Category Archives: Thoughts

The I Do Chronicles {Part 6}: The Kindness Effect

Hey guys! Welcome to Part 6 of…

I do chronicle

If you’d like to see other posts in the I Do Chronicles, you can here.

Y’all have heard of the butterfly effect, right? About how a butterfly can flap its wings in Arizona and end up causing a tsunami in Japan? Or…something like that.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is something we can all do, starting right this second, that will have just as powerful a ripple effect in our marriages.

For lack of a better term, I’m calling it the kindness effect.

I’ve seen it over and over again, but I’m all too quick to forget how amazing it is. Which is a real shame because it blesses my marriage so much every time I do remember.

Let me explain…

Last week, Shaun turned 35. His birthday was on a Saturday so I got the brilliant idea that I would do something special for him each day of his “birthday week.”

Day 1 was a mug of ho-cho with homemade whipped cream and a (hilariously large) tag with a love note.

hocho

Day 2 was a special (but quick and easy) lunch.

Day 3 were those Levain Bakery Knockoff Cookies.

I honestly can’t really even remember Days 4 and 5 (although I’m sure they were food related; you’ve heard about men and the way to their hearts, yes?).

Day 5 was his favorite crusted steaks (which he requests for any special occasion) and the Pioneer Woman’s blackberry cobbler (so easy and soooooooooo good!) + Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

Day 6 (his actual birthday) was a continuation of the food theme with leftover cobbler and a rosemary + veggie frittata (I used this recipe as my base but mostly just made it up as I went) for breakfast.

frittata

Did you notice what else was in that picture, though?

Yup, tulips.

And, no, I didn’t buy those for him. Because you can’t eat tulips (duh).

He had brought them home as a surprise at lunchtime the day before, along with an ice cold Diet DP (not my proudest moment to admit that I like/drink them, but I do…although, we are both swearing off sodas until Easter, so I guess I don’t anymore).

Not only that, but he had surprised me with a fun new game as a present a couple of days before that. (Anybody want to come play Hollywood Game Night with us?)

I don’t want to take credit where it isn’t due, but the best I could tell, even though it wasn’t my birthday week, he was responding to my efforts to make him feel special by doing the same for me.

Regardless of the reason for his efforts, I do know this: kindness begets kindness.

I definitely found this to be true the last time I did The 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge. Each time I complimented and built him up, he returned the favor, even if only by being in an exceptionally great mood for the rest of the day.

Last night, I came home to dinner on the table, a completely picked up house, a clean kitchen, and a load of laundry running, after the kids and I had left things less than super-tidy as we ran out the door for my class at the gym.

I had been dreading diving into the laundry pile and sweeping again at 8 PM. So to come home to a neat house was…heavenly.

So, this morning, I made him a breakfast sandwich as a thank you. I make them often, but I was feeling pretty bleary-eyed and unmotivated to cook after Nola woke me up at 6 (after I’d fed the baby at 4:30).  Still, I wanted him to know how much I appreciated his efforts from the night before, so I started scrambling eggs and cooking bacon all the same.

The way his eyes lit up when I brought it to him in his office made the (admittedly small) effort more than worth it.

See? Kindness begets more kindness.

Not only that, but kindness to your spouse is a surefire way of preaching the gospel. And not just to him.

You know that hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love?”

I think we often assume that means our love for the world. But the inspiration for that hymn is John 13:35, in which Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

After all, why would a non-Christian believe for a second that our love for them is genuine if we aren’t kind to our own husbands?

I work with a teacher at the gym–we’ll call her Cindy–who, as far as I can tell, has a fabulous relationship with her husband. He comes to class with her sometimes, and all you have to do is watch them for five minutes to see that they not only love each other but they genuinely like each other too. It’s pretty rad.

The other day, all of our BODYPUMP instructors were practicing for a “launch” (when we teach new music and choreography together), and one of the instructors suddenly said in a scandalized voice as she was starting the music on Cindy’s phone: “Is this a picture of your husband’s abs??”

Cindy was mortified. But I love what she said: “Man! I didn’t think about anyone else seeing it. But here’s the thing. I like my husband. And I like my husband’s abs. And I don’t look at other men. I’m only interested in him. So, I put a picture of him on my phone.”

So, there you go. No wonder they have 4 kids. ;)

I didn’t think she had anything to be embarrassed about. In fact, I thought it was all kinds of awesome. Her admiration/appreciation for her own husband were a kindness to him, a testimony of their love, and a huge encouragement to me to appreciate and celebrate my own husband more.

And I guarantee you I’m not the only who’s noticed.

Matthew 5:16 says: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

I want that kind of marriage. The kind that shines so brightly that others praise God because of it.

I want to be the kind of wife who “does him good and not harm all the days of her life.”

Of course, it won’t happen by accident. It takes a lot more intentionality than I’m really keen to part with most days, if I’m completely honest. And yet, it’s so, so worth it when I do.

The thing is, I know not all of us have husbands who make being kind to them easy. And I’m definitely not advocating acts of kindness with the expectation of receiving kindness in return.

And yet. In combination with fervent prayer, I firmly believe it will come. Not necessarily quickly or in the form of gifts or acts of service (although All The Praise Hands for those for sure). Maybe it will be in the softening of a heart. In the subtle changing of an attitude. In the reciprocation of affection. In a gentler word than usual.

Note: I believe there are situations when people are so willfully degenerate that they have hardened their hearts to the effect of kindness. I still believe it can produce “better” behavior on their part (at least temporarily) but probably not true and lasting kindness in return. I still advocate pursuing kindness as far it concerns you, since only God may ever know the effect it worked on their hearts.

Because no matter how seemingly insignificant the effect, it’s better than none at all, right?

Anybody else willing to join me with practicing the kindness effect during this month of love?

I’ll have a few more practical suggestions (that don’t all come from me) next week, but I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

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Sole-mates

me and the boys

When I was pregnant with Ezra, I was convinced I was having a girl for the first five months. We called him a “she,” and I daydreamed of dressing my little sweetie in all kinds of cute (but not cutesy) outfits full of bright, funky colors.

Then we had the sonogram to reveal gender (because I’m definitely one of those mamas that wants to know) and discovered that our adorable little “she” was actually a “he.”

Disappointed isn’t really the right word to describe how I felt. It was more like….thrown. I was thrilled to have a healthy little guy growing inside of me, but I’d been so sure he was a girl that it took a bit to adjust to the concept of royal blue and baseball instead of aqua (did you really think I was going to say pink?) and ballet.

Of course, we all know the rest of the story. After another boy, I got my long-awaited princess. And then, just in case I hadn’t gotten my fill of all things frilly, I got another double-dose of girliness in the form of identical girl twins.

But as much as I love all of my children equally, nothing could have prepared me for what a unique blessing having two boys back-to-back (they’re 18 months and 3 days apart) would be.

I don’t have wild guys. Although, don’t get me wrong—they’re definitely boys’ boys. They love a good sword-fight in the living room, using Mama’s best pillows as shields, and they’re obsessed with all things Lord of the Rings. They delight in frogging each other in the arm when I’m not looking and jumping down the last three stairs instead of anything so mundane as walking. And their shrieks during a tickle fight make my left eye twitch.

But I’ve never worried that they would climb on the roof and fling themselves off, just to see how many bones they could break. They’re not prone to smash things or speak in grunts. They beg me to let them take care of their baby sisters, and they both still insist on a kiss “on the lips, Mama,” every night before bed. 

They even like it when we match.

The other day, I got an order from JcPenney, and as I opened the box and pulled out a pair of leopard print TOM’s-style shoes that I’d ordered on major clearance, both Ezra and Simon, who were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast, got really excited and declared how much they liked them.

“Oh, well don’t get too attached,” I said. “I’m not sure I’m going to keep them.”

“Ooooooooh, Maaaama. You haaaaave to!” they chorused.

Confused, I looked at down at my shoes and then back up into their eager, pleading faces. “Why?”

Up came their feet, and before I could say, “No shoes on the table,” Ezra pointed to the camo slip-on shoes I’d bought him the week before and said, “Because, Mama, they just like ours. Except yours have cheetah print. You have to keep them because then we’ll all match.”

(Cheetah print = leopard print when you’re a seven-year-old boy who doesn’t know about fashion).

Simon’s head bobbed emphatically while he pointed to his own identical pair of camo shoes. “Yeah, you need to wear yours today, Mama, so we can all be the same.”

And so I did.

solemates1

Because I know the day is fast approaching when they will no longer think that “matching” Mama is the height of cool.  Some day much too soon, I will ask for a peck on the cheek and be lucky to get a rough side-hug.

But right now, my sweet, sensitive, loud, dirty, thoughtful, rambunctious boys are thrilled to be my sole-mates.

And I am, and always will be, thrilled to be their Mama.

Do you have boys? I’d love to hear about the little men in your life.

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