29 years and counting!

IMG_0266Wind-blown.

Sand-blasted.

Sun-burned.

What a great way to celebrate a 29 year anniversary! It was a beautiful, relaxed afternoon on a gorgeous, almost-empty beach. A real treat…

Not all our anniversary days have been this pleasant. The wind, sand, and sun help describe our 29 years of marriage:

Wind-blown

When the winds are in your face, you have to work harder at whatever you need to do. The winds of life are the challenges, the stretching times, the growth areas, the new endeavors, the learning curves. Through the years, Steve and I have learned hard truths about ourselves and each other. Some times this required grace, other times forgiveness. We struggled with trials beyond our capacity as parents and as professionals, and we often had to lean on each other. Even when we were learning something good, it was often exhausting or stressful or hard. I am grateful for a husband who is a life-long learner – never complete, never a know-it-all, never too good for one more faith step.

Sand-blasted

Fast flying sand hurts when it hits. In 29 years of marriage, we have been hurt – by out-of-our-control circumstances, by other people, and by each other. Pain is a part of love. We protect each other from pain when we can; some times our selfishness causes the pain. I have cried for Steve, with Steve, and because of Steve… and he has wiped away my tears, and helped to give me hope again – to believe in myself, in him, in others. I would avoid pain and hurts if I could, but the resulting scars are a precious reminder of healing, redeeming love, and second chances. After 29 years, I am so thankful for a man who never gave up, never walked away, and never stopped loving me.

Sun-burned

I love sunshine! It warms my heart and soul. (I often joke that if I didn’t know the Lord, I might worship the sun!) Sunshine reminds me of the good times, the passion, and the love. OH, the fun we have had! Steve makes me laugh all the time with his silly jokes. He brings music and dancing into our life together. We have four of the coolest children (and now a son-in-law too) in this world! We have adventures – living in foreign countries, travels to the world, great friends from everywhere… and we make memories whenever we can! 29 years have given us so many good times – a faith and job that we get to do together, a family that we can never get enough time with, and a never-ending desire to keep holding hands as we walk (close) through this life together.

29 years are so worth celebrating, but they are just the beginning of what is still to come! Wind, sand, or sun, I love you, Steve Morgan, with all my heart.

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How do you view marriage? What helps you make it through the hard times? And enjoy the good times?

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**Check out Steve’s blog at: LeaderImpact

tribute to a lover

IMG_5818 smallJesse loved abundantly, creatively and sacrificially. A man with normal human faults and frailties, he gave her his whole heart when he married my mom. There was never any doubt – His love was great. It might have been his greatest testimony on this earth – his unquestionable love for her.

It always impressed me that he did not leave the house without kissing my mom good-bye. They enjoyed time together – family holidays, planting flowers, travels to the beach, meetings with long-time friends. Simple pleasures filled their later days – easy walks to see the ducks at the nearby pond, watching sports on TV, a day at the casino.

He bought her anything he thought might make her happy. He wanted to spoil her and would return and re-buy items until they were just what she wanted. My mom was not always easy to please, but he never stopped trying.

He cooked her favorite foods. New Mexico favorites – enchiladas and green chile stew – were delicious specialties. Jesse kept Mom’s ice cream bowl and coffee cup filled.

As happens, there were impatient, angry words at times, but there was also recognition of the wrong in that and quick apologies and forgiveness.

Jesse not only loved my mom, but he loved her family too. He always made us feel warmly welcomed in his home, greeting us and saying goodbye with a hug. He asked about our children and rejoiced in their accomplishments.

When Jesse was very sick in the hospital, he told a friend he had to get home to take care of my mom. He wanted to care for her until the very end.

God had other plans. He took Jesse before my mom, even though she is the one who has stage-four cancer. My mom ended up caring for him, tenderly cleaning, soothing, accompanying him at his side. It was not the “plan” for him to go first, but it gave my mom a chance to sweetly love him back in his last days. She will miss him very much.

Jesse has set the standard very high. I know I could do a lot more to show love to others every day.

When I am gone, I wonder what people will say about how I loved them…

Do you demonstrate an abundant, creative, sacrificial love to others? 

a Valentine’s Day Grinch

sunset holding handsI admit it. I’m a Valentine’s Day Grinch.

I don’t like the commercialization of love or the marketing scam that says that you can somehow make up for months of relationship neglect by spending a big wad of money at Zales. I do like chocolate (dark), but the last thing I need is a huge box of it around my house. I’m no big fan of heart jewelry or stuffed animals or lacy lingerie or cut flowers that die and have to be thrown away in a few days. I really don’t like doilies or ruffles… and I especially don’t like PINK anything!

I’m not your typically “girly” girl … and I have struggled with that much of my life.

Especially in my marriage, I have often felt pressure to squeeze into a mold that does not fit me. Thankfully, that pressure does not come from my husband – just the opposite (!) – but it does come from others who assume – and promote – that certain generalities and stereotypes are – or should be – true for all. Some of the pressure I have put on myself.

Some seem to believe that there exists a sort of all-inclusive pink, ruffled, girly way that make all woman feel loved… and some definite blue, rugged, manly ways for all men to love.

Similar to how Valentine’s Day is sold as the perfect version of love for all:
boy buys sweet card and pink flowers + girl feels loved = happily ever after. ♥ ♥ ♥ 

It’s just not like that for everyone – and certainly not for me or my marriage. After many years, I’ve finally realized that it’s ok not to fit into all the generalities and stereotypes. God has created me uniquely and perfectly the way I am. Pink ruffles and jewelry and heart shapes are truly GREAT love gifts for some… just not for all women… and definitely not for me.

I prefer to use I Corinthians 13 as my love model:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

(1 Cor 13:4-8a NASB)

No lace or doilies or stuffed animals mentioned. 🙂

My husband has worked very hard for almost 30 years to love me this way – kind and not seeking his own interests first, patient and not arrogant, forgiving and believing the best… and I try to do the same for him. Now that speaks love to me!

Have you ever felt pressure to fit a stereotype or role that didn’t work for you? 

What demonstrates true love to you?

How can you use your uniquely perfect self to show love to someone today?

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Originally posted 2-2013 in MissionalWomen.com – Check out their great site!

maturitas cafe – best of 2012

I would love to enjoy a steaming cup of black coffee with you at a comfy, warm cafe. We could talk about so many things – work, family, teams, marriage, life! We might laugh or cry or philosophize, and share advice or struggles or funny stories. We might disagree about a topic or empathize completely. No matter what, I know we would end our visit grateful for the time together.

Until we have that opportunity, I am grateful for the chance to connect this way. THANK YOU for reading and leaving your “likes” and your comments. You have challenged me and encouraged me this year. You have led me to new blogs, new ideas, new friends. I appreciate you very much and look forward to learning more together in 2013!

In case you are new to this blog or might have missed a post, here are some of the top (most read) posts of 2012. Feel free to look around at the archives too. Remember every post is available in English and Spanish…

eng top 5top five English posts:

today’s modern woman – pick any two

cleaning house, cooking meals and a greater cause

are you dangerous?

communication styles

tips for long lasting friendship and marriage

sp top 5top five Spanish posts:

la motivación y el ánimo

lo que aprendo de una venta de garage 

¿hay mágia en los equipos?

¿tienes la actitud de gratitud?

limpiar la casa, cocinar y una gran causa

You might also enjoy reading a little about me and why I started this blog:

coffee as a way of life      why a blog?

 Thanks for joining this journey! 

Please let me know… what was your favorite post this past year?

tips for long-lasting friendship and marriage

A few weeks ago I celebrated 27 years of – almost entirely 🙂 – blissful marriage to my best friend.  That same week some of my children struggled through heart-breaking roommate conflicts with long-term friends.

Making a friendship, marriage, or other relationship last requires certain fundamental basics… and lots of hard work. These are a few of the aspects I appreciate in a friendship.

partnership

In a healthy (adult) relationship the two people are partners. There is mutual respect, shared responsibilities, and lots of together experiences. In a sense, we need each other. My husband and I are advocates for each other. We encourage each other and help each other be the best we can in all life areas. I support his dreams, and he supports mine. I point out errors; he does the same for me… so that we can grow. We speak well of each other and do whatever we can to strengthen each other. Partners are stronger together.

believe the best

Every relationship goes through mis-understandings, false impressions, erroneous assumptions. When I believe the best, I don’t guess at motives or intentions, but instead look to communicate honestly, try to understand, and attempt to clarify the situation. In the past, I have sometimes feared looking foolish or naive by trusting someone, but I would rather believe the best in people until they prove unworthy. More often, I am the one who doesn’t have the full picture.

shared interests

Great friendships are often welded strong through lots of important time together… Intellects read and discuss together. Athletes play together. Musicians jam together. Others eat, craft, camp, travel, pray, create, or go to movies together! For my husband and me, our faith is the most important shared interest we have as a couple, and I am really grateful for all the adventures we have enjoyed together. Shared interests are a glue.

forgiveness

I make mistakes all the time. I say the wrong words, do the wrong things, have really lousy attitudes… every day. I need to apologize and receive forgiveness… all the time. I have hurt my husband. He has hurt me. If we weren’t willing and able to forgive, we would not still be together. Forgiveness is easier when we recognize our own imperfections and have realistic expectations of the other. Forgiveness happens when we value being together more than we value getting even.

communication

Healthy relationships require healthy communication skills. Through the years I have had to learn to control my “explosive” discussion style while my husband has learned to talk more freely and not “stuff” his feelings and opinions. One of us sometimes needs a bit of time before beginning a difficult conversation, but an “I’m not talking to you” escape is not an option. We have also sought help from others when conflicts were really bad. Honest, vulnerable, respectful communication can resolve a lot of problems.

What about you? What aspects of a friendship/marriage are most important to you?

supermom doesn’t live here

I have no delusion of having been a supermom… 🙂

My husband and I have determined that we will never be ones to write the “How to…” parenting book.  The other day, however, a new friend asked me for a few tips about parenting young ones, and I quickly thought of a few things that helped me enjoy the process. I hope they might be an encouragement to you…

1. dynamic walk with the Lord… I just couldn’t ever make sense of the daily struggles and sacrifices, contrasting opinions and peer pressure, if I wasn’t secure in Him. Time with Him was often just snatches of desperate pleas for help during the day, but I realized that when – although I didn’t always get it – I longed for time with Him, I was probably doing OK.

2. investment in my marriage: Conferences, counseling, regular (every week) dates, communication, getaways…  so essential and very worth it for us to stay connected as partners! We loved parenting, but we always understood that our marriage was a priority, and we made time for us. Now that the kids are almost all moved out, we are really looking forward to being together – just the two of us – not dreading it or wondering what we will do without the kids around.

3. with #1 and #2, reflect on and choose what works for YOU and YOUR family! I am not a “kid’s world” person, so I needed time with adults each week. I loved being involved with the university ministry – discipling and mentoring, and involving our kids. I also home-schooled for many years and loved it. I have the gift of leadership and always led side-by-side with my husband. I used a lot of organization and structure to make life “livable” for me. Living in a foreign culture, I had help with cleaning and cooking. (I still don’t do much of that!) BUT… that worked for ME… each woman and marriage is different… God’s incredible creativity isn’t limited to creation… it is available for each marriage and family also. It is available for you!

4. last, but related to #3… do what YOU need to do to get refreshed… I spent so many years feeling guilty because I thought I “should” want to dress up and go out to a fancy dinner for a date, when I really preferred to lay out in the sun and read/discuss a book with my husband… or go to a yard sale… or run by myself… coffee dates with friends and women’s Bible study groups were also great for me. My recharge is not the same as others – I finally figured out that was ok…

I was so encouraged that my friend was asking questions, because asking questions is the first step to finding the way in a very complex and challenging life… May God bless you on your journey!

What are you doing to enjoy the process? Are there some other “tips” you would suggest as an encouragement to others?

cleaning house, cooking meals and a greater cause

I came to know Christ personally in college and like many young single ladies, I started hearing immediately how to catch the man of my dreams be the submissive, supportive, spiritually attractive woman who would cause some dreamy man to pursue me. For those of you who know me, that was no easy task!

If you had asked me years ago about my marriage, I would have obligingly regurgitated many of the cliché Christian lingo regarding men’s and women’s roles that I had read in books and learned in seminars… woman is the “helpmeet” while man “works” and makes the decisions; woman’s job is to keep a clean home, fix nutritious meals, keep the kids under control, and be a great lover so the man is always content. If the woman is more gifted in an area than the man, she should limit herself and focus on making him look good. Somehow what the man does is always slightly more important because he is the “head”. (Disclaimer: I’m not sure that is always exactly what was actually said, but it is what I heard.)

I have been married now for almost 30 years – most of them quite happily – to my dream man (dreams can vary depending on the evening snack!). We have four amazing children. I was talking with one of them when he was home for Christmas, and we somehow arrived to the topic of marriage. As we talked, I realized my husband and I never really lived out that marriage cliché.

Instead, in our marriage, we were partners, co-workers and friends – both with equal value as God’s image bearers and part of His body. We made decisions together. We both cleaned house if needed – or even hired someone (a perk of being an international missionary) so that I could invest more time in homeschooling our children. I’ve cooked; we’ve had help cooking, and my husband does most of the cooking these days. We were both very involved with our children. We mutually submitted to each other’s needs. The truth is… we both saw home and family as a priority and a joy, but there were no specific rules about who should do what, and it often changed depending on the need.

We were also both involved in ministry. I realize now that was in perfect alignment with God’s Word… and the correct and complete understanding of that word “helpmeet”. The word translated “helpmeet” in Genesis 2:18 comes from the Hebrew words ezer kenegdoezer means help, and the word kenegdo implies a counterpart. The word is found in a military context and is used 19 additional times in the Old Testament – three times for country allies and sixteen times for God Himself when Israel needed help in battle. Since the same word that we use for women is used for God, I believe it implies incredible value and strength. God meant for women to be full-partner, strong warriors with men in the spiritual battles we fight against evil in this world.

Many of the decisions my husband and I made through the years were to enable me to participate as a full partner in the battle for God’s kingdom. I have hobbies, but much more importantly, I have a calling from God. Different life stages mean different daily tasks, but what I choose to do is important. Rather than limit my gifting, it is crucial for me to continually grow and develop, so that I can serve the Lord better at home and in ministry.

If you are a woman reading this blog, I encourage you to further study your calling as a co-warrior in God’s kingdom battle. I learned a lot from Carolyn Custis James’ book Half the Church. Your partnership strengthens God’s army. No matter your marital status, your stage of life, or your lifestyle… you have been called to be all you can be for Him! Never see yourself as less important. We all have daily tasks to do, but we should do them within the context of our primary calling. Never put limits on what you can do for Him.

If you are a man reading this, please consider being an active advocate for the women in your life. Encourage them in their worth and development, and facilitate in any way possible their full involvement in God’s Kingdom purposes.

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**I dedicate this blog to my incredible husband, Steve: my greatest fan, my most enthusiastic encourager, and my strongest advocate. You should follow him on twitter at @stickymex and read his blog: LeaderImpact or EquipoVida

I also want to thank my professor, Dr. Ray Wheeler, (Azusa Pacific – M.A. Global Leadership) for believing in me and helping me to believe more in myself.