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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

Unabandoned

She ignored the words of others,

Accepting abandoned lots, abandoned lives.

She saw beyond what others saw, what most could see.

She tended, pruned, cared for, and loved with all that she had, with her own two hands.

She took something wild, and weedy, and full of thorns.

She gently, and slowly transformed them.

With a master gardener’s sight, she watched and waited.

She patiently oversaw tiny growth that others missed.

And now what once was fallow, no longer is.

Both gardens and lives, quite plain to see.

Vibrantly blooming beyond all promise, all we believed.

A sweet fragrance of love from her own two hands.

Now and forever Unabandoned they stand.

 

by Vicki L. Pugliese

 

 

You Take You With You

She cast her eyes down and attempted to dissolve into the woodwork, removing herself from the line that had been moving her steadily toward the ticketing window. Only the man behind her, even briefly looked up as she wandered away counting her cash. She had been so sure this was the answer to the downward spiral her life had recently taken. She just wanted to run away, start over. She could picture so vividly her beloved grandfather’s porch and the rocking chairs facing the quiet small town road. Hardwood chairs with small tables beside them for your tea, with barely any room to pass. No frills, just peace and quiet and no judgment. A twinge hit her heart as she realized that her grandfather would no longer occupy the other chair. His passing was actually one of the catalysts to the events in her spiral. It hit her hard. She hadn’t been prepared.

Now her strong desire to run to that quiet place and start over gave her pause. Not that her grandmother would turn her away, but she could hear her grandfather’s voice. “You know, no matter how far you run, you take you with you.”

He had been such a wise man. He knew her so well. He gave her time to think, but nudged her in the right direction when it was time to go. Could she really start over? She had had just a little more than enough. She would indeed still take herself with her. She’d made such a mess of things since his passing. All of her relationships were strained. Now she had lost another dead end job. She just needed a break. Life didn’t like to give us that did it.

She could just sit and watch the neighbors go by with a cup of tea, but it wouldn’t be the same. The fog she had been in, that numbness might be worse near his things. Maybe that was being extravagant with her money. Tears started to roll down her cheeks. Somehow she had wandered upon a bench and she sat down, facing the busy street. The buses pulled out in front of her as she struggled with what to do.

A homeless man that was sitting facing her smiled. She thought how she should just get up and hike to her parents’ home. It would be a long trek and not a pleasant welcome. Sure they would lecture, but they would get her on her feet. She realized the little more than bus fare in her hands and some grace was all the difference between her and the man in rags before her.

Silently she cried out in her heart, “God help me! Please just tell me what to do!”

Almost immediately the homeless man spoke to her through a toothless smile, “God goes with you too.” He said. “Wherever you run. God’s still there.”

Tears streamed now as she looked at him with soft eyes and a quivering lip. She peeled the extra ten off of the exact bus fare to her grandmother’s handing it to him as she left to get back in line.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

 

Story and characters are fiction any resemblance is purely coincidental.

Amidst Wedding Preparation, a Sacred Moment

The day is just around the corner for my son.  A save the date card arrived in the mail nearly a year ago.  Can that be possible?  I was going to lose 10 pounds, just 15 more to go.  We started off with Pinterest pins and ideas.  We live so far away.  Mostly we started worrying about that airfare.  Then a location for the ceremony was found and invitations sent.  Suddenly there were plans being made.  So many plans, connecting so many people, as bridesmaids and groomsmen were selected.

Next came the attire and the look and feel of the wedding.  Our daughter in law to be is quite the planner, but gracious and thoughtful, not pushy.  Lives roared forward disrespecting the importance of this time.  We turned around and it was time to buy those tickets, rent those tuxes, and buy the dresses and shoes.  We were making plans to meet up with family and work out schedules in our tiny trip East.  The stress was mounting as the pressure to accommodate as much as possible stacked up.  It was really starting to affect me.

Yet here I am in a quiet moment where the sacred breaks back through. Remembering my son when he was still so tiny.  He was a leg hugger.  He’s six foot five now.  I look up to him instead.   Back then he had this sweet innocent smile and big blue eyes.  I would tossel his unruly hair and he would hug me with his whole body.  My little leg ornament, leg warmer.  I would pray for this upcoming moment.  I would pray for my daughter in law to be.  I have for all of my children and now my grandchildren.  It started shortly after this son was born, my second oldest.

It seemed so natural back then.  This sweet little soul that God would mold.  Please guide me as a parent.  I should have prayed that part a lot more.  Help me to love the man he will become and not some idea of what I think he should be.  Be with him and his future spouse.  Guard their souls.  Gently guide them together.  Help them to love life, to be loyal and faithful to each other, keeping you first God.  Help them to love to laugh.  I may have prayed this part too much with this child.  Help them to work hard, and have integrity, and to be content with what they have.  Help them to be gentle and kind, and love each other, not only as spouses but as best friends.  Mostly help them to allow grace to cover the rest.

Over thirty years I’ve prayed a prayer similar to that.  Since before she was even born.  I asked God for just the right spouses for all of my children.  In a couple of weeks, I’ll be two for two.  God is good.

Yet he’s still my little boy, even if I look up at him now… way up at him.  He’s becoming that man God wants him to be.  I’m so very proud of him.  He makes me laugh.  He’s so much of those things I prayed for all of those years.  There might be a little room for grace but as we approach the wedding day, the sacred breaks through.

He’s just my perfect little boy with bright blue eyes and unruly hair… and that smile that melts my heart.  My little leg warmer.  He became a man somewhere along the road, just not in my heart.

The day is coming.  Our family gladly welcoming this precious girl we’ve waited for,  for so long. When your vows are said and day is done, may God’s blessing be my gift to you each and every day.

 

With all my love,

Mom

 

Grampa, Her World

“You’re not Papa!” she exclaimed, melting down into a heap on the floor. A not quite two year old’s favorite person in the world is no joking matter.  I’m not chopped liver but today she had been waiting for him to arrive home for what seemed like a very long time, and everyone that walked through that door except Grampa was getting the same treatment.

“Sorry.”, her mom said with a half a smile, as she retrieved the tiny distraught body from the ground, heading back out to the kitchen. “It’s been a hard day.”

Even her own father had gotten the “Not the Papa” treatment today. We were all used to it actually.

There was a special bond between them. We had encouraged my son and his family to move back to California after my own Dad had passed away.  Perhaps we all could have done things in a better, more planned way.  My guess is that they would still be “planning” on moving out “someday” if we had.  Our grandchildren were growing up too fast and there was too much country between us.  Life was too short and precious.  This little girl, not quite two years old now, had only been two months old when they arrived.  She was so tiny and fragile then.  She is full of life and her own opinions now!

They had packed up all they had left after garage sales and Craig’s List ads and packed anything that would fit in and around their three children and two large dogs into just two cars. They made that enormous trek across the country in just four days.  After all, they had cooped up two large dogs, and three kids, one of which was an infant.  We anxiously waited on the other end of the country, for them to arrive.  Dani had been so very little and cuddly.  Our older grandchildren had spent years apart from us. We had some catching up to do.

That was a year and a half ago. A bad economy and horrible renters market in our area, coupled with their difficult requirements of such a large family and two large dogs had been grossly underestimated by all of us.  We had underestimated the extent of the bad economy in this area and how long it would take to find work, although he found work almost immediately.  We underestimated how hard it would be to find an apartment or home to rent in their budget that would take such a large family and dogs.  Time passed.

Over the months this little bond had grown. Grampa didn’t go against Mom’s and Dad’s wishes, per se.  Grampa was good at misdirection and offering different choices that sound much less like a “no” than what other people offer her.  She much prefers his methods to my method of, “Your mom said, No”.   I really don’t mind.  I don’t mince words and for that, I’m not her favorite.  It’s ok, I love seeing their bond.

When Grampa walks through that door, her face lights up like a noonday sunshine, warm and bright.   Her arms fly straight up in to the air, and as fast as her little feet can take her she runs to the door.  He obliges immediately by picking her up before he has even put his things down.  He listens to her not quite two year old babble about who knows what.  He and her mom catch several words here and there. Smiles fill the room.  She has the ability to brighten everyone’s day. She is captivating already.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch. We love all of our four grandchildren.  They all have their personality niche and their close relationships.  The older two are very close to their maternal grandmother.  But this not quite two year old has a new baby brother now, and I could be in the running to be his favorite person, only time will tell.  I may get bumped down a rung or two on “the favorite person in the world” ladder when he  realizes I back Mom up, but that’s how I roll.  This bond between our not quite two year old and Grampa, though, is beyond heartwarming.  It’s why they moved west.  It’s why we all work to get along with so many people and pets in one house.  Family matters.  Family matters to all of us. It is the best part of all that life has to offer.

These relationships and memories will remain long after Grampa and I are gone. This one little almost two year old will remember Papa, her favorite person in the whole world and this special time in her life.  It will shape who she becomes because she was loved so much, because someone always dropped everything just for her.  We may not be the best grandparents, but to a nearly two year old, Papa is the world.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

People, The new Big Business exhaust

Big Business exhaust, in terms of people, appears to be on a dramatic rise, in my opinion. That thing that factories use to do; taking the finest resources, changing them, stripping from them whatever the factory determined was valuable, and then spewing out the waste.  That is what Big Business is doing to its “Human Resources” today.  The problem is, once they have over used or devalued a human being, broken down a person’s spirit until this particular business or team no longer finds this specific person useful, they then label this person as useless or defective.  This is often so far from the truth it doesn’t even resemble the truth.  It’s just that team’s or company’s pride and puffery.

Layoffs have occurred for years and people, even good people would get cut. Teams would get eliminated and excellent workers would find themselves pounding the pavement looking for employment.  They would find work, occasionally they would end up in a job that was a better match because they had not been as good a fit in their previous job.  Perhaps they had been reluctant to leave and look elsewhere before the layoff.  Looking for new employment can be a scary endeavor.  Some people find even looking for new employment disloyal.  This is a good quality in an employee!

Turn the clock to current times, post housing bubble, post flooding the market with work immigration visas, post world wide web infrastructure, outsourcing and off shoring, and the job market is very small. Suddenly a reality that actually always was true is now right up in your face. We are all replaceable, like removing a branch that was sticking straight up out of a pond.  The water fills back in immediately, instantly, as if the branch never existed.  There may be ripples but overall there will be no difference.  We should not think too highly of ourselves, because we are like that branch, all of us!  It may take hiring someone new, or even two new people.  Perhaps someone who never would have stepped up while a rock star employee existed will finally find the courage to make their move.  Make no mistake, you are not different.  Your skills are not unique.  Someone out there will learn them.  It may be painful for a season but like a ripple, you will be gone.  Pride has sharp edges.  Big Business is an organism and it will move on without you.

At one point in my life Big Business invested in their people. They ensured they were trained and built good teams.  They had teams of professionals, “human resources managers” to work through problems.  These individuals were not primarily used to hire and fire people as they are in many businesses today.  Once you were hired, if you ended up a square peg, they worked to find a square hole for you.  They didn’t want human exhaust. They invested in people and their well being.  This has not completely gone away.  In some cases unions have preserved this.  In some cases smaller businesses work themselves to preserve this way of life.  But by in large, the tides have changed.

In today’s society if you aren’t a good fit, not only will we kick you to the curb, but we will label you as a bad fit causing it to be more difficult for you to find employment next time.  Never for a second thinking possibly, you might be a great match for a different business or another team.  Never for a second do we stop and think that our team might be unique in some manner, or have unique methods or processes, or even be difficult to get along with.

This human exhaust process is creating a workplace PTSD nightmare. Employees who at one point were excellent workers, who ended up in a job that didn’t match their best skills, or on a team with a person who lacked good leadership skills are being crushed by Big Business in droves.  Employees, who took a chance on a team or a project that was later cut, are being caught in this exhaust system as well.  They took a risk and then found themselves in a job that wasn’t a match.  Some of them go on to find a safe workplace environment and bounce back.  Then there are others who hit a second or third mismatch and their workplace PTSD spirals out of control.  The market is tighter now.  The search is harder.  Now they have multiple mismatches to either hide on their resume or explain in an interview.  The process gets harder and harder.  They could have years of successful service to a single employer previously but that won’t matter in the interview.  The recent bouncing around will look suspicious.  No one will take the time to bring the resource back to health.  It’s just business to Big Business.  It’s just a simple Big Business by product at this point.  A person is now a by product!

Who picks up that tab? We do!  The American people!  Health care costs, welfare and services costs, or worse yet, if they get desperate enough, crime costs!  It all stems from a lack of concern.  It all stems from an attitude that it can’t happen to me!  But it could happen to you!  The wrong boss and the right situation and we are all replaceable.  You say you are stronger than that, but for how long?  How many rejections that lack merit will it take?  What if there was no merit to why you were laid off in the first place?  Perhaps your boss had a best friend that wanted your job, so your boss piled the work onto your plate.  You complain but your boss manages to keep your workload too high and then sites that your quality is slipping.  Layoffs roll around and your record shows that your quality is slipping and out you go.  Like a stick in the water, we are all replaceable.  Months later your boss is out on her can too.  We are all replaceable.  Pride has sharp edges.

The issue is, do you care that Big Business is creating human exhaust? That Big Business sometimes promotes people who lack leadership skills.  Bosses who believe that people are resources to be managed and not persons to be lead.  They are demoralizing and crushing good workers in droves.  Do you care that these workers who were contributing members of society are now crumbling?  They are becoming a drain instead?  Do you care?  Or are you just going to watch it happen to your next coworker, leader, subordinate?  Could an investment into the resources that are the most precious in this country have made a difference?  Perhaps a different team or a different job or some assistance working through a conflict would set this employee back to their previous rock star status.  Wouldn’t that be worth the effort?  Is it really that easy to give up?  Maybe they just needed to be appreciated.

That Big Business resource exhaust group with workplace PTSD are growing in numbers. What is scarier is they are growing in dependence on our countries services.  They are getting angrier and Big Business has made them unstable!  We need to care.  We need to invest in the only resource that ever mattered, the human resource.  Selfishness and narcissism will ruin our country as it has all other great nations of the past.  Big Business has broken free from country boundaries, in case that missed your notice.  It’s eating up people for lunch!  When it does that in your country, then your country pays to pick up the pieces.

It’s time to start seeing Big Business for what it is. It’s time to care about the kind of exhaust it puts out.  We reined in factories in the last century.  We can rein in Big Business in this one.  We just have to care.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Stand and Face the Garden

Don’t rush me to the empty tomb! Don’t skip too quickly from His triumphant entry into the City to His glorious resurrection. I understand the significance. I understand how amazing both are. I am in awe of Palm Sunday. The beauty and celebration of our King entering Jerusalem. It is without a doubt an amazing story, from the donkey being exactly where it was supposed to be (Matthew 21:2) to the celebration of the crowd that would turn on Him in just a precious few days (Matthew 27:22). What disturbs me is when people jump from Happy Palm Sunday to Happy Easter. Wait a minute. You skipped a beat.

Where did my Garden go? I need my time in the Garden! Where did Good Friday go? Where is my dark weekend? I actually need that time.
Our church has a Maundy Thursday service. It is my second favorite service next to the candlelight Christmas Eve service. I even prefer it over Easter. I find I need a Maundy Thursday service to keep my year in balance. It’s a dark service which ends quietly and reverently. It leaves you in that evening place, with Christ facing the weekend to come. It has one rule… all of the music is in a minor key. I didn’t realize it had this rule until someone played a happy song. Apparently I am pretty fastidious about that rule. Don’t rush me to the empty tomb, let me linger in the darkness of the evening.

I don’t like to be rushed through the weekend without sufficient time in the Garden. I have to face the reality of my own selfishness, my own failures. Like Peter, I am sure that even if my Master begged me, I would have failed Him. (Matthew 26:36-45) I would have failed to see the magnitude of the moment until after it passed.

Without proper time in the Garden I think too highly of myself. I afford myself grace too easily or, the most egregious of all, I would allow myself mercy as if bearing the Cross was easy. I will sanitize the weekend if we skip from Palm Sunday to Easter without a second thought; happy to happy. I need time to remember the amazing and scandalous gift that was given to me. I need time to add weight to all of it, including my culpability in the matter… again. I need time for it to break my heart. There will be another year of sin that Christ has paid for, much to my dismay. There is another year to lay at his feet in sorrow.

Now I will be the first one to fall for Satan’s tricks and try and pick up the prior year’s sin. I know I should not touch that. Christ remembers it no more (Hebrews 8:12). He removes our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12). That sin is paid for, dwelling on it, adding shame and guilt serves no one but the enemy. Now if the Holy Spirit is asking me to repent of an ongoing sin or I need to ask someone for forgiveness, that is different, but shame and guilt are tools of the enemy. He is just trying to weaken the most amazing gift that has ever been given. If he can add a little guilt, perhaps it will tarnish that gift a little. I sometimes have to work hard to not allow Satan to diminish all that has been done for me. This weekend is about facing new sins. Hopefully not sins which are chronic ones.

I need time in the Garden to right my heart. I need to face the dark and scary side of the Garden to see that it is also filled with love. I need to face that horrifying and brutal Cross to see that it carries mercy and grace. I need to look into that final resting place and face death to see that Christ had the last Word and it was love. I have to see His isolation, betrayal and how He bore my sins. I have to stand and face the weekend, the Cross, the Tomb, and all that it has to offer. I have to un-sanitize the horror so I can fully appreciate the beauty.

Then, and only then, I am ready to celebrate on Easter. Then and only then am I ready to say…

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Don’t Judge My Snapshots

“You’re so pulled together! I need to be more like that.”  This young girl said to me at a Weight Watchers meeting after I had just destroyed my week.  I had completely gone rogue to the point of having cookies for dinner.  In that exact moment, I was executing a plan for my upcoming anniversary.  It’s a great plan actually.  It’s thoughtful and seems wise to this young unmarried girl.  She longs for married life even though she is in a long term relationship that is probably headed in that direction.  The uncertainty is ruining it for her, as is her biological clock.

In that exact moment, I seemed like someone to follow.  She planned on stealing my idea.  I encouraged her to do so.  The irony of the previous week was just too much for me.  I told her how my week started off badly, and then plummeted into terrible.  She didn’t care.  She was looking at the snapshot of the moment, the cover and she was impressed.

I had been at a work conference where I had no control over what food I was being served.  I could bring some snacks with me, and did after the first day. I found myself irritable for reasons I could not explain.  I was more irritable than my normal lovable self.  Then the second day, in the first session, I walked into a room I recognized, sadly.  I found myself in the room where two years previously I had received the call that it was “time to come home”.  My father was ill and was going to pass away.  Just a couple of weeks later, in a hospital room, while other family members and I were at his side, he left this world to be with our Savior.

While I know he is no longer in pain and, for the most part, I grieved conventionally.  I still miss him terribly from time to time.  This moment at the conference, as the memories flooded back, I realized why I did not want to be in this building at all and certainly not in this room.  My emotions overwhelmed me.  I handled my emotions fairly well that day, during the day.  I went directly to a Weight Watchers to pick up snacks for the next day on my way home. Then I went to a Starbucks and my week took a wrong turn.  I brought several Weight Watcher choices for snacks for the next day to keep away from all of the bad choices that the conference provided.  Instead of picking from the choices I brought, I ate them all.  The third day I brought less snacks, learning my lesson.  I had an event that evening and had very little time for dinner.  I had cookies for dinner.  Nothing else in the grocery store looked good.  I had given up by now.  I was experiencing a melting down. We went out to dinner on Thursday, I ate somewhat lightly, but had dessert.  By weigh in, if I had not already paid for three months, I might have high tailed it and not showed up to face the music at all.  The wonderful check in lady hugged me.  I had only gained half a pound.  I COULD actually come back from that.  I can pick myself up, dust myself off and shake off that week.

Here comes this sweet young girl watching me in this moment.  She didn’t see the video of my complete mess of a week.  She readily forgives me for my half a pound.  “You’ll do better this week.”  She’s really super sweet.  I love this kid.

I’m thinking to myself, how many times have I seen a friend or coworker or even a stranger in a moment and longed to be them?  How many times have I watched a couple that seem to have it all together and wished our relationship could be like that?  How many woman have I gotten just a glimpse of them all put together in the best moments and wished I was more like them?  How many Facebook posts have I seen and thought… I need to do that or be like that or start doing that?  I fall for all of those things immortalizing a moment.  I fall for all of those things showing the cover of a story but not the whole story.  I’m just falling for the marketing.  I know my whole story.  I know all of my ups, and all of my deep dark downs.  I’m very familiar with them.  Actually I quickly forget my successes.

I once read that being proud of yourself was like being proud of an organ functioning.  That resonated with me.  Let me explain.  I was born in this country to a decent family that valued education, a relationship with the Lord, family ties and a hard work ethic.  All of those things added to who I am.  I can’t take credit for them.  I can’t look at myself compared to you, not knowing your journey, and assume that those things didn’t impact that journey.  I would be looking at the cover, not the whole story.  I can’t even look at my siblings and make that assumption because I don’t know all of the things that have happened in their lives.  I wouldn’t be excited that my pancreas is functioning.  It just does.  Yay pancreas!!!  I assume it will function.  I would not be happy if it didn’t, that’s for sure.  I’m sure that would be a problem.  I can’t take credit that it does.  I can’t take credit that I’m hard working, have a value on my education and family ties and love the Lord.  Those are parts of my story that just were.  I can’t be proud of that.  I am not superior to someone who did not get that leg up in life.  I am not more worthy or less worthy.  I am just who I am.

I am enough, just as I am.  I don’t need to make more money or dress better or have better friends.  I might possibly need to be more responsible with my resources but that’s another blog.  I am enough just as I am.  Stop looking at my moments, my snapshots, and think you know anything about me.  I am going to try to do the same when I see your moments.  I’m going to try to remember at least once that someone thought I was all put together and had my act figured out, when the truth is I still don’t have a solid game plan.  I’m not even sure I know what game we’re playing.

I do know if you sit on the sidelines that they aren’t sidelines and life will come along and knock you on your butt.  I have figured some things out.  I am enough, not on my own but because I know the owner, the big guy, the man upstairs.  He took my broken pieces and made a masterpiece.  Yay pancreas!  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you mom and dad for introducing me to Him!  I am enough because I found Him.  No matter what my snapshots look like, my book ends with my name written in His Book.  He knows my name.  Therefore I am a winner. I am enough.  John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believed in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

A Vow of Respect

I vowed to “Respect” in my wedding vows.  My husband vowed to “Cherish”.  We went with those traditional vows.  We actually fought to keep them more traditional.  That was nearly 27 years ago. Perhaps God saw the people we would become and tried to assist us by making us promise!  Back then it didn’t seem like any big deal to either of us.  It was just who we were.  It also was important.  Not as important as it would become, as we became more strong willed or stubborn, if you will, after nearly 27 years.

People in general, tend to try and show our love and affection for each other in our own love language.  The five love languages being Affection, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation.  That last one is not the same for men as it is for women, so it is misleading.  Then my husband and I went and put that last one in our vows and promised to do so!  Both my husband and I have different love languages.  I know, that’s shocking, right!  He likes quality time.  I like acts of service.  Those can be directly opposing.  It’s hard to do something for someone if you are just sitting there spending time with them.  My little A.D.D. brain feels like I am monopolizing the quality time, which I probably am.  Then I want to show him that I love him by running off and doing something for him; MY love language.  Then I get hurt when he doesn’t reciprocate.  He got hurt because I left while we were having quality time.  You see how this works.

God tried to help.  Both of us have a second love language of Words of Affirmation.  Here is where there’s a wrench in the system.  No one told me that the expression of love that men need is different from that expression needed by women.  I’m a slow learner.  How you show Words of Affirmation to a man is different from how you show Words of Affirmation to a woman.  For years my husband would complain that I didn’t respect him.  I didn’t understand.  There it was in our vows all along.  God tried to help me.  I just wasn’t paying attention.  Neither was my husband because that whole cherish thing had been borderline at times too.  Not paying attention, that’s normal for me, but a little surprising for my husband.  He usually misses nothing!

Here is my new truth.  I wish I had learned this years ago.  Men need words of affirmation that include respect.  Ephesians 5:33 says “let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Telling a man that you love him, cherish him or adore him is like the wind.  He doesn’t hear it.  He thinks, “Of course you do we are married!”  What he needs to hear is words of respect.  Those words he craves and his soul needs for growth and strength.  Instead tell your husband, “I’m proud of you.” “I admire that.” “I respect that.” “Thank you.” Also you should throw in those occasional “You’re hot” (especially after all these years, he needs to know he’s still hot) and “What a stud muffin you are.”  Those are the language that men, my husband included, craves.  He wants me to see his accomplishments and to be proud and grateful for all his efforts.

I said I would in our vows 27 years ago.  He needs that to be his full self as God created him to be.

Here is the rub, to support him fully, I need him to cherish me like I am fine china, beautiful but fragile.  It’s hard sometimes to be respectful and admiring when I have been treated like paper plates or everyday wear that’s chipped and stained.  When he starts noticing my appearance and not my heart or who I am inside then I get chipped a little more, because I am fragile.  I am just like fine china, I chip and crack easily.  Those chips and cracks do not repair well, it may take years to heal.

But when he does treat me like fine china and care for me, then it is easy to respect and natural to reciprocate.  What a terrible Catch-22.  When we are careful to go back to our vows, others outside of our marriage always notice how well we are getting along.  It only took me 25 years or so to figure it out!  I’m a slow learner.  I can still be stubborn.  If you haven’t been told the secret, I hope I saved you 25 years!

Guys if you want her to care about her appearance, cherish her.  Cherish the person she is inside.  Love her with all that you have like she is fine china, fragile and precious.  She will respond and before you know it, you really won’t care about the outside, but maybe she will.  1 Peter 3:3 says “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by submitting to their own husbands.”

Girls respect him, even if sometimes he doesn’t earn it.  God told you to do so.  He will become the leader of your home that you are looking for.  Even if that isn’t his love language, he still needs those words of affirmation as well.  His soul needs it.

It’s just a truth, like women all need to be cherished.  Marriage makes us stronger, better when done the way God intended.  That’s why we say vows before Him.  That’s why we ask Him for his blessing on our union.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

 

Media by @agphotographysd

 

A Unique Playground

My kids are the best.  They are individually awesome. Yet collectively they are the cats meow. You may have great kids too.  You may even think your kids are the best that’s just because you haven’t met mine!  My kids are all smart, like wicked smart in different ways.   They can be really philanthropic and kind too.  They are hard workers and yet have balance to their lives.  They are all fiercely loyal, faithful and have strong family ties.
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Oops. Fell off my brag box.

What I love most about my kids is we have our own playground.  If you have been invited in, you know that we are good at the games here.  It’s a playground of wit, humor and sarcasm.  Well, my kids are darn good at it.  They will send out a test fire to see if you want to play in their playground.  If you do not have the skill set for whatever reason; you weren’t born with a sense of humor, you are too naive or you will get hurt in their playground, then they will leave you alone.  That last one is kind of “iffy”, depending on your persistence.  If you don’t have the skills, they will leave you alone, as a cat walks away from a dead mouse.  Your hold no interest to them,  that’s not fun to play with.

I’ve been told my kids are “mean” and I take exception to that word.  Webster defines “mean” as “unkind, spiteful or unfair”.  My kids are smart.  Don’t go into their playground unarmed and without an armor of thick skin.  They are just showing you “love”.  They don’t play unfairly.  They are not spiteful.  I’m sure that the first word is where I have to defend, but I don’t think they are unkind, not deliberately.   There are rules on the playground.  I would say that those rules keep them away from being unkind.  We assisted in building this playground and put the rules in place.  It can be fun to play in.  Actually I am their favorite target.  I don’t mind.  Usually.  I do have a good sense of humor.  You have to be really good at wit and sarcasm to play in their playground, especially if there is more than one of them.  I’m not very good.  They think randomly.  They are uniquely designed to play well with each other in that playground.  They expanded on the original design.  I think possibly into a different dimension.  Ok, it’s possible if you get the oldest two together there may be cheating.  Your sides will hurt from laughing if you get three or more together.  The boys are more unruly, but let’s face it, it’s a family trait.  It’s good to be family at that point.

Although everyone will be laughing in no time, family or not.  That is their favorite goal in the playground.  Never to pick on anyone.  They aren’t spiteful or unfair.  Their goal is to have the entire group having as much fun on their playground as they are.  Somehow they always do it.  People adore my kids.  If they didn’t manage to play nice on that playground, in the end no one would like them at all.  No one would come to play on the playground a second time!  And what fun would that be?  People adore my kids.  They make life long friends of all ages.  They are really great kids and you will laugh until your sides hurt.
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Oops. Fell off my brag box again!

It’s an excellent playground.  Unconventional for sure.  We enjoy it nonetheless.  Some of us are “better” or have logged more hours on the playground than others.  Some of the kids move the walls occasionally and I have to reconfigure them to be careful of that “mean” line.  You will know if my kids love you (and you have a sense of humor) because you will walk away smiling!

My kids really are the best.  I know yours are probably awesome, they should come to play with mine.  We will all leave laughing as we collectively fall off our brag boxes.  I need to be more careful!  I’m going to break an ankle.

 

by Vicki L Pugliese

 

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