Monday, November 23, 2015

A victory of communication over assumption!

It was a late night.

We got the kids down late

We were cooking late.

The kitchen was a disaster.

We had to get up early to visit an out-of-town friend.

Bad news...but we had a victory.

Usually, in this situation here's what would have happened: After the kids were down, I would have wanted to clean the kitchen by myself, but wouldn't have said so.  You see, if I did, I figured Beth would have not accepted my idea, mainly because she would feel bad leaving it all to me.

But we've been working on telling each other what we really need.  I explained that I wouldn't mind cleaning up the kitchen on my own because I could listen to a podcast (which I love to do) and I would enjoy the non-people time (I'm an introvert).  I also told her that I know she would be her best self tomorrow if she got more sleep (I can live off less than her).

And hallelujah!  Beth happily believed me and we both got what we needed: for Beth, a clean kitchen and more sleep; for me, time to myself and some good political podcast listening time.

It has taken us a long time to get here, but it's sooo good.  Give it a try.  What do you really need that would help you be your best self?  What does your spouse need to be her best self?  Ask each other, tell each other, and make it happen.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fifty-shades of sexiness

I've never read the book or seen the movie.

I know.  Major disappointment.

But I have noticed over these many years of marriage that "doing it" can often look different each time.

You see, there's "just doin' it."

Then, there's "DOIN' IT!"

And, there's "d o o o i n'  i t."

There's even "DOIN' that one of the kids at the door?...Shhh...(quietly) doin' it."

This use to bother me to no end.  I had in mind this serious, sensual mood that I thought it should always be.  Maybe I got that from the movies or something.  So, when Beth would be in a goofy mood or take a really long time to get focused (I didn't understand the inherent womanness of this for a long time!) or whatever, I felt betrayed.  That's a big word, but I seriously felt like that!

Over the years, I discovered that each of the shades of sex that we experience are all good because they're part of the journey that Beth and I share in life.  Once I let go of the supposed "way it ought to be' I was able to have fun with 'the way it is' and realize that there are truly many, many shades of sexiness.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Can I do something meaningful about Paris?

Like most I have felt the undulating emotions of shock, horror, disgust, and sadness while reading article after article about what happened in Paris.

The feelings beg a response, but what?

Painting my Facebook profile with French colors seems meaningful, but honestly, what does it do?

The words of a man, Wayne Jacobsen, who I respect a great deal, gave me a way to respond to such tragedy and to feel that I too can do something about this.  Here is what he said:

We can grieve for the people in Paris. We can pray for God’s intervention in these desperate circumstances and for the wisdom of global leaders to deal with all the chaos in our world. 

But it will help to realize that our media overwhelms us with storylines that invite our emotional responses to situations we cannot influence. And that can be crippling. We grieve for people we don’t know fear circumstances we can’t control. I don’t know how to comfort the people in Paris, or to end Islamic fundamentalist aggression in the world. 

But I do know how to love the people around me today. 

I know people going through painful circumstances and grief of their own and can comfort them. I know those who treat me with disdain and betrayal and what it means to love them is very clear. We can’t really love “the world” in any meaningful way. It’s too abstract and generalized at a macro level to make any difference, but is richly powerful in the immediate circumstances of our own life. 
Is that why Jesus asked us to, “love one another,” not to love the crowds or the whole world? 

Love is applied in the singular, not the plural. If you want to be the change in the world, get your eyes off of circumstances you don’t control and on to those people and circumstances right around you where your loving can make a difference. 

If you grieve for the people in Paris and feel powerless to help, think of someone you know going
through deep grief or challenge and find a way to encourage them today.  Instead of living in fear or frustration of ISIS, find someone who has done you wrong and ask Jesus if there is a way to love him or her today that will begin to reverse the cycle of evil that only adds pain to pain.

We overcome evil in the world not by fussing and fretting, but by loving someone in front of us.  Every act of generosity and kindness brings light into the world.  Every time you comfort a broken heart, offer kindness to a stranger, or make time for someone who is lonely you pour a bit more of the kingdom in the world.

Wherever our fear gives way to love in the immediacy of our own circumstances, the world changes a little and the power of wickedness is broken. Find someone to love, encourage, or bless today and you will have been part of something significant.  You can leave the bigger things in Father’s hands, who is well up to the challenge. 

And let me add this: Start by loving those closest to you.  Start with your husband.  Start with your wife.  Don't you wish you could bring life and love to those hurt or those now gone in Paris?  Me too.  But, that spouse of yours is gratefully still next to you in bed or in the next room or is coming home after work.  Bless him.  Bless her.  In that way, we can keep stoking the fires of love not only in our marriages, but in our children, our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors, and our world.

A few evil people can do a great deal of harm, but it takes a great many good people doing good things to bring a great deal of love to the world.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Are you a good kisser?

You probably think I'm going to help you answer the title, don't you?  Sorry!

Here's the story behind the title: wife and I had our very first kiss in a very public way: our wedding day.

I know, you think we're really strange.  Well, we were, but we're not offended!  Beth and I had both done our share of making out with previous boyfriends and girlfriends, but by the time we met, we had committed to going slow physically with our next significant other.

As a teacher, I often share the story of how Beth and I met.  It's a way for students to distract me in class.  Whenever the kissing part of our story comes up, there's nearly always a students who asks: "But what if you found out she was a bad kisser?!!"

Of course, I explain that there are a few more important items on what makes or breaks a marriage, but I also explain that kissing, like all things physical simply gets better with time and experience.  Thankfully, marriage provides both of these.

So, here's the question: how are you doing physically in your spouse's opinion?  Does your wife like how and when you kiss or how and when you touch her?  Does your husband like the way you touch and kiss him?

This seems very risky to ask.  It is.  I admit, it took Beth and I a long time before we could discuss these things without feeling offended when a suggestion was offered, but I'm so glad we have!  Beth has given me invaluable information about specifically when somethings feel good to her.  I had no idea that doing the same thing at a different time is the difference between annoying and a turn-on!

The key here is: make it low pressure, loving, encouraging, and positive.  Sandwich a suggestion with several positives.  Also, make sure you both get to share what you need, need differently, or just don't like.  That way you're in it together.

It's a challenge, but improving your love life is worth it.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

An idea for a little variety in bed

So, Beth and I came from backgrounds of nada when it comes to marital bed stuff.  Beth got "the talk" from mom and dad, accompanied by a book with pictures that made her giggle.  I basically got sex ed in grade school.

When it came to adding variety to our married sex life, then, we've just learned along the way, largely from good friends whose marriages we admired.  One of these couples told us about Liberator pillows.  We thought they sounded good, and proceeded to put down the big bucks and order them.

A week later they arrived in pretty massive boxes.  The idea behind them is to give you different heights and planes to enjoy varied positions or even to just make some normal ones a lot more comfortable.  They come with a manual with pics of people with hilarious expressions and flexibility that would make Olympic gymnasts jealous.  Those aside, the 'normal people' ones have been a fun addition to our repotoire.

Admittedly, we used them very little when we first got them.  They became play things for our kids ironically.  We had to explain them away as pillows Mommy and Daddy used "for exercise."  In the last few months, however, we unearthed them from the attic and gave them another whirl.  Now we actually really like them!  Maybe we needed those years to get more comfortable with each other.  Who knows?  Needless to say, adding a little height and a few varied positions has added some fun, and a new spark to our time together.

If they sound fun, consider checking them out.  The official website ( is a doosey so just wanted to give you fair warning.  You can also check them out on Amazon.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween: From Stressed to Blessed

Everything seemed to be going wonderfully, as we prepared for our simple Halloween dinner with
our family and friends, until I remembered....shoot.....the pumpkins.  We had forgotten to finish carving the pumpkins.

This was just the beginning of a stress filled Halloween that took a very surprising turn later on.

So, Kurt and a few of our girls carved into the pumpkins.

So, on to dinner... our girls really wanted to get out more on time for trick or treating, but as much as we tried to start dinner on time, to no avail.  6 pm rolls around and we're still all at the table.

I'm starting to feel the squeeze.

Then everyone is off to put on their costumes.  But we forget about small details like wearing layers, so everyone is warm enough.  So, making sure every girl is well dressed, matching with their costumes....yikes!  I felt that stress creeping up.  And all we're trying to do is to simply get out the door!

Then, as I try to get myself quickly ready, I feel this headache coming on.  Seriously?!  Ok, take two Advil for the road, let's do this....and I prayed I wouldn't be grumpy!

Ok, attitude check!

So, we finally get out the door, then there's the picture!  Group picture!  Everyone huddles up as Kurt quickly puts the finished carved pumpkins out with the candles!

Quick admiration for the pumpkins and then off!  That Halloween rush always seems to be ghoulishly present.  I say to myself, “next year, this will be different!” (We'll see!  lol!)

Finally, we are off and here's where we are TOTALLY caught off guard!

First of all, it was so much fun (and so helpful!) to have our friend Alecia along for the fun.  

And then came our neighbors.

Our neighbors lavishly give candy and sweet gifts to our girls.  I don't just mean handfuls of candy, but Chris actually sewed these cute little Halloween bags for the girls and filled them with all kinds of fun treats.  Michelle, another neighbor, also got them each a bag filled with glow sticks and super-fun and spooky Halloween stuff.


Then another family had these fun Halloween cups and filled them up with special girly treats like lip-gloss and nail polish all wrapped up in a cute bag.  And…yes, another family made cute candy bags for our kids and the let us see their fish and hold their hamsters while we all chatted.

And last, but not least, there was Sandy and Marlene's house.  Sandy is 49 years old with developmental disabilities and every year she dresses up and has a "Haunted Bedroom".  We stand in line and she gives us a ticket, after which we enter into the spooky bedroom with scary music, lights and all.

At each of these neighbors’ houses we lingered and chatted.  Some of them invited us in, and we just hung out, sitting on the floor, eating candy and doing the Halloween thing.

What’s the point of all this?  Well, see our neighbors didn’t do this for every kid on the street.  They did it just for our kids.  All of this reminded us of the blessing of community.  We don’t live in an age that encourages this.  We’re all so stuck on our devices to talk to neighbors, right?! 

But here we saw the sweetness of mutual enjoyment of the simple pleasures of friendship.  It takes effort on both sides, but this is one of the great pleasures of life.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Get Playful!


It's a word we associate with:





But let's be honest, we don't usually put the following two words together:

playful + marriage

Usually, age, responsibility, and low energy wipe it out of our system.

What if that were different?

I recently heard a woman share that she writes on her calendar "Get playful!"  It puts her in a mindset to be spirited.  Imagine how differently our days would be if we had that attitude towards our friends, kids, and especially our spouses!

And, because this is Sexy Saturday of course, imagine what "Get playful!" would do for your sex life!

Certainly, we all could use some more playfulness in the bed instead of being utilitarian, but what about being playfully sexy with our spouse throughout the day?  Fun touches, eye winks, sexy texts, humorously suggestive sticky notes in the fridge, high fives after getting the kids down to sleep, 30-second dance break in the kitchen, jumping in the leaves you just raked, or whatever else you can come up with.

It's not about doing these things because they lead to making love.  But, chances are, they just might make that happen a bit more frequently!  The big idea, however, is to live in a spirit of enjoyment together.  Raise the
mood in the house, lighten the atmosphere, bring a sense of anticipation to your routine, let delightful laughter come again, and...get playful!