Monday, February 28, 2011

Clenched fist principle

Someone recently shared with me the principle of the clenched fist. It says that you can only clench your fist for a short time, then you must release it. When I was a church planter's wife, I needed to remember this. Too many times, I kept going at breakneck speed without slowing down. I remember trying to find the balance between home and church. I now think that balancing may not be the best word. How much does each part get? 50/50 or 60/40 or 90/10?

There were weeks when special things were going on at church and 100% was needed. I had to leave some things undone at home that week. BUT I could not keep that up (clenched fist) week after week. I had to pull back after the special event.

There were weeks when my family needed me (a sick child, a family problem, a special occasion) and I had to do the minimum at church. I found that being fully present and giving my best to what is needed (genuinely needed - not what others or even myself thought was expected) at the time seemed to work for me.

It's not always clear and the lines are often blurred. (Do I really need to go with my husband for a hospital visit or do I need to stay home and play a game with the kids? Do I take on that extra job at church or volunteer at my kids' school?) Each one has to sort through and decide when and how to give and when to pull back. You can't keep clenching your fist - it's okay to release and rest some.

How do you make it work?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cutting each other some slack

I recently spoke at a pastor's wives retreat - one of my favorite things to do! Get a group of pastor's wives together and you have a party ready to happen! Who knew?!

Anyhow, in one of my talks I mentioned that I didn't want my husband to hate getting into the car on Sunday morning (after church) because of all my "helpful advice." (Your sermon was too long; you said "ain't" three times; you scratched your head over and over, etc.) One of the wives mentioned to me that she hadn't really thought of it like that and she realized that it had become a bad habit for her.

Now all of us women want our hubbies to look good. And if we don't tell them, who will?! Right? Well, I've come to realize that husbands have a super strong need for respect and they don't think of our "helpful advice" as being all that helpful. They think, "I can never be good enough, I can never please you, I don't deserve this kind of talk..." and they feel criticized and disrespected.

Maybe you're saying, "Well, when my husband acts a little more deserving of my respect, I'll give it to him." God told us to respect our husbands (Ephesians 5:33) and withholding it when we feel like it, is wrong. Sure, they may say or do things that send us over the edge (some day it takes less than others), but your hubby is probably good-hearted and really does love you. I think we need to give each other a little more slack. Just saying...

Happy Valentine's Day to my sweetie!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Come on in and sit right down!

As you can see from the picture above, we had dinner guests this week. My husband invited six new church planters to come for a week of training (Boot Camp, it's called), so they (and two of their wives and two kids) came to our house for dinner on Tuesday night and I was reminded again just how good it is to connect with people in your home. We had lots of laughs around the table and then a sweet time of praying for each other afterward.

But it also reminded me of the many excuses I can come up with about having people over.

Can I share a few tips that help me to overcome my hesitation?

Relax. Nobody really notices the stains on the carpet or the wall that needs to be painted or how badly the cabinets need to be wiped down (or at least I hoped they didn't - smile). I can see all the flaws in our house and worry that things are not nice enough or fancy enough or ________. Do you care about those things when you're invited to dinner at someone's house? Probably not - so just relax.

Have a few simple meals that you know how to prepare and repeat those. If you've ever eaten at my house, I've probably served you lasagna, spaghetti (if you came on the spur of the moment) or cornflake chicken and cheese potatoes - with an easy dessert. That's my repertoire! I could probably make those simple dishes in my sleep. I know the ingredients I need and how long it takes to cook. (Although, did you know that it takes chicken thighs longer to cook than it does the breast pieces? - I found that out this week when I cut into my chicken thigh.)

Let others (and the grocery store) help you. You don't have to be superwoman. You can find lots of great desserts and rolls and other yummy foods at most grocery stores. And if people offer to bring something, say yes.

Fill your sink with hot, soapy water and drop the dishes in to soak. When I clear the table of dishes before dessert, I drop them in and let them soak. After my guests leave, it only takes minutes to finish up - to load the dishwasher or wash by hand.

Enjoy your guests. Take time to get to know them and hear their stories. It will bond you together in a new way.