Eating, laughing, and enjoying one another’s company for some Christmas cheer, I was surrounded by eleven married women ages ranging from twenty-five to fifty-six years old and the number of years married ranging from less than a month to over thirty years. It was girls’ night; yes, the beloved, girls’ night. We were celebrating Christmas. As if we need an excuse for girls to get together. We love girls’ nights. They are filled with memories, famous and inappropriate quotes, and the rule is always what happens at girls’ night, stays at girls’ night.
Our gracious and glamorous hostess posed the question, “what is the most important thing you have learned in marriage?” I grabbed my journal out of my purse and began writing frantically as the wisdom flowed. I didn’t want to miss a word of this. Each of these women is a role model to me, an incredible wife who loves and serves God, and a dear friend. Like a sponge absorbing all they had to share, I was blessed to be surrounded by them. My dream is to be married and have a family. It hasn’t happened YET, but I am praying and believing it will happen very soon, and these women are on my side praying and believing with me. I want to learn and grow as much as possible about being an incredible wife, and what a great opportunity that was set before me.
As I’m reading what I wrote in my journal and typing it, I hesitate as to the order I write each thought. There isn’t one thought that is more important than the other. Each thought has enough strength, yet vulnerability and transparency to stand on its own.
1. Be your husband’s friend. Be supportive, listen, and don’t interrupt when he’s sharing his heart.
2. Let your husband make decisions, and be patient while he is making the decision. This will build confidence in him and he’ll feel respected by you.
3. Choose your battles. Not everything you’re thinking needs to be a discussion.
4. Have sex more times a week than you wash your hair.
5. Do the hard work even when you don’t want to. Don’t bury your head in the sand to issues. Confront them and resolve them. It’s alright to go to a counselor to get things taken care of.
6. Suck it up even when you don’t feel like it or you’re tired. If your husband wants to have fun, take advantage of it. The one to two hours of sleep you’re sacrificing is creating a memory that both of you will remember and cherish.
7. Respect your husband and have deep belly laughs with him every day.
8. Pray. Pray. Pray.
9. Forgive quickly. Support your husband no matter if you think he’s good at what he wants to do or not. You are his biggest influence. Make sure it’s a positive influence, not a negative one.
10. What you focus on will grow. Whether it’s negative or positive, it will grow. Choose to focus on the positive.
11. God put you in your husband’s life to compliment you. As a wife you need to let him shine. Remember Christ is the only one who can satisfy all your needs, don’t look to your husband to meet all your needs or you will end up very disappointed. Don’t forget he is your treasure too. So often we think of the woman as being the treasure, but the man is also a treasure. So the same way you expect him to treat you like a jewel, treat him like your treasure. Don’t vomit all over him about your day as soon as he walks in the door. Take some time to buff him and shine him. He’ll be more apt to hear all about it if he feels valuable to you. Marriage is doing life with your best friend in the best and worst of times. So put on your big girl panties and enjoy the ride. From the moment you say, “I do,” the enemy is working overtime to destroy your union of marriage. He hates it and will never stop trying to destroy it. Marriage is supposed to exemplify God’s relationship with His bride, us. The enemy hates successful marriages. Why do you think the divorce rates are so high? He does not want people looking in from the outside of your marriage and being pointed to a love relationship with Jesus Christ.
When I am married and someone asks my husband what he loves about me and why he married me. I would like his response to be this, “God made my dreams come true and gave me the treasure I was hunting for all my life.” My prayer is for God to make me that woman.
Rain drove the SUV hauling the trailer full of items for the garage sale, Jessica drove her car full of the same, and I followed behind ready to unload the two vehicles when we arrived at our destination. As this caravan went along I thought about women and what we do for one another. There weren’t any men helping us, and I am definitely not saying that we didn’t need any men to help us. I need men in my life to help me. In fact, I will take all the help I can get and I will ask for help from men, women, and children; that’s not what I’m talking about this morning. Yesterday it was just us, the women, and we got it done. One thought came to my mind as we drove to our destination, “Women stick together.”
Women are gatherers. Women throw each other birthday parties, wedding showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, happy hours, girls’ nights out, girls’ nights in, weekend getaways, vacations, and the list goes on. Women call together times of prayer, small groups; bring meals to one another, take care of one another’s children, get together to get things done for one another and their community. When Jesus was dying on the cross, the women in his life stayed with him. Women stick together.
Women long for friendship with one another. Recently I had a friend share with me how she was changing her life into a no gossip zone. After she left my apartment, I called her and said, “I value our friendship. I fully support that you have no tolerance for gossip and I give you permission to call me out when I gossip.” She let out a sigh of relief and said, “Thank you.” Women stick together.
I get giddy when I know I’m going to spend time with my most intimate women friends. Why is that? Like my friend with no tolerance for gossip, it’s a sigh of relief. I know I can be myself, even if at the moment I don’t like myself, I know my most intimate women friends like me and accept me just the way I am. When I go to heaven there are three things I want people to say about me, “I knew Jesus a little better because of
Stacy. Stacy supported me and helped make my dreams come true. Stacy was loyal to me and stuck by my side.”
Two days after SHINE 2011, my church’s annual women’s conference, I have the feeling of afterglow. My expectations were exceeded. This is our eleventh women’s conference. Honestly, each year my expectations are exceeded. We have the best of the best on our creative/production/marketing team. I’d put them up against any team, for any production, any project, anywhere. They are people with great hearts who glorify God and have a spirit of excellence. The music, video, graphics, photographs, lights, and sound (basically anything you can hear, see, touch, smell, and taste) bring tears, laughter, and impactful moments that aren’t forgotten. It is life changing. I value and respect each person on our team.
I became a part of this conference producing team this year. We have all worked together for many years at the same place of employment, but I haven’t worked with all of them in this capacity and this closely. It was a blast. Very quickly, in the beginning of the planning process, I realized I didn’t know what I was doing. This process was completely new to everyone, including me, the creative/production/marketing team, our leader, and her vision casting team. No matter what we do, the vision always stays the same: unveiling God’s love.
Asking for help was my first step, after all this was the eleventh year we were going to put on the conference. Everyone on the team knows how to produce this conference. A process was needed in order to bring structure, advanced planning, due dates, and organization into the equation. I can’t count how many times I said, “I don’t know what I’m doing, so I need your help.” The team was more than happy to help me.
Searching my heart for my goal in my role in creating a process to produce a conference was next on my list. My goal: trust, unity, and honest communication.
Lastly, I shared my goal with the creative/production/marketing team, our leader, and her vision casting team. In order for us to unveil God’s love, we need to trust one another with what we share from our heart. Sticking together in the process brings unity between the creative/production/marketing team, our leader, and her vision casting team. Everyone being on the same page and going in the same direction happens when there is honest communication.
I’ve decided that’s how I want to live my life; with trust, unity, and honest communication. If the goal in my heart for a conference producing process came to pass, why couldn’t it in my everyday life? Believe me, there is always room for improvement and tweaks to make the process better each year. Today, I am going to bask in the afterglow. Mission accomplished.
As church service began and worship started, I stood next to Sandra, the service coordinator at our south campus. Elissa, Sandra’s three year old daughter, was twirling around with her eyes closed and a smile on her face in the space between the front row and the stage, but not too far from her mom. The sight was so precious. She wasn’t afraid, she didn’t care what people thought, and she knew her mom was right there with her. Sandra wasn’t anxious about her daughter’s actions, she wasn’t trying to make her sit down or be careful. I could see joy on her face as she watched her daughter being in the moment.
Church service continued on and people came up to the stage to be prayed for. Elissa sat on the floor next to her mom’s feet eating a bag of Cheetos as people were praying for one another. She was comfortable and like she felt very at home. Elissa sat on her mom’s lap during the message. She said to her mom, “Touch my hair. I like it when you do that.” She wasn’t afraid to ask for what she needed.
Observing Elissa that day challenged me to ponder my relationship with God and going to His House, the church. Do I care what people think of me when I worship? Am I comfortable? Do I tell God what I need with vulnerability? Am I in the moment? I am happy to say that I don’t care what people think of me when I worship. Even though I’ve had people tell me not to quit my day job to dive into a singing career. They’re just jealous of my nasally northern tone. I am very comfortable at church, and maybe it’s because I work there, but maybe not. Yes, I definitely tell God what I need with vulnerability. Really, He already knows so why hold back. I can’t always say that I’m in the moment, and it’s definitely something that I am asking the Holy Spirit to change in me. Missing out on what God has for me in the moment would be a bummer. I encourage you to ask yourself the same questions, and if you don’t know the answers, that’s alright. Remember Elissa’s actions; the heart of a three year old child in the moment.
In the past two days I’ve expressed to my friend, Liz, and my sister, Kelly, how I have felt about a person from the recent past that has resurfaced in a place where I feel most comfortable; this place is like my very own living room in my apartment. A place I have been a part of since I moved to Austin thirteen years ago, a place I helped build, and a place where everybody knows my name and everybody’s glad I came. Yes, it’s like “Cheers” and I’m Cliff. I needed processing through this in order to get over this speed bump in the road of my life and get ready for what God has next for me.
Liz listened, empathized, and comforted me. She then asked me a deep question which I welcomed from her. “What would rectify this situation? What would make you feel comfortable enough to go back into your living room?” Thinking for one minute I said, “That person taking responsibility for their actions. The person apologized, but they never took responsibility for their part in the situation. I don’t think that person has the emotional maturity or capacity to take responsibility, and I can’t wait for that.” As the words left my mouth I felt one huge step closer to the downhill slope of the speed bump.
Talking through the same situation with Kelly, she took me back six months ago. “What was the point in your job transition where you felt you knew you could do it?” Again, thinking for one minute I said, “When I felt supported by my supervisor, I had someone to train, mentor, and walk me through the new position, and when I knew my supervisor was on my side to fight for me if I needed it.” As the words left my mouth I felt the top of the speed bump and just one more step to get over it.
After processing with Liz and Kelly, I came to conclusions on how I was feeling and thinking about this living room situation. I felt I wasn’t chosen, I wasn’t supported, and I wasn’t fought for. Discovering these were lies I was choosing to believe, I now had the opportunity to combat the lies with the truth. I am chosen. I am supported. I am worth fighting for. As I wrote down the truth and the bible verses to support the truth, I knew I was over the speed bump. Ready or not, here I come driving on the road of my life ready and expectant for what God has next for me.
The fall session of Power of Six, a cardio kickboxing class I have attended for over two years, started this week. There was one week between the summer session ending and the fall session beginning. I was more than glad to get back to class. Last week I ran twice and went to body pump at Gold’s Gym once, which was great exercise, but nothing compares to the Power of Six.
Kratai, the owner and trainer of Power of Six, told us we were going to concentrate on bag (yes, I’m saying it in my Wisconsin accent) work this session. I love bag work. It gets you in shape quick. You use your whole body strength to kick and punch. Then you use your whole body strength to hold the bag for your partner while they kick and punch. It takes a lot of energy on both parts. Madia, another Power of Six trainer says, “If you don’t get a great work out, it’s your own fault.” You have to talk to your bag holder and let them know if you need the bag higher, lower, etc. As a bag holder you need to encourage your partner that they have what it takes to finish. Punching and kicking is exhausting. Kratai says, “The average physical altercation lasts ninety seconds or less.”
All of this kicking, punching, and bag holding talk made me think about life. There’s always something we’re fighting for: social injustice, the way people treat us, the way others treat people we love, our emotions, losing weight, making more money, getting out of debt, health, wanting to be married and have kids, the choices people make that affect us, and the list goes on and on. It’s not always a negative fight, but it’s a fight none the less. I find if I’m not fighting for myself, I’m usually fighting for someone else. I think that’s what Timothy meant when he said, “Fight the good fight.” The thing I have to constantly remind myself is that the fight isn’t against people. It is for people; for their freedom, healing, and relationship with Jesus. It is so much greater than me and my life.
Last night I was at Worship in the City supporting my Patterson family and spending time with God. Timothy, a young man I had never met before was there as well. He shared with excitement how he was going to Egypt for a mission trip. As I was sitting there, I had a feeling in my gut and gave him some money to go to Egypt.
This morning at my church I prayed with a woman who was bringing her daughter to college for the very first time. She had a fifteen hour drive ahead of her. After I prayed with her, I had a feeling in my gut and gave her some money for gas.
After church I took a friend of mine to lunch. She asked how much money she would need. As she asked her question, I had a feeling in my gut to treat her to lunch. During our time together I shared a dream I had. Right then and there she pulled out a coupon for me to get an item for free. It was a special item that was part of my dream. I think she had a feeling in her gut and gave me that coupon.
I choose to listen to the feeling in my gut and immediately do what my gut is telling me to do. My rent is going up more than my budget has room for. I had to get my car repaired and that’s not in my budget either. I know my God is trustworthy. I also know that listening to the feeling in my gut has never steered me wrong.