Life

Husband Appreciation Post

My husband and I just celebrated ten whopping years of marriage, and I’m taking this week to brag on him just a little bit.

I posted the following picture of us when we went out to celebrate last weekend.

Yes, I cut off all of my hair and I’m not the least bit sorry.

But let me take you back to the thunder and lightning seven months prior.

In December of last year, we were forced to replace one of our cars a little sooner than planned. And that’s when the drizzle started. We were still paying my daughter’s tuition at private school, and of course we had incurred the expenses of a newborn (why are diapers and formula so doggone expensive?) My son has also had a long string of doctor’s appointments at the pediatrician’s, dermatologist’s and urologist’s offices. He also had surgery in May. A month ago, Brent had a root canal AND a crown replacement, and then we discovered I needed a crown. Just FYI, this is why we believe in having an emergency fund of 3-6 months living expenses, because when it rains, it pours! It feels like we’ve been using a salad shooter to shell out our money for months now.

Needless to say, two weeks ago, I wasn’t really in a celebratory mood. But, it was only because I was being pragmatic.

Last summer, Brent and I decided we would take a vacation to celebrate our 10 years, but with our financial outgo since December, we decided it best to put it off for another year’s celebration. Dinner was all we needed.

And then the week of our anniversary rolled around, and my son succumbed to a stomach bug. It was also the same week Brent and I were both having dental work done. Just to tell you how emotionally and physically drained I was, having a 6 inch needle stabbed into three different places in my mouth was a welcomed break to the chaos at home. I was sitting in that dental chair and all I could think about was how I didn’t want to celebrate our anniversary. All of the things I normally would die for, I didn’t want. I didn’t want him to buy me a card. I didn’t want him to buy me flowers. I didn’t want to go to dinner. I just wanted to wait until the storm cloud had rolled away and we could celebrate later. As soon as I got home, I cried into his shoulder and asked him to cancel our Friday night plans.

I just couldn’t do it.

Brent was adamant about going to dinner, but he agreed with our little one sick, we needed to move the date to the following weekend.

Brent’s not the romantic type (like, hardly ever). But he surprised me to no end last weekend. Not only did he plan the babysitting and make reservations at one of the best restaurants in Winter Park, he also secretly packed an overnight bag and whisked me away after dinner (we won’t talk about how I cried when I realized I wasn’t going home to my baby…it’s okay, it didn’t take me too long to recover).

I’m sorry, but it’s just hard to leave this face.

From a delectable meal, to singing throwback songs as we drove in the car, the night was absolutely perfect. I know we’ll make it to Hawaii some day (hint, hint, B), but I loved our simple one night away, because when it comes down to it, it’s not the stuff that I love. It’s him.

After a delectable meal at Luma in Winter Park.

Also, mad props to a man who can pack an overnight bag and have it hidden in the car in less than two minutes…completely undetected.

Some days are bright, some days are dark. It’s important to remember from where you came and where you’re going. And when things seem stressful and like they’re never going to end, take heart in the fact it most likely is just a season of life.

That’s right. Now go dust of that old Byrds vinyl and sip on a bottled soda as you listen to “Turn! Turn! Turn!”

At our anniversary dinner, we laughed at how we aren’t where we thought we would be when we first got married. We discussed where we’d probably be in the next 10…but who are we kidding.

We all know God smirks when we make our plans.

Life

Anniversary Wisdom

Our wedding in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, North Carolina

It’s hard to believe that ten years ago today, my husband and I tied the knot. Of course, I made sure it was a constrictor knot. To date, he has not escaped. I honestly was a baby when we got married, and he an adult. In fact, in the 9 years that separate us, it’s crazy for me to think that I’ve just passed the age that he was when we first got married. My! How my perspective on life has changed.

Brent washing my feet as his commitment to being a servant-leader.

 

Just recently, Brent was asked to share what he believed has strengthened our marriage throughout the years. Interestingly enough, this person (who has hit a bit of a rough patch-don’t we all?) has been married longer than we have. Brent and I sat down and brainstormed a list of 10 beneficial practices. Please note that all of these do not come naturally, and some of them we I didn’t even begin mastering until MONTHS ago. We’re all a work in progress. So without further adieu, here’s what we would tell our newlywed selves if we crossed paths in the space-time continuum:

  1. Have the same faith/worldview and practice it. Personally, this is the foundation of our relationship. I can’t imagine the obstacles we might have to overcome if only one of us went to church and we both had different ideas on how to raise our kids. In all things, we are a united front.
  2. Get on the same financial page. Money problems (either debt or miscommunication about money) is one of the leading causes of divorce. Brent and I have zero money fights in our relationship, and most of the time when we have a conversation about money, it’s actually really fun. We are squashing goals together and dreaming of our future.
  3. Discover and speak your partner’s love language. If you aren’t familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, take some time to check it out: http://www.5lovelanguages.com. People speak their own love language, but most couples do not have the same love language. That means your partner might not be feeling what it is you’re cookin’ up. You’re speaking French when all he understands is German.
  4. Forgive and ask forgiveness. Be quick to admit you’re wrong and ask forgiveness! And if you’re the one who is being petitioned to forgive, don’t make your partner jump through hoops to be back in your good graces. I’m not suggesting sweeping large, complicated problems under the rug, but be willing to have dialogue about it, without an agenda to come out on top. Instead of having an “I must win” attitude, sort through conflict with the mentality of “what can we do to make our relationship better.”
  5. Get away for several nights without any family members as often as possible. This one doesn’t need an explanation. It’s important to have time away from the same old same old. Adventure does a couple well.
  6. Surround yourself with friends who share your values. Brent and I believe in having diverse relationships. But when you think of the friends you’re “doing life” with, you should mostly choose those who share your core values. We have an inner circle of friends we are confident would give our kids the same advice we would (especially when those teenage years hit and they don’t want to hear it from mom and dad). It takes a village to raise kids. Make sure your village is not full of town idiots.
  7. Make expectations clear. If Valentine’s Day is coming up and you’d be disappointed if your spouse doesn’t do XYZ, YOU NEED TO TELL HIM. Absolutely under no circumstances should your response be that you want “nothing,” unless you truly would be happy with NOTHING.
  8. If you have kids, get away WEEKLY by yourself (especially if you are the primary caretaker). Ever since we added our second child, Brent and I have actually increased our social calendar: movies with friends, coffee, solo shopping. Just being able to shut off all the demanding responsibilities you experience during the week, even if only for a few hours, will help you reap numerous rewards. You return home refreshed and ready for the next challenge.
  9. Get help when you need it. Don’t believe the lie that counseling is beneath you. If issues run deep, it’s completely acceptable to seek licensed help. You are not a failure because you reach out. In fact, you are quite courageous.
  10. Laugh. A lot. At yourself, at each other, together. Laughter is the best medicine.
Just check out that French bustle! I highly recommend it over the traditional one-hook over bustle most Americans use! 🙂

 

Let me also say this: There is no one-size-fits-all marriage. Each one has its own nuances (I mean, just throw in in-laws and no two marital relationships are the same). Brent and I aren’t perfect. At times we’d be embarrassed for you to be a fly on the wall. However, in 10 years, we have never said the D-word. In fact, I can promise you we haven’t even thought it. Not because things are always so swimmingly awesome. I’m fully aware that the best OR, heaven forbid, the worst is yet to come. But, we are ONE and operate as ONE. When he hit a valley, we look upward and onward.

If you’re getting ready to tie to the knot or have only taken the first few steps into your marriage, may your relationships be blessed. And if you’ve been married longer than we have, I’d love to hear the wisdom you’ve gained throughout the years.

Life

Black Sabbath

If Satan were a bodily organ, he would certainly be a child’s bladder on an already 10-minute late commute to church on a Sunday morning.

Just last week, I finished reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book Unglued. Toward the end of the book, she covers the importance of observing and preserving the Sabbath. Brent and I used to be really good at going nutso on Friday and Saturday so that Sunday was a day of physical, mental, and emotional rest. We even went to church on Saturday night, because getting kids ready for church does not put me in a Sabbath state of mind.

As of late, we have somehow managed to move back into our “every moment should be used trying to get things done” mentality. I have found myself weary and not recharged for the week. After finishing Terkheurst’s chapter on the Sabbath, I decided that we needed to implement this day of rest back into our lives.

All last week, I found myself longing for it to be Sunday, to be in the worship service, able to partake in the music and hear a word of encouragement from Dr. Hunter. My soul NEEDED this. Sabbath! Ahhhh!

And just like that, Satan was queued to come do a tap dance all over my patience.

This past Sunday morning, despite my best efforts, we somehow were not ready to leave on time. I even planned a fifteen-minute window for error and not only did we use that up, we cut another five minute slice out of the clock. Once the car was actually moving, I calculated that there was still a chance we’d make it there exactly as Dr. Hunter took the stage.

That is, until my daughter, who NEVER, EVER asks us to stop to use the bathroom starts panicking that we need to stop because she’s “got to go!”

We pull over at McDonald’s, and I sanctimoniously usher her into the restroom. Alas, she has a fear of auto-flushing potties, which this lovely McDonald’s so conveniently has. She wedged herself in a corner and began melting down, tears and all, her hands stretching her cheeks down to her chin saying she can’t use that type of potty. After my reassurance didn’t work, it was back to the car, Satan inhabited bladder and all. She now claimed she could hold it. Grrr.

Brent dropped me off to take baby boy to the nursery, and by the time I got him checked in and found a place to sit in the sanctuary, I had only missed the announcements. Hallelujah! I could breath. I melted into my seat. God come speak to me and fill me up because I feel so dad blamed empty.

Then, I saw that Dr. Hunter was out of town. Another pastor was filling in. Womp, womp. Okay, not what I wanted, but I suppose God can speak through other vessels as well. Okay, Spirit, fall on me like rain.

And then I notice a text flash on my phone down by my feet. I picked it up.

“There’s no children’s church today.”

Two minutes later, in comes Brent with my sweet, beautiful, kind, loving daughter…who can’t sit still for long periods of time.

For her…
The music was too loud
The sermon too long
She didn’t understand why her Bible’s words were different than what the pastor was using

She verbally and bodily expressed this to us over and over again all throughout the service.

Oh, and hey, let’s throw in communion. At the end of the service we were trying to quietly explain to her the significance of the sacrament as well as the intinction method. The easier we tried to make it, the more she started stressing over the logistics of how it was going to happen.

On a side note, the guest pastor’s sermon was actually really good (the 60% of it that I heard). In short, it was about loving others, not just loving the idea of loving others.

And here I was ready to murder my child. But, I looked at her and tried ridiculously hard to see God’s image (in that moment, not even a microscope would have helped). Instead, I saw my image. She was behaving in a way I understood (being so fearful of understanding logistics that I can miss the essence of the experience itself). She was irritating me, which interestingly enough means I irritate me!

I started praying for God to quiet her spirit and calm my soul. I wish I could say that everything dramatically changed, that Jesus himself opened the roof to Northland’s sanctuary and sat down between me and my child, reclined our seats and held our hands, telling us it would be okay as we quietly finished up the service. But, the day dragged on with a ball and chain of frustration linked to it. We had a round trip to Melbourne to drop my daughter off with her grandparents for the week, and by the time we finally got home on Sunday (around 5:15), I felt empty. So much for Sabbath. And now I had to wait another week to try again.

This is what we look like on a peaceful Sunday when there is Children’s Church. See those smiles? They are REAL.

But the house was relatively quiet, so after dinner, I grabbed a small glass of wine and sat on the couch facing a window and just breathed in the stillness.

It was only fifteen minutes, but God gave me a pocket of Sabbath, a time to reflect, and a time to rest in quiet. Suddenly, the day’s irritations became less about my daughter and more about me. What could I do differently next time? How can I be a better parent? How can I extend love, grace, and mercy when I don’t feel like it?

I’m quick to blame those who cause a ruckus in my life. But, if I look closely and reflect, I discover my reaction to a situation says just as much as the situation itself.

I should have known reading a book called Unglued meant I would immediately be served up the opportunity to practice what I learned.

But in the quiet of Sunday night, I was reminded that if I ask for God to give me a space just to breathe, he is faithful. It might only come in a fifteen minute pocket, but he’s the guy who can take a small amount of something and miraculously multiply it into abundance…

…including my patience.