Like iced tea and peanut butter sandwiches

Ok, in all honesty- the title is to just get your attention. Although, if you’ve never had a cold glass of tea with your PB and J, you are SERIOUSLY missing something significant in your life. Just saying…

But for the real stuff.

Maybe it’s just me, but I get super duper obsessed with things that DO. NOT. MATTER.

Anyone with me here?

I even lose sleep worrying about the time I waste worrying.

Image result for quote about worrying

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve got a wee bit of anxiety. And by wee bit, of course, I mean it’s stupid and debilitating at times. I see a doctor, I take my prescriptions, I talk with a therapist, and I still lie awake at night- anxious.

Also, anyone who know me knows that I am a woman of faith. Jesus is priority one for myself and my family.  But trust and faith in Christ coupled with severe anxiety don’t really go together (definitely not iced tea + peanut butter sandwiches).

In 1 John 4:18 it says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Ouch.

John 14:1 says,  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (You trust God, don’t you, Amanda?)

Of course I do.

So then why? There are plenty of things I can blame it on. The first being that’s it’s biological. I’m not choosing to be anxious. It’s how I’m made. And that may be true, but is God not the one who made me?

My God allowed me to develop a nervous nature. It’s part of who I am. Fearfully (not fearful) and wonderfully made. The energy that keeps me up at night also powers me to get stuff done. I like that about myself. My God gave that to me.

So how can I make iced tea and peanut butter sandwiches out of all this?

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”  There it is.

NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

  • No person
  • No thing
  • No tragedy
  • No sin (for real)

Nothing.

Is that not mind-blowing?

Jesus adores this worrisome old mess. And like- a lot. He is perfect. I am not. I wasn’t made to be. So, yes, I’m a nervous Nelly. Yes, I will work on that- probably for the rest of my life. No, I’m nowhere near perfect. Christ loves me regardless. Nothing can separate me (or you) from His love. It turns out that we have the iced tea and peanut butter sandwich combo after all. The “and” is  Jesus. He bridges all gaps.

He makes things just “go”.

Image result for god fill the gap

My name is Amanda Ann Warren. I have anxiety. I mess up sometimes. I can be selfish and unreasonable. I’ve been known to lose perspective. BUT, I love Jesus. And He loves me right back, scars and all.

 

 

 

 

Keepin’ it fresh.

It’s no secret that my hubs and I dig each other. Sometimes we can be annoying. Sometimes we’re inspiring. 

Robert and I have been married almost 18 years. We have been together almost 20.  And our tendency to be “handsy” with one another, our playful banter, and general flirting with one another in public prompts us to get asked all the time, ” How do you keep the romance alive?”.

And the answer is simple: you choose to make it that way.

Too many times we get overwhelmed by life- kids, mortgages, little league games, deadlines at work, and so on.  In the hustle and bustle of the everyday, romance isn’t high on the priority list. 

And that’s a dangerous games to play. 

So how do we get it back if the fire has gone out?

When romance has fallen out of your marriage, you have to go back to the basics. The stuff that was natural when you were still dating: hand holding, kissing, TALKING to each other without interruption. I know it sounds easy, but when you’ve been married 5, 10, 20 years- it can be a little awkward to pick up doing some of this stuff when you haven’t been doing it all along.

Our marriage is by no means perfect. We have had our fair share of ups and downs. We fight. We get tired of looking at each other. We go to bed angry. 

All normal, I promise. 

It’s what happens after that makes or breaks relationships.

The following is what works for us. You can adopt all of these, some of these, or create you own- but I encourage you to action whatever you choose.

Here we go:

1. Flirt with each other.


I can’t emphasize the power in having my husband flirt with me- either in the privacy of our own home or in public.  It makes me feel desired. It tells me that he still finds me attractive. That’s amazing, especially after 20 years.  And this goes both ways. I make it a point to flirt with him, too. 

2. Talk to one another.


This is a racy quote. But I love it. ❤️ Because its true.

Deep, meaningful conversation is incredible. And I’m not talking about serious conversation about the kids, or the bills. I mean talking about hopes, dreams, and yourselves.  I love him. I need him to know that I love him. I need to know he loves me. It’s not enough for us to kiss and say, “I love you” when we part ways. We need to invest in each other through these conversations.  

Spill it.
3. NEVER stop dating each other.


Dating, for married couples (especially those with children) is SO important.

We have to make time to just be a couple.  Dating prompts flirting and conversation. It also relieves the stresses of everyday life.

Dating doesn’t have to be costly or take up lots of time. The most important thing is that you do it. 

Pricey:  dinner and a movie, the theater or ballet, shopping, weekends away.

Not-pricey: the park, an art museum, feeding the ducks at the lake, a picnic, bowling (a favorite!)

Your only limited by your imagination. Make yourself do it. For real 😉

4. Choose it

Life is a series of choices. We chose to date, we chose to marry, and we have consistently chosen to stay together. 

We also have to choose to have a happy relationship. All of the other stuff means nothing if we don’t first make this choice. 

Choose each other. Everyday.

Choose to be happy. Everyday.

The alternative stinks.

4. Be friends


Don’t let your friendship die. Laugh together. When you talk about your “best friend” you should be talking about your spouse. And you should mean it. If you don’t, let me know. We’ll have a talk 😜 

5. Keep Jesus in the mix


We are blessed with marriage. We owe it to God to do our best to keep His gift to us healthy.

Ephesians 4:2-3: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Ephesians 5:25-33: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, …”

Love and blessings to you all.

If you have questions or comments, do not hesitate.

-Amanda

Let yourself laugh

Marriage is hard. Like hard. Life tries to get the best of you. 

So here’s how the Warren’s keep sanity around this nut house:


First, fill up your cup with humor, peace, joy, and gratefulness. It’s ammunition for bad days. A warehouse, if you will, stocked with good vibes.


Second, use your supply intentionally. 

Sometimes you have to “make light of the situation”. 


So the good car broke down and you have to drive the old van with no air conditioning for a week- in August.

Robert and I have handled situations like this two ways:

      1. We dread going to work and being sweaty when we get there. We worry about the unexpected expense we haven’t budgeted for. We complain to each other about said van. We are both in a crabby mood for at least a week (sometimes longer because it starts to become a habit- even after the situation is remedied).

     2.  We are grateful to have a second car to fall back on. We are aware that lots of couples don’t have even one reliable vehicle. We are thankful that we can afford to fix car A without any financial help from anyone. We roll down the windows, turn on Hotel California and sing. We call sweat a “summer glow”. And I embrace the natural texture of my hair.

Option #2 is so much easier on the human spirit. But you have to choose it.


Third, don’t be afraid to be silly. We both spent way too many years reserved, too embarrassed to let go and have FUN. Let me tell you, that was a colossal waste of time. 


Were all the days in these photos fabulous days? Probably not. This is, after all, real life. There were most likely talks about car payments, or who’s taking the kid to Boy Scouts and who’s mowing the lawn today.  But the feelings we had in these pics are the feelings I remember. And they are all good.

Make it a point to enjoy each other. 


Lastly, try. 

It is by no means easy to have fun all of the time. You have to make a conscious decision to enjoy everything you have. And you have to make a conscious decision to NOT focus on what you don’t have.

“He/she made me laugh” is almost always one of the reasons we fell in love with our mate. DON’T LOSE THAT.

Keep it light. Keep it fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Appreciate each other. Enjoy the little things. Be grateful for all the things. Laugh.

Fighting Fair

Keeping an argument in check when you are arguing with your spouse is hard. Emotions are high, adrenaline is pumping and you are ready to throw down. But wait!

If you want to effectively get your point across it is imperative the your partner listens and HEARS what you are saying. I hate when I feel like I’ve sabotaged myself during an argument and end up feeling like a jerk. A jerk with no resolution.

Robert and I have been married almost 17 years and one of the best things we did for our marriage early on was to set some ground rules for fighting. And while it’s not always easy to hold to them, they are so much more than necessary to effectively resolve conflict in your relationship.

Straight to the point, here are ours:

Rule #1

No yelling.

Nope, not ever. And watch your tone of voice. Yelling or having a condescending tone when you’re in the middle of a disagreement is all your spouse will hear, not what you are actually trying to say. And I hope this goes without saying, but name-calling- no way, never, never, never. No exceptions. Respect your spouse.

Rule #2 Don’t bring up past mistakes. 

The past is the past. Leave it there. Issues from long ago have no place in a fair fight. It hurts and it does serious damage. Again, Respect your spouse.

Rule #3 Don’t run away.

We all handle this kind of thing differently, I prefer to hash it out right then, Robert needs time to think. What’s important is that it is understood that the issue will be addressed, sooner than later. Running away shows cowardice, disrespect and an apathy for keeping peace in your marriage.

Rule #4 Don’t use the “D” word (divorce), unless you really mean it.

Don’t flippantly go there. Divorce should never be used as a threat. It is a serious thing that, if you are really at that point, you need to sit calmly and talk about. I can’t stress enough how much I believe in this rule.

Rule #5 Take responsibility for your part.

Hard to do, wouldn’t you agree? No one likes being the one to cave in a fight. But keep in mind that sometimes, you may be wrong. *gasp*  And when you are, own it. And then apologize.

Rule #6 (last one!) LISTEN more than you talk.

Ouch! This one bites me! I’m great about giving my Mr. a turn to talk, but I am totally guilty of focusing on what my singer of a response will be. When I do that am I really hearing him? And am I paying him the same respect I will expect from him when it’s my turn?

The gist:  If I can encourage even one couple, newlywed or not, to create and follow a set of rules for fighting fair, I haven’t wasted my two hours writing all this. I firmly believe in the process.  

Love and blessings, all.

Amanda

I get asked all the time what the secret is to a good marriage.  And while my marriage is nowhere near perfect, we have definitely improved over the last 17 years in making it a consistently happy one. I think what people see in our marriage that they want for themselves is that we enjoy each other. And it’s actually pretty easy to maintain, but you have to do some work to get there.

The first subject I want to tackle is how you speak about your spouse.  I start here because, for us, it caused the greatest amount of conflict our marriage has seen. And it was all MY fault.

I just thought it was something women did, gripe about the guys to each other. 

“He hasn’t mowed in 3 weeks.”

 “He didn’t help me carry in groceries.” 

“He never lets me…” 

“He won’t…”

“He can’t…”

I couldn’t have been more wrong. While it may, in fact, be something people do, it is not conducive to a healthy marriage. 

What happens when you engage in the act of complaining about your spouse? Lots of things:

  • It WILL get back to him/her.
  • Their feelings will be hurt.
  • The first thing people will think of when they see your spouse are those negative descriptions YOU have provided them.
  • You start to really focus on those negative things more than the positive things about your marriage.
  • Your family will resent him/her. They CANNOT be objective. 
  • People will think you are petty.
  • What worked for us:

    • I quit complaining. Seriously. This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a habit unfortunately. I will probably always be working on this one to some extent.
    • I build him up to my friends and family. (It is one of my favorite things to hear “you have a good one there, Amanda”) Even if he just slept until noon and forgot to take out the trash today!
    • I praise him in front of people!  His family. My family. Friends. Coworkers.
    • I started to thank him for the all the things he does; taking out the trash, mowing, making dinner, making the bed. You’ll be surprised at the reaction you get.
    • Learn to communicate. If the two of you are effectively communicating, you can take your issues directly to the source.

    When it comes right down to it, there is no quick fix for repairing the damage you have done by bad-mouthing your spouse. It can takes months, sometimes even years to earn back that trust. My advice to you would be to never get into the habit to begin with. But if you have, you CAN fix things. Be patient. Be considerate. Respect your spouse. LOVE your spouse and choose your words wisely.

    Peace and love, everyone!

    Amanda

    *next week: Fighting Fair

    Saying yes, when you reeeeeally don’t want to.

    April 3rd, 2016

     It is easy to say yes when things are going your way. When you are getting to do the things you want to do, life feels easy. Sometimes, when you least expect it, life will throw you a curveball.
       My sweet Lucas runs like a gazelle. He is truly beautiful to watch. Pure joys radiates from him when he is running. It is an absolute work of God Himself. And he spends a big part of his life practicing and studying and focusing on those things that can help him perform better. He loves it.     A couple of months ago, he got what we all thought was strep throat. Some antibiotics and rest and he was on his way again, not 100%, but better. We repeated this scenario the next two months. Last week he was finally diagnosed with mononucleosis. Mono. The kissing disease for the kid who has never been kissed. The kid who won’t even share a drink with me.     I’ve never had mono or even known someone who did. So, I had no idea what to expect. Lucas is under strict orders to do no strenuous activity for at least four weeks. Four. Weeks. Maybe more. Likely more. The remainder of his track season.     When we delivered the news to him, he had this strange smile on his face. Moms, you know this smile. It’s a “if I keep smiling, I won’t cry” smile. And it’s heartbreaking to witness. Luke’s poker face is usually pretty fantastic. But this broke his heart.     I have asked myself over and over, “why?”.  I had gotten so wrapped up in the emotion of it all, sick baby, heartbroken baby- that I was ready to throw down with whoever got in my way. I was angry.     That’s until, I was gifted with a little Devine intervention. And no, Lucas wasn’t miraculously healed. I was. I called my sister. And I told her all of my woes. And I cried to her. And she, in what I will never confess to her face, gave me just what I needed that day. She Sunday-schooled me.   I was reminded that God is always right. Always good. And always knows what’s best for us, even if we can’t see it ourselves. I was reminded that His plan is perfect. And that there are things this child is intended to do in the meantime. I was reminded that yes, Lucas can’t run right now, but we believe he will run again. And we believe he will run even better than before.     In the meantime, we put our focus on our Lord. And we keep our eyes open for the next opportunity He will offer us.     He always does.

    November 5th, 2014

    These guys. That pretty much sums up how I have spent the last 3+ years since my last post. They are my greatest blessing.  Warrens like being busy. And that we have been! Lucas is our sunshine and we delight in the gift of being his parents.  We take the job God has entrusted us with seriously.   It is our responsibility to instill in him a respect for all mankind. We teach him to not see race or status, and to treat every single person he comes into contact with from day to day with love, not matter what they’ve done, are doing or might do.  And he is better at it than both Robert and myself. We learn so much from him. Because he actually does practice what we preach. It is humbling to be his mother. It is the greatest job I have ever had.  And I am a different and markedly better person for it.

    Now, Mr. Warren. This is the guy. My heart. He has seen me at my best. He has seen me at my worst. And he is still here. I can’t imagine this journey with anyone else. Who else could tolerate me?  He was MADE for me. What an undeniable blessing! I can’t begin to imagine a more supportive husband. He is my calm, my safe place to go, and my therapist.  I would not be where I am without him.  And I wouldn’t want to be. He is a father who is invested. He and Luke spend many hours together alone when I am working late or extra days in the week, or am out of the state. And I never worry about them. I miss them, but I never worry. He is a fabulous father. He has never tired of the duties given to him by fatherhood and I am so grateful for that.  Lucas is blessed, as well.
    Well, I thought that this might be a good way to segway back into this. I’ve been gone for a bit. But this is cheap therapy 😉 So, I think I’ll give it another go.
    Psalm 122:8  For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be with you.”
    Much love and many blessings,Amanda