Sunday, February 26, 2017

Less Fighting, More Understanding

Are you a fighter?  I mean, do you fight against things in your life a lot?  I sure can be.  Sometimes it is circumstances, but other times it's people and their nature or personality.  I especially fight with myself! I'm a big believer in change - anyone can grow and learn if they desire and seek after it.  While I believe that with all my heart, it has produced some negative reactions in my life and relationships.  I don't always just stop at supporting others' growth.  Often I become consumed with how they should be (if they are going to grow in this way) and can easily dismiss some of their natural tendencies.  As I get older and the fighting (most of which is in my head) gets tiring, I'm learning better ways to be, I guess.  

Mr. Butler loves browse and window shop.  Personally, I get overwhelmed at all the possibilities and need a task or a list to keep me focused.  Visiting Ross or Marshall's is a fun adventure for him because you just never know what you might find AND it's likely to be on sale.  I get about a quarter way through the store and I'm done - mentally tired and starting to feel punished.  Early on in our marriage, this was his idea of a fun date night activity after dinner.  This little fighter didn't appreciate, understand or have the patience for it for a long time.  Thankfully, love and time can certainly change us for the better.  Being able to understand how his personality lives for challenges and new things has helped me love him - not exactly more but certainly better.  I still don't love being thrown into a store with no purpose, but I do love how Mr. Butler brings adventure and novelty into my life. 

The other night we had a family date night of sorts, mostly just to get us out of the house and despite some aimless wandering, we all had a good time! 

She is mildly disappointed in getting a new brother rather than a sister, but I think we'll do just fine being the only girls!

Trying out new furniture.

Mr. Butler found his preferred diaper bag for the new kiddo!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mind Control and Thinking Matters

There is a lot of turmoil in our culture that tries to overtake our minds on a daily basis.  In our private lives, there is often a different kind of turmoil that we work to live amidst and rise above in our work and relationships.  Then there is the turmoil that is sometimes (or always) present in our hearts because of things like fear, grief, anxiety and disappointment.

When we don't have outlets to process all of these things, extreme reactions often occur.  Sometimes it is an outburst of anger or explosive posts on social media.  Other times it creates the beginning of disease and dysfunction - physically, emotionally and most certainly within our relationships.

I'm almost 34 weeks pregnant - getting very close to a really big day of celebration and change, a very certain bend in the road.  For me, the anxiety of the mind can overtake all of the good elsewhere in the body and control things for the worse.   That is exactly what happened with J's birth.  I was afraid and couldn't see anything else once the pain started.  Praise the Lord for second chances because I was able to change that with miss Z's birth.  I learned to get my active mind out of the way and the body took over - doing a much better (and quicker) job than I had let it do before.  In my case, the babies weren't much different in size.  The risks or lack thereof weren't different.  The difference was how I thought (courtesy of Blissborn). As I'm staring down this road again with a much fuller perspective (and a fuller plate), I can see how easily the pendulum can swing solely based on what is flying around in my head.  Knowing what I know now, it's my responsibility to fill it with the good and the encouraging things, rather than the uncertain and negative.

More than ever before we are struggling with disease and mental health issues.  After miss Z's 1st birthday, I found myself riddled with anxiety and drowning in poor health, despite thinking I was fine.  The road back to health changed me a lot.  If your thoughts and emotions are a constant struggle, then you especially need to consider what's going into your mind and how your brain is processing all of that.  And give yourself every opportunity to surround yourself with light and beauty.  If we don't do it on purpose, the ugliness and pain of the world can absolutely take over. Our mind can be our biggest asset if we treat it right.

-Point out great things (and not complain).
-Commit to a prayer & Bible study habit.
-Listen to beautiful things.
-Express yourself through creating - like music, writing, painting, woodworking, etc.
-Take time with nature.
-Gain perspective through gratitude.
-Consider lifestyle changes like exercise, food choices and supplement deficiencies.

Most importantly, talk about it.  Our thoughts and concerns affect us mostly deeply, but often we keep them hidden from most everyone in our life.  Find a person or a group where you can share your struggles.  Just getting them outside of your self is a really big step toward health.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Growing in Pictures

There's a song by Raffi that's called, "I Wonder If I'm Growing" that the kids sing a lot.  It highlights the common struggle to know when you're growing.  We don't usually feel it, but all of a sudden it is clear.  We haven't felt the growing, but this week we've sure seen evidence of it.

 The kids decided they wanted to have a pretend wedding instead of a show.  So, they picked out their wedding clothes themselves and laid blankets on the ground (for grass) and the cuteness ensued.  The conversations about flowers and music were hilarious.  Still, this was a first for the Butler household and it was evident how big they are getting.

J finished his first basketball season at the YMCA and I think soccer and baseball suit him better.  Still he seemed to have a great time.

J also got rid of his training wheels and took off like the wind.  Definite growth happening.

And last but not least, baby #3 is most certainly growing.  We'll be a party of 5 before we know it!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A New Dinnertime Approach: The Pioneer Woman and My Engineer

Learning to build a life with someone else seems so fantastic and simple in the movies or in the midst of planning a wedding.  The signs of what kind of work it is going to take are certainly all around, but they are easy to miss when you're just so excited about everything.  As you know, I married a great man who experiences the world vastly different than me which is not so great sometimes and creates some interesting discussions.  Like everything else, my engineer has opinions about the most efficient and effective approach to dinnertime!

Early on in our marriage he trained me to grocery shop twice a month and meal plan like a pro.  It was never intuitive to me (because what if I didn't want that for dinner when it came down to it?!), but after getting the hang of it, it helped the budget and meals run a lot smoother.  Adding children to the mix, however, has certainly decreased my brain power and motivation for things like this and being pregnant all the more.  This guy, who lives for check lists and assigned tasks, decided to engineer our dinner plans last month and as a result has given me one of the best gifts I've ever received.  He discovered Ree Drummond, known around here as The Pioneer Woman, and has tasked himself with planning our month with meals from her cook books.  So far, so incredibly good!

Honestly, when he suggested it I was afraid that he would resent me not cooking pretty quickly (because I know I would in his position!), but it's been this beautiful thing.   He loves having something to do when he gets home and I love the freedom of a little more mental breathing room.  I will usually assist or clean up after him and get his undivided attention when I talk.  The kids now know the routine and don't bother us much and it has been WONDERFUL!

Benefits So Far:
-'Couch Time' or Dad and Mom's talk about the day time has almost instantly been better respected by the kids and marriage benefits from it.
-Pregnant, homeschooling busy mom has more energy and emotional stamina.
-Dad feels accomplished for making dinner and taking a load off mom.
-Dinner is planned, yummy and good for the budget.
-Eating out isn't as much of a temptation which is good for our health and budget.

I won't always be pregnant and he probably won't always be on a cooking kick, but there is a reason I wanted to share this with you.  In marriage (or any relationship really) it's easy to jump in and fight for your rights or preferred way of doing things without looking for compromises that might look funny but actually benefit everyone.  It's taken us over 10 years to start really embracing our differences for good and I pray you can be more successful than us and do it sooner!  In doing a little inventory of our needs, this alternative approach to dinner time is producing more benefits than initially expected.  And, it is certainly old news, but the Pioneer Woman's recipes are hard to beat for yummy and easy dinners.  Everybody jumps for leftovers!