Author: Stronger Than Broken

For Parents of Young Kids.

I have some wonderful friends that are younger than I and they have amazing, cute, little balls of energy that they are in the thick of raising.  Although my children are grown, I remember vividly the trials and tribulations of little ones. One time my husband had gone to all of the trouble to redecorate our basement so that my job as a homeschool mom would be easier. My darling man created four desks (one was for me) with matching shelves to store all of the books, glue sticks, papers, computer programs, crayons, Science kits, and miscellaneous craft materials.

One evening he was yelling at the two younger kids for making a glitter glue mess on the new desks. I did not understand why they were getting yelled at for using the desks for their intended purpose. I understand that he went to a lot of expense and time to create such a lovely place to study, but children are messy. I often felt like taking care of small children was like weeding a garden after a rain. The weeds keep coming and coming as fast as you can pull them. With young children, the messes, the laundry, the meal preparation, the countless bedtime stories keep coming and coming and coming until you wonder if anything you do matters.

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Today I want to emphatically remind parents of young, messy, loud and active children that the glitter glue desk means they were learning how to be creative. The muddy shoes in the foyer mean that they got to play outside and were not sitting in front of the electronic babysitter (TV-computer-iPad-etc…) The story you have to read for the nineteenth time means that they are learning repetition and that is comforting to them. The laundry you have to do means that they have a clean environment to grow and learn.

 

Stick it out. Take a deep breath. They will only be young for a short period of time. If you do it right, they will grow up to be these amazing adults who are so much fun to be around. They will be your legacy. They will remind you that all of those sticky fingers, half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches, and poopy diapers were just part of the journey.

My Second Rant!

About a year ago I wrote My First Rant! about parents allowing their children to run around the playground with $600.00 phones instead of just playing, and parents that plug their kids into iPads at a restaurant instead of making eye contact with them and teaching social graces.

Well, yesterday I attended a celebration of life service for a distant relative. There was a lovely luncheon afterward, replete with pizza, pasta, fried chicken, chicken parmesan, rolls, and a salad bar to die for. My husband and I sat at a table where we knew no one. As we looked at the photos of the deceased placed on the table for us to remember her by, I saw a rather heavy set girl sit across from me. She must have been no more than 10 years old and I felt bad that she was already having such a struggle with being a healthy size.

When it was time to get in line for the buffet, I noticed that she had come back with nothing green whatsoever. She had a portion of pasta and 2 large pieces of fried chicken. I could hear myself saying, “Stacey, don’t judge. That chicken is really good!” and then “Stacey, stop looking at her. It’s her choice.” We later had an opportunity to go up for seconds, and I cannot turn down a salad if there are fun toppings to adorn it with. Indeed I feasted on nuts, seeds, mushrooms, raisins, cherry tomatoes, and shredded cheese atop of the lettuce and spinach.

Again the young lady sat across from me with her second plate of fried chicken and not a single thing to accompany it. Again, I reminded myself to make no conclusion, until I saw the mother come over and sit down too. She was so large, that I am sure she has a difficult time finding clothing to wear even in the plus size area of a typical department store. It was difficult for me at that point to feel anything but anger that this mother is teaching her child to eat in this way, instead of breaking the cycle of obesity.

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I am not trying to be self-righteous in any way. I too struggle with my weight each and every day. As an adult woman, my weight has fluctuated over 50 pounds up and down, down and up over the last 30 years. While raising my children, however, I always encouraged, forced and bribed my children to eat some vegetables until it became a habit to have a healthy variety. My favorite story is that of my son when he was about 4 years old.  He was crying because his Grandma forgot to buy the ” spare-gus” (asparagus).

We all have our demons that we fight. But when you are raising the next generation of humanity, please consider the multiple ramifications of the choices you make as well as the way you are guiding the people in your care. God bless you and go enjoy that fried chicken. But eat your salad fist!

 

Waiting it out

What a grand vacation my husband and I had last month. We had four days of primitive camping and sunny days that seemed to be made just for us. The day we left, it began to drizzle just as my husband returned from the take out of the river he had been kayaking on. He needed three or four minutes to properly strap the boat to the top of the van before heading into a three-hour drive on the freeway.

Suddenly the drizzle became a deluge. He hopped in the van and we had to wait it out before strapping the kayak down. Things got tense quickly as it was our last day of fun in the sun before returning to jobs and commitments at home. The van was a mess with wet swimsuits, 2 bicycles, a stove, a cooler, all of our clothes that reeked of the campfire,  our sleeping bags, and pillows.

When the rain stopped, my husband stepped out of the van and into a large puddle. He went to turn the kayak upside down and the water it had just taken in from the rain poured down him like a waterfall. Furious now, he mumbled a few expletives and off we went, now noticing every car in front of us that was driving too slow or doing something asinine like putting on the brakes to go up a hill.

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The beauty of the day came moments later when he calmed down and asked if I wanted to stop at the cemetery to pay respects to my Mother’s side of the family that was from that part of the state. I rarely get three hours from home so I readily took him up on the opportunity to stop and pray at the graves of my Grandparents, and one brother who was also buried there.

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The rain had stopped, just for us as we reflected on the fragility of life. Suddenly a puddle stepped in, a rain-soaked shirt or a few swear words meant nothing of consequence. The real marrow of life comes from all of the other moments that create lasting memories. Forgive the tension that arises when we have to wait out the storms of life. Know that the sun does come back and shines abundantly on those that choose to see it. #LettersToTheDeadMen

Getting Rid of Clutter

While sitting poolside with a friend one afternoon, we both lamented about how much stuff clutters our lives. It creates stress because we are always in the maintenance mode of all that we possess. Even the best neatnik most likely has a few magazines she still hopes to have time to read, or has some clothing she thinks she may still fit into.

I had a wake-up moment earlier in the year when I needed to have a clean space to finish writing my second book in a timely manner. No longer could I write two paragraphs and then be distracted by the pile on my desk. There were coupons I wanted to cut, articles I wanted to read, unopened mail, a jacket that needed a button sewn back on, some miscellaneous earrings that had no mate, a box for recycled paper and so on. My desk had become a catch-all for things yet to do.

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As I cleaned off the desk, it made the surrounding area look messy. So I attacked the futon next. I stored all of the extra blankets, put away the laundry and fluffed the pillows. But next to the futon was a plastic bin filled with who knows what! The point is that I went around and around that office space cleaning area by area. In the end, I just put a bunch of stuff back into the bin and onto my desk.

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When in doubt, throw out! When I realized that I was just shuffling stuff from one box to the next, or one zone to the other, I knew I had a problem. It was my burning desire to finish writing my book that became the catalyst for change. As I looked at expired coupons, old newspapers, earrings I would never find the match to, and more, I asked myself a simple question, “Is this getting me closer to finishing the book?” If not, I reluctantly put it in the garbage or the recycle bin.

As my room got cleaner and less cluttered, so did my mind. As the room looked more spacious, my creativity had space to grow. The best part of this story is that I finished my manuscript ahead of my schedule and am anxiously awaiting the last proof from the designer. What shall I do while I am waiting? Perhaps declutter the next room.

 

When A Spouse Steps Up

Don’t you hate doing weird or uncomfortable things? It is often difficult to step outside of our comfort zone or do a task that seems independent of our typical roles. Recently I spoke with my husband about an upcoming event where I will have to look my best for four days straight. I discussed the budget I had set aside for the event, and how I may be coming up a bit short yet wanted to get the most out of this conference.

I have been purchasing clearance rack dresses and shoes and continuing to save money by coloring my own hair (damn those grey roots). But honestly, I really wish I could justify spending money on my hands and feet. I asked if he would give me a pedicure. Every time I paint my toenails, half of the polish gets on the surrounding skin. I am at a bad angle to do a decent job.

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He was unenthusiastic and had no idea why I could not just throw some polish on my self. “Aww, come on, just try. If it looks bad, I still have a month to save up for a professional pedi” I begged. So, he stepped up and did a practice run on my toes. It actually became a fun event, and I felt like we now had another opportunity to just be together and enjoy caring for the other person.

While basking in the relaxing care of my feet being pampered, I was reminded of all of the Bible verses about washing feet and anointing with oil. John 13:14 says “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Okay, so he wasn’t washing them but more adorning them. Still, it may have been humbling for him to touch a part of my body that otherwise gets ignored. The small sacrifice did not go unnoticed. I was humbled too and began thinking of ways that I can step up too. Although he does not need his toes painted, I began thinking about some things he would appreciate; not all of them “G” rated!

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Ask yourself if there are ways you can step up in your relationship that will bless the other person. Don’t expect it to always be even-Steven. That should not be your motive in any way. Simply step it up because you can, because you know it is the right thing to do and because you want to continue to love and appreciate your partner in new and exciting ways.

 

 

Planting Seeds

When my children were young, I loved teaching them about nature as I planted my yearly garden. Although none of us particularly like the taste of hot radishes, I always made sure I grew a few rows, as they would germinate in less than two weeks if the soil was porous. This gave eager little ones a sense of wonder and they would not have to wait too long to see how the earth coaxes life from it. Remember, when you are six years old, even an hour can feel like an eternity.

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Most plants I grow take about three weeks to germinate,  but germination is only the beginning. With corn, it can take up to 100 days before you can eat the delectable, yellow ear. You want blueberries? You had better have patience. Once you plant a bush in your yard it may take three to four years before the bush produces fruit.

Are our careers and relationships like that? Do some germinate and grow with ease while others take patience and much cultivation? I certainly think so. As I walk this road of life, I added another path called “author” to my journey. The germination process was slow at first as I navigated through writing, editing, marketing, and praying that someone would be touched by my stories. Now it seems that some of the more dormant seeds are beginning to sprout, largely because of people like you who read and share my stories and occasional rants.

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Recently I became a finalist in the Author Academy Awards for the first book I wrote. Continued votes, book reviews, and prayers will be needed to get to that elusive grand prize which will be determined later in the month. I will be judged (along with the others in my category) based on a 90-second speaking spot I have in front of a crowd. Will I be the hot radish that grows quickly then burns in the sun or will I be the blueberry, taking its time to bear sweet and abundant fruit year after year?

No matter the outcome of this particular contest, I have planted the seeds of perseverance, determination, courage, and trust that I will continue to write stories meant to inspire, motivate and help others on their paths as well.

If you would like to place a vote for Stronger Than Broken – One couple’s decision to move through an affair you may go to www.authoracademyawards.com and click on the book cover in the General Fiction Category.

In November of 2018, I will release Letters to the Dead Men – Unexpected Revelations and will enter that book for the 2019 awards, in the Self Help Category. Blessings to those of you who continue to make me want to write.

Balance

Finding balance in life, relationships, finances, fitness level, and your work life is like the air we breathe. We need it! I seem perfectly happy to spend my days off at my own home reading a book, finishing a project, or weeding the garden. There is a serenity or a joy that comes from being a good steward of all that God has provided me with.

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But, my husband seeks adventure and when he had a few days off he and I planned a trip to the mountains of Pennsylvania. Until I drove up the first hill off of the freeway, I had no idea how much I needed to get away from home. The simple change of scenery was wonderful, but it stretched so much farther than seeing a couple of Appalachian Mountains.

We spent four days without much internet. We checked only minimally on the things of fast-paced life. Instead, we rode our bikes on a trail, played in natural water slides that rolled right out of the Laurel Highlands, cooked steaks on an open fire, heard live bluegrass bands, hiked up a trail to see a gorgeous waterfall, and got plenty of  Vitamin D basking on hot rocks near the cold white water of the Youghiogheny. He also did white water kayaking while I read and learned how to just be still.

Is it time for you too to find balance somewhere? If you are like me, it will be difficult at first to slow down and not have “to-do” lists racing through your mind. You may not even remember how to relax if it has been a long time for you. What I can promise you, is that when you just let go and try to clear your head of obligations, you may hear God speaking. He always gives me inspiration and a new sense of purpose when I am still.

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Psalm 62:1 “In God alone my soul finds rest; my salvation comes from Him.”

Kayaks and Sunday Service

Years ago my husband tried to get me involved in kayaking. I tried it. It hurt my lower back and I was so busy with my own obsessive sports that I saw no need to add one more thing to my agenda.

I kept trying to get my sweetheart to come to church with me and the children. It was not of interest to him. He assumed our church was like the church of his youth, where there were a lot of rituals and boring sermons that had nothing to do with his everyday life.

Enter maturity. Over the years we have entered adulthood perhaps slower than most, but as they say, better late than never. At various times in our relationship, we have studied self-help books, worked through a workbook or two, had meetings with various pastors and just finally matured.

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So much to my surprise. I love kayaking. All it took was for my husband to take some packing foam from his work and fashion it into a back support for the kayak I use when we paddle together. No more back aches for me.

 

Much to his surprise, he likes going to Sunday service at our church. All it took was for us to find a church that has biblical teaching within a community atmosphere. We chose a church that has small groups, relevant sermons and is alive in the Holy Spirit. Nothing is better than being around like-minded people who all want to grow spiritually-.

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The most exciting thing for us is when we discovered that 24 hours is a long time. Did you know that we can do both church and kayak in the same day? Not only did we learn how to appreciate something the other one used to corner the market on, but we are growing in our faith and maturity while staying in shape for each other. Health and happiness never grow out of style.

Dare You To Try This

Has anyone ever seen the Christian based movie Fireproof with Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea? This 2008 movie details the struggles and temptations that marriages can undergo. Trying to avoid divorce, which seems inevitable at the start of the movie, Kirk’s character, Caleb, embarks on a 40-day quest to see if there is any hope left for their union.

At the urging of his father, he reluctantly (at first) uses a 40-day book called The Love Dare. The acts of kindness and affection he is to do for his wife, Catherine, every day, for forty days, are done in secret. As Catherine is the one who is pushing for the divorce, she interprets these sweet gestures as nothing more than a ruse to attain more money or property in the divorce.

There are no spoiler alerts here, as I hope you will see this movie for yourself before your marriage goes to that dark place.  Check out this book and let your partner know that you would like to work through this book together. He or she may resist, as my husband did when we did the forty day dare, but once we were in the book for several days, the challenges became fun. They became something to look forward to.

There will be assignments that are fun and easy and there will be assignments that challenge you as a couple. When my husband and I did this dare, we were in an uncertain place and we were in critical need of shaking out that rug that we had been sweeping our marital issues under for many years.

At the time of this writing, we are six years out from having completed this book. It still sits on my shelf in case we may need it again or for when I just want to review our journal entries (yes there is writing involved). What a blessing it was when we took the time each day to learn and grow. As we come upon yet another wedding anniversary, I am delighted that we took the time to invest in ourselves and become stronger as a couple. #StrongerThanBroken

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I dare you to see what happens in your forty day trek, and then let me know your results. Email staceygreene47@gmail.com and many blessing to you!

 

You Zig – I’ll Zag

So often in a marriage, there is some reason or another that your man or woman exasperates you. Maybe it is too much familiarity, or perhaps you are taking your bad day at work out on your spouse without even realizing it. Whatever the reason I used to find myself getting embroiled up to my elbows in the fight. Dish it out and I’ll not only take it but shovel it right back. Throw me your angry superlatives and I will throw them at you with a vengeance.

Somehow staying angry at my husband and letting the wounds fester never seemed as much fun as making up quickly and getting on with life. That being said, we are over thirty years into the marriage and some of the same stupid disagreements still linger. It’s just our different personalities and temperments clashing (see 7/30/18 blog on Preparation).

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Solution? You Zig and I’ll Zag. You go one way and I will go the other. When we cannot handle the same strong discussion or our moods are not in alignment with true marital happiness, I will step out and run some errands, or he will go off on a bike ride. Just the physical distance of being apart for a while dissipates the anger enough that we can both come back with a new perspective. Often times we see that what we were arguing about was ridiculous, to begin with.

Have you ever had an argument about the dishes in the sink? Be thankful there was enough food in the house to dirty up those dishes. Are we out of laundry detergent again? Be thankful that you have enough other outfits to last you the week. Did you forget to bring the mail in from the box at the end of that long driveway? For goodness sake, go take a walk and get it!

Not all arguments are this trite, but honestly, most of them are. Step back and think about how angry you really are that she forgot your favorite flavor of ice cream or that you don’t understand why he still leaves the wet towels on the bathroom floor.

I can always tolerate those idiosyncrasies better when I think of the alternative; not having him around. Try understanding his or her side, and if you cannot, then revel in the fact that you have someone who puts up with your eccentricities and foibles as well.