Conflict in relationships…meh ;)

The past 24 hours have been…rough. Do you ever have those days where you just cannot see eye to eye with someone? Well, my hubs and I have had this issue today.

Conflict is annoying. It is challenging, hard, and draining. If I explained to you what we were arguing over you might laugh. Well, let’s start. (P.S.- I cleared sharing this with him!). This morning I was super happy to go tell him it was time for breakfast. I ran downstairs like a crazed woman. I thought I would wake him up, but heard him in the bathroom. I scared the heck out of him as I bombarded into the room like a slap happy Labrador.  Unfortunately, my once-in-a-lifetime scaring him “moment” startled him enough to trigger a full on back spasm. He locked up in pain and asked me to leave.  I left, dejected, and mad. Did he think I actually meant to hurt him? Why did he treat me like that? Ugh! I sat in a self wallowing manner for about ten minutes before picking myself up and heading to breakfast.

We had a nice breakfast. I swallowed down my anger and thought better to just leave it be. Ha ha-yea right!

So then we went on a walk. Somehow the holidays came up. Where we would spend Christmas NEXT year. I don’t know what happened but WHAM! Stupid argument #2 in full swing. Generally speaking, arguing over hypothetical situations that might happen a year out is probably not a wise thing to do.

After lots of blaming and fake sorry’s we gave each other some distance in the walk. I prayed. Yea for once I prayed during conflict! In my reflection, I realized a couple things. First, I hate someone disagreeing with me. Second, I hate being misunderstood. Third, I am a control freak and have high expectations- and when they aren’t met it makes me mad!

After realizing these things I felt an answer: stop talking and go hold your husband’s hand. Ugh… why? Couldn’t I just keep wallowing? I wasn’t ready to give in!

No. I couldn’t. It was time to grow up.

My husband reciprocated immediately. I think he was waiting for me to stop being so stubborn. He opened up about his feelings (funny how when I finally shut up he talks!). He explained how while we might not always see eye to eye, we will make it. He reminded me that conflict is good for relationships- it makes us grow stronger. He shared with me that while we want to change each other, it is our differences that brought us together and make us a wonderful couple.  He confirmed that he loves me and will always be by my side- and that a little or big conflict isn’t going to change that.

While I listened I saw his point about the breakfast scenario- he was half awake and in a dark place and I scared the bejeesus out of him. Of course his response was to tell me to bug off! (This is a learning lesson- don’t scare big, burly men while they are caught off guard. They might think you are a burglar attacking them!)

Why does it take me so long to see it from his side, and why do I expect so much?

Conflict is good, and moving through it is better. We learn the painful art of forgiveness and grace, and step out of ourselves and into the others’ shoes. It makes us tougher, more loving and way more dependent on God for help. And being way more dependent on God to help us learn how to forgive, love better, and sacrifice our needs for someone else is always a good thing.

Bonus- now in hindsight and after moving through this episode- we are able to laugh at the hilarity of our dumb arguments. This moment of dissension sparked some very sweet moments for our night, moments I am so grateful for.

 I am sure we will have many more conflict to come… bring it on.

What makes a woman beautiful

I have once heard it said that art cannot be explained, only seen. The depth, richness, passion, and texture of art is best witnessed by the human eye. To try and describe a work of art in words alone or by a picture would fall very short.

Beauty is also such. I have stood in the presence of such beautiful people. I have been in awe by the beauty that can radiate out of a human being. It is hard to describe, but I know I have seen it with my bare eye. 

Unfortunately, our culture has reduced beauty to visual perfection. Magazine covers feature women who are not only young, healthy, and lovely- they also remove any flaw or imperfection from their body or skin. We are truly looking at aliens, meaning they are not actually human but rather something other worldy and unreal. 

The same goes for the world of plastic surgery. Now, we are extremely fortunate to have such a medical wonder to have something as advanced as plastic surgery. What an amazing thing for someone who has been in a car accident and had their face destroyed or someone who has experienced a severe burn. Yet we have taken it to a new level and now alter the way we look completely so as to attempt to become less insecure or more wanted by our partners. 

Lastly, I sadly see beauty tragically defamed in the world of our “sex culture”. Women who are idolized as beautiful are chock full of enhancements. Fake tans, plastic surgery, and sexy figures are what is featured in sex magazines and the growing pornography world. 

I am not undermining physical beauty. Physical beauty is a god-given, wonderful and amazing thing. Women are just drop dead gorgeous. I often admire many gals as I am out and about and am truly amazed by how unique and lovely some people are! Some people do have awesome bodies they work hard for (or are just blessed to have those natural curves). Sometimes I love getting tanned, my nails done, hair blown out, or a new outfit. I am not knocking on the fact we can spruce ourselves up. I am simply saying that our culture idolizes this and makes it the standard to live up to, we go crazy trying to be skinny and pretty, and lose sight of what real beauty is in the process… 

I often gaze at my daughter and am amazed at how perfect each and every feature is on her body. Her tiny toes, long eyelashes, and her sparkly eyes captivate me. Yet what I find most beautiful of all about her is her beaming smile that is so full of heart and life. But without that heart and life motivating that smile, it would be empty. She is beautiful because she is. That is it. She needs nothing more and nothing less in my opinion. There is nothing that could make her less beautiful to me-  no physical imperfection could lessen her beauty. 

Mother Teresa won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She founded the Missionaries of Charity. The charity focuses on giving “wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor” and helps people with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, leprosy, soup kitchens, orphanages and schools. One women who reported her encounter with Mother Teresa on the website, explained- “I have often been asked what it was like to look into Mothers face, and all I can say is that it was like looking into the face of God.” Is there a higher compliment? 

Anne Frank is one of our most beloved writers and one of the most discussed victims of the Holocaust. Just four months before their hiding place was stormed by the Police, she wrote the following entry in her diary:

“I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …

And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! …
I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me!
When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?” 
Yes, Anne Frank, you will:)
Rosa Parks is known as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement”. She recieved this title from her refusal to give up her seat to a white male passenger on a bus in Alabama in 1955. Her courage sparked the hearts of many. 
There are a few commonalities I observe about these three women. The first, I must state, is that none of them are perfect. I am not claiming them to be. I am sure each had many flaws just like all of us. But they did have some characteristics, in my opinion, that made them very stunning women. 

The first is that they were passionate. They were not sitting around looking pretty. They did things. These are thinking women. They used their minds as a weapon to fight for what meant the most to them. 
The second is that they all had faith. They believed their actions could produce change. Even though they did not yet know the outcome or effect of what one single journal entry, act of courage, or meal to a homeless person would bring- they still did it. Did Mother Teresa know she would become such a figure head? I doubt it. Or Anne Frank a journalist to show us the inside of the terror of war? I wonder if Rosa Parks did that act having full confidence it would be an act of courage to the nation against racism. I truly believe these women did these things not fully knowing what it would bring, but HOPING they could find their purpose or help some people. That is faith. Jumping even when it is scary or dangerous. Having hope in the darkest of times. 
The third is they all sacrificed. Each one took time out of their day to seek the heart of others. They all yearned to help people. Helping people is not easy. It means stopping what you are doing to tend to another persons needs. It means sometimes getting dirty, giving money, and carrying a burden. 

They all had courage. Now I do not view courage as absence of fear. Rather, I view courage as moving despite fear. Each one faced extreme hardships, to the point I doubt I will ever experience. I do not live amongst poverty, am not living in hiding for fear of death, nor am I hated because of the color of my skin.  These women still moved through the trembling of fear and imminent death. Their mind, heart, and passion motivated them. 

I am going to interject one more thing I think is beautiful. That is when someone has a spirit for adventure and fun. When I am around someone funny or full of joy- I cannot help but feel more joyful myself. There is something beautiful about a woman who can find the fun in life and relax. I know a few people in my life who are great at this. They love finding crazy things to do and feeling the rush of adrenaline and just acting like a kid. I envy them because I want to be more like that! I want to make people happy to be around me! 

I suppose what I am getting at is that true beauty is more full than just the face, body, and clothes. It is radiated through the face and body. It is felt, seen, and beheld by the human eye. It is achieved through work in the heart and mind. True beauty tends to both the outer and inner in balance. We ought to stop giving all the praise to beautiful people who do not possess inner beauty in Hollywood and on the streets. Outward beauty alone has little power to do anything lasting or impacting, and fades with time. 

The fullness of beauty can impact generations and stay with us forever. It can transform us, renew us, and inspire us. We never forget someone who is truly beautiful. Others’ beauty can make us more beautiful, from the inside out. It is powerful. We all have the above characteristics in us naturally. We are all beautiful. Some of us are more adventurous, some more philisophical, and some more comfortable helping others. God designs us that way: unique and fearfully made. God’s light can shine through us and impact the world if we allow it so.  
I want to teach Lillian about true beauty, from the inside out. My hope is that she would be compelled to not only dwell on her outer appearance, but also her inner beauty. I hope she will be able to see beauty in others and not judge people by their outer appearances- but really get to know everyone- inside and out. I hope she is able to see her authentic, unique, one of a kind beauty is wonderful and more than enough to do great and powerful acts in her life. 

Capturing Every Moment

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” 
― Emily Dickinson

What is it about reminiscing about the past that has such a strong grip on us? I recently went through some old photographs. I felt a combination of great joy from the photos but also a bit melancholy. I suppose looking at all those photos reminded me how fleeting time truly is.

My grandfather is a superior memory maker. He takes videos at every holiday, and captures every family member. His passion has definitely made an impact. Many of the people he featured in videos were his brothers and sister who are now deceased. Most of the video footage is simple, just showing them doing every day things like sitting and eating and laughing in their most comfortable state. I know my grandfather and grandmother cherish these live moments captured of their siblings.

One Thanksgiving my grandfather turned the video to me as I was eating. I was giving advice on something, and my grandpa said “Tiffy, say something”. I remember feeling not in the mood to talk to the camera (I’m never in the mood to do anything for the camera), so I hurriedly and selfishly said a sarcastic greeting. I was so sad because I would have actually loved to see myself smiling and enjoying the moment with my grandfather. Instead I was busy giving some advice to someone.

Time flies. Life gets busy. My calendar takes over my days and I worry about getting to bible studies, making it on time to appointments I have booked, making sure all my chores are done and Lillian makes it to her doctors visits and so on. The thing is, new chores and life demands never seem to stop pouring in. So time continues to pass. Yet the times I remember and cherish are the moments that sneak up on you. These memories are usually nothing remarkable. They are little moments. The squeeze of a hand. The look of delight. A friend pouring her heart out. Just being with someone and not even doing much at all.

It seems that in life, the time that freezes are the moments we don’t plan and just let happen. It is these precious times that life becomes organic and authentic.

I find Emily Dickinson’s quote both frightening and wonderful. Each moment is so precious and only happens once. Other moments may come that remind us of the past, but each moment is unique and one of a kind. When I ponder that it makes me realize how pressing some needs truly are, and how other needs that seem pressing can actually wait a day or two.

Now, sometimes things must get done. I just think I am the type to worry about the demands and meetings over the still moments that really define life.

My goal for this week is to enjoy life without agendas or expectations. I want to just let it be and see what comes. Being aware that each moment in life only comes once does make it sweeter and changes how I respond to both people and demands.

What precious moments are you passing up on due to life demands or expectations?