Joe Jr.“Hey, Luce, was he leanin’?” Joey Fusco was the son of the superintendent at Lucy Moderatz’s apartment building. He was always watching to see how close Lucy was getting to guys. Or how close they were getting to her.

While You Were Sleeping“Was he leanin’?” It became a family joke after we watched “While You Were Sleeping” as our daughter, Monica, moved into her dating years.

To lean means “To bend or slant away from the vertical.” – to relax and not be so rigid, proper, and perfectly aligned.

Leanin'John and I have a place in our kitchen where we do a lot of leanin’. We stand and talk and lean. We lean against the sink, and we lean toward each other. More than once, I remember Monica walking in and looking at us and saying (in her best Joey Fusco voice), “Hey! You guys leanin’?”

 Sometimes you have to bend or slant away from the vertical. And relax.

leaninWe always say there’s probably a groove worn in the kitchen floor, where our feet stand at that place we lean against the sink.  If you added together all the minutes we’ve stood there, it would probably be more than 100 hours.  

What do we talk about? This and that. Everything. Anything.

As Billy Joel put it, “I don’t want clever conversation. I never want to work that hard. I just want someone that I can talk to. I want you just the way you are.”

Sometimes we just talk about our day, or family stuff or jokes or a cool bible verse we came across. Sometimes we talk about what we’re reading, or something we heard on the radio, or what’s in the news.

Sometimes more than other times, we bend away from the vertical…both physically and emotionally.

These are the times we call M.I.M. – Mouth In Motion.

I might be overwhelmed with some problem that I can’t clearly sort out for myself, so as we lean against the sink I’ll start talking. I’ll usually begin with a disclaimer – “This is just M.I.M.”  Translation: “I’m just going to say everything in my mind, sort of dump it out on the proverbial table in a big pile. Don’t take it too seriously…well, yes, take it seriously, but don’t hold me to it.”

Totally honest talk to a non-judgmental, listening ear.

So I talk – mouth in motion – I dump it all out in a haphazard heap, and John helps me pick up each piece, shake it out and see if it’s real, or where it fits into reality.  He helps me bring order into the issue, and reminds me to get rid of whatever is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable — and if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, to think about such things.  He reminds me to toss out the garbage thoughts. He helps me make sense of the problem, and maybe figure out a solution. Or he promises to pray with me as I go through whatever it is.

And it works both ways. John has the M.I.M. and I help him sort it out.

I’m not talking about interpersonal issues between the two of us. That would be another blog.  John touched on it here.

M.I.M. – “Mouth in Motion” – Obviously we can’t go around venting, and pouring out our every thought to everyone we know.  The bible has plenty to say about guarding our tongue and choosing our words carefully.  But when a man and woman are married, God says the two have become one. If there is anyone in the world with whom we can be completely transparent and spontaneous it must be our spouse – our other half. (If you are reading this and you’re not married, ask the Lord if there are one or two people in your life who are very close, true friends, and give each other M.I.M. permission. I actually learned M.I.M. from my room-mate, Barbie, before John and I were married.)

The bottom line is that it will help you keep your sanity and think clearly if you have …someone that you can talk to…someone good at leanin’. Jack and Lucy

Special thanks to my wife Andee for contributing this post. I so appreciate her help and insight. If you’d like to read more, check out her blog, Paladini PotPie.

Walking the Plank

Jack Sparrow GunsI am a blame-shifter…but it’s not my fault. Actually, I’ve been this way for a long time. But now that I think of it, I’ve really perfected it to an art form, since I got married. Hey, I’m not perfect; but neither are you.

I attribute my problem to my family of origin issues. It must be some kind of genetic mutation because I’m just like my great, great, great grandfather Adam. I blame God and I blame my wife: It’s the woman you gave me! Gen 3:12
Pirate ArgumentSin is ugly. It deceives us into thinking we’re doing alright and lookin’ good. Like the people in the church of Laodicea, we say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

We think: no one will notice. But we’re as inconspicuous as a pirate in Nordstrom’s. “ARRRR, Where be the turtleneck sweaters?” Pirate walking the plank 2Not only are we oblivious to our own sin, but we have the audacity to point out the failures of our spouse. We are ready to make them walk the plank over the smallest failings in their life. But before we condemn them to Davey Jones’ locker, Jesus has much better solution.
Jesus uses an outlandish word picture to set us back on course. He tells us: First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt 7:5)
According to Jesus, I should be much more concerned with the sin in my life than the sins of others. When it comes to sin, if I am going to be any kind of help to my wife, I must first gain the valuable experience of dealing with my own sin. Our spouse needs help, but it must be compassionate help. Pirate Treasure MapThe only healthy approach to helping others deal with their sin is to do so with humility and grace. Humility and grace act as a “corrective lens” so we can discern the true need, and help them see the solution.

A quality marriage includes helping one another steer clear of the shoals that cause the shipwreck of so many marriages. And to encourage one another to follow the instruction of God’s Word and set a course for smooth sailing. Pirate TreasureThe best part is, you will discover the treasure God has given you in your mate.