Tag Archives: Positive Living

Those Pesky Idiosyncracies

27 May

It’s been said that married men should forget their mistakes. There’s no sense in two people remembering the same thing.

It’s also been said that marriage is a relationship where one person is always right … and the other is the husband.

Those jokes are funny, but not too kind to the menfolk!

Unfortunately, marriage is a sea of challenges that requires graceful navigation!

I was recently encouraged by a book about this complicated relationship. Elaine W. Miller wrote We All Married Idiots, a book that examines three things we will never change about our marriages, and then she offers ten things we can all work on to improve the husband-wife relationship. (1)

In one chapter, Elaine talks about learning to live with each other’s idiosyncrasies.

“Since living with idiosyncrasies is a part of marriage,” she wrote, “You might as well treasure those peculiar habits. One day you might miss them. I know I did.”

Elaine’s husband Dan was a tapper. He tapped on things. “I think in his mind the whole world is his trumpet as his fingers play a perpetual tune,” she said. “He taps the table when he eats, the steering wheel when he drives, the newspaper when he reads, the pulpit when he preaches, and my shoulders when he puts his arms around me.”

The tapping got hard to take. “If I let it,” Elaine said, “his tapping gets on my nerves. Many times I have said in an irritated voice, ‘Would you please stop tapping!’

“However,” she added, “when he was hospitalized and I was uncertain if he would live through the night, those words weren’t on my lips. I stared at his silent fingers, held his motionless hands, and pleaded, ‘Please, God, let me feel his fingers tapping.’

“Funny how our perspective on idiosyncrasies changes under different circumstances,” she said. “Many will admit the very thing that bugs them is what first enticed them to their beloved, and what they will miss the most when their loved one is gone.”

I remember reading about a woman who hated her husband’s snoring. She complained and poked him through the night. But after the man died, she told a friend she’d “give anything to hear that man snore again!”

Those pesky idiosyncrasies are simply more proof that we are all unique, and the truth is, every marriage has them. It is our attitude that makes the difference. Elaine explains that love is kind (according to 1 Corinthians 13:4). And what does that look like? “Being kind to your mate means overlooking those oddities that sometimes drive you crazy. The next time your love does the idiotic, remember this ~ you married an idiot and so did your spouse.” (2)

Elaine points out that the words “idiosyncrasy” and “idiot” both come from the same Greek root word (idio) meaning “common man.” In other words, we all do things that are a bit eccentric or peculiar from time to time.

As I thought about this, I realized how many times simple kindness and grace ~ and especially loving words ~ have acted like soothing oil in my own marriage. (Sometimes I can’t believe that my husband has put up with me this long!)

Rather than focusing on each other’s quirks, we’ve chosen to concentrate on what is good, pure, lovely, etc. (see Philippians 4:8). Some of those pesky idiosyncrasies remain, but they aren’t “issues” anymore. We’ve learned to love and accept each other and try to see each other through the eyes of the Redeemer we both love.

When I stop to think that God created me with unique idiosyncrasies ~ and He loves me ~ it encourages me to share the same kind of love with others, especially my spouse.

How about you? When you think about your spouse (or if you’re not married, a boss or a parent or someone else you have a relationship with on a regular basis), is there something that the person does that really bugs you? Could love, acceptance, patience and mega doses of grace ease your frustration?

(1) Elaine W. Miller, We All Married Idiots (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2012), p. 7.

(2) ibid, p. 7.

Elaine Miller is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and has authored two other books, Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms and Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives. http://www.splashesofserenity.com.

Got Post-Christmas Blahs?

26 Dec

There’s a funny “Day after Christmas” poem that might describe many homes in America:

‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house,
Every creature was hurting — even the mouse.
The toys were all broken, their batteries dead;
Santa passed out, with some ice on his head.

Wrapping and ribbons just covered the floor, while
Upstairs the family continued to snore.
And I in my T-shirt, new Reeboks and jeans,
Went into the kitchen and started to clean.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sink to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the curtains, and threw up the sash.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a little white truck, with an over-sized mirror.
The driver was smiling, so lively and grand;
The patch on his jacket said “U.S. POSTMAN.”

With a handful of bills, he grinned like a fox.
Then quickly he stuffed them into our mailbox.
Bill after bill, after bill, they still came.
Whistling and shouting he called them by name:

“Now Dillard’s, now Broadway’s, now Penny’s and Sears;
Here’s Levitz’ and Target’s and Mervyn’s ~ all here!!
To the tip or your limit, every store, every mall,
Now chargeaway-chargeaway-chargeaway all!”

He whooped and he whistled as he finished his work.
He filled up the box, and then turned with a jerk.
He sprang to his truck and he drove down the road,
Driving much faster with just half a load.

Then I heard him exclaim with great holiday cheer,
“Enjoy what you got … YOU’LL BE PAYING ALL YEAR!” (1)

And then there are all the “returns” after Christmas.

Brian Bill dealt with this by quoting a poem by Dave Veerman called “Many Happy Returns” ~

“‘Twas the day after Christmas, And all through the room
Strewn wrappings were crying For use of a broom

The children were scattered, The friends’ gifts exploring,
Since now most of theirs Were broken or boring.

All tummies were stuffed From the fabulous feast;
Leftovers would serve For one month at least.

And mama and papa Were countryside ranging,
Those unwanted gifts Returned or exchanging.

Yes, Christmas is past With its bustle and noise,
Sales and carols, Santas and toys.

Decorations are packed, The Yule tree’s discarded.
The holiday’s over, Just as we got started….” (2)

It’s so true … if we’re not careful … all the post-Christmas bills and returns will get us down (unless, of course, we paid for it all with cash and chose perfect gifts).

Sometimes, as hard as we try, Christmas is disappointing. It’s like the child who opened all his gifts and then declared, “Is that all there is?” Or maybe there are some relationship problems. Or maybe there is so much activity and you run on adrenaline … and then you crash.  (I know it’s only the day after Christmas… it might take a bit to catch up with you!)

Here’s how I’ve always dealt with post-Christmas blues Continue reading

Choosing Hope, Even with Cancer

3 Oct

Question: What do you call a doctor who is always on the telephone?

Answer: An ON-CALLogist.

Some funny REAL doctor’s notes:

  • Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
  • On the second day, the knee was better, and then on the third day, it disappeared.
  • The patient refused autopsy.
  • The patient has no previous history of suicides.
  • Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40-pound weight gain in the last three days.
  • She is numb from her toes down.
  • Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches. (1)

Our friend, Yvonne Ortega, is a delightful and caring woman. A professional counselor, Yvonne suddenly found herself “on the other side of the tissue box” when she receive a diagnosis of cancer. So she understands the emotions that come with chronic diseases, and God has given her compassion and a desire to help hurting people.

Yvonne chronicled her choices for hope and joy in the midst of dealing with cancer, and her inspirational readings encourage and bless not only women with cancer, but also those struggling with other chronic diseases. Her wise words also encouraged me (Dawn) in some “everyday” struggles!

Breastj Cancer AwarenessOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a fitting time to highlight Yvonne’s book, Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. The first thing one notices about her book is that it is solidly biblical. Each reading begins with a “Hope Builder” scripture; and she ends each reading with a prayer. But it is the readings themselves, full of practical counseling principles, that bring great insight, inspiration, and encouragement.

One of my favorite readings, because I am all about making wise choices, is “Decision Time.” Yvonne said she wished that angels and trumpet blasts would confirm her treatment decision ~ chemotherapy, radiation, tamoxifen, a combination of these, or an alternative approach. She said she prayed for wisdom daily (Proverbs  8:11; James 1:5), and searched the scriptures.

The Hope Builder for this reading is Psalm 16:7: “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” After doing all she could to be wise concerning her decision ~ asking others to pray for her, making lists of pros and cons, reading literature, looking on the Internet, talking with various people, and watching videos advocating both traditional and alternative methods ~ Yvonne kept looking to the Lord for her ultimate decision confirmation.

She wrote, “In my human frailty, I do not want chemotherapy, radiation, or tamoxifen. Reading a list of all the side effects of that traditional treatment frightens me … an alternative approach sounds better to me; however, I wonder if any of the methods will heal me.” (2)

Yet she knew that whatever she chose, she must walk in the will of God for her life. The doctors gave her two weeks to make a decision.

As the deadlined neared, a series of “coincidences” occurred:

  • Someone offered to take her to the hospital “for chemotherapy.”
  • One of her neighbors volunteered to spend the night with her.
  • A professional colleague told her she would bring over dinner the day “after chemotherapy.”
  • Two friends offered to flush her catheter daily (a catheter surgically inserted into a vein for putting chemotherapy into the body).

Though she continued to pray that God would allow the “cup” of what seemed like God’s will to pass from her, she told God He could have his way ~ “If He wanted me to do both chemotherapy and radiation, I would surrender my will to His.”

As peace swept over her, she fell asleep, sensing she was moving ahead in the direction God wanted her to go.

“As cancer patients, we face monumental decisions,” she wrote. “Whatever we decide, we will live or die with the consequences. I’ve learned to invite God into the process. I don’t always like His answer, but I prefer to be in His will rather than out of it.”

Key thought: “I’ve learned to invite God into the process.”

As I read Yvonne’s words, I prayed, “Lord, I say YOU are my Hope, but how many times do I invite You into the process of my choices ~ not just in the huge decisions of life like Yvonne addressed, but in the simple, everyday choices I make? Do I even care to know what You think? If I call you ‘Lord’ (Master), shouldn’t I ask you for wisdom and direction?”

Sometimes I do ask; but often I don’t. Yvonne’s closing prayer included these words, “I do not trust my own wisdom… May I be attentive to your counsel….”

That’s my prayer today. Is it yours?

Closing Note: Ladies ~ DON’T MISS YOUR MAMMOGRAMS! October is my birthday month, and a perfect time for my check-up. Pam Farrel says she gets hers in her birthday month, too, so she won’t forget. Good idea! Another writer friend, Janet Thompson, wrote a book titled Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. She has a license plate frame that says, “Mammograms Save Lives.” Janet says, “They saved mine three times now.” Again … Don’t miss your mammograms!

Yvonne Ortega

Yvonne Ortega is a ten-year cancer survivor (Yeah!), a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner, and Clinically Certified Domestic Violence Counselor. She is a positive, hope-building speaker, and author. Yvonne also hosts a program for breast cancer patients, and her wonderful website is www.yvonneortega.com.

(1) “Jokes, mostly about cancer, hospitals, or just life” ~ http://www.lawrencewray.co.uk/jokes/

(2) Yvonne Ortega, Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer: 60 Inspirational Readings, (Revell, 2010), pp. 96-97.

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