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 :)