A House Divided

August 11, 2008

I live in a divided house right now.  Of course in one way, we’ve been a divided house since my first-born went to college.  She went to UGA and my dear one took some classes at GaTech.  Every fall, they have a standing appointment to watch the annual game together.  And, every year, my dear one suffers the razzing of his daughter when his team goes down in flames.  At times like that the comparison of team IQ’s doesn’t help. 

I wish our division related to football.  Instead, it involves a major family decision.  You know, the ones you don’t make unless you are in agreement?  The funny thing is that I thought we were on the same page.  So did he!  Until it became obvious that we weren’t. 

Families are such an amazing thing.  We’re all different, but we all function best the same way: in unity.  It became apparent in our discussion that we really weren’t that far apart, but even the smallest gap meant that we weren’t in agreement. 

No agreement. No action. 

Now, you should understand that none of this means that the two of us are fighting or in strife.  We just aren’t in the same place.  We have a different thought process, different emotional needs, and different perspectives.   

We are in agreement not to let this divide us.  I know that sounds like a contradiction, but I guess it’s like agreeing to disagree. 

It’s hard not to argue when you don’t agree.  But, what I’ve decided to do is trust that God knows what He is doing and to stay open to hearing from His Spirit.  If either one of us is in error,God will reveal that.  Or if one of us is out of God’s timing, He’ll reveal that too.  I have no doubt of my dear one’s ability to hear from God or his willingness.  In the meantime, we keep the rest of our relationship in harmony.  It’s not important that one of us gets our way.  What is important is the power of unity in a relationship.  Unity keeps us out of trouble, confirms God’s will in our life, and provides a powerful blessing.  Stay in unity, even when it’s hard.  Oh, and “GO TECH, GO DAWGS, or ROLL TIDE, ” whichever is important to you!

Psalm 133: 1-3

Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity!  [It is] like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, [even] Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, [and as the dew] that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, [even] life for evermore.

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My dear one and I are of an age where we are rapidly approaching the “empty nest” time of life.  Or, so we would like to believe. 🙂  We are on our fourth teenager, and her entry into high school starts in two days.  Our household itself is still large.  Basically, there are seven of us under one roof; ten, if you count the dogs.  I have three in college, one of whom isn’t ours, and now one in high school.  Those three will graduate by or before the youngest hits college, and well, that puts us in countdown mode.  As the mother of four children who range from 14 to 29, this has been a long time coming. 

For two days, we have had an empty nest trial run.  All of our children are out-of-town for various reasons.  It’s so quiet. 

I love it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I also love it when they all gather here to swim, eat, celebrate, or just hang out.  But, I can handle the quiet.  My dear one and I are happy to just be in each other’s company.  A lot has been written about what couples go through when the last child leaves the nest.  I’m sure that it will be an emotional experience for us too.  But not of mourning or loss.  You see, my goal is to raise independent children.  Anything less is a disservice to them.  With that goal in mind, while my marriage has involved children, it has never been child-centered.  Our relationship with each other as husband and wife has always been the foundation of everything else.  Oh, there are times that we’ve been caught up in the hectic schedule of children, but we have always seen our relationship as paramount. 

Based on my experience I would say that there are three primary things that you need to have to “empty-nest-proof” your marriage:

1. A spouse that you spend exclusive time with on regular dates or other activities.   

2. To see the goal for your children as independence.  Then, when they hit those milestones, it is your victory too.

3. The ability to live your own life, not your children’s. 

So, when my children are out of the nest, I will have done my job.  I look forward to the times I will still spend with them and the additional grandchildren that I am expecting to be blessed with through them.  But, I also look forward to spending more time with just my dear one.  After all, he is my best friend and the love of my life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rejection

July 28, 2008

Every month at the Georgia Romance Writer’s Group meeting, we make time for member’s news.  It’s kinda fun to listen to people stand up and say that their book has been accepted by a publisher.  Or they just had the movie rights optioned for their series.  We all clap and get excited.  Funny, even the most published ladies in the group appreciate that applause.   

But, there is another time we clap.  Sometimes even louder.  It’s when an author-in-waiting stands up and says that they just got their first (third, fifteenth, whatever) rejection from a publisher on their novel.  Yes, we clap for rejection.  Loudly. 

Why?  Because it means that the author is doing something.  Finishing a manuscript. Putting themselves out there.  Taking a chance.  Every single published author in the room has had their share of rejection letters.  It’s a rite of passage.  And, it doesn’t always end with your first publication.  Even authors like Haywood Smith, the Red Hat Club novelist, who has written bunches of successful novels still gets them sometimes. 

None of us like rejection.  I know I don’t.  It’s probably why my three stories are all still unfinished and not yet rejected. 

Today, I got news of my editor/agent appointment time at an upcoming conference.  I get a one-on-one appointment with a major editor and a major agent to pitch my work.  It’s a good wake-up call.  Time to finish.  To risk rejection.  To take a chance. 

There are so many times in life we risk rejection.  Friendships carry that risk.  Family carries that risk.  Marriages carry that risk.  All relationships carry that risk.  But we still need to put ourselves out there.  Rejection has something to teach us.  Perseverence for one thing.  Where our own wounds lie for another. 

We’ve all been rejected at some point.  During our lifetime, we’ll probably experience it again.  What I’ve learned in my writer’s group is that rejection is to be expected and even embraced as a vital stepping stone in my journey. 

My manuscript may be rejected.  I’ll never know until I take that risk.  But, if I don’t finish it and try, I stay stuck in the journey.  

So, if I’m rejected.  There is a major consolation here.  I continue the journey in good company.  Even the best of us get rejected and denied from time to time….

Mark 14:72 

And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

My laundry room often takes on a life of its own.  There are seven of us in this household, and six of us do our own laundry.  I will leave you to imagine how well that works!  I was in there trying to do Triage today, although it probably needed CPR, and it struck me that the laundry has a lot to teach me.  So, here are some of my favorite lessons from the laundry room. 

1. Let me get it out of my system first and give you my favorite quote from Erma Bombeck: “Normal is just a setting on your dryer.”  There is no one definition of normal.  Yet, I sometimes find myself trying to live up to some imaginary plumb line.  Both my washer and dryer acknowledge the differences in life.  They offer a lot of different settings and temperatures from Cotton/Sturdy to Delicate/Knit.  There is no one version that is normal.  The laundry room allows for a lot of differences.  So why do I, a child of God, keep measuring myself against some false standard.  God has His own standard.  It’s not normal either.   

2. The sooner you treat a stain, the more likely it is to come out of the fabric.  Even the simplest stains can become permanent if left to set too long.  My heart is like that.  I can allow the stains of sin, of attitude, of bitterness to set in.  If I stuff down my feelings or allow things to fester, they become much harder to dislodge.  The same is true of relationships.  Fix them quickly before opportunities are missed.  Both of these are lessons I’ve learned the hard way. 

3. Clean the lint filter regularly.  Life’s daily loads take a toll.  Lint accumulates quickly.  If we don’t clean the filter, not only won’t the dryer work efficiently, but we could end up with a fire.  My spirit is like that.  Daily life accumulates lint.  We have to take time to clean ourselves off.  To keep our spirit from accumulating too much of life’s lint.  Otherwise the next load could prove more combustible than you would expect. 

4. Some stains leave a permanent mark no matter what.  Like red Kool-Aid or red berries.  Sometimes what comes into contact with our heart can leave a permanent mark.  When the substance itself that comes into contact is impermeable.  Not Kool-Aid or red berries.  Guard your hearts and be careful what stain you rub off on others.

5. Laundry has rules.  When we fail to follow the basic principles, there are consequences.  I think all of us have had pink underwear at times!  Life is like that.  If we don’t follow Godly principles, pink underwear is the least of our problems.  Reaping and sowing apply in laundry and in life.     

Life, relationships, and our walk with God are a lot like laundry.  And fortunately for us, He is the ultimate spot remover. 

Psalm 51:2

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.