Better Together: Spice of Life

Better Together Blog Series Post #2

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

Better Together - DifferentNow if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.  (1 Corinthians 12:15-20)

I think God’s pretty clear here:  we were designed to be unique.  We were not intended to think, act, and appear identical.

You know, as I type that message above, it seems obvious, but if you stop and think, your actions probably don’t match those words.  I know mine don’t!

Better Together DifferentEven growing up, we’re given different messages.  First, we’re told that we’re all unique and special.  Yet, at the same time you may have heard comments like, “you’re so weird!  why can’t you be normal?”  So which is it?  Are we allowed to celebrate our differences?  Are we to all be cookie cutter “normal?” Or does society want something in between where we’re all just a tiny bit different from one another, but not so much that the differences are frightening?

In the book, Better Together, the authors point out the above mentioned Bible versions and suggest that we should embrace and celebrate our differences.  They suggest that even thoughts along the lines of “Jennifer is so creative, I wish I were creative,” are against God’s words.  Yet, we all have those kinds of thoughts.  It’s certainly something to think about.

Closing our social circles against people who are simply made differently from us is just as wrong.

Better Together’s View on Differences

Better Together focuses on personality differences.  In fact, there’s even a quiz in the appendix that you can take in order to understand your personality for the purpose of discussion in the book.  You’ll learn if you’re introverted/extroverted, internal/external processor, structured/spontaneous, and if you’re a low medium or medium high capacity person.  Knowing where you fall in the spectrum of those personalities can help to understand and celebrate differences.

Mr. Keller, for example, is an external processor while I am an internal processor.  Translation:  Mr. Keller talks and talks and talks some more about his problems and even just his day.  Meanwhile, I might mention that I went to work.  Sometimes, I find Mr. Keller’s need to talk a little exhausting.  Mr. Keller, on the other hand, probably gets a little bit annoyed when I decide something for us after lots and lots of thought…none of which I included him in.  Both Mr. Keller and I need to be cognizant of the other’s personality so we can act accordingly.  I need to take the time to keep Mr. Keller updated on our plans; Mr. Keller needs to ask me more questions about my day and “our” plans.  I’m not going to change this aspect of my personality any sooner than Mr. Keller will.  It’s simply how we were designed to be; we need to learn to work within those blue prints.

“We each need to be true to ourselves, allow others to be different, and knock off the judgment that creeps in our head and heart so easily” (Better Together, Jill Savage).  I love that quote from the book!  It’s so easy to be annoyed or angered by someone who is different from us!  Again, building relationships is all about learning and understanding about one another and our different personalities!Different quote

 

Better Together: Because your husband is not your BFF

Better Together Series Post #1

Your husband is not your BFF — or at least not your only BFF!  How many remember what BFF stands for?  Best Friends Forever, right?!

BFF

He may be my “other half” but I need support from a community of women, too!

BFFs are the result of a lot of time, effort, and vulnerability.  I’ve certainly spent plenty of time with Mr. Keller.  Marriage takes effort, and he’s seen me without makeup, giving birth, sick, and sad.  We’ve definitely hit the requirements for BFF; however, he’s still a man!  He doesn’t understand a lot of my emotions.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he attributes any anger or sadness towards “that time of the month” — no matter what!  After all, I couldn’t possibly actually be mad at him, right?!

Women were meant to form communities with one another to really provide that support.  It wasn’t so long ago that women lived in communities where they could mother together.  There were quilting bees, family cooking sessions, major laundry sessions, and other homemaking activities.  They even assisted one another through illnesses and child birth.  Now, most women, myself included, really don’t have those types of communities.

“Because our mothering community is no longer formed within extended family relationships, we have to pursue, discover, and assemble it ourselves.  We have to recognize the value of it and make it a priority in our lives because we are stronger, wiser, and even healthier when we have a mom community around us.”  Jill Savage, Better Together.

Better Together suggests that our friends are good for our health.  This isn’t just limited to our physical health!  Friendships are great for our spiritual health, emotional health, and our marital health!

In fact, I might go so far as to say that good friendships can be marriage saving!  It’s unfair to expect our husbands to really get our struggles.  I fully expect Mr. Keller to support me and be there for me, but there is so much that he just doesn’t understand!

Mr. Keller doesn’t understand the struggles of Motherhood, just like I don’t really understand the struggles of Fatherhood.  He doesn’t understand how I worried when the children were tiny and didn’t hit those major milestones just perfectly on time.  He doesn’t understand my crazy emotions around BK’s future kindergartner status.  He also doesn’t understand my daily struggles of balancing my housewife chores (cooking, cleaning), with my status as Mom (do they even know the word “Dad” when they want something??), and my career as an accountant.  Perhaps it’s unfair, but sometimes I feel as though everything is on my shoulders.  Thankfully, I know other women in the same boat, and they can provide perspective, and pull me back from the edge when life gets too crazy.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that friendships have saved my marriage, but I would say that they have provided important perspective.

On a lighter note, girlfriends really take the pressure off of husbands when it comes to activities.  That is, I would far rather go shopping with a girlfriend!  Frankly, shopping with Mr. Keller isn’t fun at all!  Now, I’m not shopping much lately, but I do still love to visit Chicago with girlfriends!

Let’s face it, there are just some things men aren’t good at!  Mr. Keller just isn’t cutting it as my girlfriend!  He’s a great man, and certainly one of my BFF’s, but for the health of our marriage, he can’t be my only BFF.  I need someone who can relate to my experiences, and it’s unfair to expect him to be that person!

Sidenote:  These are the thoughts after reading chapter one of Better Together!  You can preorder your copy on amazon.

Better Together: Because you’re not meant to mom alone

I have been chosen to be part of the Better Together Launch Team!  For me, this is huge!  Better Together is a book written by Jill Savage and Anne McClane, and if you read my Hearts At Home post, you might have started to understand that Jill Savage is a woman to whom I really look up.  She’s amazing… but she’s not the subject of this blog post so we may just save that for another day!  Anne McClane is Jill’s daughter, and, I’m sure, just as awesome as her mom.Hearts at Home, Better Together

The book , Better Together:  Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone is based upon the premise that humans crave communities and moms are no different.  We need relationships with other moms; we need mothering communities.  The book encourages moms to combat isolation, deepen friendships, and learn the power of “momming” together.

As a launch team member of Better Together, I have the pleasure of reading the book in advance!  For FREE!  On top of that, I’m part of a closed Facebook group that discusses the book.  It’s kind of like a book club, except that it’s only focused on this one book.

I’ve read the first two chapters, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far!  In fact, I plan to do a series of blog posts that will summarize the book and really highlight what I’ve gotten out of the it.  Because it’s going to be from my perspective, based upon my current season of life, I highly suggest that you go out and buy the book, too!  The book is applicable to all moms in all seasons of your live!  You can pre-order it through Amazon, and by doing so you will have access to several extra goodies!  In fact, when I last checked, the book was already racked #1 on Amazon in the New Releases category!

Better Together

#1 Already and it isn’t released until March 1st!

Matthew 5:3 – Poor in spirit

The sermon at our church today focused on Matthew 5:3:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  It’s part of the beatitudes, and I’ve heard it probably thousands of times, but today, I think I understood it for the first time.  Today, God opened my ears so that I could really listen and hear His Word.

Poor in spiritBefore, I failed to understand the meaning of “poor in spirit.”  I think I had previously pictured someone who was depressed or perhaps physically lame, but that never really made sense to me.  Rather, I learned today that “poor in spirit” was likely meant to convey an image of those who understand that they need God and are seeking His Grace.

Pastor Gary used Luke Chapter 7:36-50 as an example of someone who is poor in spirit.  In this chapter, Jesus is invited to a meal at a pharisee’s home.  While there, a woman of very ill repute came in and washed Jesus’s feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and then anointed Jesus with very expensive perfume.  She also covers Jesus’s feet in kisses  The pharisee is shocked!  He finds her actions to be shockingly intimate, but he found Jesus’s acceptance of her ministrations even more shocking!  He thinks, If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.

Jesus responds to the pharisee’s shock as he often does:  with a parable.  He tells the pharisee of a creditor who forgives two debts; one debt is 50 denarius and one is 500 denarius.  Jesus then asks the pharisee which debtor has the greater love.  The pharisee, being a good student, says the debtor who has been forgiven the 500 denarius.  Jesus agreed.  The moral of the story:  the sinner with the most to forgive will love the forgiver (GOD) the most.

The notorious woman is poor in spirit.  She actively sought out Jesus, seeking his Grace and forgiveness, and Jesus loved her for it.  He tells her “your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.”  How awesome is our God!

Another example that Pastor Gary used was Luke 18:18-30, the rich ruler.  I’ve heard these Bible verses many times, and I would imagine you have, as well, but I had never heard it in the context of Matthew 5:3.

The rich ruler has done everything right.  He has followed the Word of God since a young boy, and Jesus agrees. The man has done well in every area except one:  he was chained to his possessions.  Jesus told the rich ruler that he should give up all of his possessions and follow Jesus.  The man was deeply saddened.

Here, I believe that Jesus’s point was that you cannot be focused on wealth and possessions and still be poor in spirit.  I find that when I am consumed with thoughts of wealth and material goods, I’m so busy focusing on the wrong things that I fail to take the time to seek out God.  It’s good to have a budget and financial goals, but financials cannot be all consuming.

At this point, Pastor Gary challenged us on the subject of greed.  He said to think of the wealthy and our feelings toward them.  Are we envious of their wealth?  Do we feel that it may be undeserved?  He also said to think of the poor.  What were our feelings there?

For me, I believe that if someone is wealthy, that’s both a blessing a curse for them.  It’s up to God to decide if each wealthy person has served the poor and loved God enough.  I would never attempt to judge such a thing for myself so I generally assume that the wealthy are doing a great job of serving the poor.  I’m genuinely happy for the wealthy.

My reaction towards the mention of poor, however, was a bit different.  I had to realize that I have a tendency to believe that the poor in our country are poor due to their own decisions and actions. I know that’s not correct and is way too generalized.  This is an area where I really need to work on myself.  Here, I need to adopt more of a servant attitude.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).  It’s a message that really struck home today.  I am blessed with wealth and possessions (comparatively to many others in this world–after all, we have cars, TVs, A/C, and a home with several rooms), but my relatively easy life can make it difficult to remember to put the focus on God.  I must remember to be poor in spirit by seeking God’s grace.

Hearts at Home

Have you heard of Hearts at Home?  An area mom named Jill Savage started it in 1994 as a way to encourage other moms and find encouragement herself.  That first weekend, they expected 400 moms, but 1,100 showed up!  It’s grown every year since.  Last year, there were nearly 10,000 attendees.  I started to type “nearly 10,000 moms,” but I erased it because not everyone who attends is a mom.  Some are planning to be mothers very soon.  In fact, I’ve seen a few who appeared ready to become a mother any day!  All are women who are looking to find more encouragement and camaraderie with God.

IHearts at Home‘ve attended 3 times now, and I plan to attend a 4th time in 2016!  The next National Conference is slated for April 22-23rd in Peoria, IL!  I generally attend just the Friday session, but this year, I just may attend both days.  I’ll have to decide in the next few days! In the past, I have very simply loved the event.  It’s so refreshing, and I learn so much!

If you haven’t heard of Hearts at Home, you may be wondering what occurs at this conference.  All of the attendees gather together in the morning.  We’re energized with music and prayer (oh, the music!  It’s so wonderful!!), and then we break apart for the classes that we have chosen.  The classes are led by Nationally known Christian authors such as Arlene Pelicane, Karen Ehman, Tim Shoemaker, Kathy Koch, Dr. Gary Chapman, Lysa TerKeurst, and more!  This year, the featured guests are Meredith Andrews (oh, the music!!) and Missy Robertson.  Then, we come together again for lunch and an afternoon session. You’ll have two more classes of your choosing, and then, you can stay for the Mom’s Night Out if you sign up in advance–which you should because it’s so much fun!

The classes or break out sessions really vary.  They cover topics ranging from marriage, raising teenagers, preschoolers, fashion, coupons, and budgeting.  Sometimes I have a heck of a time picking just one session for the available time slot!

Hearts at Home is a transformational experience for me each year.  I only wish that I could bottle up that feeling and pull it back out every other month or so!  Not only does the conference leave me feeling refreshed as a wife, mother, and person, I feel renewed in my faith in God.  In the past, my mother in law has attended with me and purchased many of the sessions on CD.  This year, I may just do the same!

Truly, if you’re a Christian woman, you should seriously consider attending Hearts at Home.  In fact, let me know if you’re going!  Maybe we can attend together!