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“If You really love me…Wash the Dishes!”

I hear a lot of things while I’m out and about in the public square. I hear good things, like the sister saying to her brother at a pizza restaurant, “you play soccer better than anyone I’ve ever seen!” To which her brother gave her a hug…they were about 8 years old. I hear bad things too.

Walking past a window at an apartment complex and hearing a woman and man yelling at each other because he said she was spending too much time with her supervisor…she said, “at least he pays attention to me!” continued yelling, hurtful things said and then a door slamming.

I heard a man praying once. I was sitting in a Baskin Robbins, eating two dips of “Death by Chocolate” when I heard the guy at the next table. I thought he was talking on his phone, but …no phone in his hand! I try not to eavesdrop, but…you know, come on; I wanted to know what he was saying and to whom! When I finally DID hear what he was saying, I discovered he was praying for his mother…asking the Lord to give her a chance to know Jesus.

Curiosity; in my case, most certainly could get me in trouble if I am not careful!

Perhaps one of the most intriguing things I have heard hit me like a ton of bricks and I’ll explain why.

For some reason I have the ability to be aware of my surroundings in a “Hypersensitive” way. It is nothing I trained for or that I have learned…it was given to me…by a God who needs ears on the ground. All glory to God.

I say this because it is written onto my soul, to always be observing and listening to things going on around me. If it looks like I’m nosy…well, maybe I am…but I’m not trying to be rude, I’m trying to understand the STORY because the story is EVERYTHING!

So, back to the thing, I heard the other day. I was at Sonic, the highly health unconscious drive in of gastronomic delights…sipping on a 44oz Hwy 44 Frozen Limeade. I was listening to a message on my phone through my Bluetooth speakers in my truck. As I sat there listening to the message, the couple in the car right next to me were having a discussion. I put the phone message on “hold”.

The woman was saying something to her husband about their relationship. They could not see my window was down because of the gigantic menus the size of a drive-in movie screen that separate our cars, so they didn’t lower their voices. She began,

“You keep asking me if I’m happy in our marriage…and for the most part…if you want me to answer honestly, Yes, I am.”

Her husband, probed deeper asking “for the most part?” (which; in my opinion, was sort of like leaning into a right hook…brave man or an idiot.) She sat quietly, then spoke up. “You always SAY, “I love you so much!” You’re a really great dad…and when you say those things, I believe you…but…” her voice trailed off, maybe wondering if she should really say what she felt and risk hurting the man she loved.

“But ?” the husband asked, ( I realized he knew he needed to draw her out…give her the permission to say what he needed to hear.) She cleared her throat. I could tell she was trying so hard not to say what she wanted to say in a hurtful way.

“Well, if you love me so much”…she paused, “Could you maybe just wash the dishes every once in a while?” She had said it, but it was kind of like taking her finger out of the dike…because what was in her heart came pouring out…

“Would YOU, every once in a while…” I heard her try to choke back a sob, “just do some laundry like you did when we were first married?” There was no stopping it now…
“Would it be possible, just every once in a while…not always but maybe once a month, just take the kids so I could have just an hour or two by myself?” she cried now.

Revealing the heart does that…it brings cleansing and I admired her because she was trying to respect her relationship with her husband but speak her mind at the same time. I was proud of her. I got teary-eyed too which; is no surprise, since I tear up at the home reveals on HGTV.

Her husband WISELY let her cry and didn’t SAY A WORD!!! (Good job buddy!) I was cheering for him…it’s hard to hear truth, hard to hear where you’ve fallen short. This guy was no chicken and was wise enough to let her finish without interruption! We need more men like him I think…and more women like her.

“I want to know,” his wife continued, “that your words MEAN something, and…I know they do, I mean, I KNOW you love me but…” her head was down in her hands and she was outright boohooing. She looked up and said, “If you love me so much, could you just wash the dishes?” Her voice was pleading.

This may seem like a real invasion of privacy to you. I was the proverbial “fly on the wall” and not necessarily in a room, I wanted to be in. Now, I’ve been taught manners my friends, and I know when I should not remain in a room when two people have an issue to work out. But in this case, I had to hear what the resolution would be…I can’t tell you why…it’s like I was supposed to be here…or maybe I AM nosy.

She fished into her purse for a tissue, and was becoming frustrated, when her husband, handed her a handed her a handkerchief…a HANDKERCHIEF!!! And it was clean too! She looked at him and smiled and wiped her eyes and nose. That’s when I peeked a little lower (that dadgum menu was in my way!) and saw tears in his eyes. He reached over to his wife and held her hand. He didn’t speak, although she looked at him as he looked down at their hands and fingers intertwined.

“I’m so clueless!” he said to her raising his eyes. He continued. “Yes, of course…of COURSE I will do all of that and more!” He pulled her into his arms and said, “Sweetheart, can you ever forgive me?” “I’ve been too busy…just too busy!” They hugged and she sighed a sigh of relief. She had been heard, and in humility, he had seen his error.

We need to revisit the Love Languages.

To this woman, her love language was “Acts of Service”. She didn’t need to HEAR he loved her, she needed to SEE he loved her by doing things for her.

A summary of the Five Love Languages from “” gives a pretty good summary. I encourage you to purchase the book by Gary Chapman, “The Five Love Languages.”

The following is a brief explanation of each of the five love languages:

1. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION. Some people are more attuned than others to hear both positive and negative words from those whose opinions they cherish. While negative, critical words can tear them down, positive, encouraging words make them flourish. People who need verbal affirmation also tend to be freer with their own encouraging words. They assume that, because they so need verbal praise, the loved ones in their lives also need it.

2. ACTS OF SERVICE. “Why can’t you help me around here?” Lanna complained. “I’m starting to wonder if you really love me.” Lanna’s frustration with her husband’s lack of household help may be due to her love language. When acts of service is a person’s primary language, he or she interprets the help as a sign of someone’s love. When Tom pitches in with chores that may normally fall to Lanna, his efforts are interpreted by her as love, even though no actual words of love are spoken.

3. GIFTS. We all know someone, often a woman, who brings gifts everywhere she goes. She is always “picking up a little something” for the people in her life. She thrives on gift-giving, and, when she is given a gift, it fills her love tank. Sometimes people misunderstand her need to express love through gift-giving and interpret her constant offerings as bribes or the expectation of something in return. When gifts is a person’s primary love language, he or she places a great deal of weight on the quality of the gift and the effort that went into obtaining it.

4. QUALITY TIME. “I feel most loved by you when we’ve spent a long time talking about important things,” Dale told his wife. His need for soul connection is closely related to his way of receiving love. Quality time is usually linked to meaningful conversation for the people with this primary love language. Hours of deep conversation create an emotional connection for them. “If this person cares enough about me to spend all this time with me, then they really love me,” goes the reasoning.

5. PHYSICAL TOUCH. Physical touch is crucial for the health and well-being of every human being. Babies who do not receive enough loving touch in infancy do not thrive and can have lifelong difficulties. But for some people, the need for physical touch is greater than it is for others.

To end my story with a happy ending, the husband said he was going to put on his calendar every week to take the children and let his wife make plans. She told him, “Oh, I don’t need THAT much time alone…I want to spend it with YOU!” A big smile broke out on her face… “Maybe just a few hours a month to myself!” He promised and I saw him take out his phone, in front of her and put in a reminder.

She began to laugh, and at that moment, she gave him HIS love language…”I just knew you would hear me out…YOU ARE THE MOST WONDERFUL MAN…GOD HAS BLESSED ME SO MUCH WITH YOU!” (Words of Affirmation), now he wept as she held his head in her hands. “I always want to take care of you sweetheart,” he said, sobbing in her arms. His actions healed her heart, her words healed his soul and I have no doubt that other activities took their course later that day that I would have no business being privy to.

Talk to your spouse… Listen to each other. Learn their love language! You know, I ruined one marriage by not doing it…I will never make that mistake again. How about you?

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A Case of Mistaken Identity

I have told you all before of my love affair with Publix grocery stores. These people have great customer service. However, it seems that it never fails that something interesting always happens to me when I go shopping. I once had a woman ask me to do her produce shopping for her and even bring it to her in the next aisle. Publix holds a secret entrance to Hogwarts somewhere in the back I believe. Too many strange things occur there for it to be otherwise.

So, here I was, in a grocery store again. This time I was looking for some items to make my homemade chicken soup for my wife who had bronchitis this past week. My chicken soup is legendary… in my own mind.

While looking for some chicken breast I couldn’t help but notice a large of group of people standing over one of the coolers sitting in the middle of the meat dept filled with Turkeys. They were debating, some of them wildly gesticulating while talking, while others patiently listened. When one was done another would interject a comment.

The group was divided about something, and this group was about 8 or so people along with two Publix employees standing there answering questions. I was intrigued, thinking it was a promotion or something.

As an ENFP on the Myers/Briggs personality chart, I feel it is my duty to join any crowd that is assembled. I don’t know why, and you may think me self-important, but we ENFP’s know that people need our opinions… no brag, just fact. I approached the group and listened and understood at once the debate was over the appropriate type of meat one should serve at the Christmas meal. These were all members of the same family I discovered.

“Turkey is for Thanksgiving Merle!” said a woman I later learned was named Ruth.

“Traditionally,” said the Publix employee, “Turkey is for both Thanksgiving AND Christmas.” Ruth’s brow furrowed as she shook her head no and looked into her purse for a tissue to blow her nose. Merle, a round bellied man, shook HIS head “yes” and picked up a huge turkey to look at the price presumably to make the purchase.

“”Ham…Christmas Ham” said a short lady with bright orange fingernail polish.
“Christmas is all about having a Christmas Ham on the table! “she said emphatically. “Jerry and I always have a Christmas ham on our table!”

The other Publix employee nodded, agreeing with Orange Fingers. A man whom I presume was Jerry, nodded to the affirmative as well as if to convince the group of the obvious fact. The others engaged in a debate as to having both meats as a compromise but I felt that Orange Fingers had been dismissed somewhat rudely by Bev; another relative, whose husband George along with her were weighing in favorably in the Turkey camp.

“We can’t get two different meats for Christmas…” said a younger woman who appeared to be Ruth’s daughter and a staunch ham supporter. I later discovered Shawna was her name and that her husband Todd was busy wiping the face of their 3 year old Zoey, sitting in the shopping cart. Shawna continued,

“We don’t have enough people to consume all this food, even when Kelly and Ray’s family get here with their three kids!” Inwardly I disagreed. Not knowing if Ruth and Merle, Orange fingers and Jerry, Bev and George and Shawna and Todd had any other children who were going to attend. Lord knows Kelly and Ray’s family could certainly put away some groceries on the Holiday’s! Shawna had obviously never held the family get together at HER house.

The debate continued to grow to a fever pitch, with Todd getting into dangerous territory with his mother-in-law Ruth looking at her and asking flippantly, “Why do you have to be so disagreeable?” Merle chuckled as did George. Tempers began to flare and the two Publix employees excused themselves so they could call the S.W.A.T. team if necessary.

It was evident that there needed to be an intervention. This is a job for an ENFP! Pressing my cart into the center of the circle and looking intently at a Turkey as if shopping for one, the group grew quiet as I rummaged through the birds and then, I looked at the most natural allies I would have in the group (Orange finger and Ruth) and said, “Why not have a Christmas Goose?” I smiled and realized, my work was done here. I began to move away as silently as I had appeared, content that I had contributed…peace on earth, good will toward men!

Ruth blinked at me, wiping her nose with the tissue she had fished out of her purse. Orange fingers, the other ally I had counted on, exclaimed, “Hey! What ABOUT a Christmas goose?” Shawna looked at me and a smile broke out on her face. She came over to the side of the cooler I was on and said, “Hey! How are you?! and gave me a big side hug like we had been long lost friends. Now I was confused and a little panicked. Immediately in my mind, the FBI facial recognition software that is wet wired into my brain began to scan all the faces in my memory banks trying to remember who this Shawna was. Was she a former tile customer?

Shawna looked at Todd and Ruth and said, “Y’all remember Kelly’s Uncle Troy?!” Ruth studied me as did Todd and then Todd shook my hand and said, “How ya doin’ man?!” I smiled nervously, trying to decide if I was going to tell them of their error, or if I was now sitting at the kids table this year at the Christmas get together in the role of Kelly’s Uncle Troy.

“I’m doin good!” I said and looked behind me to see if my way was blocked. It was. George and Bev had closed in behind me. There was no escape. I decided to fess up because the earlier you fess up the better your chances of getting a minimum sentence…just ask Robert Mueller.

“I’m not…” but those were the only words that got out of my mouth. George and Bev, evidently remembered Uncle Troy too and asked me if I was coming to the family get together. Now I was stuck I thought. Everyone is going to be embarrassed when they discover their mistake and then of course, ask me who I thought I was sticking my nose into the family Christmas dinner. It was just going to be a “drive by suggestion”, but now I was in the game and the crowd was watching.

“I don’t think I can this year” I stuttered to my own amazement, realizing at any moment now, someone would discover their error and label me an imposter.
Bev said, “Well I think a Christmas Goose is a really good compromise!” Ruthie (she told me to call her Ruthie) said she agreed. Merle was all smiles and said “You’d better be there!” Todd agreed and said he was making his “special” Egg Nog and gave me a knowing wink. (Note, I have learned that you do not wink in Tennessee especially at other men if you know what’s good for you. I was embarrassed and disappointed at Todd for his Southern social faux paus!) All this time Orange fingers had been strangely silent and continued to eye me over as if she couldn’t place me at the last family get together. “No Kidding!” I thought to myself…”I’m not Uncle Troy!” At this point I made a bold move and began backing out of the circle of trust because I knew; any second, Robert DeNiro was going to show up, give me a polygraph test and discover I was not Gaylord Focker.

Even though Bev’s cart tried to hold me there, I kept smiling and continued backing out and I said that I had to go, because I was going to be late for work. This was my first mistake.

Shawna, frowned and tilted her head sideways and asked, “Did you move to Nashville from Boulder?” Why did I not remember that Uncle Troy lived in Boulder?! I thought to myself.

“You mean Indiana…” I blurted out stupidly, correcting where I had moved from. She said something else about Colorado, but I pretended to misunderstand her, and kept walking backwards shouting back, “I sure will…you too!” waving goodbye. Frantically I began pushing my cart down the cat food aisle FAST! Reaching the end of the aisle, I ditched my buggy, (Northern Translation: shopping cart- Spanish Translation: “No Ninos en la Canasta!”), and literally ran out the door leaving my chicken breast and organic bone chicken broth and egg noodles behind.

Reaching my car, I could not start the ignition fast enough. I made sure to make a quick turn onto I-65 South to the Cool Springs exit as a slick getaway move, made another quick right and ducked (no pun intended) into Kroger. Sure that no one had followed me, I then went to purchase what I had left behind in Publix.

There were various groups of people talking to each other there too, but I was sure that Ruthie, Merle, Bev and George, Shawna and Todd, Orange Fingers and Jerry had sent out an APB to be on the lookout for an Uncle Troy impersonator. I pulled my collar around my face and did not talk to anyone.

I discovered they don’t sell Goose as an option in the meat department at Publix. The police are looking for someone fitting my description

“Be on the look out for a man making fowl suggestions in the meat department.”