms would be ready to open on a certain Sunday. The day before it was to open Dad got a phone call that things were almost ready, but there hadn’t been time to clean the carpets or new rooms and move in the furniture so we’d have to delay the opening for at least another week.

My dad told us to get in the van and off we went to spend a Saturday at the church. We vacuumed, cleaned, moved furniture and more to prepare the rooms, just in time, for church the next day. Dad told us that cleaning toilets was not below the senior pastor’s duty and if we could expend a little elbow grease to help the situation then we were going to do it. We were going to do something to help or go down trying. I’ve never forgotten that Saturday or the lesson I learned.

3. When in doubt, don’t.

I can remember my dad telling me that if I wasn’t sure about saying something or doing something, than I’d better not because it can never be taken back. I often take that into consideration before saying something I’m not 100% sure I should say. I think it’s saved me some heartache over the years and I’m grateful for that.

2. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Life is going to be rough if you can’t learn to laugh at yourself. And laughter is one thing I’ve certainly done… both with and at my dad.

One time when I was in college our extended family rented a house on a large lake for week. We decided to also rent some wave runners. All of the potential wave runner drivers had to go attend a short “class” and watch an instructional video about how to operate the wave runner. The video stressed multiple times that there are no brakes on a wave runner. You must stop pulling the throttle and allow time for the wave runner to slow to a stop. I repeat, there are NO BRAKES on a wave runner.

Yeah, yeah. We signed the papers and rented that thing and off we went. Dad was driving and I was riding along behind him. We were flying through the water and we went into a channel where there were several homes with piers in the water. Did I mention that we were going really fast? Did I also mention that they had stressed to us that the wave runner has no brakes. Well, apparently Dad didn’t catch that part because he drove us way too close to one of the piers and when he tried to brake (um… yeah, you know.) we SLAMMED into one of the pier’s wooden ladders and that ladder exploded. After we shook the shock out of our heads we looked around to see hundreds of pieces of wood floating on the water and a huge gaping hole where the ladder once was. Ooops.

We still laugh about that today. And I am thankful that I am alive to tell you about it. Seriously Dad, you’ve got to pay attention during the safety class next time. (And to whoever’s pier we crashed into… we’re sorry about your ladder.)

1. My dad is not perfect, but he’s taught me about my Heavenly Father, who is.

As I’ve written about before in “One of My Worst Moments,” my dad had the wisdom and courage to teach me the most valuable lesson of all during the worst moment of his life. His wife, my mom, had just died suddenly at our kitchen table at the age of 34. As we stood around her body in a sterile hospital room, my dad reminded me that God was still in control and that He loved us and had a plan for us. If God is good during the worst moment imaginable, then He is good. I can trust my Heavenly Father, and I do, because of my earthly father’s wonderful example in that moment and throughout my life.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you!

100% Polyester Love

Ten years ago this week I was a glowing bride-to-be. We were caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for our December 7th wedding. It was a whirlwind three-month engagement and I was head over heels with it all. I enjoyed just about every second of the planning and preparing. Our wedding, complete with its sparkling Christmas touches, was a dream. My favorite moment was when I was on my Dad’s arm and the doors to the sanctuary opened and I could see Kraig’s face as I walked toward him down the aisle. His eyes never left mine and he wore a huge smile above that rented tuxedo. There was no doubt he was in love with me. And I was so in love with him.

This week we’ve been in a hustle and bustle of a different sort as we’ve led up to our 10th anniversary. The term whirlwind can now be used to describe our three little tornadoes who breeze through the house and who have swept us off of our feet. We plan and prepare now for their Christmas activities and gifts as well as extended family parties, work get-togethers and 2nd grade holiday shops.

It’s been a busy time, but Kraig has done something to make the week leading up to our anniversary extra special. Starting last week, ten days before our actual anniversary, he gave me a gift. He gave me a note as well that explained that for the following ten days I’d be receiving one gift a day leading up to our 10th anniversary. Even more, these gifts would be themed based on the traditional symbol of each year’s anniversary. So for example, the first anniversary is paper, the fourth flowers, the tenth tin, etc.

Each day I’ve been enjoying the anticipation of receiving my note and gift from Kraig. But so far, the second day has been my favorite.

The second anniversary’s traditional symbol is cotton. Kraig gave me a pair of pink pajama pants. I really like pink and comfy pajama pants are great… but that’s not the best part.

As he clearly explained that these pants were for our “Cotton Anniversary” I read the label largely displayed on the tag. 100% Polyester.

Yep. Not a fiber of cotton in them.

I looked up and saw Kraig’s face. That same smile I saw 10 years ago as I walked down the aisle was there. We may both look a little older and weathered a bit, but those eyes and that smile still tell me that no matter the fiber in the pants, that man loves me with every fiber of his being.

I can’t wait to see what else I get this week. But cotton, polyester, tin or diamonds it doesn’t really matter. I’ve already got the real treasure.

In This Corner…

I am going to be very honest here. Not that I usually lie. But, I like to write about something after I’ve got it neatly figured out in my mind. I prefer to organize my thoughts and feelings in a nicely gift-wrapped package and then deliver them onto my blog’s doorstep for others to enjoy.

This post, however, is not yet in the gift box. I’m struggling to get it shoved into the “figured out” section of my cranium. Instead, I continue to mull over it and have concluded, at least for the time being, that I can’t neatly package it. So I guess I’ll just dump the contents of my brain out onto my blog platform and see what happens. Maybe it will help me organize my feelings as I sort them out in cyberspace.

My conflict comes in the form of two little girls. Granted, they have conflict amongst themselves over who had the doll baby first and which of them has the prettier fingernail polish. I’m not talking about that conflict. No, I’m referring to the conflict within me.

I have two very strong emotions that are on the complete opposite end of the “feelings spectrum.” I can not understand how I can have both emotions dwell so strongly in my heart and mind when they are so polar opposite.

In one corner, I have the emotion of frustration. My daughters, ages 2 and 4, are always with me. I’m a stay-at-home mom and so I mean, my daughters, are ALWAYS with me. When I wake up, when I go to the restroom, when I take a shower, when I eat, when I exercise, when I drive… you get the idea. Sometimes I just would like to have a minute to myself when no little voice interrupts my conversation or my train of thought. In fact, my train of thought has been derailed so often that I’m not even sure it’s on the tracks anymore. I’m getting tired of stoking the firebox and I feel as if  my head may literally spew smoke. I just want to be left alone.

In the other corner… I don’t want to be left alone!! I absolutely LOVE being a Mommy. It’s my favorite stage of life so far and I’m living my dream. My husband is amazing and our son is enjoying second grade and I have the privilege of staying home with our two daughters. It’s wonderful. I dread the day, in a few years, when my girls will both be in school and these precious preschool days will be done. The thought almost brings tears to my eyes.

How can this be?!

How can I feel both frustration and elation so strongly at the same time?

I don’t know, but I’m telling you that they are both in the ring. They are duking it out every day. I want to hush my girls as they interrupt me for the 823rd time in a day and at the same time I want to scoop them up and snuggle them for hours. I want to be left alone so that I can do what I want to do for an evening, but when I am gone I find myself missing my children deeply and thinking about them often. When I see pictures of my kids as babies I lament that their infant stages are behind us while at the same time wanting to dance with joy that their infant stages are behind us.

Seriously, my Mommy emotions are sometimes like two magnets with opposite poles. They push at each other inside of me and cause me such confusion, joy, grief, happiness and exhaustion.

I don’t know yet how to neatly package these emotions. I can’t reconcile them in my own mind let alone gift-wrap them to deliver neatly to others.

I guess that’s motherhood. It’s a confusing, conflicting, beautiful mess. And now that I’ve got my thoughts laying in a heap I realize that it’s not so bad after all.

It’s the gift that matters anyway, not the way it’s wrapped.

Parenting and Other Health Hazards

A couple of years ago, about three months after giving birth to my third child, we were on vacation with my side of the family. We were on a beautiful lake for the week and I accomplished what I surmised to be a great feat. I water skied. It wasn’t pretty, but I got up on skis while family members, including my husband, helped corral our three little ones in the boat.

After my short ride I remember climbing back into the boat (which is almost another feat in itself) with legs that felt like jello. I flopped down next to my cousin, who was not yet married at the time and had no children. After I’d caught my breath I told him that I was tired, but glad I was able to ski just three months after having my third baby. My cousin thought about that for a minute and then he asked me a question. “How long does it take to recover from having a baby?”,  he said.

While my mouth was answering rather matter-of-factly, as I explained that you don’t go back to your doctor for your post-postpartum check-up for at least 6 weeks, my brain was saying, “Wait! Is this a trick question?!” Because really the answer to when you recover from having a baby is, um…. NEVER!

And when it comes down to it, once you’ve successfully added an infant to your life that’s not the beginning of your recovery…that’s just the beginning of the health hazards.  And to further that thought, once your children get bigger, so do the health hazards! I was reminded of this fact just this week when my poor husband got whacked in the head by our two-year-old who was wielding a plastic mermaid. And though being hit in the head with a mermaid may sound somewhat light and comical, judging by my husband’s reaction, it’s not as funny as it sounds.

Oh, there are many health hazards to having children.

Let’s see… there’s the lower back pain that comes from lugging an awkward infant car seat all over town. There’s the kink you get in your neck from half-turning around while driving to feel around on the floor behind you for the dropped must-have toy. Have you heard of “Tennis Elbow?” Well, how about “Diaper Bag Shoulder?” There’s the neck and back pain associated with children who hang on your arms while you’re standing and talking with other grown-ups (or trying to!) And that pain only worsens when the children pick up their feet and hang with all their body weight while holding on to two of your fingers and then landing on your pinky toe when they finally crash to the ground.

I’m just getting started here! The health hazards continue. There’s the sleep deprivation… the eating of ABC food (yes, “already been chewed”… and spit out by a toddler)…the cleaning of dropped pacifiers by “rinsing” them in your own glass of ice water….the inhalation of sour air until you find the sippy cup full of curdled milk under your van’s back seat…the agonizing foot and ankle pain when you step on wooden train wheels or Barbie hair brushes….the fingernails that get bent backwards while trying to unfold the stroller. What woman can forget the sharp pain associated with a baby pulling on their dangling earring. And men…well they get treated like human jungle gyms without the benefit of a recess monitor to keep things civilized.

Then there’s the hazard we parents face of extreme weather conditions as we bundle everyone from head to toe and go out forgetting our own coat. Our own personal hygiene suffers in general. Who has the time?!

And speaking of hygiene, I’m afraid one day I may accidentally poison myself by putting deodorant on my lips and lipstick on my underarms because I’m so distracted in the bathroom. I’m almost never in there alone!

And what about the health hazards of having to jump off the diving board at the local neighborhood pool in front of a dozen other Moms and Dads because your son is begging you… oh wait, that was a hazard to my pride… but anyway.

There are many health hazards to parenting. But let me tell you which ones are the most serious. There are some hazards from which you’ll never recover.

One, you’re a goner when you experience the bursting feeling in your heart the first time you watch your child make a good decision without you having to prompt them. Your poor heart will flutter as you watch your child’s eyes sparkle as they see one of their dreams come true. Your eyes will water and nose will tingle as you realize your child doesn’t need (or want) to hold your hand anymore when walking into school. Your head will spin with worry as you hear news that your child is sick or hurting. You’ll melt and become weak at the knees when your little toddler sweetly says big words like “Hippopotamus.” Your bones will ache with love as you stare at your child sleeping peacefully. Your breath will catch in your throat as warm, chubby little cheeks burrow up against your neck. And frankly, you’ll never be the same.

Yes, parenting is definitely a hazard to your health. It’s not for the feeble. And if you survive the infant stage then hold on, and maybe buy a helmet, because it’s only going to get worse!

Yes, it’s true, you’ll never fully recover once you’ve had a baby. And if you’re like me, you’ll never want to!

The Popcorn Bowl.

What do I think of when I think of true love, commitment, and romance? You’ll probably never guess. Ok, maybe if you read the title of this post you’ve got a good idea. Otherwise, would you believe our popcorn bowl is what triggers reminders for me of how much I love my husband?

Yeah, it sounds crazy. But I’m going to let you in on an intimate detail of our marriage. Here goes. My husband loves to eat popcorn in the evenings. When he’s done with his snack, he leaves the popcorn bowl, full of kernels, on the counter. This irks me. …Yep, that’s the intimate detail.

This has been going on for years now. Can he not just throw the kernels away and wash the crazy bowl by himself. Yes, he very well could. But he doesn’t.

Now, we have a pretty traditional marriage where I do almost all of the cooking and cleaning. I’m good with this and enjoy it, for the most part. But the difference has been that I don’t usually actually use the popcorn bowl myself as opposed to when I make dinner and use the dishes for all of our family. So for some reason, the popcorn bowl feels different. Like it’s sitting there…just one more thing I’m expected to do before I head to bed.

This has gotten me a little steamed inside… and eventually my inner kernel popped! I finally voiced my displeasure one night asking why he expects this bowl to magically become clean and appear in the cupboard for his next salty rendezvous.

His response? He hadn’t even thought about it. He wasn’t intentionally leaving more work for me to do. To him it wasn’t any different from any other dish we used in our home.

Really?! Did he not realize I didn’t use the bowl and I instead felt used myself because he just expected me to put it away. This was news to him…

So how does this story end? Has something changed? Does Kraig now wash the bowl every time and return it to its rightful place in the cupboard? Yes, something has changed… but it’s not anything Kraig does. What’s changed? My perspective. When I realized he wasn’t intentionally trying to get my proverbial goat, I decided to change how I viewed the popcorn bowl. Now I see it as a round, shiny, salty, and silly little labor of love. I know, it’s weird. But, it’s a regular reminder to me now of how much I love this man.

I know he could easily wash it himself, and he’s even offered. But now for me it’s a tangible way to remind ME of how much I love him. And I’ve realized this doesn’t work if I do it with a bad attitude. But if I think of washing that bowl as a way to express how much I love Kraig, I even sometimes smile while scrubbing that thing clean.

We’ve got wedding rings and three kids to remind us of our commitment and history together. They are great reminders too. But on a regular basis, I’ve got a popcorn bowl to help me with this kernel of wisdom: I love the man who eats the popcorn. And when I think of all he does for me and for our children, I can season the menial tasks of my day with a proper perspective. And, that has made the popcorn bowl a savory symbol of romance in my eyes.

Now, if I could only do the same with the clothes hamper.