Tuesday, January 31, 2017

4 Years

I sit across the table from her at our favorite coffee shop. She's smiling at me like she knows something that I don't. In a quiet moment between us both laughing loud and talking around mouthfuls of soup, she tells me, for the 10th time, that I need to start writing again.

I counter back with all of the excuses that I've given her before: I don't have the time, I don't know that I have the words anymore, no one really wants to hear what I have to say, and for goodness sake it's been over FOUR years since I've even written anything that anyone other than SHE has read. She just looks at me, because she knows I'm wrong and she knows that I know it, too. She tells me the same thing that she tells me every time I give her the limping-thin excuses.

"Just do it anyway. Just start writing."

And the truth is that God has been whispering this very thing to me for at least a year. My heart is full of a passion to seek Christ in my every day, to draw closer to Him, to be changed and sanctified to look more like Him, and especially to help other women do the very same thing. I stopped blogging over 4 years ago because life got busy and my heart grew weak from the emotional toll it takes for me personally to write blogs.

Because for me, to have anything to write that will help other women I first must learn it, first must feel the pain or experience the growth. The only way I know to authentically help someone else is to experience it myself first. And that's hard, man.

But God is telling me, with His own words and through the words of my best friend, that it is time to start again. And so, in the words that He Himself encouraged me with just yesterday, I will "just walk in obedience".

So, if there is anyone who happens to still come across this space and wishes to join this journey with me, I'll now be blogging at Like the Spring Rain. Maybe I'll see you there!

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!