You Cannot Harvest What You Did Not Plant~Wifey Wednesday

Blogging? Huh? What is this?

What are all these buttons? What are stats?

Pages, links, categories, appearance, font, keyboard…….

it’s been so long. I’m sorry little blog. I’m so sorry. And readers, I’ve been here but not here. Blogging is hard. It really is.  I don’t think most people know how much time goes into putting together a blog post. I have had about 15 subjects, tons of notes written, conversations about topics, convictions, desires, dreams, visions, goals…….so much going on about what to write and I have written nothing. It feels overwhelming to write because I want to write, but I want it to be worth it. And I want it to be good. So let’s give this a whirl…..

Today is Wednesday and for the past few months I have tried to occasionally post for Wifey Wednesday along with other bloggers on the net. My marriage is kind of a big deal. Not because we’re so awesome at being married but because we truly believe it is our number one most important earthly relationship. And it literally encompasses my entire life. So ya, I talk about marriage a lot.

Lately I have been chatting with friends and family about their marriages, relationships and the struggles we all inevitably have. I was struck last week with that mind-blowing knowledge that we are now THAT couple. The one that others come to for advice. The ones who have been around the longest in some circles. We are the couple with history and longevity. And that feels weird. We still fight about the same stuff so how in the world can we help others who fight about the same stuff?

Here’s the secret: we plant, we tend, we wait and we harvest. And some years…..we summer fallow. Your brains just broke, right? You’re wondering if I made a typo or if I’m drunk or what the heck I’m talking about, right? Bear with me.

I 100% believe in the principle of sowing and reaping. I believe that whether you believe in the Bible, in morality, in right and wrong, in evolution or regeneration or any form of spirituality, our world is completely founded on certain principles which cannot be avoided.  Take gravity for example. Gravity is a scientific principle but even if you don’t understand the science of it or know that it is science, you know that if you jump off a bridge, you are going to fall into the river below. You know it without doing it.

Planting seeds- sowing- is a principle. You cannot plant seeds without expecting some sort of growth. You cannot plant corn seeds and expect potatoes to grow. If you plant corn, then corn will grow. But planting is more than just seeds. Planting involves soil, rain, sun, fertilizer and tending to the weeds that will grow too. Planting is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t a one time effort. In  order to reap or harvest, you have to plant. And then you will plant again the next year, and the next and the next. Planting and harvesting takes planning, work and time. There is no other way. Without planning, work and time your seed is worthless and wasted. 

This is marriage: planning, seeds, work, time and harvest.

You can plan to get married for years. You can plan your wedding, your dress, the food. You can plan out who you want to marry and what your kids will look like. You can plan where you’ll live and where you’ll work but without the seeds……your plan will fail.

I see couples do this a lot. They plan and they buy seeds. But they haven’t got a clue how to grow a garden. You want to know how to grow a good solid relationship? Talk to a farmer. I’m serious. Find a farmer; go have coffee on coffee row of your nearest small town on a weekday morning and find out how long they’ve been at it. Ask them how many years it took them to grow a bumper crop. Ask them how many years out of the last 20 they lost more than they made. And ask them why they keep going back year after year.  The Farmer knows…….it takes seed but then it takes work and patience. Work and time. And it takes a lot of knowledge about the kind of seeds you’re planting and what kind of soil you have to work with.

Taking the seeder out for a dry run to make sure all is working well.

I could probably write a book on how the principle of sowing and reaping applies to marriages and relationships. You can’t harvest what you haven’t planted.

Let me say that again: YOU CANNOT HARVEST WHAT YOU DID NOT PLANT.

Men: Do you want a woman who drops everything when you walk in the door after a long day? You cannot have what you did not plant. If you want tender love, plant tender love. Tender words, tender thoughts, tender gifts and tender touch.

If you want respect, you need to sow respect.

If you want humour, plant humour.

If you want a joyful home, be joyful. Don’t be angry and pouty.

If you want to have dinner at the table every night, help get it on the table every night.

If you want the dishes done, help do the dishes.

If you want a rested wife, let her have a nap.

If you want happy, content children then spend time making them happy and content.

If you want to feel loved, then give love.

If you want him to be romantic, then show him what romance is.

You see, we all want these things but so often we make our spouse responsible to do it all. We put all of the pressure on the other person to make it happen. But YOU need to be the person YOU want to be with. 

Can you understand that?  All of the things you want are things that your partner wants too. But each of you is responsible to plant the seeds. You cannot harvest what you haven’t planted.

Earlier I mentioned summer fallow. For those who don’t understand farming this may be a foreign concept but you will be surprised to know that farmers often leave a field unplanted for a season or two. It can seem counter productive especially when land is at a premium and the bills keep piling up. Why would anyone want to forfeit an entire year’s earnings? Because sometimes the soil needs a rest. Planting and working the soil takes its toll. After a while the land can stop producing bumper crops. It can even stop producing half-decent crops. The farmer knows that the soil needs a break.  I don’t want you thinking that this means that separation in marriage is acceptable or even healthy. But I will say this: taking a break from planting the same crops, doing the same things, having the same plan year after year after year can drain a marriage. Just like farmland, marriages need a change. Marriages need new life. Marriages need a chance to try something new. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore and you’re not seeing the same harvest that you once were, it’s time to make a new plan. New goals. New dreams. New visions.

I remember after our 4th baby was born and we knew we were done having kids, there was a bit of fear that set in. What’s next? Of course, it took a few years to get out of diapers, toddlers and preschoolers but soon we had 4 kids in school and no babies in the house. All of the sleepless nights, physical exhaustion, needy babies was gone. It is hard to go from one way of operating a household to something completely opposite. From demanding babies to independent almost-adults. It’s different. And it’s where a lot of people suddenly stop farming. They stop planting seeds. They stop tending the crop. They stop fertilizing. They stop investigating new techniques. They stop GROWING.

You can NEVER EVER EVER stop growing in your marriage. You can never stop. You can change the way you grow. You can try out new techniques(that’s the fun part! ). You can even get new equipment and buy a bigger farm but you can never stop growing. Couples who stop growing, stop being couples. Are you getting this? Is this too much? Because I can go on and on about this. The number one reason why couples split up, give up and get divorced is because they stopped planting, stopped growing, stopped harvesting and stopped planning what happens next.

You don’t get married, pull up a chair and say “hey, we arrived, we’re done planting”.  No, you’re just getting started.

You get what you plant. If you plant nothing, you will get nothing in return. Ask a farmer.

Galatians 6:

7-8 What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

Why I Don’t Keep All Your Secrets~Marriage Monday

Is it me or is 2014 off to a lumpy start?

Lumpy – as in not smooth.

Kind of like blogging is for me these days. I’d like to rip the calendar page off and crumple it into a ball and throw it in the trash.  It hasn’t been horrible, but it’s been rough.

There are things I’d like to share and say and mull over. I want to meander through the forest of unknowns and what ifs.  I’d like to presume less and wonder more. But I tend to stay guarded and less than free. Why? Perhaps no particular reason other than a few bad experiences and restrictions I’ve placed on myself and my writing to protect others around me. Oh to be so wildly inhibited as to just blurt out all the things on my mind. Wouldn’t that be great? Or no. Maybe not so great.

A few years ago I had a friend call me and tell me that she needed to talk. She had things to get out and share and I was her go-to gal. Why, I’ll never really know.  When someone starts a conversation with “….and you can’t tell this to anyone” …. I wonder when would be a good time to tell them I can’t keep to that standard.  Now, before you get all cranky because you’ve maybe been one to tell me such things, just bear with me a moment.

Over the years I have had MANY conversations with friends and family who all ask me to not share their news or secrets. And for the most part, that has held up to this day.  Stories of infidelity, of sickness, of trauma, loss, heartaches.  Some about children whose parentage is not what it appears to be.  Heartbreaking stories, life-giving stories, tragedies, triumphs, silly stuff and serious stuff- it’s all there. If my mind were an open book there would be many chapters of “reader beware”.   But when someone says “don’t tell anyone- not even your husband”…well, I’m sorry, I can’t keep that promise.

I have told some and they continue on. And many times I don’t say anything. Here’s the reason why: I am my beloved’s and he is mine.

We are one flesh. Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.  The sanctity of marriage is unique and supernatural. I can’t really explain it. It’s not the same as living together or being engaged. Something happens when you get married. You let go of all that holds you back and you give it freely to your spouse.  You pour into them and they pour into you. Well, that’s how it is supposed to be. Some days are better than others for the pouring. And some days are just bland and dumb. But there is still oneness and a unity not matched in any other earthly relationship.

So I tell my husband everything. I tell him my secrets and your secrets.  I share them because he is in me and I am in him and we are one. And if I were to withhold from him and become tormented or stressed then I have effectively put up a wall between us. And sorry, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

I see this happen all the time- couples in love. They live together, sleep together, eat together and play together but they won’t just talk. They don’t let it all out. They don’t pour out of themselves ALL of it….not just the happy, sappy, lovesick part…..all of it.

I cannot keep your secrets.

And you shouldn’t keep your secrets from your spouse either. If you want REAL unity in your relationship, you have to talk about everything.  If you keep back even one thing, it will build a wall brick by brick. If you justify keeping one part of you private from your mate, you have told them, by not telling them, that you don’t trust them enough to love you anyway.

It’s marriage Monday and it’s time for us to all talk a little more than  we did last week.

 

And for your reading pleasure, these are some of the most compelling, honest, wonderful posts on marriage from the past 2 weeks. You will love them.

In that moment when my husband sat across from me and told me the whole truth, I was quiet. I wasn’t standing from afar like Michal, wondering who was this man anyway.    Undignified-Humiliated- What’s Love Got to do With It?  By Troubleface Mom

We learned that if we really want to know our people, if we really care to know them – we need to ask them better questions and then really listen to their answers. –   Save Your Relationships- Ask the Right Questions    By Momastery 

Physical, emotional and spiritual intimacy are meant to mingle so closely in marriage that we can’t see where one begins and one ends.  What Did You Assume About Sex in Marriage?  By Julie Sibert

There is a vast difference between mutual submission to one another out of an overflow of love and having submission demanded of you, one-sided, out of a misguided attempt at biblical marriage.  In Which I Disagree with Candace Cameron Bure About Biblical Marriage ~Sarah Bessey 

And one of my personal favorites:

My marriage is messy as all hell. That’s true. But listen, friend. Here’s the thing: I LOVE IT THAT WAY. I LOVE MY MARRIAGE. I do not find messy and beautiful to be mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact- I ALWAYS SEEM TO FIND THEM TOGETHER –  Messy and Beautiful By Momastery

 

Why I’m Not Cool Enough to Watch Downton Abbey~ A post of Confessions

I thought my first post of 2014 should be memorable and profound. This probably isn’t it.

I’m not playing the resolution game. Honestly, it’s too much work and makes my brain hurt. It’s not that I don’t have goals or dreams. I have many, actually.  But I’m not keen on sharing most of them. I’d rather just work them out and let the results speak for themselves.

But in an effort to be more transparent and less cryptic, I’m going to tell you a few things about me; a few things that may shock you or disappoint you. You see, as much as I like to read, as much as I like to be current and on top of pop culture and “with it”, I’m really not.

For example, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice. Ever. I’ve never watched any of the films about it.

I’ve never read an entire C.S. Lewis from front to back. I have several on my book shelf and I’m hoping to get through at least one this year.

I haven’t got a clue what all the hype is with Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Pardon me if my time is better spent on living people and more worthy causes.

I do, however, cry if I miss an episode of Parenthood. Seriously THE MOST UNDERRATED television show of all time. Maybe because it’s actually like real life? Instead of meth-head teachers and talking zombies. Maybe.

I never did see the entire movie “Titanic” from start to finish. I get kind of crabby when movies come out that are so over-rated, over-publicized and “everyone must see them”.  All I can think about is the old adage “if your friend told you to jump off a bridge would you do that too?”  Don’t worry, in chunks and bits and here and there I have watched all of the movie now- over the years- I get it. Spoiler alert:  people drown.

I have quinoa in my pantry but I’ve never cooked with it. I think I’ve eaten a quinoa salad once. It was okay. I just find rolled oats, rice and tapioca more natural.

I’ve NEVER eaten a pomegranate. I don’t know how to shop for them. Don’t know how to eat them. I’m actually afraid they’ll be horrible and everyone only says they like it because it’s supposed to be healthy. You know, when I grew up, there were no pomegranates. At least not here in Western Canada. We ate Velveeta cheese by the truckload though. I haven’t died of cancer.  I don’t get all the rage with the cool , trendy, “nature’s gold” foods. I mean, it’s great that we have shipping that allows us to try everything but at $5-10 a pound, I’m kind of  “meh” about it all.

I’ve never touched my feet in any ocean. I would love to go to the east coast. Maybe someday.

I don’t own a coffee grinder. If I did, I wouldn’t know what kind of coffee beans to buy or how to grind them perfectly. I have no clue.

I never go to Starbucks. I went there once about 8 years ago and had a hot chocolate that cost me over $4 and wasn’t even that good. I don’t actually get why people line up and pay so much for something so prevalent at any and every shop.

I know there are people out there reading this, shocked, confused, maybe feeling betrayed. Why would I confess to such things in 2014 of all things? Well, here’s the thing:  I kind of think I’m more normal than the current pop culture fanatics have led us all to believe. I don’t think you have to be an infinity scarf wearing, tall leather boot sporting, Starbucks coffee drinking, quinoa crunchy hippie eating, pomegranate seed chewing hipster who only watches Downton Abbey and reads her kids poetry at bedtime. I mean, if you do all that…well…..yay for you. But I actually don’t know anyone like that. Except on the internet. If the internet is right, then that is exactly who 87.3% of the bloggers I follow are.  But I don’t think the internet is right. And I’m blowing up any notion that someone HAS to watch British public television to be in the “in crowd”. I’m sure it’s a lovely show. I’m sure the characters are rich and rife with passion and intricacies. But I’m not there. I might never be there.

I like my grilled cheese made with Kraft slices on white bread.

I like homemade lasagna with lots of cottage cheese.

I like mandarin oranges at Christmas-time and no other time. The rest of the time I prefer navel oranges cut in quarters spraying juice in the eye of my neighbour.

I don’t shower very often, I prefer baths.

I miss mini-series like North and South, The Thornbirds and The Winds of War.

I watched Anne of Green Gables, the Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and Three’s Company when I was a kid.

I think one of the best movies ever made was You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and if that means I have to turn in my movie-going card for the rest of time then so be it. A close second is Pretty Woman. Yes, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts can walk across my screen any old time and I will stop cooking, cleaning and paying attention to everyone in order to hear THAT laugh and see THAT dress.

 

 

 

I may not be the blogger you thought I was. I probably say Downtown Abbey more often than I should because in my mind this is about a large church in central London, a vicar, his choirboys and the mistress he keeps in the back. Wrong? Oh well.

 

 

 

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Page One

On December 31 I walked into a Chapters store for the first time in ……a really long time. It’s easier NOT going into stores like that than it is to go in and NOT spend money. You readers and book lovers know what I mean.

I touched books and pictures. I soaked in the atmosphere. Gifts, gadgets, treasures…paper. And then I went to that corner.  The one with all the books with blank pages. Clean slates with stories waiting to be written. Oh how I love that section.

I used to be the girl who had to have a new journal every couple months. I went through volumes in my teen years. Why don’t I write in one anymore? The computer has taken over. I blog, I journal, I save drafts, I post, I tweet…but I don’t write. Not physically with my hands. Not anymore.

Sometimes the things we stop doing aren’t things we should stop doing.

Like praying.

Like reading.

Like studying.

And so, I found this.

IMG_6940

How completely beautiful is this? Textured. Heavy. Thick pages. And clocks. I love the randomness and yet, the ticking clocks…..time is ticking. It’s moving. The year  is a day old and it waits for no one. It doesn’t wait for me to get over this darn cold. It’s not waiting for warmer weather(we’ve been in the minus 30 and 40s for quite some time). Time.

It’s time for me to write again. Thoughts. Verses. Phrases. Measuring my days in words is a great way to start the year.

This past year has drained us physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. I’m ready for the newness of this new year. I’m ready to open a new book, write a new story. Page one…..here goes.

IMG_6938

It feels good to put pen to paper. So good, I got these 3 little beauties too. For everywhere I go. This is my year to write a new story.

IMG_6939

I’m not really into resolutions.

But I am into new starts. A new page on the calendar. A clean slate.

2014, I’m ready for the story….

What Are You Listening To? {Christmas Music}

I love Christmas music. Well, most of it. Some of it(the more recent stuff) is horrid. The pop divas and pop boy bands and pop icons….they should stay away from sacred Christmas.

But I have favourites and some are in fact recent recordings. Here’s some MUST listen tos for Christmas in our house:

Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas.  

 

I just CANNOT begin the season without this. Very often, November 1.  It just warms me from the inside out and helps me to calm down, focus and be joyful.

Kenny and Dolly: 

How fun is it when Dolly sings “Christmas Time’s A Comin’ ” ? The best!

But even better is Hard Rock Candy Christmas….chokes me up every time.

Elvis’ Christmas Album 

 

I particularly love “It Won’t Be Christmas Without You”….so tender…..

 

Boney M: 

No Christmas is complete without this rendition of Mary’s Boy Child

Burl Ives: My mom still has this record. There is nothing quite like Burl Ives(who I always thought was Santa) singing Rudolph or Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.

Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper:  Makes me cry every time- such a beautiful song.

Bing Crosby: Classic. No one sings White Christmas or Silver Bells like he does.

 

And now for some new favourites which I can’t get enough of:

LOVE all of it. It is so good from start to finish.

For a truly worshipful Christmas this one is awesome.

LOVE LOVE LOVE! Winter Snow and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus are my favs.

Seriously, don’t knock it. This is FANTASTIC. It is funny, sentimental, funny, inspirational, uplifting and downhome good. They can SANG!

Michael Buble’s Christmas album:

For the crooner and for the dinner music- awesome.

 

I could go on and on and on….I love Christmas music. Honorable mention to

Faith Hill’s – A Baby Changes Everything

The Judds- Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Selah- Light of the Stable

Alabama Christmas

The Forrester Sisters- Little Toy Trains

Merle Haggard- A Country Christmas

Okay….stopping…..now you….what is your favourite Christmas song/album?

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing to be a Peacemaker

This week may well go down in history for many reasons, not the least of which is that social media gave trash talk a whole new face and name. And I’m not talking about Phil Robertson.  I’m talking about people who spout off about something someone else said, taken out of context, blown up, shared and memed for all the world to see, read and hear.  I’m talking about those who speak before they think. I’m talking about those who would rather be right than be gracious. I’m talking about “us vs. them” .

And although I have a lot to say, this isn’t the time or the place. You see, it’s my daughter’s 18th birthday. My firstborn daughter who came into the world screaming on a cold December morning. The one who couldn’t wait for her scheduled appointment to make her debut but instead woke me 5 hours early to get the show on the road. And because it’s also 2 days before my dad’s birthday and 5 days before Christmas, I think there’s something else that needs to be said.

This weekend and in the coming days, you will gather at tables and in living rooms. You will hug and be hugged. You will share stories of the past year and exchange gifts with those you love. You will break bread together and be enveloped in fellowship and love. This is no time for debates and beating of chests.

The surest way to ruin a gathering is to bring politics, “religion” and your pride to the table. If that happens in any of my gatherings , I’m picking up my sorry ass and sitting it down at a piano to play Christmas carols loudly for all to hear. I’m taking up a game of Settlers with my girls. I’m pulling out the ROOK cards. I’m working on that puzzle. I’m going to eat shortbread and stuffing and maybe even at the same time. I’m going to laugh and share photos. I’m going to take photos and laugh at you. I’m going to defuse, distract and disseminate.  Because it’s Christmas. And Jesus didn’t come so you or I or she or him could be right and say how right we are. He came for peace.

And so, let’s all pause and say this together…..

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
~St. Francis of Assisi