Saturday, May 22, 2010


The Favor Of God!

We recently had the best time on vacation in Niagara. We had so many blessings along the way I decided to recount them.

1. We got to spend quality time together as a family that was as stress free as ever!

2. When reserving our hotel I found a great deal on Hotwire for a property on the water!

2. When going to pick up the rental car I noticed that the company I reserved our car with required a bus ride. Finding this unacceptable I walked to one of the other ticket counters located in the terminal with my reservation and asked them to match the rate. They not only matched the rate they beat it!

3. While navigating my way to the airport this morning I needed a gas station. After all who wants to pay $6.00 a gallon to the rental agency? As we headed one way down the road it became clear that no stations were open. I quickly approached a red left turn light and after a lazy California stop I proceeded to make a U-Turn. Since it was 4:45AM I didn't figure anyone would care. Amy suddenly exclaimed 'Oh there's a cop!' Ah yes there he was, I drove on slowly relaxing in the calm that he decided my infraction wasn't worth his time. I thought this a little too soon.

As I merged onto the freeway I saw the dreaded red and blue -- yes Claire's Birthday began with her first Police stop!

As the Officer approached I declared the Favor Of God over us and this situation. Not only did he not give us a ticket, but he offered to block the ramp so we could back down as he directed us to the nearest open station! How often does that happen?

4. Don't you hate unexpected delays? Despite the hunt for gas that nearly went awry we made it to the airport on time, checked our bags and waited patiently at the gate. Knowing that the flights were full all day we feared we wouldn't make it on. It turns out we didn't, partially resigning ourselves to face the fact that we may spend Claire's first Birthday in the airport we found a quiet area and set up Claire's bed for a much needed nap. Just as we were getting comfortable the gate agent came up to inform us of a more direct routing through Cleveland. The flight had been overbooked, but oddly several people didn't show up and there were just enough seats for the Norton Family!

The best part of our 'Unexpected delay,' was that this routing got us home an hour earlier than we originally planned! And we had the best seats in coach! (Claire's not allowed in first class yet.)

This has nothing to do with the Love Dare, but I challenge everyone to spend the entire day just dwelling on the positive things that happened. Anyone can focus on the negative - but choose not to! Keep a list if you must, we serve an awesome God!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Love believes the best

"Love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It refuses to fill in the unknowns with negative assumptions. And when our worst hopes are proven to be true, love makes every effort to deal with them and move forward. As much as possible, love focuses on the positive... You must develop the habit of reining in your negative thoughts and focusing on the positive attributes of your mate. This is a crucial steop as you learn to lead your heart to truly love your spouse. It is a decision that you make, whether they deserve it or not."

For today's dare, get two sheets of paper. On the first one, spend a few minutes writing out positive things about your spouse. Then do the same with negative things on the second sheet. Place both sheets in a secret place for another day. There is a different purpose and plan for each. At some point during the remainder of the day, pick a positive attribute from the first list and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.

When Steve and I were engaged we decided that we would always be one another's biggest fan. We look for the best in one another and cheer each other on. We encourage each other to follow our dreams. We don't bash one another, privately or publicly.

Neither of us is perfect. There are things we do to get on each other's nerves, but we overlook those things, if possible. If necessary, we discuss the problem or issue and decide together how to work it out. We listen to each other. We are quick to forgive one another. We don't let things fester. We deal with the issue while it's an issue rather than pulling it out later. This keeps us from growing bitter toward one another. It helps us to focus on the best in each other.

I completed my lists, and I am happy to say that my positive list for Steven is MUCH longer than my negative list.

I love you, Steven!


I completed my part of the dare as well. It's no fun thinking about the negatives in your spouse. But a dare is a dare, obviously my positive sheet is also much longer than my negative sheet --we will see what tomorrow has in store.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Love is not irritable

Two key reasons people become irritable are stress and selfishness. Both need to be eliminated from our relationships.

Dare: Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation. Begin by making a list of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. Then list any wrong motivations that you need to release from your life.

In general, neither Steve nor I are selfish, especially not in our relationship with each other. We look for ways to give to one another and prefer one another. However, stress is something that has made its way into our lives.

Steve's work schedule is crazy. Two months ago, we had so much time together that we got quite used to that. We saw each other almost everyday. Then last month he started working double shifts that started around 11:00 a.m. and lasted until 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. the next day for five or six days in a row. When he finally had a day off, he spent it working on the yard or the house or working at one of his other part-time jobs. (I love being married to a man with a good work ethic and ambitions, but at times it can be very consuming.) Sure, the money's great; but at what cost? No amount of money will matter when I don't get to spend time with him, when he's missing out on moments with his daughter. This brings stress - for both of us.

And I am going to confess something of my own - something that has brought me great stress. I have been plagued by fear for months now. On Christmas Day, Claire and I got snowed in at my parents' house in Tulsa. Steve got snowed out. We were talking on the phone as he was driving home from having dinner at our friends' house. He stopped to pick up a guy who was having car trouble. I asked him not to do it. But it was Christmas Day, and he wanted to do a good deed. I asked him to keep me on the phone the whole time. He did, until his phone went dead. I called him back but got no answer. I tried several times over the course of about 15 minutes. Nothing. I began to panic. I literally felt my heart breaking. My husband was out there, somewhere in Houston, with someone I didn't know. (Do you have any idea how big Houston is?! It's not like I could call someone and tell them where he was and that he needed help. He was just gone.) I was so scared. In that moment I allowed fear to take hold of me. It was real. It had a physical presence. Since that day, off and on, I have had that feeling again. I have worried that something will happen to one of us. But I continue to take authority over that. The Word of God says that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. The Word says that we will live and not die and will declare the works of Lord. The Word says that with long life we will be satisfied. The Word promises that when we lay down our sleep shall be sweet. There are many scriptures that promise peace. I read them when I need to. I talk to my husband about it so that we can take authority over this in our home. It's less frequent now, but the thoughts come ocassionally. They bring with them great stress. (And for the record, Steve's cell phone battery died. He was fine and rushed home to call me.)

So in order to complete this dare, we need to react calmly to every situtation. Steve is the level-headed one. He doesn't really have any issues with this. I, however, tend to be a little more passionate and dramatic. In general, we don't have reason to be irritable; so it's a rare thing. I will, however, endeavor to eliminate it from my life.

Additionally, we need to identify areas in our schedule where margin is needed. Steve's work schedule largely controls our life. We can't really change that right now. We're moving to Memphis in June, and many things, including his schedule, should change for the better. We will be mindful of this going forward.

Finally, we need to identify and release any wrong motivations in our life. Steve rarely, if ever, gets bothered by anything or anyone. He's never sad or upset or angry. I am the opposite. I FEEL everything. As such, in our marriage, I think this applies mainly to me. Steve and I only have one fight. It started shortly after we got engaged, almost kept us from getting married and is the only thing we argue about now - his family. I've told Steve on several ocassions that if I had met his family before we got engaged I would have turned and run for the hills. But it was too late. I had already fallen madly in love with him and couldn't imagine my life without him. I have not for one second regretted choosing to spend my life with Steven. He is amazing and wonderful and the love of my life. I'm just not sure how such a wonderful man came from such a crazy family. (For those of you who are related to Steve and are reading this, this shouldn't be a surprise to you. Perhaps it's a surprise to read about it on the internet, but it's not a surprise.) Details are unnecessary, but suffice it to say that things have been worse than bad. I have spent many hours praying for Steve's family, but I must admit that I have some bitterness toward them. I am angry that they have treated my husband badly. I am hurt by the words they say to him. He is so wonderful, and I hate the way they treat him. They have made it no secret that they wish he hadn't married me and have gone so far as to say to my face that I am not family. This, believe it or not, is not what hurts me. I hate the way they treat Steve. When I found out that I was pregnant with Claire my protective instincts became stronger. Now I don't want them anywhere near my daughter. I don't want to give them an opportunity to hurt her. I don't want them to have anything ugly to say to her or about her. I don't want them to say ugly things about her parents in front of her. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; and I am, indeed, a scorned woman. I have confessed this sin of bitterness repeatedly, but I also repeatedly sin again in this area. I want to protect my husband and my daughter. I know that God is capable of protecting their hearts. He doesn't need me to do His job, and I'm not really capable of doing it anyway. I know this, but I still have to remind myself on a regular basis. And I repent of this at least once a week. So for me, my wrong motivation is bitterness. When I let it go, I know that Steve and I will no longer have a reason to fight about anything, ever. I'm working on it, Babe.

So there you have it. The real and raw truth. Complete transparency. The confessions of a woman who needed to read and learn from this chapter. I'm working on it. I repent and determine from this day forward to not allow fear to control any part of my life and to not allow bitterness toward anyone into my life. It only takes a second for me to repent and choose to go the other way. I am choosing to do so now. Heaven, help me!


I warned you that there could be some transparency as we shared our walk through this Dare with our friends! It's getting lively, isn't it?

The most important thing to me is my family. When Amy was working, I had time for lots of things. During my off time I was building a business, taking care of the house, landscaping and meticulously caring for every detail of our household. When Amy quit working we talked about the things that I had going and the fact that these would, at times, take me away from her. Earlier this year she expressed concern that she thought I was devoting too much time to other things.

Knowing that as the head of this household my family comes first, I had to begin to prioritize. I started preparing our business to be sold. I've hired people to care for the lawn, and I did my best to get family-friendly schedules.

In October of last year I turned down a promotion because I feared that it would take me away from the girls more than my flying schedule of four days on three days off. I then took a teaching position, but that quickly turned into an even crazier schedule! In the middle of all of this I felt God calling me to take the promotion I had turned down. I called about it and found out that the position had been taken; but there was another higher-level position that I was offered and eventually accepted. The transition period has been hectic. I am currently doing my new job and my old job. But my replacement is in training, and in June I will be a one-job man! In July our business should sell and things should get more 'normal' than they have ever been for us! I have to make Amy and Claire my priority.

I chose Amy; and Claire is our responsibility. Nobody can ever come between us. Our marriage ceremony clearly stated 'Woe to he who dares to come between us!' This will forever ring true in our relationship. You have to be for us. Nobody can be against us! I choose my family; write that down, dwell on it, be it!

I will do anything for my family! That's my motivation. Where I can go wrong is in distraction and at times mismanaging my priorities. I am working hard on this one and have been for some time.

I have forgiven those in my family that have come against us, but I will continue to protect my wife and child.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day Five

I just published Day Three Completed, scroll down to have a gander!

Day four-

Ask your spouse to tell you three things that cause him or her to be uncomfortable or irritated with you. You must do so without attacking them or justifying your behavior. This is from their perspective only.

I love the last line 'from their perspective only.' The funny thing about perspectives, or more specifically perceptions, is that they are controlling. What one member of a marital relationship perceives is factual for that person, period! It doesn't matter what their mate was trying to do or say, it's all in the way it was perceived.

For this dare Amy had to narrow her list down to only three, while I only had just one item...Totally kidding!!

Honestly neither of us could come up with three things that irritate us, but we decided that when we came across something new we would immediately share it under the protections of the 'Dare'. The things that really irritated either of us had to do with communication. Hence the opening. Communication is a network of senders, symbols, and receivers. These things can sometimes get jumbled and much like the game of 'Telephone' the signal sent is not always the signal received, or perceived.

We vowed to work harder to ensure our signals were clear, and any confusion about our intentions was cleared up at once!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day Four

Simple -- Love is Thoughtful

Show your spouse that you care and are thinking about them by calling him or her at least once during the day with no agenda. Just to see how they are doing.

I think a more difficult dare to accomplish would have been the opposite of this. We call each other quite frequently when we aren't together and today was no different.

We are in Memphis for the week house hunting -- fun times. We found quite the palace today, I'm afraid everything else we look at could be a disappointment.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Dare Three Complete

Steve and I are normally very giving and thoughtful people. We are very generous, especially with each other. This third dare was very easy for us to complete once we actually had time (and I had access to my car, which Steve has been driving to and from work to save on gas since his truck burns so much).

I bought Steve a cord to plug his iPhone into his truck. It will allow him to play his Internet radio while driving. He's been wanting one for a long time. And just for fun, I surprised him with a homemade chocolate peanut butter pie this evening. It's very messy to make but oh so yummy!

As previously mentioned, I got a beautiful ring. I love it!

Dare three has been successfully completed. Bring on dare number four!


Dare Three was fun -- I was ready for this one, thank you Amy for my wonderful surprises!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day Three

Crazy times in the Norton household have us kicking off this little experiment a bit off schedule. We will succeed and make time for each and every dare!

Today's dare was rather specific, citing selfishness as a large problem in marriages and associating things we invest in as things that are important to us. The challenge--'invest in your spouse!' Buy them something thoughtful!

We didn't really have time in our busy little schedule to go shopping, so I looked like a hero today when I snuck a ring that she was eye-balling the other day under her contact case! I learned after last Christmas that I must always buy things the instant I see her coveting them. If I dare wait until I have an opportunity to get to the store to buy it without her, it likely won't be there.

The other day I bought something that she fell in love with at one of her favorite stores and put it away for the perfect occasion -- today was the day! Lucky me, and lucky Amy!

I can't wait to see what my plunder brings...

And a huge shout out to my wife on her help with some of my responsibilities around the house! I was so excited to see the things that she had done -- and lest we forget my unexpected gift as well!


I LOVE my ring! Thanks, Babe!

Tomorrow Claire and I are going shopping. More to come...


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dare Two Completed

I did one of "Steve's" chores. (There are just some things around here that he usually takes care of; just like there are some things I normally take care of.) When he got home this morning (at 3:00 a.m.), he discovered that I had done one of his chores. I also bought him a gift while I was out running errands yesterday. (And for those of you who are curious, yes, it was practical. LOL) Both unexpected, and both appreciated. Dare Two successfully completed.

Moving on to Dare Three...