Creating a Haven of Peace: When You're Feeling Down, Finances Are Flat, and Tempers are Rising

Creating a Haven of Peace: When You're Feeling Down, Finances Are Flat, and Tempers are Rising

by Joanne Fairchild Miller

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630477714
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Pages: 170
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Joanne Miller is an artist, speaker, author of five children’s books and co-author (with Dorsey McHugh) of "Be Your Finest Art." She is wife of author Dan Miller (48 Days to the Work You Love) and is a speaker in his events, on his podcasts and blogs. She is a speaker for Launch, Escaping Shawshank, Innovate, Coaching with Excellence and has been interviewed by Moody Radio, ReLaunch, Biz Chix, A Terrible Husband and many others.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

In the Beginning ... I Had a Choice to Make

It would be hard to write a book on how intentional I have been in creating a Haven of Peace without first giving a prelude to what, perhaps, made this life-long quest high on my list of life goals. No one comes into marriage without some baggage. Some have such heavy baggage that it takes years of therapy to unload it all. Interestingly, I wasn't even aware I had much baggage 'til long after I was married, had children, and faced an empty nest. At that point, in my early 50s, I really took the time to evaluate who I was; what I brought to the table as a human being. I hadn't had much time to think about it before. I was far too busy taking care of everyone around me; feeling if I wasn't strong for everyone and making their lives easy and happy, I was not doing my job properly. Through some intense therapy and soul searching, I discovered I didn't know how to be happy except when I made others around me happy. I didn't know how to just be me. To be happy on my own.

On a trip to Chicago soon after our last child left home for college, my husband, Dan, made a statement revealing a truth that hit me like a sledgehammer. I love Chicago at Christmas. It is truly magical. But everything I saw ... the twinkling lights, the carolers, the window treatments, the light falling snow ... found me exclaiming, "Oh, I wish the kids were here to see this!" Finally, Dan asked me, "Can't you enjoy anything without the kids? Can't you enjoy it for us? For you?" I realized he was pointing out a very valid fact. I simply didn't know how to enjoy my life without seeing it through the excitement of other people's lives. It was a pattern I had a hard time breaking. It took a few years of introspection, counseling, reading, and a concerted effort to discover who I truly was and how God had uniquely prepared me for the life I was to live.

So a little personal history might give a bit of insight into why this quest for creating peace and harmony in my home became so important to me. From the first year of my married life, I knew I didn't want to emulate the chaos, anger, and unrest I had experienced growing up. But, I don't think I realized 'til well into my marriage that I had this relentless desire for Creating a Haven of Peace no matter how hard it seemed at the time. I wanted so much more than I had experienced. I hope this insight will help you look at yourself and your life with new eyes to gain a new perspective.

Will the Real Joanne Please Stand Up?

By the time I was four years old, my mother had been divorced twice. I had two younger sisters whom I was expected to help raise ... I became like a surrogate spouse, fulfilling many household duties, rarely having time to pursue activities I wanted to do. I would escape in the pages of a book as often as I could get away from the continual chores and duties I was forced to do. We lived in poverty and on welfare much of my growing up years. I was expected to clean, cook, iron, and babysit from my earliest memories. My mother was independent, domineering, and hated men. All extended family members were also divorced so there were no male influences in my life except for a step-grandfather who was distant and often drunk. My mother took out much of her frustration and anger on her children by abusive beatings and hair pulling, foul language and threats ... yet her puritanical morals were strictly enforced. Thus, I was very limited in what I could do socially and outside the home. We did not attend church or clubs or other community events. We often moved so I rarely had long-term friends. My world was very narrow.

When I was seventeen, my mother remarried my father to use his money to save her home from foreclosure. Then she divorced him again after much fighting and drunken episodes in front of us children. When I was eighteen, my boyfriend (now my husband) moved me out of the house and into a rented bedroom in the home of an elderly lady. He felt my mother had become so angry and abusive I was in harm's way. I was chronically ill with colitis and anemia due to the stress. For ten years after I married at age nineteen, my mother would make me so ill by her rages when I would visit that we vowed never to live in the same state with her. When I wanted to share the joy and excitement over the birth of our first baby, she returned my letters and pictures unopened, which crushed my heart and wounded me deeply. I longed for her approval and love.

What you have just read is one version of my story. It is true and would be a good excuse for giving up, settling for a mediocre life, and becoming a life-long victim. But here is another version of my story. I like this one better. It, too, is true. It shows a perspective I prefer to embrace and has defined my adult life far more than the prior story.

I grew up experiencing homemade clothes my grandmother lovingly put together for me and Christmases with beautiful handmade gifts and dolls. When I was entering fourth grade, my mother decided she wanted to get off welfare so she applied to college and was accepted even though she only had a tenth-grade education. We were privileged to live on the college campus and I was able to use the library often. When my mother took classes, I often studied along with her and learned about geology, English literature, science, classical music, and art. I was able to go to a small private grade school with the children of the professors at the college. I learned French in fourth grade. I had an extensive geological rock collection that I was able to put in shows. I learned how to make beautiful rock gardens. I was introduced very early to the advantages of learning and avid reading that transported me to places I had never known about before and longed to visit. I learned to make things beautiful by being creative and striving to keep my world clean of clutter and filth. I would transplant the flowers from the woods to our small patch of dirt around the Quonset hut we lived in. I learned to cook, clean, iron, and be a good housekeeper from the time I was old enough to hold a broom. I learned how to improvise and can fix just about anything with Scotch tape, rubber bands, and thumbtacks!

Because we moved often, I learned to make friends easily and to be flexible. Being the oldest in a single family home, I learned to keep house and nurture my younger sisters when my mother was too busy. My history set the stage for teaching me what I wanted for my future and what I knew I didn't want to emulate. My upbringing gave me the determination to create a Haven of Peace. My upbringing set the stage for my enjoyment of mothering and being a homemaker; to be proud of the strength I derived from not having everything given to me easily.

You can determine who you want to become and what will define your life. You can use your past as an excuse for failure or you can use it to draw a line in the sand and change your family tree.

Here's a challenge for you: Write two versions of your own story. It is a great exercise and will make you think about your own perspective and what defines you. Be as complete and descriptive as you can. Which story do you most want to continue? What legacy do you want to leave for your children that will give them a good beginning for their own story?

Two Worlds Colliding

"This couple never had a chance in marriage because they were two different worlds colliding!" Dan and I were sitting in a front pew listening to our pastor as he said these words with passion. He went on to say the couple had no chance for a unified relationship from the beginning and had made a poor decision for which they were justified in parting ways. Wow! I had a hard time concentrating on the rest of the sermon because my brain got hung up on those four little words, two different worlds colliding. I know very few relationships that couldn't claim the same thing. And when I got married at age nineteen, I didn't give a whole lot of thought that Dan and I came from totally different worlds. My favorite stories, movies, and songs are about people who come from different worlds and love happily ever after.

Dan was raised in a somber, legalistic home. His father was a Conservative Mennonite pastor of a very small congregation in rural Ohio; his mother a quietly submissive homemaker. There were no outward manifestations of romance or joy in their marriage. In fact, the opposite was true. His parents barely tolerated one another most of the sixty-plus years of their marriage and his mother would often leave and come live with us for weeks at a time.

My upbringing was consumed by a desire to please my mother at all costs. As you read in the two versions of my story, there were no male figures in my home or in the extended family. My mother, thrice divorced (she remarried my father briefly), hated men and barely tolerated my dating. I became more like a surrogate spouse for her and when I met Dan at age seventeen, he became a threat because she feared he was going to take me away from her. He also stood up to her in defending me and protecting me from her tirades, which only escalated her intolerance of him.

Once my mother got her degree, she became a much respected high school teacher. Her students loved her and she put most of her energy into the classroom, whether it was earning another degree or teaching others. I was very sheltered, did most of the cleaning and cooking in our home and most of what I learned about life, love, and sex was through my husband after we were married. I was totally unchurched and had never even heard of Mennonites. I loved to dance, wear makeup, and in the '60's I dressed in mini-skirts and lots of jewelry. I was raised on TV, Elvis Presley, and James Bond movies, and rather than having healthy farm-grown food as did Dan, my mother thought Little Debbie snack cakes were one of the major food groups! Dan and I were definitely two worlds colliding in every sense. The fact that we were both still teenagers when we married would seem to be another strike against us. Or was it?

We grew up together. We may not have spent our childhoods in the same world, but we definitely learned a lot from what each of us brought to the marriage table. We matured into very different people from those teen years when we were searching for our own identities. Our worlds didn't collide. To do so would have meant we were intent upon maintaining self-centered behavior and not encouraging each other to grow and change and become better people. I think our worlds meshed.

By definition, mesh means to "fit together harmoniously." By contrast, when one collides, he/she "comes together with violent or direct impact". Dan and I may have been from different worlds, but we each brought from our experience parts we could put together to create our own NEW world. We decided quickly to create our own "Haven of Peace." It was our goal from the beginning to change our paradigm and learn to live as new creations. Not only in Christ but within our own marriage and family and home.

Many divorces are granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Often that means, "We are two people who cannot refrain from our own self-centeredness. My needs and desires are more important to me than yours." No marriage is perfect and no one lives happily ever after without having their share of conflict, anger, and frustrations. However, agreeing to do what it takes to work out those differences and live harmoniously together is what makes for long-term marriages.

[Let me insert a caveat here: I am aware there are abusive relationships that need to be dissolved. I do not believe that once married, one is bound by those vows regardless of how they are treated. I do, however, believe there is a large percentage of marriages that end in divorce because of self-centered expectations and behaviors. A good and successful marriage requires a determination to serve one another in a way that fosters love and kindness. And that takes intentional devotion to working on that relationship every single day.]

We are not the same people we were in our teens. Far from it. We are much better, much more secure in who we are and, much happier. And we are still in love. We have meshed well for a lifetime; we have learned to love one another and embrace each other's differences and we are determined to live happily ever after ...

Love the One You're With

Can you remember the moment you fell in love? That pivotal moment when, suddenly, the world stood still. You imagined a full orchestra playing a crescendo of romantic music in the background. Your heart did a flip-flop like you had just dropped over the crest of a gigantic hill on a roller-coaster? That kind of love? Can you remember it?

I graduated from high school at seventeen and my main interest at that time in my life was boys. I really had no interest in furthering my education. In fact, like many seventeen-year-olds, I hadn't given much thought at all to what I wanted to be when I grew up. But my mother had gotten her life turned around and off welfare by going to college while being a single parent of three little girls so she was adamant that I should attend the local campus in the fall. Part of her argument was, "If you don't go for any other reason than to meet a good man, it is a good place to start!" (This coming from a woman who had a chronic and deep disdain for men!) Now, that got my attention!

A mutual friend introduced Dan to me on my very first day at the Ohio State University branch campus. I was a seventeen-year-old sheltered and very naive freshman and he was a Conservative Mennonite eighteen-year-old sophomore. I needed a ride to campus several days a week and he was ready to jump at the opportunity. We quickly became great friends. But I remember one day as clear as a bell. The day IT happened. He had picked me up in his little Renault Dauphine (look it up!) four-speed on the floor. We were talking animatedly when he reached up to adjust the volume on the radio. Instead of bringing his hand back down to rest on the gearshift, he rested it on my knee. Now, come on, you know that feeling. Like an electrical spark happens and you suddenly realize this isn't just a friendship anymore. And that is exactly what happened. In less than a year, we were married. That incident happened in 1967 — some years ago. But to this day, I love it when Dan puts his hand on my knee, or pulls me in a bear-hug or snuggles up to keep me warm.

Decades of marriage bring on differing manifestations of love. They may not include all the tingles and butterflies and crescendos of orchestral music, but I challenge you to never forget why you fell in love with the one you love. Because, chances are, the very reasons you did are often the very attributes that cause you to bristle and pull your hair out in frustration. Funny how that happens.

As a very naive seventeen-year-old who never experienced having a father or brother, I cherished the strength and determination I saw in Dan. I still do. I loved his brain and his ability to be decisive and carry through. I still do. And sometimes those very things I most love about him are what drive me mad. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I too have a voice in what happens in our relationship because if I don't, I can quickly become consumed by his more overpowering personality.

Ever have this kind of conversation?

Dan: "Where would you like to go to eat?"

Joanne: "I don't know. I'm open to whatever."

Dan: "Ok then, let's go to Garcia's."

Joanne: "No, I don't want Mexican!"

Dan: "Well, how about sushi?"

Joanne: "No, I eat there every week with the girls and I'm getting tired of sushi!"

Dan: "Why don't you tell me where you would like to go then?!"

Joanne: "I said I was open ... just not those places."

By now Dan is feeling like Charlie Brown when Lucy has once again retracted the football as he was running to kick it. And I wish I could be more decisive and make the choice without this kind of scenario. But we are different and, after all these decades, we recognize those differences. They don't bother us as much as they did when we were early in our relationship trying to figure each other out.

Every now and then, I think on why I married my dear husband. And I keep a couple of photographs on display in our home of when we were first married and had stars in our eyes and so much love in our hearts we were full to bursting. Our love hasn't diminished, but it certainly has changed. It has grown so much stronger through the years because we have learned to live with each other in the everyday. Not just the date nights when everything is perfect, the candles are burning, the orchestra is playing in our heads, and we see nothing but the best in one another. We have been together through some very rough times and clung together in tears and in loss.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Creating a Haven of Peace"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Joanne Fairchild Miller.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 In the Beginning. . .I Had a Choice to Make

Chapter 2 FAMILY: You Gotta' Love 'Em!

Chapter 3 What's Your Mission?

Chapter 4 Putting the OM in H-O-M-E

Chapter 5 What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Chapter 6 Change isn't an Option. . .It's a Given!

Chapter 7 Are You a Debbie Downer?

Chapter 8 A Tragedy or an Education?

Chapter 9 And They Lived Happily Ever After

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