Como Esta from the Philippines! I’ve been here for three days now and I am already in love with the people here! I’m staying in a missionary guest house – and have had the privilege of meeting several missionaries and hearing about where they’re going and what they are doing. It has been quite an eye opener.
Today there seems to be a theme in the conversations that I’ve taken part in. It is about languages.
I learned this morning that it is quite a process to teach a tribe how to read and write. First, a missionary family enters the culture. They build a home, start relationships, and bring in resources such as medicine. They live within the culture to learn the language the natives speak, absorbing and accepting the culture as it is. At that point, they assign phonetic codes to the sounds the language creates. Following language guidelines and other nearby languages, the sounds are turned into readable words. The missionaries are then ready to teach the natives how to read and write their own language. Eventually, they are presented with a translated Bible and other books. Then a school is born. Once education is introduced, a whole new world of possibilities is available to the people. This process takes years of trial and error, careful methodical listening, and love and sacrifice on the part of the missionary family. I am amazed at the patience these people have to see the vision come to reality.
A little later I had a key conversation with one of The Guys. We were talking about how we communicate within marriage. During our talk, my mind kept returning to my lesson on languages. And there are quite a few similarities between what a missionary does in a new culture, and how we develop our marital language.
We get married and move into a home together. Then we start learning each other’s language as we communicate day to day: expectations based on the way we were brought up, pain, experiences that produce assumptions, how we process where each other are coming from, and how we naturally think as a man or woman. As we listen, we absorb and accept each other as we are. It is done through trial and error, and takes a lot of patience. We have to be students of each other, taking into consideration all of the things that make up our spouse, and tailor our communication to how our spouse can really understand. We can learn each other’s language – but it takes years of careful, methodical listening, and love and practice.
Once we learn to speak each other’s language, a whole new world of possibility opens up for us as couples. Communication gets easier as you practice speaking in each other’s language. Your understanding grows for each other, and there is less hurt. And there’s greater peace because you eventually don’t have to try so hard.
Stay tuned for other lessons learned from our friends in the Philippines!
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" February 20th, 2012
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This morning I packed my things and left. With my husband. To the airport. Where he transferred my care and safety to eight other men, most of whom are police officers. We are headed for the Philippines.
For the next two weeks, eight men and I are taking the Courageous movie to members of the Filipino military and law enforcement and their wives. We will make connections, talk about family values, God, and provide resources for their families, one of which is my book, A CHiP on my Shoulder.
Today is a travel day – looonnnng. But one very cool break we took this afternoon was to visit the VA Cemetery in San Francisco. We took communion by breaking a loaf of bread and drinking red juice from dixie cups, the Guys and I. We then went our separate ways through the cemetery, reading white, uniform headstones, contemplating the sacrifices that they and Jesus made for us.
I was drawn to two particular headstones of a couple. Francis fought in both World Wars, which means he was probably a career military man. Macy C was buried alongside him, an honor that she deserved as his longtime love, longtime companion, longtime support of her man on the front lines. They’d lived their lives far beyond the wars – probably had children, grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren.
I wonder if she comforted him when he came home from the wars – wiped his brow when he awoke from the nightmares. I wonder if he kept his visions to himself, or if he dared to share them with her. I wonder if she lived in fear of the dreaded telegram, and if she comforted her friends who were afraid or who actually got a visit from a uniform. I wonder what her feelings were when he had to go into battle the second time. Would he cheat death a second time?
I made note of their last days on earth. She died before him, just five months prior, shortly after I was born. I smiled to myself when I thought that he just couldn’t bear to live without her.
Ladies – whether your man is with the armed services or with law enforcement, you are a warrior’s wife. And we can take courage from those who’ve gone before.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" February 17th, 2012
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I’ve been amused by several postings about Valentine’s Day by random Facebook friends. I’ve seen everything from “I HATE VALENTINE’S DAY! FREE PASS FOR THE HUSBAND!” to “Dude, what’s the big deal about V-Day? It’s all about the candy, Bro!” I’m sure feelings run from apathy to heart-palpitating anticipation, pure hatred to ooey-gooey delight, and tantalizing proposals to flat out pain. I’m sure every one of us can remember a February 14th without a valentine. Or at least without the right valentine.
Today you saw roses and chocolate in every store, and perhaps every well-traveled street corner. The expectation is there – it’s unmistakable. From candy hearts and pre-made cutout cards by the box, pink heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast and big lip balloons at work, we are expected to get in line and succumb to the Hallmark mandate: Buy the roses. Or else.
My husband and I have been married 23 years, and I have received a total of 21 Valentine’s cards. There were two consecutive years that Chief decided to buck the system. It was a painful decision. He rebelled against the bejeweled expectations, roiled against the controlled hype of FTD, and refused to go with the Hershey’s flow.
“I told you once that I loved you,” he assured me, “I’ll let you know if I change my mind.”* And to some degree, it makes sense. This is how a lot of men feel. They resent being told that unless they go for the mushy, their love is less than adequate. Who says that a red cardboard box filled with empty calories is proof of devotion?! No wonder people hate Valentine’s Day!
But it hurt my feelings the first year. And the second – well, let’s just say he doesn’t miss an opportunity – even a silly one – to let me know how he feels.
We women LOVE to be loved. We long to be cherished. We desire to be desired. It is engrained into our very being. And when the day to day is mundane, and our dates few and far in between, and routine takes over, and those extra pounds from Christmas plague our sense of sexiness, a little pick-me-up is just what the doctor ordered. It’s the reminder that even though we’re committed and our love is strong, some extra effort to make each other feel special makes the journey that much more pleasurable. But perhaps it might be even better if we just did this from time to time without all the cutesy hoopla.
Once my husband understood the value I place on such gestures, he’s not so quick to shoot Cupid with his semi-automatic. Before the sun came up this morning, I was relishing the scent of a dozen roses and basking in the words within the pink card “with swirlies on it.” And before the night is done, he’ll be aptly reminded that chocolate is an aphrodisiac…
Hate Valentine’s Day? Just remember… it’s ALL about the candy, Bro!
*For concerned sisters, this was a tongue in cheek joke spoken by a cop.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" February 15th, 2012
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Sunday was the BIG game. We walked across the street to our neighbor’s home, where the food is ample and amazing. I brought sun-dried tomato pesto appetizers – and they were gone in ten minutes. I brought wedges of brownie pizza – and they were gone in four. I didn’t expect that.
We rooted for the Patriots. It was the Year of Revenge – where they would beat every team that denied them Super Bowl victories of the past. We wanted them to win, but the Giants took that away. We didn’t expect that either.
In the last couple weeks several people I know have had things happen they didn’t expect:
A young couple gave birth to their daughter – they didn’t expect her to need open heart surgery immediately afterward.
My son’s dream was to be a Marine – we didn’t expect that he would be medically discharged.
A friend expected that her son would make a certain baseball team – he didn’t.
A friend’s father was finally healing after a difficult illness – they didn’t expect his sudden death.
A police officer didn’t expect that a foot pursuit would end in a need for shoulder surgery.
A group of five people driving home from the Super Bowl didn’t expect that three of them would never make it – after they were hit by a drunk driver.
On the other hand, sometimes we expect things not to happen, and we are surprised and pleased. A check arrives in the mail. A new job offer. Flowers on the doorstep (hint, hint!).
Our lives are constantly changing, twisting and turning, bringing pain and bringing joy. We never know what to expect. Especially as spouses of those with crisis-driven careers. And newsflash: there’s not a darn thing we can do about it. So much of life is out of our control.
What we can control is our expectations of loved ones. If there is discord, misunderstanding or conflict, often it is because others failed to meet our expectations. They didn’t make it on time, they didn’t have the right response, they were insensitive, they didn’t do what was asked. We are disappointed, we are angry, we want to lash out, and sometimes we even want to give up. So much of conflict is based on assumptions.
What am I expecting of my spouse? My kids?
People at work, school?
What am I expecting of friends, family?
What am I expecting of God?
What do others expect of me?
Are these expectations fair? If not, we adjust.
Have I communicated them clearly? If not, then I can start today.
I think these questions are worth asking and answering. We can’t control the unexpected happenings of life, and obviously we won’t always get what we expect. But we can take honest inventory of what we expect from those we love, and communicate clearly, improving our relationships, and making life just a little bit better.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" February 8th, 2012
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