Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
I noticed stars wearing White Knots. Did you? Granted, most were associated with "Milk." But still!
The speech given by "Milk's" screenplay writer- Dustin Lance Black.
When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life, it gave me the hope to one day live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married. (He chokes up, audience begins to applaud.)
I want to thank my mom who has always loved me for who I am, even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours. (Wild applause from the audience.) Thank you, thank you, and thank you God for giving us Harvey Milk.
And from Sean Penn...
You Commie homo-loving sons of guns! I did not expect this, but I — and I want to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me. Often. But I — I am touched by the appreciation and I hoped for it enough that I scribbled down — so I have the names in case you were Commie homo-loving sons of guns.
For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, and, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Lust opposes love because you lust after something forbidden. Lust "breeds more lust." The authors define lust as "a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill."
It goes on to say that lust "alerts you to the fact that you are not allowing God's love to fill you."
"Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment."
1. intense sexual desire or appetite.
2. uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.
3. a passionate or overmastering desire or craving (usually fol. by for): a lust for power.
4. ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish: an enviable lust for life.
5. Obsolete. a. pleasure or delight. b. desire; inclination; wish.
–verb (used without object)
6. to have intense sexual desire.
7. to have a yearning or desire; have a strong or excessive craving (often fol. by for or after).
I get the point the authors are making but I disagree, again. Because I think they are taking a very narrow view of the word "lust." Personally, I like a little lust in my marriage. Knowing that my husband has a strong sexual desire for me is a pretty amazing part of our marriage, our intimacy.
I understand their point. I do. That if you aren't satisfied with the blessings you have, if you don't recognize how good your life already is, you will constantly be looking for more and that will get in the way of what you already have.
But that, to me, isn't lust. This goes back to "Love is satisfied."
"End it now. Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Single out every lie you've swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it. Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom. It must be killed and destroyed- today- and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with His perfect love."
"What did you identify as an are of lust? What has this pursuit cost you over time? How has it led you away from the person you want to be? Write about your commitment to Him- and to seek your spouse- rather than seeking after foolish desires."
Saturday, February 21, 2009
You must fight to defend and protect your spouse and your marriage. There are outside forces that will come along that will try to weaken you, your spouse, your commitment to each other.
You have to be mindful and aware of harmful influences, unhealthy relationships, shame, parasites (usually in the form of addictions like gambling, drugs, pornography).
And again I'm going to take issue with the text.
Wives- you have a role as protector in your marriage. You must guard your heart from being led away through novels, magazines and other forms of entertainment that blur your perception of reality and put unfair expectations on your husband. Instead you must do your part in helping him feel strong, while also avoiding talk-show thinking that can lure your attention away from your family.
WOW. As a woman, as a wife... I am hugely insulted by this paragraph. Are these authors serious? First of all, they just made it VERY clear that the book was written by 2 men. Second of all, how demeaning is this?? How dare they presume that women are sitting around reading fluff novels or watching chick flicks all the day long instead of "doing their wifely duties."
Highly annoyed. Highly. So annoyed that I can barely tolerate eating any more of these bon bons and peeled grapes.
And the part directed towards the men (and it doesn't say husbands, it says men) just talks about protecting the wife and marriage at all times. That's it.
I'm so annoyed that I don't even want to continue on to the dare part. Thankfully, it's one that really doesn't pertain to our marriage. So I'll share it.
But after the talk that sounds like an excuse for abuse and the heavy handed ramming of God down the throat and now this idiotic and very insulting "instruction" for women... I don't have much interest in continuing.
"Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that is stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse."
"What did you throw out first? Are there others that need to go as well? What do you hope the removal of these things will do for you, your marriage, and your relationship with God?"
Friday, February 20, 2009
Had Homecoming in college in the fall. No football team so it wasn't a sports related event from what I remember. Probably somehow hooked in with basketball, I suppose. I don't recall any sort of court or king or queen. Just a semi-formal dance with a lot of drinking.
But if I'd had an opportunity to vote for a Homecoming Queen somewhere in my past... I would have wanted to vote for Reann Ballslee.
I know what you're thinking. Ballslee? Seriously? Sounds like a drag queen!
Yahoo is quickly becoming a favorite news source for me.
And if I could go back to that time in my life that I was selecting a college... I would so want to look at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.
Ryan Allen is a senior at George Mason. And he's a drag queen. And he won the title of Homecoming Queen.
Allen, who is gay and performs in drag at nightclubs in the region, said he entered the homecoming contest as a joke, competing as Reann Ballslee, his drag queen persona.
But he considers the victory one of his happiest moments and proof that the suburban Washington, D.C., school famous for its run to the Final Four a few years back celebrates its diverse student body.
"I was very touched by how Mason was so supportive through the whole process of allowing a boy in a dress to run for homecoming queen," Allen said in a phone interview. "It says a lot about the campus that not only do we have diversity but we celebrate it."
Again, this is a reading that I am taking with a grain of salt. Or a lick of salt. Or more.
It's not all about God this time.
This time, I am back to thinking about the woman who has bought this book because she is desperate to save her marriage. Her husband is emotionally cruel towards her, maybe even abusive. She blames herself and looks for ways to change and improve herself so that she can be good enough, be better, be what he wants her to be... thinking it will make him change.
Or the woman who picked up the book thinking it would help her heal and help her strengthen her marriage, even as her husband repeats infidelity after infidelity.
The book is for those who wish to strengthen what is good. The book is there for those who want to rekindle what has faded.
The book is NOT going to fix any major problems in a marriage. And the message to anyone in a true marriage crisis needs to be that this book is NOT the answer.
I took today's reading to mean that when, for example, Jeff is cranky and he isn't being loving towards me, it is my calling through God to continue to show love to him. In essence, it goes back to the early lessons of choosing love even when it's a hard choice. But it takes it a step further. If Jeff were to do something that really hurt me, would I choose to continue to show him love, choose to continue to love him?
We don't fight often. I do recall one big fight early in our marriage, prior to having children. And we argued and we came to a realization and we communicated and it hasn't ever been an issue since. We chose to love. It wasn't some big huge thing that was going to risk our marriage- unless it went unattended to (that goes back to one of those earlier dares, too). But we handled it right away.
We argue and get mad at each other. We get cranky and snippy. But we don't have big fights. We don't have big issues. I feel very blessed so far!
The time will come that we hurt each other. The time will come that we face something really difficult. And when love is faithful, we choose to love each other through those difficult times.
I think of this more in terms of my kids, I think. I often tell Teagan, after she's been rotten or gotten in trouble or I've yelled at her, that "I still love" her. And I make sure to often tell her that no matter what she says or what she does, I will still love her.
"Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today, "I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don't love me in return."
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire. Isaiah 58:11
Before I get into the reading, I feel like I need to say a few things.
My relationship with God is strong. He is very much a part of my daily life. I know my purpose for Him.
My husband doesn't know God the way I do. I pray about that a lot. But I know that it has to happen in its own time.
That's part of why I don't love these last few days. I don't like a book that tells my husband that he can't fully love me because he doesn't hold God in his heart.
He finds that pretty insulting, too. And it turns him off from the Dare and it turns him off from a relationship with God.
I think that anytime you tell someone something that sounds like an ultimatum... it's a turn off.
So while I understand that love deepens with God, that God's greatest gift is love, that I need Him as a very important part of my life... my husband isn't there yet and I don't see the value in cheapening the love he feels for me by telling him it isn't real enough because his faith isn't there yet.
So for these days that focus on spirituality, I will focus only on myself.
Bottom line for today's read is that God can supply you with everything you need to be your whole self.
Pray, read your Bible. Read a chapter in Proverbs or one of the Gospels.
"How do you think spending time daily with God will change your situation and perspective? How can you make Him a bigger part of your day?"
I talk to God throughout the day. I pray many times a day. My relationship with Him is important and is strong and is full of love and wonder. I don't read my Bible enough and would like to get into the habit of doing so more often.
***The Power of a Word What one word is most powerful in your life? Why? If it is a positive word, explain what it means to you and where in your life it applies. If it is a negative word, explain what you feel comfortable sharing. Then think of a word that could replace the negative word. Work on repeating the positive each time the negative comes to you... *** For me, the word is CHOICE. As long as I focus on CHOICE, life is manageable. It takes manufactured chaos out of the equation. I know that things happen that I'm not anticipating. Life means loss and tragedy and stress and trauma. But I can choose what I do with it. The emotions might rock my world. But I will find the place where I can choose to come out of it, to be stronger, to keep my family together. I've had horrible things happen in my life. I can choose to live as a victim, using my past as an excuse for everything that happens now. Never letting go, letting it control all that I am, all that I do, allowing it to poison my now. But I make a different choice. I choose to accept what was done to me. And I choose to take responsibility for the decisions I've made, for my own attention seeking behaviors. And I chose a long time ago to release it. Release what was done to me. Release the anger and rage and shame and hurt. Release. I chose to release. As I go through the Love Dare (blog link over there in the right column), I'm learning that love isn't a feeling that just happens. It's an action that you choose. Choice. Every day, every moment. When I feel like life is out of control, I can find choice. I can choose to react to the stress. I can choose to make a list and then choose what is priority. I can choose to take action. I can choose to observe. I choose. Choice and choose and pick and decide are important words in my parenting style. I want my kids to grow up understanding that they choose how they act, they choose their actions, they choose their outcomes. They can't control everything. When it is bedtime, it's bedtime. You choose to cooperate and have a nice, loving bedtime. Or you have a meltdown and cry and scream and are choosing to have a not nice bedtime. And all these choices link together. It's bedtime. Teagan can choose a nice bedtime- she chooses by her behavior. And then we can read books, sing to each other, snuggle and hug and kiss. Or she can choose to have that screaming, crying meltdown. Which means I choose not to read to her. I also have to choose how I will respond to her in those meltdowns. Do I choose to be gentle and calm? Do I choose to yell? Do I choose to threaten? Do I choose to ignore? Choice is back to her. Does she choose to respond to my gentle approach? Or does she choose to continue screaming? It's like watching tennis. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I can choose to be open and accepting. I can choose to be judgemental. I can choose coffee or tea. I can choose happy music or angry music. I can choose. Choice. I find it to be inspiring. Powerful. Hopeful.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
"He was willing to love you even though you didn't deserve it, even when you didn't love back. He was able to see all your flaws and imperfections and still choose to love you. His love made the greatest sacrifice to meet your greatest need. As a result, you are able (by His grace) to walk in the fullness and blessing of His love. Now and forever.
This means that you now share this same love with your spouse. You can love even when you're not loved in return. You can see all their flaws and imperfections and still choose love. And though you can't meet their needs the way God can, you can become His instrument to meet the needs of your spouse. As a result, he or she can walk in the fullness and blessing of your love. Now and till death.
True love is found in Christ alone. And after you have received His gift of new life by accepting His death in your place and His forgiveness for your sins, you are finally ready to live the dare."
OK. I'm a Christian. And I'm strong in my faith and secure in my relationship with God. All of this makes sense for me in that light.
But I think from the perspective of someone who isn't there and this would so turn me off. It's too heavy handed. It's the exact kind of thing that would make Jeff toss the book out.
But I guess that's why it's a Dare and not just a self-help book.
"Dare to take God at His word. Dare to trust Jesus Christ for salvation. Dare to pray, "Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner. But you have shown your love for me by dying to forgive my sins, and you have proven your power to save me from death by your resurrection. Lord, change my heart and save me by your grace."
"Write about what this experience has been like for you. Even if you are only renewing your commitment to receive and express His love, what has He shown you today?"
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
We are getting to the part where this book would be difficult for someone who is lacking faith or who doesn't believe in God... the part that would be hard for someone who is struggling in that area. Or who isn't struggling but just doesn't follow a Christian set of beliefs.
Let us love one another, for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who doesn't love, doesn't know God for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
"You cannot manufacture unconditional love (or agape love) out of your own heart."
You can demonstrate kindness, you can choose to be more thoughtful. "But sincerely loving someone unselfishly and unconditionally is another matter altogether."
"Like it or not, agape love isn't something you can do. It's something only God can do. But because of his great love for you- and His love for your spouse- He chooses to express his love through you."
The text goes on to give examples of the way that human attempts, even the most serious, at agape love, at unconditional love, fail. But that God's love for us never fails.
And if you don't have that love as a resource, if you refuse it or don't have faith in it, you don't have it to give.
Bottom line is that if your marriage is lacking, your relationship with God may be lacking as well. And that by turning to God and by opening your heart to His love, you are opening yourself to being able to love and be loved in your marriage.
"Look back over the Dares from the previous days. Were there some that seemed impossible for you? Have you realized your need for God to change your heart and to give you the ability to love? Ask Him to show you where you stand with Him, and ask for the strength and grace to settle your eternal destination."
"What do you believe God is saying to you? Is there a stirring in your heart? What decision have you made in response to this?"
Monday, February 16, 2009
Bottom line is that you have to keep your interest in your spouse alive. You have to seek to continue to learn about them every day. Just like you would about a hobby or passion.
Ask questions, listen, pray.
Choose to study your spouse. Choose to know them better. Choose to seek understanding. Choose to deepen.
"Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the 2 of you. Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you've rarely talked about. Determine to make it enjoyable for you and your mate."
"What did you learn about your spouse that you didn't know before? How could you continue this process of discovery in other ways, at other times? What were some of the moments that made this evening memorable?"
Before I even get started, I've got a reflection. This book couldn't have been written by parents of young children. Or by families with 2 working parents. I'm amending this dare. I'll make dinner because I am home today, by chance. But dinner will include our kids. We know each other really well. I know there is more to learn- but it can't be forced, it has to happen on its own time. So I'll make a dinner I don't often get to make due to time (pot roast). It's my compromise.
It was a stressful day in regards to kids and behavior. But we got through it. And I made our family dinner- pot roast and veggies and au gratin potatoes. Which was mostly enjoyed by all. And once the kids went to bed, Jeff and I enjoyed a cheesy teen movie on Nick (Spectacular!). And we sat together and held hands and made a lot of jokes and laughed, genuinely, a lot. Some might say that doing this Dare in front of the TV isn't right. But it's something we enjoy together. And we dedicated that time to each other and our chosen activity.
I can't say there are areas we "rarely" talk about, either...
So our evening wasn't about completing a Dare, doing an assigned task. We just enjoyed each other!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
"Marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships."
"Someone who knows us this intimately can either love us at great depths we never imagined, or can wound us in ways we may never fully recover from."
"Are the secrets your spouse knows about you reasons for shame, or reasons for drawing you closer?"
The text goes on to compare marriage to our relationship with God. He created us and knows our thoughts, fears, dreams. Inside and out. And with all of our faults, all of our sins, all of our shame, He loves us.
"Determine to guard your mate's secrets (unless they are dangerous to them or to you) and to pray for them. Talk with your spouse, and resolve to demonstrate love in spite of these issues. Really listen to them when they share personal thoughts and struggles with you. Make them feel safe."
"How much of an effort is it for you to hold back from saying something, critical or otherwise? What have you learned about your spouse today, simply from listening?"
Here's Jeff's big secret.... ha! Not going to tell you!
Early in our relationship, Jeff and I shared some very personal things with each other. Not really "secrets," per se, but definitely sensitive information about ourselves. Information that someone untrustworthy would use against you. He knows the mistakes I've made, the regrets I have, the "shame" of things in my past. And ditto me for him. These are things that we never throw in each other's faces. These are things that don't come up when we have disagreements. There are some areas where it would be easy to bring up these things and really hurt each other. But we respect each other too much for that. We love each other too much for that.
So no new struggles to talk about. Jeff and I already talk and talk about just about everything. Lots of info about our days, our friends, our daily experiences. He knows things about my thoughts and I know things about his thoughts.
Intimacy, trust, respect, love... it all goes together.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Intercede- to attempt to reconcile differences between two people or groups; mediate.
Summary of this reading... You can't change your spouse but you can pray to God for your spouse to change.
I completely disagree.
I agree that you can pray this way. I agree that you can't change your partner.
But I'm not one who prays for results. Rarely.
I don't think that praying to God about Jeff's clutter will net any results. But praying for God to guide me as I try to encourage Jeff to clean out the basement... that I can do.
Jeff and I are in different places in regards to faith and religion and such.
I pray about that every day.
"Begin praying today for your spouse's heart. Pray for 3 specific areas where you desire for God to work in your spouse's life and in your marriage."
"Have you experienced the power of prayer in the past? What did you choose to pray about? Was it easy for you, or did it feel foreign to you?"
I pray daily, many times a day. I'm not one for very formal, down on my knees prayer. But I converse often with God in any given day.
I've been praying for my husband for a long time. I don't have a list of things I'm praying for. Really just one. That he opens his heart to God.
Friday, February 13, 2009
I'm getting the itch, the call, the drive.
I want a family vacation.
We schedule our time off around Lisa's days off. She plans her off time each December for the coming year so that her parents can plan accordingly with their jobs. It's very helpful.
Last summer, we took her week off in July and planned our first official Family Vacation.
We spent 2 days at Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA (near Philly) and then the rest of the week was spent in Dushore, PA (NE part of the state, up in the mountains) with my family (my parents and brothers).
It was the best family vacation I've ever been on. We had such a good time.
Check out our pics from last summer. And my review of our days there. Learn more about Sesame Place.
Here's the deal.
I wanna go back.
We had planned on waiting until the summer of 2010 because then Zach would be old enough to enjoy it more and remember the trip. But... I know he'll have a BLAST this summer, even if it doesn't stick in his long term memory. Heck, he had a great time when he was a baby there!! Doesn't he look way too cute in those pics?? It's where he fell in LOVE with Ernie and Big Bird! And he'd still have the pics to look back on. And Teagan still talks about our trip and things she remembers from it. And loves looking at the pictures.
And it is SERIOUSLY fun for any adult who grew up watching Sesame Street. I got all happy and warm and fuzzy meeting the giant sized versions of my favorite city-dwelling Muppets. Even Jeff enjoyed the trip and was happy and riding rides.
We need to go back. And I can't wait well over another year before we go. I want to go again this summer. Check out the website. Look at the attractions. Check out the new water area opening this year- Count's Castle. It looks AMAZING.
Did I mention that I want to go? Now?
And if I really get into a dedicated workout groove, I'd have to buy a new bathing suit. Or I could at least look way better in that same one... Nah. Let's get a new one.
So everyone please leave a comment about the importance of family vacations, your memories of your own childhood family vacations, your memories of Sesame Street, regrets about not taking fun family vacations... whatever angle you can think of. We have to convince the Mister that this summer's vacation HAS to happen!!!
Honor can be defined as "holding in high respect."
According to the text, honor also means speaking politely, paying full attention, doing what is asked of you.
But love being honorable has a deeper meaning.
Love should be holy. If your partner is holy to you, they are sacred, honored, praised, defended.
And even when our partner doesn't treat us with honor, Love still honors.
"Love treats its beloved as special and sacred even when an ungrateful attitude is all you get in return."
"...when your attempts at honor go unreciprocated, you are to give honor just the same."
I get what the book is saying. And in a normal, healthy relationship, this applies nicely. But I keep thinking of some poor abused spouse using this bit of text as a reason to remain with their abusive partner.
I'll keep it in my scope, in the scope of my own marriage, though.
"Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine. It may be holding the door for her. It might be putting his clothes away for him. It may be the way you listen and speak in your communication. Show your mate that he or she is highly esteemed in your eyes."
"How did you choose to show honor? What was the result? What are some ways you could demonstrate honor in the coming days?"
I have to admit to being behind on updating. I do not remember specifically what I did to show my husband that I honor him.
In response to the comment Momza left, I would just add that a central theme in this book, as well as a theme I frequently hear from my preacher's pulpit, is that LOVE is also an action and a choice. Today in church, my pastor spoke about forgiveness being a decision, too. Powerful stuff.