Fighting words

I’m not one for confrontation.  I don’t enjoy a good argument.  I don’t feel better after a difficult conversation.  Now, don’t get me wrong, in the 12 years of my marriage, my husband and I have had our fair share of fights (just going to call them what they are). But fights in and of themselves are not all that bad, IF, as a couple you get to the heart of the issue.

I have heard it said that fighting in marriage is like fire.  It can do one of two things, it can shed light or it can consume.

A heated discussion is not the place for accusation, insincere apologies, and name calling.  Those things are gasoline to the fire.  In my marriage, I have identified some fighting words.  Common words or phrases that pack a big punch.  And whenever I say these phrases, I am not shedding light on a situation, I am pouring gasoline on the fire.

Here are 3 from my marriage.  I am sure there are more.

I am sorry you feel that way.
I’m sorry you feel that way is not an apology.  It is code for, “you are overreacting.” No one wants to be told they are overreacting especially when they are overreacting!   True love says, “I am sorry I made you feel that way.  Help me understand what I did.”

What were you thinking?
What were you thinking is code for, “you are a large child who doesn’t know how to act.”  What were you thinking might as well be followed by, “you idiot.”  I don’t like to have my face rubbed into a bad decision, but I often struggle with giving others the grace I would want to be given to me.  True love says, “We all make mistakes.  I forgive you.”

Why are you in a bad mood?
Now this one, this one is huge.  Why are you in a bad mood is like punching my husband in the face and saying, “Let’s fight.”  No one likes to be reminded they are in a bad mood, ESPECIALLY if it is true.  True love seeks to do something kind for the person having the bad day.  It doesn’t call them out.

Like my husband said this past weekend, relationships take work.  It is so true.  It takes work not to let a disagreement escalate into a huge fight.  I certainly don’t get this right every time.  But I am learning that relationships require grace.  The grace to try and understand the other person’s feelings.  Grace to forgive.  And grace to overlook an offense.

Turkey Tuesday!


Today is Turkey Tuesday at Elevation.  That means that 200+ families in need this season will come to our church and receive a bag of groceries for a Thanksgiving meal for their family because of our partnership with Matthews Help Center.  I love my church.

Last night, I joined forces with 30 women from all of our campuses, all over Charlotte, to put these bags together.  I love getting to meet people while doing something productive at the same time.

When the evening was over and all the bags were packed, we prayed over the bags.  We prayed that the people who received the groceries would sense the love of Christ even if they don’t know him personally.  I am so thankful for the many opportunities that I get to be a part of.


If you live in Charlotte and would like to get involved in an outreach opportunity, check out our website for an event that fits you!

love, respect and parenting

I got to do a Q/A with one of our eGroups today. This eGroup is a group of Elevation moms with young children. We had the best time talking about marriage, and motherhood, and ministry.

One of the things that came up was the idea of teaching our children to respect their dad. Now of course, children need to learn to respect all adults. But I am not really talking about teaching them to say yes ma’am and no sir (although that is really important). I am talking about respect in the terms of Ephesians 5:33, “So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Here are a few of the ideas we discussed…

1. Greet your father when he comes home from work. Nothing is worse than when my husband walks in the house and we are all to busy to even acknowledge that he is home. Most days my husband texts me when he is on his way home from work, I then remind my kids, “Hey guys, daddy is about to come home. When you hear him, make sure to come and give him a hug and say hi.” We don’t get this right every day. But we make an effort. I want my husband to want to come home from work. And I want him to feel like we are glad he is home.

2. Teach your children to respect their father’s space. In our house, Elijah uses my husband’s nice piano/keyboard to practice piano. Elijah knows that using his dad’s keyboard is a privilege. He needs to turn it off when he’s done, and he needs to put his music books back in the bag. This goes for anything else like “borrowing” a charger, or a pen, or toothpaste because your brother never puts the cap on the one you share with him.

3. And of course, modeling is the best way to teach something. I saw an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (the sitcom all about what not to do in marriage) where Deborah would bet the kids things Ray wouldn’t do like notice her haircut, or come home when he said he would. The way that I talk about my husband to my kids (and my friends and family) is a huge indicator of my level of respect for him. And why would my kids think highly of their dad if I never speak highly of him?

I don’t do this perfectly. But I do want my children to understand that respect goes far beyond being polite. And when they understand how to respect their dad, maybe they will understand how to respect other authorities and maybe (just maybe) even learn to respect each other.

Don’t call the justice league

Tonight my eGroup is discussing the topic of forgiveness as it pertains to marriage.  We read the chapter in Linda Dillow’s book (What’s it like to be married to me?) called “Why do I want to stay mad at you.”  Linda suggests that holding a grudge is easier than forgiving because when you hold a grudge you are able to blame the other person and you never have to look inward and admit that you played some part in the offense.

We also listened this week to my husband’s series, F-Bomb from 2011.  That is such a powerful series.  One of my top 10 that we have done at our church (you can easily find it in our archive).  It was really interesting to listen to the series while focusing on forgiveness within my marriage.  I love when my husband said that forgiveness is not weakness, it is the ultimate portal for the power of Christ in my life.

At some point in my marriage, if I want to have a healthy, thriving marriage, I have to let go of the idea of justice.  Does this mean that I never get to explain myself or tell my side during a conflict?  No.  What it means is when a discussion gets to a point where both perspectives have been heard but neither person really agrees, can I let it go or do I have to have my justice?  Am I ok with walking away feeling misunderstood?

It’s funny because when it comes to my personal forgiveness, I expect grace.  But when I feel wronged, I want to call in the justice league.  I am not talking about justice for a criminal.  I am talking about justice with my spouse.  My husband said in his message, “Forgiveness is not about dismissing your case, it’s about taking it to a higher court.”

Often when you think of forgiveness in the context  of marriage you think of a big offense like an affair or an addiction.  But it is those little arguments that can eat away at you and lead your heart down a very slippery slope.  Learning to forgive, even when I think I was only 3% responsible takes grace.  But I have been given a lot of grace.  And I have been promised a lot of grace.

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, and at all times, you will abound in every good work.

A decision to decide

1 Corinthians 7:4 says
The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. (NIV)

The Message version puts it this way…
The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.

Yesterday there was a clip on my husband’s blog called, “the Power of a Pre decision.”  It is one of my favorite teachings of his.  The idea of pre deciding can change your situation and especially your marriage.

You can pre decide to forgive.

You can pre decide to love.

You can pre decide to serve.

Marriage is about decision.  Not feeling.  It is about deferring to the one you love, and seeking to satisfy them, not standing up for your rights.

The art of overlooking

This past Sunday as we were getting ready for church and my husband was listening to his pastor, Pastor Craig Groschel (My husband never misses one of Pastor Craig’s messages). And as I was putting on my make-up, I heard Pastor Craig talking about over looking an offense. He said, overlooking an offense is a type of forgiveness. It’s choosing not to be offended by something someone said or did that hurt or angered me.

Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
Have you ever been around someone who is easily offended? It’s like walking on egg shells and its not fun. People, who are easily offended are often bitter over events they barely remember happening.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
It’s funny because I think I am easily offended by the people I love the most. Probably because they are also the people I trust the most. But the opposite should be true. I should be able to overlook an offense from the people I love the most because I know they love me and would not be purposely trying to hurt me.
In my marriage, I have a little rule of thumb. If my husband says or does something that hurts me or bothers me, I try to give it some time. If I can forget about it, then it doesn’t need to be discussed. If I can’t stop thinking about it a day later, I need to talk it out with my husband. You know, 9 times out of 10 (when I actually follow this rule because let’s face it, I don’t get it right a lot), I forget all about the offense. And that other 10% of the time, when we discuss it, it is well received because the conversation is not out of a place of anger.
Mastering the art of being quick to forgive is what enables me to keep any root of bitterness from taking place in my life. Ask the Lord to make you quick to overlook any offenses you may face today.

To give or not to give

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  I have often heard people say that holidays like Valentine’s and Mother’s day are holidays created by retailers to make you spend money.  While this may be true, do you really want to be the person who didn’t give your special someone anything on Valentine’s day?

Here are a few creative gift ideas that shouldn’t cost too much money but could speak volumes of love…

  1. Begin a tradition of always giving the same item to each other for Valentines day.  Like a mix tape or a book or a framed picture from that year.  My wedding anniversary is June 1.  For several years, my husband and went shopping together for bathing suits on our anniversary.
  2. Cook a special dinner together instead of going out to eat.
  3. Leave special notes with small gifts for your loved one to find throughout the day.  End the day with a thoughtful letter.
  4. Take some time to think about your loved one’s favorites and give them to him or her throughout the day.  You could do things like have their favorite song playing when they start their car and bring them their favorite Starbucks drink at work, then have their favorite dessert after dinner.

That’s all I got for now, but I would love to hear some from you in the comments today.  Do you have any Valentine’s traditions?  Also, if you would like a few more tips on how to give a great gift, check out this blog I wrote at Christmas time.

Draw it out

I once heard a preacher say, “A question convicts a conscience but and accusation hardens the will.”  I have never forgotten that.

When you ask someone a question, they consider their actions.  When you accuse some one of something, they automatically go into defense mode.

So in parenting, let’s say one of your children gets angry at another one of your children and punches his brother until his brother starts crying (hypothetically speaking).  Instead of accusing which leads to more anger, “You are such a bully, keep your hands to yourself,” you could try questioning, “What is the rule about punching in this house?”  This may not result in any less drama, but it does cause my child to think about what he did wrong.

It applies in marriage.  Let’s say your husband and you get into an argument over money.  He spends too much, you never spend at all (again, hypothetically speaking).  Instead of saying, “You don’t care about our finances,” you could try, “what did you think we could use this for?”

Now I will say it is best to avoid using the question, “Why?” because why can often come across as accusatory.  ”Why did you do that, (you idiot)!”  Also, “What were you thinking?” doesn’t count either.

It takes a lot of self control to question before you accuse but this small change can be the very thing thats allows you to get beneath an argument to the deeper issue of what is causing the argument.  In parenting, it can allow your child to take ownership for their actions rather than you telling them for the 100th time what they did wrong and what the consequences will be.  It also communicates to the other person that you truly want to understand them.

Proverbs 20:5 says this…
 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
    but one who has insight draws them out.

I want to learn to draw out what is in the heart of those I love, not jump to conclusions because I am frustrated by their actions.  I in doing so, I hope that my loved ones will do the same for me when I mess up.

How to give a good gift

1.  Don’t make it about you.  I knew a woman who got a pool table for mother’s day one year.  She had never played pool a day in her life. When giving a gift to someone, start by thinking about the things that they love.  They love hunting?  Go to Bass Pro Shop and ask for help and get a gift receipt for everything you buy.  They love cooking?  Go to Sur La Table, make a gift basket and just remember to get a gift receipt.  Don’t let your likes and dislikes and opinions keep you from getting someone else what they really want.

2.  Replace something.  Maybe they lost a pocket knife that got taken by TSA  or a pair of favorite earrings that they left in a hotel.  It could be something they broke like a favorite mug or pair of shoes that got ruined.

3.  Give a blast from the past.  Find a t-shirt from a concert you attended years ago.  Or an old cd you used to love together.  Maybe a copy of a movie you saw together.

4.  Do something nostalgic.  Frame an old picture or an old letter.  One of my favorite gifts my mom ever gave me is in my kitchen.  It is a framed recipe card for my Grandma’s eye round roast (my favorite thing she cooked).  My mom saved it when she was cleaning out my Grandma’s house after she moved to an assisted living home.  It is not even in a nice frame but I don’t care, it’s special.  It reminds me that cooking is about expressing my love to my family (for me, no pressure if you hate cooking).

5.  Be a good listener.  If your wife goes on and on to her friend about how beautiful her new purse is, take notes!  If your husband talks about how he wishes he had a universal remote, pay attention!  If your daughter goes on and on about sparkly TOMS take the hint!

When you give a really thoughtful gift you take a big risk.  Maybe they won’t get it.  Maybe they won’t think it is as special as you do.  Maybe you tried really hard but just fell short.  But maybe you gave them a gift that says, “I know you,” or “I pay attention to you,” or “I remember the great times we have had together,” and that speaks volumes.  And listen, if you need to throw in a gift card with your framed recipe card, that’s icing on your, I-put-thought-into-this gift.

I will leave you with 3 last don’ts…

Don’t equate gifts with need.  That’s why socks and underwear from your grandma never meant much.
Don’t believe the lie that it is all about money.  Resourcefulness after a tough financial year could be the best gift you ever gave your spouse.
Don’t give up.  Just because you gave a gift that bombed last year doesn’t mean you throw in the towel this year.  It means you try harder this year.

Happy Hunting!  Merry Christmas!