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Those Pesky Idiosyncracies

27 May

It’s been said that married men should forget their mistakes. There’s no sense in two people remembering the same thing.

It’s also been said that marriage is a relationship where one person is always right … and the other is the husband.

Those jokes are funny, but not too kind to the menfolk!

Unfortunately, marriage is a sea of challenges that requires graceful navigation!

I was recently encouraged by a book about this complicated relationship. Elaine W. Miller wrote We All Married Idiots, a book that examines three things we will never change about our marriages, and then she offers ten things we can all work on to improve the husband-wife relationship. (1)

In one chapter, Elaine talks about learning to live with each other’s idiosyncrasies.

“Since living with idiosyncrasies is a part of marriage,” she wrote, “You might as well treasure those peculiar habits. One day you might miss them. I know I did.”

Elaine’s husband Dan was a tapper. He tapped on things. “I think in his mind the whole world is his trumpet as his fingers play a perpetual tune,” she said. “He taps the table when he eats, the steering wheel when he drives, the newspaper when he reads, the pulpit when he preaches, and my shoulders when he puts his arms around me.”

The tapping got hard to take. “If I let it,” Elaine said, “his tapping gets on my nerves. Many times I have said in an irritated voice, ‘Would you please stop tapping!’

“However,” she added, “when he was hospitalized and I was uncertain if he would live through the night, those words weren’t on my lips. I stared at his silent fingers, held his motionless hands, and pleaded, ‘Please, God, let me feel his fingers tapping.’

“Funny how our perspective on idiosyncrasies changes under different circumstances,” she said. “Many will admit the very thing that bugs them is what first enticed them to their beloved, and what they will miss the most when their loved one is gone.”

I remember reading about a woman who hated her husband’s snoring. She complained and poked him through the night. But after the man died, she told a friend she’d “give anything to hear that man snore again!”

Those pesky idiosyncrasies are simply more proof that we are all unique, and the truth is, every marriage has them. It is our attitude that makes the difference. Elaine explains that love is kind (according to 1 Corinthians 13:4). And what does that look like? “Being kind to your mate means overlooking those oddities that sometimes drive you crazy. The next time your love does the idiotic, remember this ~ you married an idiot and so did your spouse.” (2)

Elaine points out that the words “idiosyncrasy” and “idiot” both come from the same Greek root word (idio) meaning “common man.” In other words, we all do things that are a bit eccentric or peculiar from time to time.

As I thought about this, I realized how many times simple kindness and grace ~ and especially loving words ~ have acted like soothing oil in my own marriage. (Sometimes I can’t believe that my husband has put up with me this long!)

Rather than focusing on each other’s quirks, we’ve chosen to concentrate on what is good, pure, lovely, etc. (see Philippians 4:8). Some of those pesky idiosyncrasies remain, but they aren’t “issues” anymore. We’ve learned to love and accept each other and try to see each other through the eyes of the Redeemer we both love.

When I stop to think that God created me with unique idiosyncrasies ~ and He loves me ~ it encourages me to share the same kind of love with others, especially my spouse.

How about you? When you think about your spouse (or if you’re not married, a boss or a parent or someone else you have a relationship with on a regular basis), is there something that the person does that really bugs you? Could love, acceptance, patience and mega doses of grace ease your frustration?

(1) Elaine W. Miller, We All Married Idiots (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2012), p. 7.

(2) ibid, p. 7.

Elaine Miller is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and has authored two other books, Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms and Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives. http://www.splashesofserenity.com.

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Got Post-Christmas Blahs?

26 Dec

There’s a funny “Day after Christmas” poem that might describe many homes in America:

‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house,
Every creature was hurting — even the mouse.
The toys were all broken, their batteries dead;
Santa passed out, with some ice on his head.

Wrapping and ribbons just covered the floor, while
Upstairs the family continued to snore.
And I in my T-shirt, new Reeboks and jeans,
Went into the kitchen and started to clean.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sink to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the curtains, and threw up the sash.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a little white truck, with an over-sized mirror.
The driver was smiling, so lively and grand;
The patch on his jacket said “U.S. POSTMAN.”

With a handful of bills, he grinned like a fox.
Then quickly he stuffed them into our mailbox.
Bill after bill, after bill, they still came.
Whistling and shouting he called them by name:

“Now Dillard’s, now Broadway’s, now Penny’s and Sears;
Here’s Levitz’ and Target’s and Mervyn’s ~ all here!!
To the tip or your limit, every store, every mall,
Now chargeaway-chargeaway-chargeaway all!”

He whooped and he whistled as he finished his work.
He filled up the box, and then turned with a jerk.
He sprang to his truck and he drove down the road,
Driving much faster with just half a load.

Then I heard him exclaim with great holiday cheer,
“Enjoy what you got … YOU’LL BE PAYING ALL YEAR!” (1)

And then there are all the “returns” after Christmas.

Brian Bill dealt with this by quoting a poem by Dave Veerman called “Many Happy Returns” ~

“‘Twas the day after Christmas, And all through the room
Strewn wrappings were crying For use of a broom

The children were scattered, The friends’ gifts exploring,
Since now most of theirs Were broken or boring.

All tummies were stuffed From the fabulous feast;
Leftovers would serve For one month at least.

And mama and papa Were countryside ranging,
Those unwanted gifts Returned or exchanging.

Yes, Christmas is past With its bustle and noise,
Sales and carols, Santas and toys.

Decorations are packed, The Yule tree’s discarded.
The holiday’s over, Just as we got started….” (2)

It’s so true … if we’re not careful … all the post-Christmas bills and returns will get us down (unless, of course, we paid for it all with cash and chose perfect gifts).

Sometimes, as hard as we try, Christmas is disappointing. It’s like the child who opened all his gifts and then declared, “Is that all there is?” Or maybe there are some relationship problems. Or maybe there is so much activity and you run on adrenaline … and then you crash.  (I know it’s only the day after Christmas… it might take a bit to catch up with you!)

Here’s how I’ve always dealt with post-Christmas blues Continue reading

Re-energize before Christmas

19 Dec

“Three phrases that sum up Christmas are:  Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not included.” ~ author unknown

“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, ‘Toys not included.'” ~ Bernard Manning (1)

Ever feel like you need a new set of batteries to keep running?

This is about the time of the Christmas season that I (Dawn) start wearing down, so I took time to think about Fifteen Ways to Re-Energize before Christmas. Maybe this will help you, too.

  1. Connect with friends and family members spontaneously ~ no expectations ~ and chat about some fun holiday memories.
  2. Schedule some play time that doesn’t require a lot of planning. (Holiday preparations can get so intense, they feel like work; so allow yourself some down time. Think like a child.)
  3. Look at your “to do list” and determine whether what you are doing right now absolutely has to be done right now. Is there something you can put off until after Christmas? Something you can delegate? Something you might decide isn’t worth doing at all? Learn when to say “no.”
  4. Think legacy and impact to determine what is important. What will last? How do you want people to remember you? What counts for eternity? What builds people up?
  5. Use “now-time” wisely. Plan for long-term goals, but take just one step at a time. Don’t fret over tomorrow’s responsibilities.
  6. Eat healthy ~ a balance of protein and good carbs.
  7. Drink more water!
  8. Exercise. Yes, that sounds counter-productive, but daily exercise will help, especially if you can get some sunshine outside at the same time to beat winter blues. At the very least, do some slow stretches ~ get every muscle group involved. Reach high… bend low… twist gently.
  9. Breathe deeply … breathe out for as long as you can through your mouth, and then breathe in deeply through your nose. Hold your breath.  Repeat. Repeat.
  10. Simplify housekeeping. Keeping the “clutter” down and wiping down surfaces is all that’s really necessary, if you’ve been keeping your home in shape. Don’t think that your ChristmasNaphouse has to be “immaculate” for guests.
  11. Take a power nap in the middle of the day… it’s better for you than an extra half hour in the morning. (A friend reminded me that it’s not a nap if I’m still holding a cell phone or have my hands on a keyboard!)
  12. Smell good stuff ~ the aromas of your Christmas tree, tangerines, rosemary, etc.
  13. Enjoy light and warmth. Sit by a glowing fireplace, or light candles.
  14. Sing Carols out loud in your home, or listen to Christmas music as you work.
  15. Turn over all of your cares to God.

What I’m talking about here is how to get back a feeling of energy … powering up. These are things, actually, that we can do any time we feel like our batteries have run down.

One of the most “draining” things we can do during the holiday season is to fret and worry about all that we have to do. That’s why I especially like #15 on that list.

The Bible says, Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:7, Amplified). God says we can cast our cares on Him, and He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22).

We “cast our cares” by handing them over to God. Envision that you have your hands full … because you do! And then hand those things over to God for safe-keeping.

We don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s “to do list” (Matthew 6:34), but only consider what God wants us to do today. Can you feel the “aaaaah” in that?

So, the way we power up to face the stresses of the holidays is really by powering down … or rather, surrendering to God’s power. We recognize that we can’t do it all, but we CAN do all that God wants us to do, by His grace, in His power, with His strength and help.

Relax. Think about what’s really important in this special season, and then ~ cast your cares on the One who has promised to sustain you, and allow Him to recharge your batteries.

(1) http://www.quotegarden.com/christmas.html

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