Kids Are Hard. Marriage After Kids is Harder.

I just loved this so much that I had to share…really well said. Enjoy!

My husband and I were brilliant communicators before we had children. I don’t just mean talking about mindless drivel over a pint or five. I mean discussing as in depth as was humanly possible about what our lives together would look like through every eventuality.

We discussed everything about making living together work, making the finances work, splitting up chores, making a marriage work, making everything fair. We even discussed what our divorce might look like. Just in case.

Young, carefree, childless and in love Young, carefree, childless and in love

As if we were following some cliché storyline, we fell pregnant; then came the biggest discussions of all. We covered everything we could possibly think of on how we would make it work; what our expectations were of each other as parents, what our expectations of ourselves would be as parents. We meticulously picked apart our childhoods to take the good and dump the bad. We were ready. We…

View original post 1,086 more words

Advertisements

Are you godly enough?

451855313Years ago when I was first learning what it meant to be a Christian, I heard many teachings on how to be a godly wife/mother/friend/etc., and through that I started to form ideas in my mind as to what I “thought” it meant to follow Jesus.  Along with this, I had many friends going through the same stage I was at and we were all trying so hard that we tended to be very severe with what we would/would not allow. For example, I remember when Sponge-Bob came out on Nickelodeon, and it was a big deal as to why we wouldn’t let our kids watch it…but MY husband saw nothing wrong with it, so our kids watched it.  I mean, obviously Sponge-Bob and Patrick’s friendship is a direct correlation to our relationship with the Holy Spirit, right?  Right?  No? OK, it was worth a try.

Because of what felt to me to be such strong lines of what we were, and were not, allowed to do, I felt like I was always making the wrong choices.  I started to think that no matter how much I wanted to follow God and serve Him, I was just not strong enough to keep all the “rules” and live the way that other people lived.  So I walked away, quietly in my heart, and gave up on following God. I still went to church and served, always doing everything I could faithfully, but never feeling good enough, and always feeling like I was putting on a show.  After all, who did I think I was to serve a God so perfect?

Inside I always felt the question:

Are you godly enough?

Can you be good enough?

And every time the answer was a somber “no”.

It was a time in my life where I closed off my relationship with HIm and made it private, and I was always saddened by my inability to make it all work.

It wasn’t until years later that I finally came to realize that I was right, there was no way I could be holy enough on my own, but that God didn’t expect me to be! I learned that it’s Him that changes us! We could never hope to be perfect and change all the “bad” things about ourselves on our own.  How could a flawed person ever hope to change their own heart and think that they could make it good? We would fail hopelessly, every time, getting an “A” for effort, but becoming utterly discouraged in the process.

Before I came to this realization, I used to think my marriage was not good enough (after all it didn’t look like my friend’s marriages), my kids were not good enough (they didn’t seem perfect like everyone else’s kids), and my faith never seemed to be even adequate (all I could see were my failures and everyone else’s successes.  Friends, this is just one reason it is SO important to live an honest life of failures and successes in front of people!  I can not stress this enough – our pride can put on an “everything is perfect” face just to protect ourselves, but at the same time you are actually shaming those around you into thinking that perfect is what is normal and expected.  We need to live open and honest lives before those around us.  You never know when someone is watching you, and they need to know what a real walk with God looks like, struggles and all.

If you walk away from this blog with nothing else today, please remember that you don’t have to be perfect! You may not look like everyone else, and that’s good! Be your own person, the way that God made you, and enjoy the life he’s given you.  Since my thinking has changed, I’m happier in my marriage, with my kids (and that says a lot if you know our lives – they are not perfect – just like their parents), and with God.  I no longer feel like I’m doomed to a life of always coming up short, instead I get to live each day the best I can, knowing He’s with me and that He loves me just like I am.  I also know He’s never going to give up on me or leave me how I am now, I am a work in progress.  Just like fine wine, I’m only going to get better!

Is this something that you’ve ever struggled with? What set you free?  Are you still struggling?  Leave your comments below!

Our summer…and a long absence

Hello friends!  My apologies, some unexpected bad news came to dear, sweet friends of ours and we’ve been a little off this last week.  Plus, with Josh gone, I had to pull it all together myself and that coupled with our news, it was a hard week.  But, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” as Kelly Clarkston would say (my empowerment song), so on we go and off to another start to a brand new week where the possibilities are endless!

So far our summer has been really fun and exciting…for everyone except me!  Normally I would complain about this and how unfair it is that every summer I beg for an adventure and each year my hopes are dashes yet again…but I won’t complain this year for sheer gratitude that this has been such a great summer for some those that I love.

My husband just returned from his 8 day trip to Moyobamba, Peru where he actually officiated the wedding of his brother and his fiance…what an opportunity!  He had a great time and is still trying to share all of his amazing stories with me.  He was in the Amazon jungle, so lots of amazing stories there! (see pictures below)

My daughter went for a week with some good friends to the beach in Galveston, Texas for a week where she got ridiculously burned, but had just the best time.  She also is about to leave for youth camp Saturday for the first time and she is BEYOND excited!

We took my grand daughter to the splash pad for the first time (by the way, she turned 2 this last week and is so dear to my heart – I can’t even explain the love people) and she thought it was the best place ever!  My daughter broke out her camera and said “cheese” and this pose is what ensued…she may be posing…just a little. (picture below to the left)

My son has had hardly a day where he didn’t have a friend here or was gone with friends to do something, his fun has been dispersed over the last few months, but he’s having a great summer as well! 

Mostly our fun has consisted of little things here and there; a swim in a friend’s pool, feet in the pool with a cold drink in my hand and my oldest daughter across from me, a Coke with my name on it (so simple), and time spent with sweet friends (note to self – get better at taking pictures when you’re with you’re friends!). 

summercollage.jpg

How have you been spending your summer?  Any new places or activities that you’ve found that were more fun than you imagined?  What was your favorite part of the summer so far? I’d love to hear your comments below!

When the cat’s away…the mice will play

479620203Hello out there friends! So maybe some of you know this feeling…your spouse leaves out of town and suddenly you have no desire to cook, clean or do anything remotely resembling matronly duties.  This is me!  I just want to run around and play and rest and do things I can’t do when he is here to take care of.  Let me clarify, I miss my husband TREMENDOUSLY and am a HUGE wimp when he leaves, it takes about 2 days for me to even stop the sobbing.  But my husband is a “stay home” kind of guy, and I am a “get out and enjoy life (aka spend money)” kind of girl!  

So far in the last 2 weeks I have cooked a total of two meals…two! Between the packing and getting him ready and all the boo-hoo fests after he left, I have not felt like cooking a single thing!  I get the children food mind you, they’re not starving, it just usually isn’t made by my hands…it’s usually made by that nice man Papa Murphey or those nice people over at Sonic.  Let’s just say that health consciousness has gone down the toilet the last few weeks! 

On top of all of that, I – the one who never watches movies – have decided that we need to all watch every 80’s movie that they haven’t seen, because this is a short coming in my parenting and needs to be remedied immediately!  Here’s a list of what we’ve seen so far and what’s on the docket!

Watched:

1. Romancing the Stone (watched with my daughter)

2.  Jewel of the Nile (again, with my daughter, she actually liked it)

To be watched:

1. Ghostbusters

2.  Raiders of the Lost Ark (hoping the boys like this one)

3.  Goonies

4.  The Karate Kid

5.  Back to the Future (maybe just the first one)

6.  Footloose

7.  Top Gun

I really want to watch 16 Candles and The Breakfast Club, but I’m thinking my 13 year old son might not understand some of the content…hmmmm.  

Any suggestions on movies? Leave your comments in the box below!

All things Sarah Bessey…brilliant

biopicjan2014.jpgSo there’s this writer, her name is Sarah Bessey, and if you haven’t heard of her yet then let me open your eyes.  I first heard her speak at the If:Gathering conference that I watched last year (highly suggest watching it or streaming it this year!), and she changes my world (and she’s a fellow Whovian, what’s not to love??). 

When she walked out onto the stage, my first opinion was “cool, tattoos”.  She started off by explaining that she’s a Canadian, has tattoos and loves Jesus.  She even went so far as to say that she wasn’t sure why she was invited to this conference because her book “Jesus Feminist” was not very well received by the church (side note: great book, not quite as offensive as the title gives way to).  But when she spoke, she really helped to change the way that I saw Jesus, but also how I saw myself through His eyes.  

Although I highly encourage you to check out her blog – SarahBessey.com – here is a link to one of my favorite posts of hers that I found.  It’s entitled “In which I share 10 books that changed my faith”, and I thought I would start reading some of them (a few I’ve already read), want to join with me?

Are you interested in joining in and reading some books together?  We could have discussions on some of the chapters here?  I’m starting with “The Ragamuffin Gospel”, sound good to anyone else?

Mentoring…why should I?

452232481The Webster dictionary describes mentoring as this: “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person” .  As my pastor, Joe Canal, put it  a few weeks ago:

“Mentoring is like putting your hand on the small of someones back as they’re riding a bicycle, and you gently push them along.  Surprisingly, it’s an easy thing for the stronger rider to do and takes very little effort, but to the less experienced rider, it makes all the difference.”  We are not meant to live this life alone, and if we listen, God will give us people to walk through this life with – whether for a season or a lifetime.

Let me be clear for a minute; some people tend to think that mentoring someone would mean spending hours and hours of time together, a huge life change on their part.  On the contrary, mentoring is just being available to someone when they need to talk and checking on them so that they know that you care.  As women especially, I feel like we get so wrapped up in “our” lives that we forget the command we have to speak into each other’s lives as well.  

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3 – 5

So, right now you’re probably thinking “this girl is crazy, she obviously doesn’t understand that I have nothing to give that anyone else would want”.  You are so wrong friend!  I used to think that way about myself, I felt like I could barely make it through the day sometimes without losing it, how would I help someone else?  But even in those times, God used me to come alongside of and listen when someone needed an ear or give advice when I had been through a similar situation. Mentoring, above all, is being available when someone needs you, and pointing them back to God.  Follow me as I follow Christ.  It’s that simple.  

I really feel like mentoring is VERY important, especially in today’s world, because we are starting more and more to become a culture of people who are separated behind computer/phone screens and we are forgetting how to share life together.  We are losing that connecting factor that we need in order to get through everyday routines, let alone tough situations.  It’s very easy to go through life and be so busy, and yet feel so alone and disconnected.  Mentoring brings back that one on one friendship that is vital, especially to women in today’s world.  When you have little kids and you’re stuck in the house a lot, you really need that person that’s been through that before to come in and give you perspective.  When your kids are teenagers and the problems seem bigger and overwhelming, it really helps to have that woman who’s gone through that to step in and help you walk through that.  Trust me, I speak from experience when I say that just the advice of someone who’s “walked where I’m walking” is beyond value when I feel at the end of my rope.  Never, never count yourself out and think you have nothing to give, you could be the life line that someone needs to keep them going at any minute.  Just. Be. Available.

Now, what if you’re in the stage where you really could benefit from having a mentor?  Is there someone in your life that you’ve watched walk through something, and you wonder how they did it?  Maybe you’re walking through something similar and knowing what got them through would be a big help to you? Please, be brave, don’t hesitate to go up and share that with them!  As someone who sells herself short too many times, I have to say it would be an honor to be asked something like that.  Reaching out can be a very hard thing to do, but just know that the reward will be great! Be brave, be purposeful, and seek out those people who you might already have a relationship with but you want to know a little better.  The greatest things in life don’t just fall into our laps, we have to seek them out and purpose to make them important.  If we don’t, the busyness of life will cause these opportunities to pass us by.

I want to leave you with this quote from Kelley Matthews from crosswalk.com, “Sometimes, “I’ll pray about it” is the most appropriate way to begin your decision-making. But when it comes to mentoring, I’d have to agree with Norma Becker, member of the board of directors of Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada. When a younger woman asking to be mentored suggested they pray about it, Norma responded with assurance: “We don’t pray about commands.”  Go out today and live your life a little more intentionally, the relationships that you need to get you through this stage in life God has already laid out all around you, just watch for them!

Have you mentored people in the past?  Do you have any tips on how to make this connection easier?  Feel free to comment in the box below!

 

Reclamation…reclaiming your marriage

178862897Reclamation:the act of returning something to a former, better state

I also love this definition from vocabulary.com:

Reclamation is the noun form of the verb to reclaim. Most people involved in reclamation what to reclaim something out of a sense of moral or environmental duty. Since re means again, it makes sense that a reclamation involves restoring something to its former glory, especially something that has gone to the dogs. Anything that’s fallen on hard times is a good candidate for reclamation.”

If you’re on the internet at all lately, you’ve seen just a ton of “propaganda” promoting the idea that we, as women, hold all the cards in our relationship and he, as our man, better get it straight or we’re out.  There’s so much entitlement in statements like these, don’t you think? A few examples of these things would be

“If he doesn’t fight for you/follow you when you leave, he’s not worth it anyway”

“If he doesn’t get jealous when you ______, then you deserve better”

“If you’re the only one trying, then it’s not worth it” (sometimes you’ll be the only one trying, but it’s totally worth it!)

It’s these type of statements, added in with the TV shows and movies these days that depict men as idiots and below us as women, that push this thought process along.  Let me say this first, marriage is H.A.R.D., the hardest thing you will probably ever do in your life.  At times it will break you down and make you think you want out.  Be honest, I’m sure at some point or another we’ve all wanted off of this crazy train wreck.  But, if you stayed with it, if you didn’t give up, and you worked on your marriage together and reclaimed it, then you know what can happen when you’re both broken and laid out and you hold on to that promise that you once made to each other.

I am definitely not the guru for all relationship issues, but my husband and I have been through some serious problems together, both of us wanting to leave at one time or another.  We’re both type A personalities and firstborns (insert explosion here), so you can only imagine the hard headed “discussions” that have gone on between us.  But, no matter what we’ve gone through, no matter what’s been said, no matter how badly feelings have been hurt (and they have been hurt), we’ve always come back together afterwards and were stronger than before.  It didn’t always happen right away, and not without a lot of humility, but we always ended up better.

Here are the ways I think we, as women, are our worst enemies in our marriages:

1.  We compare

We look at Facebook and see all of our friends with the “perfect” marriages and we compare.  We go to church and see everyone put on their best clothes and their happy faces and we compare.  We start to count up all the ways that “her” husband does this, or “her” life is so much better because of that…and all of that comparison takes our eyes off of being thankful for what we have.  The best way I’ve ever heard this put was that “we are comparing everyone else’s highlights reel to our behind the scenes”, and that isn’t a fair outlook.  Comparison is the thief of our joy.  It took me years to figure this out, don’t look at what others have, look at what God’s given you.

 

2.  We focus on Him, not on us

I’ll say it – it’s easier to focus on and point out issues with someone else than it is to fix ourselves.  I’ve always said that if I could be my husband’s Holy Spirit, I would do a great job!  We can spend so much time pointing fingers and angry at him for what he’s doing wrong, that we don’t even stop to think of how we could adjust our own attitude in the situation.  When we can focus on what we need to do first, and pray for him, the situation can be resolved before it gets too big.

 

3.  We expect him to read our mind

Come on ladies, I know I’m not alone here.  We want him to take out the trash without being asked.  We want him to know we need a date night without having to say anything.  We want him to go grocery shopping with us because he thinks it would be fun.  Never. Going. To. Happen.  We can pretty tough to live with sometimes, especially when men don’t know what we even need!  Even though it would be great if he came up and helped with the dishes “just because”, be willing to ask for the help/time that you need with him.

 

4.  We care too much about what other people think

Let me explain a little here about why I would say that – my husband is a big guy who can be a bit rough sometimes if you don’t understand him.  He wasn’t raised to be much of a “people person” so that comes a lot harder to him than some other people.  Between his size, his shaved head and his tattoos, he is misunderstood a lot.  Over the years I’ve tried to “groom him” to fit the mold of what I wanted as a husband, what looked good to everyone else, but those years ruined his trust in me and only told him that who he was could never be enough for me.  Since then, I’ve come to realize that he even though he looks scary to some people, people who know him know that he’s a teddy bear (he really likes it when I say that, it’s his favorite).  I’ve had to learn that if people are going to judge him, and us, based upon appearances, then they are missing out.  Don’t put too much thought into how other people see your husband, not even your friends, just encourage him to be better every day and pray for him to become who he is supposed to be.

Ladies, DO NOT give up on your marriages!  The world (and sometimes your own friends) would tell you that it’s not worth it, that HE isn’t worth it, that you are right and it’s all his fault…but that is NOT the truth.  When you made that promise before God and everyone, you said “for better or worse”.  These days it seems like everyone loves the better, but forgot all about working through “the worse”.  Remember that we’re not here on this earth to have a good, easy life…we’re here to learn to be holy and better people.  That growth doesn’t come from an easy relationship and our whole world revolving around us, it comes from the hard work, humility and brokenness that it takes to make a marriage work, continually asking God to help us along the way.

 

Do you have any “tips” that you would give to other women going through a hard time in their marriage?  Have you chosen not to give up on your marriage and seen the benefits of that choice?  I’d love to hear about it!  Share in the comments below!