Sunday, September 23, 2012

To reduce pressure in your marriage

Remember back when I wrote about how my marriage used to be like a pressure cooker, and that maybe yours is to? Remember how I told you I would post the very next day about what you can do if you find yourself in a pressure cooker marriage to reduce that pressure? Well, the best laid plans and all.

Anyway, here I find myself finally with some time while Libby does a little extra reading on her own. The dishwasher is running, as are the washing machine and dryer. And so my thoughts turn to pressure cooker marriages.

If you have read through my pressure cooker post and find that perhaps your marriage is similar to what I described, don't lose heart. There are some steps that you can take to reduce that pressure and to bring more peace and love to your marriage.

The first thing you need to do is stop and pray. Make the choice to commit your marriage to God for Him to fix, and follow through on what He tells you to do. If you really want to fix it, if you really acknowledge that both you and your spouse have issues to deal with, God will lead and guide you to a better marriage.

The second thing you need to do is sit down and have a real, honest conversation with your spouse. Go on a date, or have someone watch the kids so you can have some alone time at home if you don't want to have the discussion in public. This is crucial. If both you and your spouse can acknowledge a problem and agree to work to fix it, your work will be much easier. If you try to have this conversation and your spouse blows you off and doesn't agree that there are issues that need to be worked on, you can still do this.

The pressure tends to build up in a marriage when a couple has a hard time addressing and working through conflict. I know this was definitely the case in my marriage. I wrote a post a while back on dealing with conflict appropriately. Basically, if you are in any kind of relationship (whether with a friend or child or spouse), you will experience conflict. Learning how to work through it greatly improves your relationship and works wonders towards bringing you and that person closer together instead of farther apart. Learn some tools and utilize them.

Sometimes the pressure builds when wives feel unloved and/or husbands feel disrespected. Ladies, lets face it. With how we use our words we have the power to either destroy our husbands or make them walk on air. Your husband speaks the language of respect. It's how God made them. When you speak in a way that makes your husband feel respected (the Bible says, basically, whether they deserve it or not; don't worry, it says the same about you), it will speak volumes into his man-heart and will also do a lot towards reducing the pressure in your marriage. And after a while (this is particularly for the wife whose husband does not agree to work on the pressure-issue with her), if your husband really feels like you respect him he will work harder to make you feel loved. Be intentional with this.

And finally, throughout the course of an argument or just any random conversation, your spouse may say something that hurts you. I am a feeler, so I really have to work hard at how I respond when my spouse has said something that hurt my feelings. This is another thing that can potentially build or reduce pressure. If you react defensively and lash out at your spouse for what they said, this will only continue you around and around in that pressure cooker while the pressure builds. If you react with grace, you can diffuse the situation and let out some of the pressure.

Through all of these things, the main point is that you have to be intentional in your marriage, FOR your marriage. Take steps toward your spouse with loving words and genuine care. Like the old saying goes, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Make the choice to stop adding to the heat in your pressure cooker marriage by addressing conflict in a constructive way when it arises, treat your spouse in a loving and respectful way, and offer your spouse grace.  Pray over your marriage, over your relationship, and commit to doing YOUR part in changing for the better. I would never deceive you by saying it is easy. I have done the hard work. I continue to do the hard work. And I am reaping the benefits of cultivating the soil of my marriage. I encourage you to as well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On where I've been

So, yeah, it's been a while since I last posted, but SO much has happened in the time I have been away. I thought I would give you a little update with pictures on what all has been going on in the life of my little family.

First, my Hudson had his medical procedure, which could not have gone any better. He was so brave, SO brave, and as he always does he stole the hearts of everyone who treated him.  


The very next day my kids and I went with my mother and extended family to the beach for a week. Unfortunately, Scott couldn't go because it was the first week of school and there was no way he could take the time off. 






















We had a great time, making memories together with our large extended family (we saw a shark in the ocean where we had just been swimming!), but we missed Daddy and were glad to get back home to him.



First grade is fully underway for Libby, and Hudson and Remi are also very interested in having their own chances to learn. Libby continues to amaze me with her ability and her desire to learn. I love watching things click in her brain, and am so glad that I get to be the one to see it. She LOVES science and exploring.




















We have also just been living life, enjoying what remains of the warm weather. Libby is in soccer, so there are lots of practices and games, and there is always room for ice cream :)





















My canner and stovetop have also kept me very busy, as I preserve the last offerings of my garden. I am so pleased with what I have on my shelves from this year's growing season. We have a ton of pickles, lots of green beans, and tomatoes for making into sauce or soups. I plan on working on applesauce next. I need a bigger stovetop!


Remi is still having the issue with her thumb. I took her on a 4 hour trip the other day to see one of the best orthopedic hand surgeons in the country, and he confirmed a diagnosis of trigger thumb. She will need surgery to release the tendon in her thumb that is affected. I hate the idea of putting yet another of my children under anesthesia, but I have grown quite trusting of our Children's Hospitals.

In all, we have been so very busy. And as we have been drawn in all different directions, my husband and I have been more intentional in spending spare minutes together. In the evenings when I would otherwise have been writing blog posts, I have instead been investing in moments with him. We have also been getting up earlier in the mornings to do a devotional book together. My marriage is my most important ministry, with my children coming next.

I really do apologize that that means I haven't posted on here as much. My heart is still for encouraging you in your marriages and as women and mothers. As I get back in the swing of things, if there are any topics or issues that you are interested in hearing about, please let me know. I most certainly am not an expert, but I can speak from my experience and find out about anything I have not personally experienced.

If you have made it this far, thank you :)  Until next time, have a great day!




Thursday, August 23, 2012

Prayers and Grace

I humbly ask for an extra dose of grace from you. It seems like always in my life when I take two steps forward, I am knocked back one. This has happened over and over, and I sort of expect it by now. Always these times refine me, and I end up on the other side stronger.

This week alone we are starting Libby's first grade year (we homeschool), I am preparing Hudson physically and emotionally for a medical procedure on Friday where he will be put under general anesthesia, I am packing for the trip to the hospital, as well as a longer trip we leave for the day after his procedure, and to top it off, I have developed a bacterial infection in my colon that brought me to the doctor's office last night for X-rays and nearly a trip to the ER. I say all of this not to ask for pity, because I know that in all things God is with us. I tell you this, friends, so you know that I am not meaning to be careless with these blog posts that I have promised you. There have simply been things keeping me away.

So I ask for your grace, and for your prayers. Like I told my sweet friend yesterday while I sat in the waiting room, I will still choose to be thankful, and to trust in what His hand allows to pass to me. I will not let my circumstance destroy my joy. I am writing this down because I know that putting it out there will make me accountable. And also because maybe you are hurting today, physically or emotionally, and you need some encouragement. Lean on His mighty Hands, and His strength with sustain you. And until things can even out here, please know that you are all in my thoughts. And don't give up on me :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Is your marriage like a pressure cooker?

I watch the pressure cooker as it rattles away preserving green beans to feed my family. I always try not to remember that at one point in time I referred to my marriage as a pressure cooker, but I always fail. The very words "pressure cooker" have etched themselves so in to my mind that they almost seem synonymous with the state that my marriage was in at one point. Thankfully, miraculously, my marriage is no longer like a pressure cooker. But as I stand and watch the pot as it dangerously builds so much pressure that it is almost uncomfortable to watch and even the slightest misstep could make it explode, I think of you. I think of all the married people I know, and even the ones I don't, and I wonder. Is your marriage like a pressure cooker?

If you aren't sure the answer to that, it could be that the answer is "no." Or it could be that the answer is "yes" and you don't want to face it because facing it would mean that you have to make a choice on what to do about it. A pressure-cooker-marriage is one where the husband or wife consistently avoids dealing with any conflict, instead pushing it away by ignoring it or "moving on" without really moving on. It is where said unresolved conflict causes either the husband or wife to feel "on the edge" all of the time, leading the other spouse to feel like they are walking on eggshells. In this kind of marriage, little things could set a spouse off in a rant or silent treatment or argument that does more to add to the stress rather than diffuse it. A pressure-cooker-marriage is one that makes people think of the word "divorce" even though they swore they never would. This is a marriage that sits dangerously close to the edge of falling completely apart. This list is not all-inclusive and it is not exhaustive. Some of them may apply and not others, and there are more things that I did not add.

If any of these sound like your marriage, I really want to encourage you to make the choice to fix the problem rather than let it destroy you and your spouse. A pressure-cooker-marriage cannot stay in the same place. It either has to get better or it will explode. Just like you can build up pressure in your marriage over time, you can also let out pressure over time. Since you cannot control what your spouse does, I am encouraging YOU to take the first step. You might say, "But you don't know what my spouse does..." I know. I have heard many excuses and I have said many excuses. My marriage was like this. It took an affair and a separation for me to open my eyes. Let me encourage you to do something to reduce the pressure and increase the happiness in your marriage, even today.

I started to write out some ideas on how to reduce the pressure in your marriage, but this post would end up way too long, so I will leave that for tomorrow. I will leave you with this, though. If your marriage is like a pressure cooker, the best thing you can do is turn off the heat. Take a step towards your spouse with kind words and loving gestures. Without expectations. This will go a long way.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Favorites

 I know I have promised a recipe for delicious zucchini bread and have yet to deliver. I am truly sorry, I just haven't made myself take the time to put the pictures (because I actually took pictures this time!) on my computer yet. I will work on it. I promise.

As we head into the end of another busy week and beginning of a busy weekend, let me offer you some words that have brought me encouragement this week.

If you are looking for some ways to be intentional about praying for your children, here is a list of 31 ways.

It has been all about relationships with me lately, and here is a great post on relationships in light of the cross.

And oh, but this story had me in tears (if you really know me, you won't be surprised). A poignant reminder to really live. Really live as if your living were a gift, because truly it is.

And finally, an encouraging post that being an overprotective parent really is a good thing.

and from my ever-growing list of thankfulls (yeah, I think I made up the term being used as a noun)

*feeling the breeze coming through an open window

*music praising Our Heavenly Father, Jehovah, Messiah, bringing my focus away from myself and towards Him

*finding purpose in the pain I have experienced in my life

I hope you have a blessed weekend. And I will get that recipe up. Soon as I get the pictures downloaded. Now where did I put them again? ;)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I pray for her

She comes to my mind as I drive home from lunch with Daddy, my car full of our children and toys and imagination and "shushes" and "there are four of us in this car and if we were all that loud our ears would bleed."

That nameless woman finds herself right in the thick of my prayers, and I can't help but feel a connection. So I pray for her, and for every "her" that comes across this blog of mine with a need in her heart. That "she" is you, and she is me, and she is every women out there. Because until we find ourselves standing in the glorious presence of our Heavenly Father, we will always need prayer, always need support, always need each other.

for her with a heart that is mourning, I pray His gentle and loving and comforting hands to wrap around the broken pieces and gently hold on until the pain lessens

for her with a heart that is overwhelmed, I pray the Holy Spirit will rise up in peace and patience and understanding that this time of small children or disobedient teens or marital discord or over-work should bring us closer to His presence where we can find rest and be re-fueled

for her in an abusive situation, I pray that God would bring deliverance and protection and hope that there is hope, and healing for her wounds, both emotional and physical, and for someone, anyone, to come along-side and help lead her to safety

for her facing fear in the unknown, I pray that she would find rest in the One who knows her todays and tomorrows, and that even in the absence of answers He is there guiding her by the right hand along this crooked path

for her caught and stuck in sin, I pray that the Redeemer would open her eyes and ears to His Truth, that she would find freedom from her sin, find her salvation in Him, and discover His great plans for her future and hope

for every her who does not know Him, that she would finally allow Him to catch her and sweep her off her feet in the most glorious love story ever told

for every you who is a her, I pray that He who is Greater than any other would meet you right where you are, and fill you with what you need
 

To Him be all the Glory, forever and ever! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I will rise

Green by *megan_elzey*


I have been under attack. Satan has not been happy with me. He has realized that he cannot destroy my marriage, but boy did he ever try. He has realized that I am winning the fight over my melancholy tendencies by choosing to to be thankful, and having a wonderful friend to share my thankfulls with to keep on track. And since he cannot defeat me there, he has started attacking my person. He is attacking my spirit, my self-worth. Because he never wants to see a Christian prosper, and if he can keep them from that he will do whatever he can. And so he has been going for my gut. 

Part of my freedom over this has come just in recognizing what is happening. God has opened my eyes to see the spiritual attack I have been under. One way this has played out recently is with this blog. I had become very discouraged, thinking that it wasn't really helping anyone, that it didn't matter whether I posted or not, and I was not getting any ideas about what to post anyway. So, other things took precedence and I stopped posting regularly. But yet I have had several people tell me recently that they love reading what I post in this space, and it has been helpful to them. So I realized, then, that Satan did not want me to post here, because he did not want me to encourage or help anyone, and he certainly didn't want any marriages saved or helped because of my marriage story, and so he discouraged me. And I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Now, don't get me wrong, this blog is nothing about me, but is an avenue for me to share the story of my marriage saved from an affair, and to encourage other women and to point any one reading straight to the loving arms of my Heavenly Father.   

So I promise to be faithful, to you who regularly stop by here to read and visit (and by the way, know that I love reading your comments), and to God, and His plan for this blog and for me. I will rise above these attacks by Satan, because I know that He can never separate me from the love of God, and His plan for me is all I need.   

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" Luke 1:45

Friday, August 10, 2012

The busy work of the garden





I am at the busy work of canning today. Even now I sit with a bowl of green beans in my lap, snapping them while reading the lovely words in the blogs that I follow. In between snapping and reading, I am sipping hot coffee, listening to the sounds of Where The Red Fern Grows as Libby watches it for the 50th time, and enjoying the quiet in the house at the other two kids take a much needed nap. And most of all, I am thanking God for the blessings that He has given me ...

rain to water my garden so I don't have to;
the fact that my husband works hard so I can stay home and raise and educate our children;
and that my children spent the morning gathered with their toys in the kitchen, playing together close to me as I canned yet another round of pickles.

This weekend I plan to post my recipe for delicious zucchini bread :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It seems I am not alone

Along with having several women comment to my post yesterday about the insecurities and doubts I have about myself, I also read several posts that other women had written about the very same thing. This breaks my heart.

I am discovering about myself lately that I don't invest much into relationships. I want to. I really really want to have relationships with people where we can really get down to the nitty gritty and not have to worry about how we look on the outside but how we look on the inside. I don't do small talk well. It is exhausting to me to try to come up with nice platitudes and put on a fake smile and pretend like everything is perfect when I know it isn't for me and it isn't for you. I don't want to spend our time together only talking about the weather or the kids. Those things are important, but I want to know how you are doing REALLY. Down below the surface, below the outer appearances and the fancy clothes and the make-up. And I think this scares people. We are all so afraid of revealing those demons that we wrestle about ourselves and we need to realize that our friends, our sisters, are dealing with the same thing. We can help each other, but I know I have been hurt, and maybe you have, too, and so we keep it in. This breaks my heart, too.

I have been hurt in my life. I have been hurt by men that matter to me, but also to women that matter to me. I think that we as women tend to be just as hard on other women as we are on ourselves. So I hide from the possibility of getting close to another woman because I fear that if I reveal too much to her, she will not protect it. And I think she is hiding, too.

As women, as wives, and mothers, and sisters, and friends, we need to love each other. And we need to do it well and carefully. If we can just open up to each other, share what we are struggling with personally, spiritually, in our marriage, with our children, we would be able to have relationships that bless our lives tremendously.

Satan wants me to believe that I am the only one who struggles like I do. He doesn't want me to reach out to others for help and to help. He knows that if he can keep us divided, he can conquer. I refuse to let that happen, but I just need other women to agree with me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On the tablet of my heart

 It is early in the morning, and the thoughts hit me. The lies that the enemy knows I will easily believe. You really blew it. Why did you say that? Why did you act that way? You can image what they were saying about you. The truth is that it doesn't matter how it really went down, the enemy will always put a negative spin on it, and I will believe it, at least at first.

Why is it that we are so hard on ourselves? Why do we as women, wives, mothers, friends, sisters, always think so critically about ourselves? As the thoughts, the lies that I am trying hard not to believe, swirl and spin around, I feel myself tighten up. My heart clenches, my soul cries out. I cry out to Jesus to remind me of the truth. I cry for His protection around me, over me, through me. Because we all need that, and maybe we as women need it especially.

He lovingly takes my face in His hands and reminds me. Through the voice of Peter Furler He reminds me that it doesn't matter what other people think of me. When my focus is on Him alone I am truly alive. And so, again, I take my eyes off of me, put them on Him, and we move forward.

I walk downstairs and look around. I remember to choose thankfulness. I am thankful for chalk drawings, and how they have evolved over the last year. I am thankful for the quiet early morning moments with my husband, as we read through the Word together. I am thankful for ponytails on top of the head and endless summer afternoons.

I take a deep breath. Smile. And move forward to conquer my day, in thankfulness, love, and with the Truth written on the tablet of my heart.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summering and 1000 gifts

 We have been so busy, which means that this blog has not been :)



I have been picking at the little garden space of mine, picking and buying from others, and keeping my hands busy with the work of preserving and filling my shelves to feed us through the winter. Laughing at the fact that the main thing I have been preserving so far is pickles, but my little family of 5 can go through pickles like nobody's business, and even the large amount we end up with probably won't even last us all through winter.


I am half-way through a month-long process of juice fasting and detoxing, and I am finding that I have been drawing inward, quiet except when necessary, detoxing my mind along with my body. I have been considering for some time Ann Voskamp's dare to live joyfully, and with the beginning of August I am going to jump in. In choosing to live thankfully, I am choosing joy over everything else. I will choose thankfulness over downheartedness, joy over worry, love over fear. Some I will share in this space, all I will keep in my own list, and will encourage my littles and my family to do the same.

I am thankful today that finally, finally, we have had some answers regarding my children's individual medical issues. Finally, after so much waiting, there has been a "yes" to our questions, rather than no after no after no. They have not been easy answers, but at least they are answers that move us forward.
I am thankful that Jesus continues to mold and shape me, to use me in spite of myself, even in ways that I may never know.
I am thankful that God never leaves us alone on this path we are traveling, my husband and I, and that His plans are always greater than our own.

Thank YOU for joining me here, sitting down for a visit, enjoying some time together :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Daughter

 My daughter. The one who made me a mother, and who every day brings me to the end of myself. My patience is short, her questions are long. She is a leader. She is determined. She is nothing and everything like I thought she would be.

Yesterday morning, on the way to tend to a vacationing friend's garden (a blessing, as it will help to fill up our shelves for yummy eating through the winter), she was helping her little brother read their Children's Bible. About David, and how he protected his sheep from the lion and then His sheep from Goliath. About Daniel and how he was in the lion's den but did not get eaten. Her brother asked, "how did God do it?" She told him of His power. She said, "I will tell you how powerful He is. All He had to do was say 'tree' and there was a tree. There is nothing more powerful than God." So full of conviction, full of Truth, full to the brim with God-knowledge. How can I help but grow to be like her?

Lord, protect her believing heart. That when the enemy tries to convince her that what she believes is not real, she will have a strong foundation to stand on. Let her strength in You carry her on this path You pave ahead of her, and in her weakness may she draw closer to You.

And give me what I need to be the mother that she needs.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pickles


My tongue watered as I took the final pickle out of the store-bought jar. I think it knew that next we would be dipping from our new and ever-growing stash of homemade kosher dills.

Monday, July 23, 2012

You are called

My heart has been pulled. It has been pulled hard, and I don't know whether to feel convicted or angry or passionate. I think I feel all three, plus some. God has been using several different things to speak to me about this thing, but the one I can stand on is this. His Word.

Romans 10:14, 15 "But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?"

How can they know that they need Him unless we tell them? How can they know He loves them unless we show them? How can they understand that they can be clean unless we love them and tell them Who can clean them?

This them? It's hurting, desperate people in Africa, and it's hurting, desperate people in our neighborhood, our family, our place of work, our classroom. I am tired of seeing Christians, seeing myself, so caught up in this cozy little life, how we look, what we weigh, how prosperous we appear, how many gadgets we have, how behaved our children are, that we fail to notice the person standing right in front of us, hurting and desperately needing us to tell them that HE LOVES THEM.

How can we stand by, looking perfectly in place, when people in our every day are hurting? How can we walk through the halls of our church and pretend like we never fall when the couple walking next to us has a marriage that is about to implode, or has a teenager that has run from God, or has an addiction that they can't beat? Why do we as Christians feel like we can never show any weakness? Why does the phrase "this isn't something that we should be talking about in church" even exist? How can anyone feel like they can approach us if we are so unapproachable?

I will be the first to say that my marriage and my family are my biggest, most important ministry. But what about other people's marriage, other people's families? What about the people who are desperately hurting and needing to know that God longs to heal them, that Jesus died on the cross for every single sin they have ever committed, and every single sin they will ever commit, and He rose again to defeat death and Hell and Satan, and He did it all for them? Who's ministry are they?

They are yours, they are mine, they are every single Christian they come into contact with on a daily basis. Because, guess what? When you became a Christian, when I did, too, we were sent. We were called to go into the world, our world, and tell people about Him. Because how can they know about Him unless we, who have been called, tell them?

If we allow our hearts to become hard, or complacent, or focused on anything but God, Satan has won. The enemy has accomplished his goal. I refuse, and I hope you will, too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Super power

He came up behind me. "Mama, look at how fast this shirt makes me run!" And then he was gone, sprinting through the kitchen and into the dining room. I chuckled and remarked at how he was as fast as lightening.

And I thought, "if I had an outfit that gave me super powers, what powers would I want to have?" I surprised myself when I realized that instead of wanting super speed or x-ray vision, I wanted things like never-ending patience, or infinite wisdom in being a wife and mother.

Then He surprised me by reminding me that I already have all of that in Him. When I wear the cloak of the Spirit, I have love, joy, and peace. With His armor I have a full supply of patience and wisdom. In His Word are all of the super powers I need to navigate this life well.

Now if only I had the super-power to remember that I have these super-powers.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

There is no too far


"I can never escape your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night - but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You." 
                                                                                                        Psalm 139:7-12

There is no too far. There is no going so far that God cannot reach you. I have seen people in my life who have run from God for so long that they feel like there is no turning back. They may think, "with everything I have done, God would never forgive me", or they may not even realize they are running from Him. But the truth is, there is no too far.

Whatever you have done in your life, wherever you have run, however you have sinned, God is there with you, just waiting to wash you clean of your sin and fill you with the peace you are lacking. There is no cleaning up first, for only God can wash you clean with the blood of Jesus. There is no doing good enough or saying the right thing or being perfect, there is only the perfect Grace of God, which by definition is given to us even when we don't deserve it.

If you are running from God today, running from your sin, trying desperately to slough off what you have done, whatever you have done, there is only one True answer. Stop running, fall on your knees in front of the only One who can truly wash you clean, and let Him take the load off your shoulders that you have been running under. Confess to Him that you have been running, what you have been running from, and ask Him to wash you clean. Oh, the peace and joy that comes from that freedom, will be like none you have ever experienced!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A marriage redeemed

"There's some one else. I'm in love with her. I want a divorce."

Those dreaded words had come out of my husband's mouth just a few days before. I spent the weekend trying to convince him otherwise.

After another afternoon of me trying again to talk to him, he decided to go outside and play with our two older kids. 

As soon as he walked outside, I cried out, "Oh God, what do I do?" His answer came quick and it brought me to tears. "Let him go." I replied, "I don't want to!" In His infinite knowledge of today and tomorrow, He said again, "Let him go."

To read the rest of this story, head over to Messy Marriage, where Beth is sharing about how my marriage was destroyed by sin, and redeemed by Grace.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Striving to live

We sat together, my good friend and I, enjoying the cool air (that a few weeks ago we considered hot!) after eating some yummy dinner. We talked about kids and marriage and life, and I said, "I just wish it would be consistently good. Why is it that we have days that are effortlessly great and days that really just take work? Scott and I can have a really great day, and then something happens the next day and it seems like we are having to work through a conflict. Wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't so hard?"

And then today, sitting outside reading the Word and listening to the birds call to each other, He reminded me that, yeah, it is hard, and by the way, He already said it was going to be.

Romans 8:15-17 "So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, "Abba, Father." For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share in His glory, we must also share in His suffering."


The Study Bible says about these verses "Jesus is heir to all of God's promises, and as those who belong to Jesus, we share with Him in that glorious inheritance. However, just as it was for Jesus, our path to glory is also marked by suffering. We experience the difficulties that come from striving to live righteously in a world dominated by sin."

Life is hard because there is a real struggle in our souls between what we ought to do (living righteously) and what we want to do (the cravings of our sinful nature). God's original law, though good and right, only served to show the people what they were doing wrong. It didn't bring with it any means to stop doing the wrong. That's where Jesus came in. With His death and resurrection, we are given His Spirit, and the Spirit lives in us, enabling us to choose not to be slaves to our sinful nature and to walk righteously. By His grace and power, may I strive to have more and more days where I choose not my sinful nature, but His righteousness.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In the moments


Summer is about sun and hot and sticky, sweaty heads.

It's about swimming and "watch me jump off the ladder" and "count how long I can stay under water!"

There are cookouts and juicy cheeseburgers and salty corn on the cob and ketchup and mustard and pickles.

It is swinging and running and playing and the big girl riding her "two wheel" bike.

It's trying to get the dog to chase the rabbits out of the garden (only to have him stare at them before running in the other direction).

It's Daddy home for a few weeks in a row.


And it's hushed, sweet milky moments with Remi, hair wet from bath and eyes sleepy from the day, as I cuddle her to quiet.

There are squeals of delight as my babies run from, or take straight on, water from the hose.

I see bare-bottomed children streaking through the house, naked to stay cool, or just because they haven't gotten dressed yet.

It's sitting down with friends while the children play together so the grown ups can have some grown up talk.

It is life, and it is mine, and each day is a gift straight from my Father.

Enjoy this summer day :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thankful today...


Thankful today...

*that most people have been restored power, and praying that those who still haven't will find a respite from the intense heat;

*that those who I know and love have only suffered inconvenience from the storms, and not injury;

*for grace, and the fact that He gives it without keeping count;

*for my husband, who is full of unselfish love and unending patience as he walks this path of life with me;

*for my athlete daughter, who is boldly and decisively making her own way, figuring out (not always happily) what it means to be growing into a young girl and leaving some of the child behind;

*for my boy, lanky arms and legs, always exploding things, racing cars, sound effects, and fighting the bad guys, filled with equal parts warrior and love;

*for my baby, who is no more baby than I am unicorn, abounding in "I do it" and "my turn", happy to do her thing as long as she can still come and climb up in my lap for some cuddles;

*for His provision in every single thing we need, and even a few things we want.

What is filling your heart with thankfulness this day?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Like a tree in a storm


















The second storm was making it's way through. For many people, the electricity had just come back on. For most, it was still out.

Scott and I stood watching out a front window at a large maple tree, which the previous storm had already ripped and broken a great deal of. The debris had just been cleared that morning.We watched as the wind blew and pushed and bent that big tree.

As I stood watching, with my husband's strong arms around me, I found myself mentally pulling for that tree, praying for God to keep it strong, keep it whole. For it was just over two years ago that I felt a bond form with that tree. Another storm was raging outside my home, as well as inside my home, at that time. I was caught up in a fierce storm in my marriage. As I paced around, praying for God to heal us, I stopped and looked out the window at the large maple being shaken and bent by the storm raging outside. I stood, amazed at how the wind was pushing it nearly over, and my Father spoke to me. "Do you see that tree, daughter? See how the wind blows against it but it does not fall? Instead, the storm just makes it stronger. I am making you like that tree. You may feel tossed around by this storm you are going through, but it will not break you. It will make you stronger."

Two years and more storms later, I am stronger. I know that God is good. All the time. I know that He is my strength. I know that hope based on anything but Him will leave me wanting. And yet, I don't feel stronger. And maybe that's a good thing, because if I did feel strong I would forget that I need Him. So I take it a day at a time, beginning each bathing in His Word, and when I feel that ache in my soul, I will try to remember that it is not me being weak, it is me realizing that I am not home yet.

Not getting lost in the crooked

I shake my head as I read the closing sentence in my last post. Little did I know that within a matter of hours of posting, a fierce, angry, powerful storm would blow through and take with it everything that we take for granted.

People were left without power, some without water, and scrambling to make right what had been made crooked.

I don't do well in the crooked. When the crooked comes, as it always does, it reminds me of who I am, and Who I am not. For us, the crooked has been winding it's way around for several weeks now.

"Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what He has made crooked?" (Ecclesiastes 7:13)

I have tried to sit down a few times to write, and found that I just didn't have any words. I have tried to pour myself out to my children, my family, to you, and have found that I just don't have any to pour.

Sometimes in life I am brought to this place where I need to just sit and let others pour in to me. To let God fill me with Himself, let the Holy Spirit grow and swell inside until I am filled. To read the words of others, reminding me what my desire for this blog even is; reminding me how I don't need to just love my children, but like them as well; and on how hope that is based on anything but God always leaves you in the wanting.

I stand in the shower, overcome by it all, with salty tears washing my face along with the water, and wonder why it is that I am so weak. I have been through so much, learned so much, grown so much, and yet the crooked can still make me stumble. I confess my weakness, and in the whisper of the water I hear Him say, "I know, I already knew, and I am not finished with you." He reminds me that the storms of life won't destroy me, but they may bend and shape me. And it's okay.

Each crooked path is a reminder for me to not get lost by looking at all the madness around me, but to hold tighter to His hand.

"It puzzles me; but, Lord, you understand,
And will one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Your best-
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.

You have fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wandering eyes fixed on You,
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to You.

So I will thank and praise You for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing You do hold me worth such testing,
I cling closer to Your guiding hand."
(Streams in the Desert)

Friday, June 29, 2012

From my kitchen Friday

Today in my kitchen, I am making yogurt and bread, watching out the back as my kids make and play in mud, and trying to find my way back to normal after being gone most of the last two weeks. Have a great weekend! Things will resume as normal next week :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Letting go, being free to laugh


We spent our Saturday, really our only free day in the middle of two very un-ordinary and busy weeks, busy with outside work. Out early in the morning, the kids helped me weed the garden and plant three new rows of beans while Scott mowed the yard, and then Scott and the kids did some serious playing while I staked up my last three tomato plants.

After several hours of work, we were all sun kissed, tired, and sweaty. I was putting the finishing touches on the last tomato plant, and out of no where came a blast of cold water all over my back. I regained my stolen breath as my husband laughed and said, "you didn't even hear me coming!"

It seems, in life, that there are always moments that can either go tremendously well, or tremendously not well. Unfortunately, in the past I have chosen too many times to react in the "not well" manner. I think it even got to the point where my husband quit trying to laugh and joke with me because I was always so serious all of the time, and he decided that the risk wasn't worth putting himself on the line.

In the moment after he blasted me with the frigid hose water, I wonder if he held his breath, hoping that I would react well. When I could speak again, I screeched out that the water was freezing, and then laughed out that, yeah, I had NO idea he was coming. By then our children had caught on, came running, and proceeded to get blasted with the water hose as well.

We all took turns, then, spraying each other and being sprayed, tensing up as the cold water came our way, knowing it would take our breath away. Remi was in her element, and we waited patiently as she took her turn, trying to figure out how to get the sprayer to work with only one fully functioning hand. A few times, amid the squeals of delight from our children and ourselves, soaked to the bone and running through the water, Scott and I looked at each other and laughed. I am so glad that I chose to let go of the serious for a time and felt free to laugh.

Life seems to be much fuller of times that are carefree and full of joy when you can let go a little, and be free to laugh!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday ("Cool dude!")


Sometimes, in the midst of the craziness, you just have to stop and laugh and make the most of your time together. I will take a lesson from my baby girl, who took everything yesterday (which included visits to a doctor as well as the hospital, four different waiting rooms, and x-rays all within the span of 2 hours) with the utmost of grace. Such a trooper she was, and still is :)

I hope you have a blessed weekend! And thank you to anyone who has said prayers for my son, and now daughter also :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My children are not my own

My mind and heart spin. Round and round they go with anger, frustration, worry, mostly anger.

My boy has something wrong and everyone is sending me in circles, with no end in near sight. I tell myself all the Truth that I know. God is bigger than this. He already knows the answers. I have learned that I can trust Him with everything, including my boy. And still He leads me.

I lift up trembling hands, offering it up to Him. If I could leave it there at His feet then I wouldn't be in the emotionally and physically wound situation that I'm in. The problem is that then I take it back. He's my boy. And then I remember that he was His boy first.

And then he looks at me and smiles and says, "I love you, Mommy. More than you know I do." And then he's my boy and I'm picking him up and hugging him close and he's got his arms around me, playing with my hair. And I'm melting, and I'm frustrated, because the people who control this situation are telling me that there really is not so much a situation as I think there is.

And then I remember that really He controls this situation, and round and round I go.

And now I choose to stop. I choose to remember that my boy isn't really mine. And even if I have to tell myself the same thing over and over and over, I will remember that in Him lies the future of my son.  

In this world I will have trouble, Hudson will have trouble, but we can be encouraged because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). And because He has, in Him we have. So I will take it to His feet and leave it there. And I will rest in His calming presence, as His peace guards my heart and my mind (Matthew 11:28, Philippians 4:7).
 
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul. Worship His Holy name. Sing like never before, O my soul, I'll worship Your Holy name. The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning. It's time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes." 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman

And we won't even go into the fact that this morning I have to take Remi to the doctor because she did something to her thumb and now it is stuck bent and won't straighten out...

Monday, June 18, 2012

The marriage garden


I was hunched down, the sun hot on my back, picking at the little garden weeds to get them out of there before they became a big problem. I glanced over my little garden, ripe with possibility in new growth. I thought about what it will look like in another several weeks compared to now, and then at the end of the summer in all it's fullness, spent of all it's offerings. How will my tending to it compare then to now?

The answer came quick, knowledge gleaned from seasons past. In a few weeks, in the hot middle of summer, and in the coolness of Fall, my tending to this garden will be much the same. I will pull the weeds before they become too big to handle. I will surround my tender vegetables with plants that will attract bugs that are beneficial to the veggies. I will quickly get rid of bugs that will destroy my veggies. I will water it. I will prune it. I will fill it with nourishment from grass cuttings and kitchen scraps.

The fact that the plants and flowers get older and more mature doesn't mean that they become immune to disease and death. In fact, the very thing that will bring disease and death is neglect from me. So I will water even when I don't feel like watering. I will not despair after a particularly hot day leaves things wilty, I will just add a little more watering. I will pull the weeds even though it is hard, hot work, and I will do it before they become big with deep roots. I will destroy any thing that poses a threat to the growth of my precious garden. And if for some reason the weeds do get big and deep, or a particular plant seems to be struggling, I will do what is necessary to fix it.

 And when I say, as I often do, that marriage is like a garden, this is exactly what I am talking about. No marriage, whether new or old, is immune to disease. No marriage can go without daily watering, nourishing, weeding, and pruning for long before it becomes overgrown and diseased. Every marriage, whether new or old, experiences really hot days where they are left feeling wilted. Every marriage benefits from having other couples around who are for their marriage and seek to encourage in that area. Every marriage, when properly tended to, yields fruit and blessing to everyone around them. Because just like a garden, the very thing that will bring disease and death to a marriage is neglect. And just like a garden, there will be weeds that pop up and threaten your marriage.

So I will daily seek to water and tend to the fertile ground of my marriage. And I will trust that the fruit that is produced will be a blessing to everyone around us.

And  I encourage you to do the same :) You, your marriage, your spouse, your children, and the people around you will notice, and will be blessed.
 

Friday, June 15, 2012

From my Kitchen Friday: Calzones!


Friday night is Pizza night, and after several different attempts I have yet to find a really good pizza crust recipe. But, I have found an awesome calzone recipe, and for the last several weeks we have had them on Pizza night. It is so yummy, and since we each get our own, the kids get to pick what they want and make their own.

You want to know the secret? The dough is made in the bread machine, so it's so simple!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm sorry


I lifted her up onto the potty, short as she is. As I sat her down she said, "sorry, Mommy." I thought she thought she had hurt me, and I said, "It's okay, Baby, you didn't hurt me." Then she grimaced a little and started rubbing her chest, and I realized that I had hurt her. Feeling bad that I must have squeezed her a little too hard when lifting her up, I told her that I was sorry.

This is a very common thing for her. Whether she is the one doing the hurting or the one being hurt, she always says, "sorry." This is even how we realize sometimes that we have hurt her, like when I lifted her onto the potty.

I started thinking about how willing she is to say, "I'm sorry," even when she doesn't need to, and how unwilling adults tend to be, especially when they do need to. As adults, when we get into an argument with someone, whether family or friend, we rarely are the first to apologize. We keep a list of our hurts, whether intentionally or not, and we wait for the other person to fess up and apologize before we offer our apology or forgiveness.

How much better would it make our relationships if, when faced with a hurt, we would be the first to bring up what is going on, talk it through, and apologize for our part in the problem? Even in cases where we have been unjustly wronged, with Christ's help we can still take steps toward reconciling that relationship. Instead of wasting days, or weeks, or years holding tightly to that hurt, we need to take the initiative to bring healing to that relationship if we can.

If a two year old can manage it, shouldn't we?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm so glad we fought

We sat together, dreaming, talking about the future. Trips we would like to go on. Vacations with our children. What we would like to experience together as we live out the rest of our lives. How we would like to fix up our house now that we are able to a little at a time. What we would like to do once the kids are out of the house. Dreaming and loving and loving what we were dreaming about.

I couldn't help but think, in those precious moments, that we almost missed out on them. In a flash I was filled with so much. So much pain at what we almost lost. So much joy and thankfulness that we didn't lose it. And so much love for my husband who has fought as hard as I have to make sure we arrived at the very place we are at. So much honor at the legacy we are leaving for our children.

I looked at him and he could see it in my eyes. After almost 14 years together, we are able to say so much to each other without using words. Then I told him that I am so thankful that we are able to talk about our future together, that we didn't miss the opportunity. With sincerity that I knew went as deep as his heart, he said that he is thankful every single day for what we have.

If you are experiencing a rough patch in your marriage, if it is taking more work than you find yourself willing to give, if you or your spouse has had an affair and you are trying desperately to find each other again, please know that it is worth it to fight for your marriage. Yes, it takes work, sometimes the hardest work of your life. Yes, it may take time before you really start seeing results. It has taken 2 full years for us to get where we are (and, by the way, it will take work until the day we die, because marriage, like a garden, takes cultivating and daily care to bloom). But, if there is anything I can tell you today, it is that IT IS WORTH IT!

When you offer your marriage to God and seek to be the husband or wife that God calls you to be, He will bless it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Move!

Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when called to go..., obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."

Is God calling you to go, to do, to love, and you don't understand why or how? Maybe it is respecting and honoring a spouse even though your relationship isn't great right now. Maybe it is stopping and talking to someone you don't really enjoy talking to. Maybe it is serving a friend or family member in need. Maybe it is stopping and praying with the random stranger you feel God calling you to pray for. Maybe, just maybe (and this has happened to me), it is getting out of your car and talking to a small group of gypsies who have taken up temporary camp in your town. And, better yet, offering them your free Speedway coffee coupon. And asking them what their story is. And praying with them. Uncomfortable, intimidating, inconvenient. Yes, but when you give your life to Christ and seek to follow Him where He leads you, there are times when He will call you to submit to His greater plan. Even though you may never know why. Because He knows what He is doing, and he weaves people into and out of your life for a reason. All He asks you to do is obey, whether you understand or not. Often times, you will be blessed in the serving as well.

From Streams in the Desert: "Many an opportunity is lost while we deliberate after He has said, 'Move!'"

Linked up wit Titus 2sdays, On Your Heart Tuesdays, What I learned this week, Teach me Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Just write

Monday, June 11, 2012

When your spouse's words deflate you

It came out of no where.

We were sitting down with the kids having lunch and a nice conversation. I said something, and he responded in a way that I perceived as very critical and unkind. And I was deflated. Immediately.

The conversation ended there, and he could tell what had happened without me even having to say anything. We have talked about this before. He knows how important words are to me. He knows they have the power to build me up or destroy me. And he knew what he had just done. He apologized, and I could see in his eyes that he meant it.  I believed he was sorry, but that didn't change the way I felt.

As lunch ended and I cleaned the kitchen up (I declined his offer to help), my mind kept going back to what he said. I stewed on it. Angry thoughts came to my head. "Well, now I know what he REALLY thinks." "I'm sure not going to bring that up anymore!" A song came on the radio reminding me to forgive. I sang the song, but still the battle raged in my mind and heart. I recognized my tendency to hold on to hurt, and I really wanted to change that about myself. Yet I lacked the strength to change my own heart. Finally, I went to change the laundry. In my mind flashed an image of Scott and me laughing together, enjoying each other, loving each other. Quietly the Lord spoke to my heart, "Doesn't that feel so much better than this?" I agreed that, yes, feeling free to love and laugh with my husband feels much better than being held captive to anger and hurt feelings. He reminded me that in order to take hold of the one I had to let go of the other. That finally gave me what I needed to fully let go.

We can't control what the people around us do or say. We can't control how their actions or words make us feel, but we can control how we will respond to it. I must admit that the old me would have definitely held on to that hurt and let it affect the way I treated Scott for the rest of the day, at least. But this me, the one who is daily seeking to be refined and sanctified by Christ, allowed Him to break through my thoughts. And this me decided to act on what I know, rather than what I feel. He had apologized, after all, and he was authentic in his remorse. The burden of responsibility lay with me.

After the kids were in bed, we sat in the living room folding laundry. We were casually talking and enjoying each others' company. Gently I said, "You know you really hurt my feeling earlier, right?" He said, "I know, and I am so sorry." I told him I knew he was sorry, I could tell when he had said it. I had seen the pain in his eyes when he realized he had hurt me. I told him about my struggle to let it go, but that I realized that if I wanted God to change me I had to actually allow him to. He looked me in the eyes and thanked me for being the woman that I am.

I believe that this is one of God's purposes for marriage. He created us to sharpen each other, to make each other better. If that means that there will be conflict, I pray that God would always cultivate in me a spirit that is willing to grow.

We see it as pain and hurt and struggle in our marriage. He sees it as a way to make us more like Himself. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Word of God speak

"I'm finding myself at a loss for words, and the funny thing is it's okay. The last thing I need is to be heard, but to hear what You would say."  from Word of God Speak, by MercyMe.


My little boy, he is the sweetest, most beautiful, gentle boy on the planet. I'm sure of it. You would agree if you knew him. He's not perfect, just like everyone else, and he is a boy, so he does get in mischief. He is only 4, afterall. But I love him more than I could ever explain. I love my girls, too, desperately. But there's just something about my boy.

 "I'm finding myself in the midst of You, beyond the music, beyond the noise. All that I need is to be with You, and in the quiet hear Your voice."

 And in his 4 years, he has already endured more than I wish he had to. At 2 1/2 he had a concussion that resulted in a seizure and an overnight stay in the hospital. Just this past January, right before his 4th birthday, he had a bad case of bacterial pneumonia that resulted in an overnight stay in our local hospital followed by a transport to the closest Children's Hospital and two more nights in the hospital. 


And now, he has another medical issue going on. And we are in the grueling process of waiting. His regular doctor has referred him to a pediatric GI specialist back at the Children's Hospital where he had his last stay. The issue that he has is apparently sort-of common in children, but the "common" cause for it is not what is causing his. And we wait, for the referral to go through, for the word back that he has an appointment scheduled, for answers. And every time I have to go and tend to his issue, I pray. I pray for God's hand over my little boy. For Him to go before us and iron out the paperwork. That He would fill Hudson with comfort, as he is figuring out that something is wrong. That He would fill me with peace and patience and understanding, as His will plays out in the life of my son.


 "Word of God speak, would You pour down like rain, washing my eyes to see your majesty. To be still and know that You're in this place. Please let me stay and rest in Your holiness. Word of God speak."

Lord, I trust You. No matter what.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How meal planning has helped me


In the long scheme of things, I have only been doing this meal planning thing for a little while. It has always been my heart to provide delicious food for my family, and in the 8 years that we have been married I have tried different things off and on. But, nothing really worked so well that it stuck. Finally, though, I have found what works for me. I don't know exactly how long I have been planning my meals in this way, but it has really blessed me, my kitchen, and my family. I did several posts a while back on why it is important to provide meals for your family in your home, what does NOT work for me in meal planning, the actual meal plan that I use, and what cookbooks I use. If you are interested in finding a way to plan out a menu and shopping list that works for you that is easy to follow, check out those posts to see if my plan would work for you as well.

This is what is on my mind this morning, so I thought I would share some of the ways that planning my meals and shopping list in this way have helped me.
* I have a very limited grocery budget. I have about $125 to spend on groceries for the 5 of us for a 15 day menu. It's tight, but since I am planning out all of our meals for those 15 days, and I know which of the two stores that I shop (Aldi and Kroger) sell what I need the cheapest, I can get what we need within that limit. We don't buy organic, because that would just take up too much of my chunk of money, but I feel that providing nourishing homemade meals and avoiding processed junk and fast food (when we can) makes up for it.
* The overall thought process in my home around meal time has changed from "Where are we going for dinner?" to "What are we having for dinner?" Also, that questions is easily and quickly answered by a glance at the menu hanging on the refrigerator. I read somewhere recently (can't at all remember where) that when you are consistently feeding your family home cooked meals, you are creating for your children and your family a sort of "home base". There is no uncertainty about dinner time.
* My children love helping me in the kitchen, Hudson especially. For Christmas he got his very own spatula. He was 3 at the time, and has loved using it to help me cook whenever he can. By helping me cook and, occasionally, bake, they are learning very valuable life skills. I am also learning and growing in patience :)
* My kitchen has become the place to be. I have Christian music playing in there from morning till night, and at any point throughout the day at least one person is in there. I take pleasure in preparing meals, and there is no 4:00 panic as I try to find something to make. It's all there ready for me.

If you have a desire to have more meals at home, or have been considering finding a system that works for you of consistently and efficiently planning regular menus, I would be happy to help. You could check out the links above, or contact me. My email address is listed at the top on the right under my picture.

Have a great Thursday, and happy cooking! This evening for us, it's chicken and broccoli casserole. Yummy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The blessing of sex

I am not excited about publishing this. Seriously? This, Lord? Okay, I'm most certainly no expert, but if what I do know will help others, then so-be-it.

A few weeks ago Scott had to go to his school's graduation. He rode with some of the other male teachers, and unbeknownst to him they had a plan to hang out for a bit afterwards. These are guys that have become good friends this year, and are some pretty stand-up guys. He called me from where they were afterwards so I would know why he wasn't on his way home, and I told him to have a good time. It was late already, and I was in bed by the time he got home.
It turns out, as one would probably expect with a small group of men, that the conversation turned from how to improve the quality of education at their school... to sex. Scott was the one who started it. He said, "You guys realize that you bringing me here instead of home greatly reduces the likelihood that I'm going to get some tonight." (I couldn't possibly be blushing any more than I am right now). After they joked that then they'd better get him home, they started to really talk about it. What did they talk about? They talked about frequency. How often? "About twice a month" here. "Lucky if even that" there. They asked Scott how often. One of the guys was taking a drink as Scott answered, and he choked on it. Really. When he was relaying this conversation to me later, I told him I was glad that he could be proud of his answer.
I don't want to go into specifics about how frequently my husband and I have sex, because, well my family reads this, and maybe his does, too. What I do want to say, though, is that we make it a priority. You see, we've been on both sides of this coin. In the first 5 1/2 years of our marriage, I was very selfish, especially when it came to sex. Now, after the first year we were married I was either pregnant or nursing a baby for the next 4 1/2 years. I was tired, and hormonal, and at the end of the day I didn't want anyone else touching me. I put the needs of my husband and this way of nourishing our marriage way on the back burner. The frequency that we had sex then was embarrassingly low. Yet, even in these circumstance I still didn't have a right to say that I didn't want any. In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, the Bible says that husbands and wives should not deprive one another sexually, except for already agreed upon times of prayer after which they should come together again. It doesn't say, "unless you are too tired, or had a fight, or don't feel like it". 
If I were to compare our relationship now, when we make sex a high priority in our marriage, and before, when we didn't, on those facts alone, I would say without a doubt that our marriage is happier and more satisfying than it was before. God created sex as a way to nurture each other and our marriage. He knew that regularly engaging in this very important act would bless both the husband and the wife. He knew what He was doing!

So, here are a few steps you could take to intentionally improve this area of your marriage.
1. Go visit Sheila at her blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum and read through her series "29 Days to Great Sex", or even buy her book "The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex". Really, go over and read her stuff. It is really good stuff. If you are in a situation where you have been abused or sex is literally painful for you, she has a lot of good insight and wisdom to share.
2. Sit down with your spouse and really have a conversation about your sex life. Scott and I have, on several occasions. And I have literally said, "I can't believe we are talking about this" when what we were specifically talking about was, well, embarrassing. Talk about what helps you, what hinders you, what would help you get in the mood, what would help your spouse. Talk about what would be a realistic expectation for both of you as far as what you want to strive for frequency-wise. The biggest thing here, is to take the focus off of yourself and put it on your spouse. Communication is so key!
3. Ladies, we are busy, and let's face it, sex is not something that is on our minds a lot. Guys, you've got this covered. Ladies, make a point to think about having sex with your husband. If you get yourself prepared mentally for what will come later, you will find that you are more in the mood than you used to be.
4. Pray. God wants to bless you in this area just like any other. Ask God to pour His blessing over your marriage bed as you seek to honor His ways in every area of your marriage. Pray before hand. If you don't find that your are really interested and your spouse is, pray for God to give you the momentum.

When you make sex a priority in your marriage, the blessings will abound.

I went and visited Scott at school a few days after they had had this post-graduation conversation. Two of the men, grown men, were peeking around a corner at us and giggling like school girls. They made a comment about how they had to keep an eye on us "kids" when we were on school grounds. He and I laughed, and I felt so proud as my husband's chest lifted a little. I want to be a crown on his head. I want to be a wife that he is proud to talk about. That day, I felt like one.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The sweet fragrance of pain

(an excerpt from Streams in the Desert, a book that holds a very special place in my heart)

Song of Songs 4:16: Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that it's fragrance may be spread abroad.

Some of the spices and plants mentioned in verse 14 of the above chapter are very descriptive and symbolic. The juice of the aloe plant has a bitter taste but is soothing when applied to the skin, so it tells us of the sweetness of bitter things, the bittersweet, having an important application that only those who have used it will understand. Myrrh is symbolic of death, having been used to embalm the dead. It represents the sweetness that comes to the heart after it has died to self-will, pride, and sin.
What inexpressible charm seems to encircle some Christians, simply because they carry upon their pure countenance and gentle spirit the imprint of the cross! It is the holy evidence of having died to something that was once proud and strong but is now forever surrendered at the feet of Jesus. And it is also the heavenly charm of a broken spirit and contrite heart, the beautiful music that rises from a minor key, and the sweetness brought about by the touch of frost on ripened fruit.
Finally, frankincense was a fragrance that arose only after being touched with fire. The burning incense became clouds of sweetness arising from the heat of the flames. It symbolizes a person's heart whose sweetness has been brought forth by the flames of affliction until the holy, innermost part of the soul is filled with clouds of praise and prayer.
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Dear friends, sometimes God allows us to experience pain in our lives because He knows it is what we need to grow, to bloom, as in the pruning of a rose bush. Sometimes the pain helps us to see things in a whole new light, and allows us to become a blessing to someone else.
Are you in pain today? Grasp ahold of our Heavenly Father's hand, and let Him guide you through the bitter to the other side, where the sweet fragrance of pain lies. Let it fill you with praise and prayer.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A widsom day

I jolt awake. My eyes open and find the clock. It's 6:25, but I feel like I could sleep another three hours. I climb out of bed, careful to get the monitor unplugged to take with me without waking my sleeping husband. I make my way downstairs, grab some oatmeal out of the fridge and put on my laughingly weak coffee.

Find my place at the table and open my Bible. I write some prayers down for my family and for a new friend who is trying to reconcile her marriage after an affair. From the monitor I hear her wake up. She starts talking, and then yelling, "MommyDaddy! MommyDaddy!" I go upstairs and quietly tell her to lay down and be quiet, it's not time to get up yet.

Back downstairs, I find my way to Proverbs. I love Proverbs. So much wisdom. This morning, it's wisdom on wisdom. Proverbs 2:6-11: "For the Lord grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe." I sit and soak that in for a minute. The older two come down stairs. The light on their clock has alerted them. That means it's time. I glance at the clock and ask Libby if she will turn on the upstairs hall light so Remi will know it's time to get up. As soon as the light turns on I hear her excited response over the monitor. It's 7:00. The day begins!

Have a wonderful, wisdom-filled day, my friends!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Free will is tricky


The whole issue of free will is a tricky one. When we are seeking Christ every day, striving to look more like Him and less like our sinful selves, free will isn't really a big deal. When we are seeking to have our will resemble His, He will transform our desires and our will. Making decisions in that aspect is a no brainer. Does it follow with what the Bible says? Do I feel something from the Holy Spirit telling me this isn't a good idea? Our "yes" and our "no" come from seeking God first.

But, what about a person who is in Christ but has walked away from Him and is not seeking out His will? When my husband was having an affair, he fell into this category. I even remember saying, "I am begging God for His will for me and for Scott and for our marriage! But, Scott is not. He is living out of his own free will. He can choose to do whatever in the world he wants. What if he doesn't listen to God?" In this time where I felt completely out of control because the rest of my own life and the life of my children was being chosen by someone who was not seeking God, all I could do was rest in the peace of God and ask Him for His will in my life. And I asked Him to change Scott's heart. I didn't know how it would work, but I believed it would.

In Proverbs 16, it says three different times that basically we as people can make our own choices, but God ultimately has the final say. In verse 1 it says, "We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer" and verse 9 says it even better, "We can make our own plans, but the Lord determines our steps." I fully believe that everything happens because God allows it to pass through His hand. If He doesn't want it to happen, it won't. Even the hard things He allows, and there is always a higher purpose, a greater story than our own hurt in the moment. These two verses, and the third in verse 33, say exactly what I have suspected all along. We can make our plans, but at the point that God says "No", they change. In my situation, Scott's plans were for a divorce and for a relationship with the other woman. I would not accept that this was God's will for our marriage, so I prayed that His will would come to fruition. And in His timing and in His way, God said, "No". God changed Scott's heart over time. He literally took Scott's heart, his feelings and his thoughts, and He changed them! He has the ultimate power, even over our free will.

If you are in a situation where you feel hopeless because someone you love is not seeking God, rest in the peace that God still has the final answer. Pray for God's will in His timing, and leave the rest to Him!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In the middle of chaos

We had a very busy weekend! It was good, but busy. I find myself sitting here trying hard to come up with the words to write on some verses that I read this morning, but the words are not coming. Looks like that is a post for another day!
This is all I've got. We had a very busy weekend, as I'm sure all of you did! We had two different gatherings with family and friends, some outside pruning, some swimming, and a full scale overhaul of the kind's bedrooms. Yesterday afternoon, as we were leaving to go to my parent's house to eat and swim, I remembered at the last minute that I left inside the salsa and chips that we were supposed to take. Scott turned off the car and gave me the keys. As I was going back inside, I just smiled. This is my life. I am so blessed. And I love it.