Spout ‘N’ Pout

Image by Francine Sreca from Pixabay

            The fruit of the Spirit is … self-control. – Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV)

At the beginning of every year, I write out my goals for the coming year. In January, I noticed that “lose weight,” “manage time better” and “get out of debt” were three recurring ones, going back years and years and years—and ones on which I’d made little, if any progress.

“Hmmm,” I thought in a moment of brilliant self-revelation. “Looks like I have a little problem with self-control.”

I’ve lost and gained the same 15 pounds several times now.

Time management is almost as difficult. One of my recent weekly goals was “be more realistic in setting goals.”

As far as the finances, well, we all know how impossible it seems to get out of the hole once you’re in.

But I’d been making progress—slow, but inching ahead—until I overdrew the checking account. I’d scheduled a credit card payment to be made on the due date, figuring one of my writing checks would cover it. Normally it would have, but the check was late—a week late. And I’d forgotten about the payment.

When I went online to balance the account and noticed the $25 overdraft charge, I was sick—especially when I noticed that it had been deducted within the past hour.

I was mad. Mad at myself. But madder at God.

“I’ve been trying so hard, Lord,” I complained. “And I’ve been doing so well. How could You do this to me?”

And I’d had such a good attitude earlier that same week when an order for 100 of my books fell through. “Oh, well,” I said at the time. “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

Then came the overdraft—and this cookie crumbled.

“It isn’t my fault the check was late,” I whined. “And, in regard to that canceled book order, I didn’t count my chickens before they were hatched. The guy said in the spring he wanted the books. It was only last week that I noticed the money would have nicely taken care of the fall taxes, the heating oil, and the car insurance. How could You do this to me?”

I spouted. I pouted. I spouted some more. I still maintained my peace about the book order, but I stewed and spewed about the overdraft.

It took several days of complaining to the Almighty that it wasn’t my fault, I had no control over when the check came in, but He did. Yada, yada, yada.

Somewhere during one of my non-spewing moments, it occurred to me that if I’d put some money aside as a cushion, to cover the payment should a check come late, instead of living from paycheck to paycheck, I’d have avoided the overdraft.

OK, so I knew that all long. I just wouldn’t admit it.

So now I’m trying to squirrel away a little bit every payday in a “cushion fund.”

Live and learn. Even in your senior years.

I don’t know if you’d noticed, but the past several columns have covered the Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and faith. But I struggled with the last one—self control.

Sigh. I still do.

Dear God, I tend to forget that everything You allow in my life has a purpose. Thank You for reminding me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Galatians 5:2223 and Psalm 40

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Surviving Marriage

Me and Dean at Fort Mackinac, Michigan, June 2018

Two are better than one. – Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV

It’s been three weeks since Dean retired. After decades of being home alone all day, suddenly I have him around 24/7.

I’m loving every minute of it. We’re settling into a nice routine. The biggest adjustment has been wearing my hearing aids all day instead of just in the evenings ­– a huge change for me. I like my world quiet.

But seeing the exasperated look on his face when I asked “what?” every time he said something made me realize if I want to have a long, healthy marriage in these retirement years, I’d better up my game.

DH is an easy man to get along with. He’s patient, kind, sometimes forgetful, sometimes too practical (“red neck” might be a better term), and almost always puts me first. The closest we ever come to fighting is when I try to pry out of him where he wants to eat out.

His answer is always, “Wherever (or whatever) you want. If you’re happy, I’m happy.”

Okay, I can settle for that.

On his wedding day, my oldest son texted me these words: “I finally have what I saw growing up in you and Dad.”

I never realized we were being an example to our kids. I was just trying to survive.

But we’ve more than survived marriage. We’ve thrived.

Me and Dean, December 22, 1973

In 45 years, I’ve learned a few things that have contributed to the difference between “survive” and “thrive.”

First, I’ve learned the importance of communication. Of listening to what he says and what he doesn’t say. Of listening with not just my four ears, but my heart. I’ve learned the wisdom of Proverbs 18:13 and James 1:19, but it’s still hard not to jump in with my two cents or finish his sentences.

I’ve learned to talk things over with him and include him in the decision-making, especially with finances. I value his input and don’t feel as though I’m carrying the burden all by myself.

It took me a long time, but I’ve learned to control my anger. I used to be a rage monster. But God lovingly worked on and in me.

I’ve learned the importance of forgiveness, both giving it and asking for it. Offenses can be intentional, unintentional, and perceived. I’ve learned to get over it. Dwelling on things, stewing, simmering eventually leads to the pot of bitterness boiling over. Once again, prayer is the key.

Which brings me to probably the most important lesson of all: the value of prayer. Daily, consistent, persistent, spontaneous prayer. I pray for Dean every day. I pray for our relationship, circumstances, situations, and issues we’re dealing with. I pray for myself – that I would be the wife he needs, the helper suitable for him.

I like the way the Amplified version expands on the word “helper” in Genesis 2:18. A helper is one who balances the other, a counterpart who is suitable for and completes the other person, who brings out his good qualities.

January 2016

And finally, I’ve learned what love is all about. It’s keeping the romance alive. It’s not taking him for granted. It’s noticing and showing appreciation for the little things. It’s taking time for and with each other, doing something fun together.

And it’s wearing my hearing aids when he’s around . . . funny, but now I rather like my world a bit noisier. 

Lord, help me to be the person my spouse needs. Help me truly to be the other half of a whole You have ordained. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ecclesiastes 4:9–12; Genesis 2:18–24.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.