“Operation Score”

Like many events since life A.K. (after kids), intimacy with your husband now requires precision and planning on the scale of a military invasion. Fortunately, the spoils of this war are pretty great. Read on for your step by step manual for executing Operation Score at your house. We’ve even included merit badges for you overachievers out there.

Synchronize your watches
When are you and your husband at your peak energy? Weekend morning? After date night? On vacation? Use the necessary planning to build anticipation between you.
Merit badge: Plan a recurring date for every week so it becomes part of your routine. Dates might be breakfast out or a coffee together during a piano lesson. Don’t wait until a Saturday night dinner reservation with a sitter to spend time together.

Enlist help
It is common knowledge that grandmas and ipads are godsends but did you know they can be your accomplices in Operation Score? Ship the kids to Grandma’s overnight or park them in front of the ipad. It’s ok to spoil them just this once for the sake of your marriage.
Merit badge: Swap childcare on a regular basis with a friend to save money and build date nights into your life.

Gather needed supplies
What is it that helps you relax and feel feminine? Take out to help with meal prep? Freshly shaved legs? Music and candles in your bedroom? Realistically, you won’t be able to accomplish everything so prioritize which elements are most important to you and your spouse.
Merit badge: Nothing kills your libido like feeling frumpy when the opportunity presents itself. Gather a small make-up bag with mints, lipstick, hair brush and a pretty bra and panties. Store it under your bed.

The Invasion
So you’ve accomplished the impossible and the two of you actually have some couple time? Don’t forget to be present for the moment. As women, it is all too easy to be present physically but our mind is elsewhere. Take a few moments earlier in the day to jot down the nagging items on your to-do list so that you can relax and enjoy your time together.
Merit badge: Sweet talk your husband into putting a lock on your door if there isn’t one there already.
Wrap-up
Time permitting, take the time to enjoy each other a little longer. Is cuddling possible? How about sharing a dessert or coffee after your time together? Falling asleep in his arms? Make a point of lingering together, if possible.
Merit badge: Send your husband a text (triple-checked that it is indeed going to him) to tell him how much you love being his wife.

Like most MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers), right now I’ve been reading way more Dr. Seuss than Dr. Ruth. For the most part, I feel about as hot as Danny Bonaduce’s career.  Is married sex after kids destined to be a pipe dream like hobbies or flat abs?  If you answered yes, perhaps it is time to give your perspective on seduction a PG-13 tune up. 

French Women Are Superior to You

Have you noticed the book craze that promotes French women as superior to American in every single way? From their propensity not to get fat to the way their children dutifully eat everything, I’ve had about all I can take of French female exceptionalism.  Well prepare for two more strikes against the American women’s team: our undies and jammies.  I’m pretty sure that no French woman would ever be caught in the shameful granny panties and holey sweats that we wear to bed.  Or calling them undies and jammies.  Time to put a line item in the budget for one set of lingerie and one pair of pajamas that have not been around since the beginning of the Obama administration.

I’m pretty sure that this is one purchase that your husband will approve.

Embrace Your Inner Ninja

Hey, did you ever imagine in your days before kids that sex with your husband would require sneakery, planning and conniving? This means war!  You know your preferences and schedule best.  Are you a Sunday afternoon “napper”?  Or perhaps you’ve decided to “sleep in” while the kids catch up on their Saturday morning cartoons.  Could be that you are environmental Barbie and you are going to shower together to “save water”.  Are you tired of air quotes yet?  Use whatever euphemism works for you or have a good time coming up with some of your own. 

Fake it till you make it

Shame on you! Not that!  Look, during this season of life it is easy to relegate our sex life to Arbor Day and your anniversary.  Sometimes we think that if we can’t create a grand experience with candles, satin sheets and roses, why bother?  Start small and act “as if”.  Perfume, spicy texts and flirting with your husband take mere seconds but can do wonders for your feeling like an attractive woman again instead of an unattractive sack of potatoes with small humans velcroed to your legs.

Be like the wives in the Viagra commercials

I mentioned this to my husband and he did an adorable impression of these women smiling and shaking their thing for their husbands. Unlike many of us, they never act put out or more interested in their I-Phone when their husband is pursuing them.  Their facial expression and body language is sweet and inviting. 

 Sex with our husband is not work. It is fun, remember?  Like pizza, even so-so nookie is still pretty great.  Plus, unlike pizza, it is free, low-carb and will make two members of the household smile.

 Beth Duhon’s previous writing experience includes grocery lists and Craig’s List ads. She volunteers for the MOPS group at First Baptist Church of Katy, Texas, and has a three year old named Mark.

Just wanted to share a quick bit of scripture that leapt off the page at me this morning in my one year Bible reading. I think mine has turned into a three year Bible but that is a whole other story! I was reading in 1 Corinthians. It was listing some of the sins of Old Testament Israel in this order; idolatry, sexual immorality, testing the Lord and grumbling. Huh? Does it seem to you like one of these things is not like the other? If you are like me, I often feel justified grumbling. Apparently, God doesn’t see it that way.

It also listed the consequences that went with the various offenses. In one day, 23,000 of the sexual immoral died. Those who tested the Lord were killed by snakes. I figured that comparatively grumbling isn’t THAT bad and should be a slap on the wrist, right? “And do not grumble, as some of them did- and were killed by the destroying angel.” (I Cor 10:10) Gulp!

And why does he share this story? “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” (I Cor 10:11) So, today, I’m considering myself warned and walking in obedience about the sin of grumbling.

Corn Casserole (Has no connection to this whatsoever. Don’t grumble!)
1 can corn undrained
1 can creamed corn
1 cup sour cream
1 Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 stick melted butter
Combine. Bake in a greased 2 quart casserole for an hour at 375.

I have not done a lick of this gap study yet. But when has that stopped me from blogging? I have been reading Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Changes that Heal.” I was thinking today how some of his opening chapters relate to the story of Mary and Martha. Dr. Cloud begins by teaching us about the character of God which is grace and truth. He goes on to tell how some churches are all about grace but never address sin. Other churches are exclusively truth-tellers but never extend grace. Neither are giving us an accurate picture of God.

There are a few lyrics to Christmas carols that really resonate with me. One of my personal favorites is from “Joy to the World.” “He rules the world with truth and grace.” Yes!!! I can so see this in Jesus’ handling of Martha. If Christ were only here to give us grace, He might have praised her for working so hard and let her complain about her sister. If Christ’s character was only truth, He could have really set Martha straight about how little time she had left with him and how she was squandering it. How like Jesus to perfectly blend grace and truth. Tenderly, he says her name. Acknowledges how she is feeling and lets her know that He is the one thing that is needed.

So how about some “Fatten you right up rolls” to get us out of the kitchen and at Jesus’ feet faster?
1 stick butter melted
1 cup sour cream
1 cup self rising flour
Mix together. Put in greased mini muffin tins. 400 for 12 minutes.

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. Psalm 107:19 (NASB)

Nick the dog was Dad’s Christmas present. Dad, always clever with a name, named him after St. Nick. He was so soft and sweet in my lap that night at the table. I stroked his velvety black ears and his body relaxed. Nick jumped off my lap and padded into the kitchen as we lingered around my parent’s dining table over our berry cobbler and sweaty iced tea glasses.

We were interrupted by cries so loud that they sounded like a car alarm. We raced from the table into the kitchen to find Nick spurting blood and yelping. With a little investigation, one of the family cats had all she could take of this puppy getting her food and attention. She lunged toward the dog and took a bite out of his ear, a la Mike Tyson. My husband jumped into high gear stopping the bleeding with a towel and calling his step-father, a veterinarian.

Soon, we were seated in our usual arrangement back at the table. The cat was banished outside. Nick was back in my lap, this time wrapped in a towel. My husband started to sing, “Perforate the dog, come on!” to the tune of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate good times, come on!” We all relaxed and were relieved that my husband had a cool head. (We won’t go there with exactly how little help my mother and I were! Hi, Mom.)

Yelping: Crying out. Loudly. Sharply. When we’re in pain. Primal. Emotional.

Helping: Rescuing. Saving. Like from a burning building or drowning. Urgent.

My summary of Psalm 107:19 is “I yelp; God helps.”

“In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need.”* I want to stop keeping such a stiff upper lip with God. I want to be on my face instead of merely on my knees. I want to literally cry out to God instead of praying internally with measured words. I want to yelp instead of whimper.

The Group 30 girls were teasing me about how I was going to tie a sweet and sour chicken recipe into my blog post for the week.  All I can say is that this recipe calls for chicken, not dog or cat!  (Bad joke, I know.  Please don’t flame me in the comments!)

Sweet and Sour Chicken (taken from The Potluck Club, Book 1 by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson)

6 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp soy sauce
6 tbsp honey
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 and 1/2 tsp dried thyme (I omit)
1 and 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp pepper
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 cups hot cooked white rice

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients except chicken and rice in a shallow baking dish.  Pierce both sides of the chicken with a fork.  Turn several times in sauce mixture using tongs.  Bake for 30 minutes, basting several times with sauce.  Serve with the rice.  Can be lower carb by serving with steamed broccoli.

*(www.intouch.org/magazine/content/topic/how_to_cry_out_to_god_devotional)

 

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Picture if you will, Williamsburg, Virginia in the late 1990’s.  I was there for my second summer as a seasonal musician (French horn) at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  I loved that job.  I was so excited to be paid to play.  I thought the area was beautiful.  I really liked all my co-workers.  You could literally go get cotton candy during your paid breaks.  Sweet gig!

Since the employment was seasonal, many of the entertainment employees would live in the same few apartment complexes that offered short term leases to us. For the second summer in a row, I had flown out and my bicycle was my only mode of transportation.  My options were to walk, to bike or to mercilessly mooch rides from co-workers and friends. 

This was all well and good until I needed to go to the grocery store.  My bike wasn’t a great option and I hadn’t arranged a ride.  Even a college kid at least needed cereal, milk and cokes.  I was walking back to my apartment from Farm Fresh with my plastic bags of groceries digging into my arm.  I’d switch the bags back and forth from side to side as if that helped.  It was hot and my hair was plastered to my face.  Not my best look.  I was ready to be back in my apartment with my cold A/C.

A white Camry slows down next to me and the window rolls down.  The driver was a good looking trumpet player that had recently subbed into my show but I didn’t know well.  He asks me in a deep South accent, “Hey, those groceries look heavy.  Need a ride?”  I, with the plastic bags digging into my hands, the red face and sweat plastered hair force a smile.  “No, I’m fine.  Thanks, though.  I do this all the time.”

I get closer to the apartment complex.  He stops to offer help again.  He does not look hot and agitated like me.  His car looks comfortable and cool.  Did I mention he was good looking and well mannered?  It is getting a little harder to sell the idea that I am fine but I refuse his help twice and struggle up to my apartment on the third floor with my groceries.

I want to yell at my 21 year old self to get in that car!  Especially since the driver is now my husband and he still ribs me about my grocery trip.  However, I’m no less stubborn when it comes to receving God’s love and help. 

God has given me His word full of beautiful promises and I seek comfort in food.  I can talk to the God of the universe at any time about my stresses yet I hope that zoning out in front of the TV will help.  The plastic bags of my burdens dig into my soul and still I refuse to “cast my cares upon Him.”  The Great I Am invites me to spend time in His presence and I try to squeeze in one more chore instead.

I spent time in the word one evening this week with the stress busting scriptures.  It was really a joy to dig into the Bible like that.  I’m very grateful for that assignment.  It was so much more rejuvenating than the usual stress relievers that everyone recommends like a cup of tea or pedicure (not that there is anything wrong with that!).  It brought to mind a hymn from childhood.

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

P.S. There is a recipe that I didn’t know about until I met my husband.  If you are Southern, it won’t be a revelation but it was new to me.  Speaking of college friendly recipes, cheesetoast!  Put a slice of your favorite cheese or grated cheese on a piece of bread.  Grind some pepper on top if you want.  Broil until bubbly.  Watch it because it goes from delicious to burnt in about two seconds.  Great for breakfast or any time.

 

 

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1

I’m a brat. Or a toddler. I can’t decide which. Very possibly I’m a bratty toddler. When we get down to it, there are only a few reasons for my sin. Either I’m rebellious (bratty) or spiritually immature (toddler). Usually both. And what do bratty toddlers need? Discipline.

The origin of the word discipline is from the Latin for teaching and learning. The Pig Latin for discipline is -isciplineday. (You’re welcome.) While discipline might have negative associations for us, the heart of it is teaching. God is teaching us His ways.

“Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit shapes us into more holy and Christlike people. It’s a natural part of a Christian’s growth in spiritual maturity.” (Bible Gateway) In layman’s terms, God is making us less like bratty toddlers and more like Him. Let’s look at some sample scripts from the last few studies. (I’m omitting Greater because I didn’t study it.) Because I’m such a giver, I’ll play the part of Bratty Toddler.

Bratty Toddler: (throwing a fit or pouting)
God: You’re going to learn to speak the truth in love.

Bratty Toddler: But I want MY WAY! NOW!
God: Your times are in my hands.

Bratty Toddler: But I don’t like vegetables! Exercise is boring! I wanna eat a brownie!
God: I will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

Now for any bratty toddlers like me who need a late night snack but want to be obedient, I like a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk over ice with one splenda and a dash of nutmeg. Low carb and if you close your eyes you can almost imagine it is eggnog.