“One thing I like about you is…”

Relationships are important.

A marriage relationship is important and tough (probably tougher than any other relationship ever in the whole world, in my opinion) and totally worth the work.

I’m always looking for simple ways to help relationships be as close and as healthy as they can be.  My husband and I have just started doing a few new things for our marriage and we’re noticing this one could be helpful in possibly any relationship.

Here is one experiment we’ve just started a couple weeks ago (and we’re both loving it!)

Every morning we have decided to say (out loud to each other) something good we have noticed or something good that we like about each other.

“One thing I like about you is _____________.”

We get too busy in life sometimes, ya know?  With work, school, church, kids, housework, bills, finances, volunteering, rough times, health problems, and a billion more things we can forget to nurture important foundations and critical relationships.  It’s not that we mean to; but it’s just that life happens and sometimes we let moments go by that need attention.

(Sweet note: The look on my husband’s face as he speaks is so beautiful and something that’s been hiding for a little while.  It’s really nice to see the thought behind his words as he says something kind about me and to me.  Sometimes he’s just remembering good things from the past and those are good to hear also.  I can’t help but think he may be feeling the same way as he hears me speak good things about him, too.  It’s heart-healing.)

This is proving to be a great idea.

One thing it does is it helps us THINK about the positive things during each day (and night) because we know we need to tell each other something we like about each other every day.

(And the negative stuff seems to constantly already be lurking around and threatens to remind us of things we DON’T like about each other… Not sure about you but we’ve had ENOUGH of that!)

Another important result of this experiment is that we’re BOTH getting to HEAR some positive words in the morning.  (Yes, it must be genuine and yes it can be something from the past or present.  Actually, it could even be something positive we see in the future.  Getting to hear blessings spoken over you is powerful.)

Our kids just told us they’d like to be included in this in the evenings.  Good stuff can be contagious!

We ALL probably hear WAY too much negative stuff about ourselves (even from our own thoughts) and this is damaging to our brains, hearts, self esteem, and probably in a hundred other ways I’m not thinking to mention.

If you have a great marriage, that’s wonderful!  Maybe this can just be icing.  (And maybe you’re already doing this.)  But many of us have a tougher time in marriage and my husband and I know this can help lots of people so we wanted to share this idea.

I believe absolutely EVERY person could benefit from hearing something good every day that someone notices about him or her.

Here’s one from me to you today:  One thing I like about you (yes, you) is that you’re beginning to realize your value; you’re a very worthwhile person and you matter.

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Hey, you. Please get up. This broken world needs you.

I have about 2 hundred cousins. Not really. But when I was a kid it seemed that way.

One time when I was a little girl, I was so excited that we were going to visit my very favorite cousin’s house. His name is the same as mine; only he spells it C-a-r-e-y.

They had a playhouse in the back yard that was used for storage mostly but that was okay because that made it be a better haunted house. It was also a castle, a fortress, or whatever you wanted it to be. It was 2 stories tall and you could climb stairs inside to the top where there was a little wooden hatch door and sort of a balcony place and you could stand at the top of the world and daydream. It was a beautiful little house.

They also had a swingset. I loved playing there, especially with my favorite cousin, Carey.

Only THIS visit was different.

On this visit; this was the moment the enemy started telling me I was nothing.

My cousin pushed my sister on the swings. But he wouldn’t push me. Then, as he pushed her, he chanted, “Yay, Jenny!”  “Boo, Kerri.”  “Yay, Jenny!”  “Boo, Kerri.”

My little heart broke.

Didn’t he know he was my favorite cousin – my favorite person – in the whole world? Why would he do this?

That was the first time I remember someone (someone I admired) being blatantly unkind to me. It was quite a shock to my little system.

He was probably trying to be silly or tease me but it hurt like I’ll never forget.

“Joking” should be fun for all involved; if not, then it changes from “joking” to “bullying.” (Don’t worry. I asked Carey for his permission to share this. I’m not trying to disrespect him or pay him back. I love him still. He was just someone the enemy used to start my life on the path to believe I was nothing.)

(And then satan worked many more years until I fully believed I was absolutely 100% nothing. There is too much to write in one story -I’ll share more as God leads me to- but I know the very moment satan had fully tricked me into believing his lies. I was being raped. I was 22 and I remember believing right then, “This is all I’m for? I am nothing.” THE ENEMY WAS WRONG. But he’s very clever in his tricks and how he custom-designs them for each person.)

I know the “Boo, Kerri,” time was before I was 9 years old. Not because I wrote down the date but because I remember well what happened later.

When I was 9 years old, I was sexually molested by an uncle who married into the family. That lasted 7 years.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell. Maybe I thought nobody would believe me. I do remember feeling like I was special in some way. Special is FAR from the truth when it comes to sexual molestation. There is NOTHING special about it. It is SICK. Touching any child in a sexual way is purely and completely sick.

I know there are many others who didn’t tell when stuff like this happened to them – and I’m guessing there are probably as many reasons people don’t tell as there are people it has happened to. Every situation is unique and I pray every person finds healing.

At that time, (and for many years) I thought just my innocence was stolen. I was wrong.

He stole my confidence, too.

The only reason I realized it had been stolen was because God just gave me my confidence back about a year ago. I’m now 46.

God gave me my confidence back and then He pushed me out of my comfort zone and showed me He has a job for me to do. He moved me into the terrifying wide space of the internet so that I would be a voice to tell you that YOU are VERY worthwhile.

You are very important and YOU MATTER. I will spend the rest of my life telling you that you matter. Because you DO.

Somebody – or maybe somebodies – told you or treated you like you were nothing. They were wrong.

Whatever happened to you matters. How you feel about it matters. And what you do with it next matters, too.

You are very important. Why would satan work so hard to make you believe his lies if God didn’t have important things for you to do in this life?

Why would satan waste his time on you if you truly were “nothing?”

The answer is, he wouldn’t.

You must be quite a threat to that old devil for him to spend so long convincing you to lie down and shut up.

This is the year you need to get up.  2015.

Please get up?

~~> People need to hear your story so they know they’re not alone in theirs. <~~

You can help people find healing just by sharing your story. You do not have to do this alone. God will nudge you to share your story when you need to. You’ll know when and who needs to hear it.

Please ask God what He wants you to do today ~ every day. He has SUCH great plans for your life. I believe this about you. Now, it’s time for you to believe this about you.

God can restore what was stolen.

My confidence was stolen along with my innocence and I lived without it for about 35 years. If God can give me my confidence back, I know He can do miracles in your life, too. Ask Him.

Please get up. This broken world needs you.

~
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

An Open Letter to Divorced Parents at Christmas,

Hi. I’m Chloe and I’m 16. Divorce happened in my life when I was one year old.

This is the first Christmas I’m looking forward to. Any other year I couldn’t care less if tomorrow was Christmas and to be honest, I learned to dread all holidays.

Today I will be a voice for the four year old who doesn’t understand why this Christmas Mommy is not at Daddy’s house to open presents.

Little kids may not be able to speak out yet so I will for them.

I dreaded picking whose house I wanted to be at and dreaded the stress of hurting someone’s feelings that comes with it.

I also dreaded being forced to go to either house when I didn’t want to go.

My feelings matter.

Half a day here and half a day there is not fun. (And thankfully my parents did not make me do this.)

I dreaded presents I wouldn’t like but was told gift cards are tacky to ask for. They are not. Gift cards are okay to ask for.

I dreaded time with people who made me feel unwanted.

Divorce changes a family but not many people think of how the kid was affected.

You don’t “have” me or “get” me for Christmas.

I “get” chicken pox.

I “have” a rash.

I “have” to “go.”

I “got” a broken arm.

“I have my son for the holidays.”

What? You don’t “have” him like you have a rash. You’re blessed to spend time with him this Christmas. And if you’re truly blessed to spend Christmas with him, then treat him like it.

And don’t let him feel the divorce was his fault. Don’t be fake, either. You’re the grown up and if you want your kid to be part of your family, too, then act like it and take the first step.

While I understand some kids with divorced parents act like they don’t care because they’re getting extra presents, some place underneath it all they actually do care and they’re hurting.

Most of the time I couldn’t care less about the presents because hurt and sad memories were attached to them. Because every time I see the game that was at the top of my wish list, I remember the tears of missing my mom, and of brokenness that went along with this present.

A lot of us feel hurt that Christmas isn’t “normal” (whatever normal is.) Or kids are sad that their family is broken. Or they feel like a bother because Christmas family vacations aren’t whole. Or they feel left out of family events. Being a kid is hard enough. Please don’t add stress of your divorce to my life.

The divorce was not my fault. And I should get to hear that. Often.

Contrary to what many kids from divorced parents think, I know it wasn’t my fault. But I still feel stuck in the middle – because I AM.

I’m stuck between Mom and Dad and words like “biological” and “step.”  (I’m SO done with the word “step.”)

I’m stuck between two homes.

I’m stuck between feelings of brokenness and extra love.

I already feel torn and broken that you guys aren’t married anymore so please don’t add to that by forcing me or guilting me into coming over. I didn’t ask for the divorce and I’m not the grown up.

I’m the little kid who is learning that happily ever after isn’t always true.

Just talk to me.

Even as little kids we understand a lot more than you think we do. Talk with me WITHOUT trashing the other parent. It is okay for me to love Mom and Dad and I can even love new parents and new siblings. God doesn’t limit or divide our love. He increases it.

I get it. You’re grieving. I need time to grieve, too. Something died and it’s okay if I’m upset. Tell me it’s okay that I’m upset. I lost something too. I lost Christmas the way I wanted it to be.

Just love me today and spend time with me today. Pray over me. Remind me it’s okay to love Mommy AND Daddy and all the rest of this messy family – because it IS okay and I should get to hear that.

I will be okay and you will be okay.

I will love you BOTH and anyone else I choose to love – and you need to be okay with that.

I am blessed to get to spend time at Christmas with two parents, even if at separate houses, who love me and are nice to (and about) each other.

A Note from Chloe’s Mom.

Sometimes there are things that we never would have thought of before divorce that are now real life for us.

Celebrating on “the actual date” doesn’t matter anymore. You celebrate when you can and with the people who can be there.  And that’s okay.

You learn to accept that life looks different now – and that is okay. Even if other people don’t understand everything, that’s still okay.  We know that every situation is different.

You pray over your children and encourage them to enjoy time at the other parent’s house. Sure. Let them know you miss them but more people to love and care about any child in a healthy way is a good thing. It is okay for kids to enjoy Christmas at either house. I KNOW it’s rough. I spent many hours crying because holidays didn’t feel whole anymore. In fact, I spent many hours crying over just missing regular, everyday life moments.

If you’re a single mom or dad, we know it’s tough. We’ve been there. A lot of presents aren’t necessary. Your time just hanging out and listening to your kids matters more. If the other parent can afford more presents, that’s okay. If not, that’s okay, too.

We will be okay and you will be okay.

We wish you a peaceful and stress free Christmas – however that looks at your house.

Love, Kerri and Chloe

 

[Note:  Unfortunately, there are many times a child should not be in the care of someone.  Please do pay attention if something seems unsettling.  Everyone involved in a divorce can probably benefit from counseling if needed.]

 

Where can we let off steam?

I’m not crazy. I’m a mom. And a wife and a leader and a servant and a taxi driver and a counselor and a nurse and a peacemaker and a teacher and a volunteer…

Where can we let off steam?

Where can we really say what’s bothering us? Where can we get support from someone and just be heard and not have someone call the authorities on us?
~
Church? Heavens no. Do we dare admit that we sometimes want to self medicate when they ask for prayers at church? (Or that we actually DO self medicate in whatever our favorite way is?) Oh dear. Not me! Right? I have to look like I’m on top of things. I have to look like I’ve got this all under control. My kids look perfect. My husband is presentable. My smile is on just right.

“Why, sure I can teach the 2 year olds and lead the women’s bible study and neighborhood prayer group.” “Of course I can make 300 cupcakes by Saturday and cut out 180 snowflakes this weekend.” “Yes, send me the documents so I can edit them for you by 3 o’clock today.”

Sometimes the answer needs to be “NO.” That is OKAY! When we take on so much and spread our love too thin we’re not that much help in anything we do.

~
School? Oh you must be talking about THAT mom who stood up for her kids when other students have been unkind for months and the teachers make sarcastic comments like, “Oh is she absent AGAIN? She’s sick ALL the time.” That does NOT help. That is NOT being a good teacher. I trust you daily to care for my child. Be someone I can trust who will speak to (and about) my child with respect the same way you want your kids to be treated.

THAT family where they’ve tried to help teach their child, “Ignore.” “Speak up.” “It’s better not to speak.” “Stand up.” “Be invisible.” “Stand out.” “Have courage.” “Jesus is with you.”

Then THAT family goes to the school for help and the school administration assures you, “That does NOT go on at THIS school!”

Either they are blatantly lying or are absolutely blind to the fact that it IS happening at THIS school. Kids are bullying other kids all the time. If my kid is part of the problem let’s talk about that. If not, then help me figure out a solution while she’s in your care.

Absolutely we [parents and school and church] should be teaching our kids HOW to stand up for themselves and that it is okay to fight back. Turning the other cheek does not mean let someone walk all over you and not stand up for yourself. Absolutely DO stand up for yourself and more importantly stand up for people around you who are being bullied.

What to do about it? I’m sure there is NOT just one answer for every case but maybe the first thing to do is just to admit there is a problem. Stop treating moms and dads like we do not know what is going on. Not everyone is going to try to sue the school if school admits they are not perfect.

~
Work? We go to work. We do our job. We take care of other people’s problems, possibly face a little sexual harassment, brush it off, stop by the grocery store to pick up spaghetti sauce for dinner, walk in the door to hear our kids say, “Hey, mom, I need $20 for the field trip by my first class in the morning.” “Here mom. Sign this please. The teacher said I’m going to need tutoring for a month or until I get this grade up or I’m out of sports.” And my sweet husband says, “Did you take the car to get the tires rotated today?” And I pretend NOT to notice him closing down something on the computer and wonder who he’s cheating on me with this time.

~
Home? What if we lose our temper at home? Mom’s gone crazy. She’s out of control. No. No she’s not.

Sometimes we don’t realize our kids ARE old enough to help at home (at just about every age.) Let them do dishes. Remember, if something accidentally gets dropped, to buy less fragile stuff next time. If a dish is more important than our kids learning service, responsibility and to take care of where they live (because they will ALWAYS need to take care of where they live) then maybe we should buy less breakable stuff from now on. Let them fold laundry. So what if it’s not folded the exact way we would fold it? Let them help. And praise them for it. It will build confidence.

Delegate a little of the housework to each person in the house, briefly teach them how to do it, and then LET them do it. Don’t step in. But DO tell them, “Hey I really appreciate your help. I love how you cleaned the sink.” “I’m having a tough time getting the floor clean in here. You have such great eyesight. Would you please clean to the edges when you clean the bathroom?”

~
Romance? Dates? Looking and feeling sexy as a woman? When do we have time for that?! I WANT that. I NEED that.

~
WHERE can we let off steam? Pretty much nowhere. NO WONDER we are under so much stress. I have seriously considered building a place where women can go and for a small fee they can take a baseball bat and smash stuff for 5 minutes.

On top of all that if we raise our voice to our families we feel like the biggest failure of the century.

THAT is a bad day. When I raise my voice to my family. Worst feeling EVER.

AAAUUGGHHHHHHH!!!!!! ENOUGH. I need a moment to breathe. I need a little silence. I need someone to realize that I am a person, too. I am very great at what I do and yes I can handle 217 thousand things at once and (yes, we all pretty much wear the title “super mom” but) just let me catch my breath.

~~> I need Jesus. He can fill me and give me energy and the strength I need to be the mom and wife I need to be. Ask God for energy and thank Him for it. He is THE answer. He doesn’t HAVE the answer. He IS the answer. <~~

~ And then we kiss the kids good night and do it all again tomorrow. ~

I want you to know that I am praying over your life. I am praying over your jobs, your marriage, your search for a husband, your decision to be single, your church, your education, your kids, your life in general, and your heart. Just know that somebody cares and in case nobody told you today… YOU MATTER.

40 Thing Pick Up

Make Jobs Fun
40 Thing Pick Up

Let’s face it. We’re gonna have to clean up and do the grocery shopping and laundry, whether we like it or not. So, my idea is to make it fun. As fun as possible, if you hate those things.

When we pick up toys, I may say, “Okay, let’s pick up everything that has red on it.” And when we are doing a pick up through the house, I say, “Let’s do a 40 thing pick up.” This is when we EACH pick up 40 things in each room, making each room look nicer than it did. Sometimes we do that just in one room. So, even though I don’t particularly like math, let’s do it. Four of us picking up 40 things in any room equals a whole bunch of things in that room. Now there probably aren’t many times when 928 things are out of place in any room at one time, so we make it fun by counting each shoe as one thing. Sometimes we count a PAIR of shoes as only one thing. If I tell my kids this detail before we start there’s not arguing. (If 24 crayons need picked up that’s not 24 things. Making this clear each time you do a 40 Thing Pick Up seems to help LOTS.)

Sometimes if there is a lot to put away when you look around the room it feels kinda overwhelming and you don’t know where to start.  I have found that my kids (and husband, too) do not mind as much when I ask them to help pick up quickly this way. They concentrate more on the number of things they’ve picked up instead of the mess the room is in. (And I get sweet attitude help!) And no, I don’t give prizes for cleaning up a room. Taking care of where you live is something we all have to do. It’s part of everyone’s job no matter what. (But more about this later: getting paid money for jobs vs. doing stuff you need to do just because you live there.)

Tiny mess. 25 Thing Pick Up. Works great for younger kids, too!