God is constantly at work in us

Jesus, marriage, Uncategorized

Today’s text from our friend Brian Haynes will speak for itself:

God moments happen all around us all of the time. I love that God is constantly at work in people, in marriages, and in churches. If you need hope for your life, your family, your marriage or your church, take 6 minutes to watch this short documentary. It is a God story.

Love my man!

love, marriage, Uncategorized
Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! photo by Christian

I’ll be completely honest with you…I’m just excited to have a decent picture of Herschel and I together. So excited that I had to post it here for you! As our kids have gotten older, we’re able to have more and more spontaneous dates and time together. We love that we get to spend more time alone as a couple as they grow. But there’s something really fun about getting dressed up for a special date.

Company Christmas party got us out of the normal “Hey it’s just the two of us, so let’s go to Chipotle for a salad” date. I love those times. But the occasional special date night can sometimes give us a fresh perspective!

Seven weeks of community

marriage, Uncategorized

Picture this: the seven loudest people that you know. Four adults, three kids, and a mild-mannered dog. For seven weeks, our good friends, a family of four, lived with us while they were in transition. Their current house sold, but the new house wasn’t available for seven weeks. I’m calling this time in our life: Seven weeks of community.

Besides the fact that all seven of us are extremely loud and talkative, you’ve got to know that we aren’t related to this family. We’ve only known each other for six years. They were some of the first people to be friendly with us when we first moved back to our hometown. We felt like fish out of water after we returned from a tough two years on the mission field in West Africa. We were blind-sighted by the fact that we had reverse culture shock. We joined a new church where we didn’t know tons of people, and felt as if we were starting over in a whole new chapter of life. I distinctly remember the first time I visited with this couple. I was at a roller skating church event for the kids, and I was alone while my 3rd grader went around in circles. I remember trying to strike up conversations with a couple of other moms: Failure! I’m sure I was socially awkward, but didn’t realize it. I just felt so lonely, then this couple struck up conversation with me. They looked so genuinely happy and friendly and I love that they threw me a life-preserver when I felt like I was drowning in social awkwardness.

Fast forward to present. Lots of sleepovers for our teenaged girls, dinners, karaoke, Superbowls, New Year’s Eves, and throw in a couple of crisis situations when they were there to help us with hard decisions. You get the idea.

This fall our son headed to a dorm apartment for college, and the next weekend our friends moved in. It just made sense. Otherwise we’d have two empty bedrooms upstairs, and that seems like such a waste when our friends are in home limbo for a while.

Think about the good, bad, and ugly in your home that occurs on a daily basis. Imagine that you had cameras posted, out of view, to observe your family’s activities for seven weeks. A little scary, huh? Although our friends got to witness a few of our less-than-stellar family moments, it was worth it! I learned so much by having them here.

First of all, I believe that we are made to live in close community with others. American culture does not value community, but fierce independence, even when it’s to our detriment. That’s why so many people asked them (privately, of course) and us: How’s it really going? Isn’t is stressful? Our answer was: It’s surprisingly wonderful! We knew it would work out okay, but it surpassed our expectations. We need to lean on other people, and to learn from them. Sometimes this can only happen in close community. That’s because otherwise, we can fake it. We can act as if we have it all together, then go home and fall apart. If you go home and you’ve got another family there, you have witnesses! It turns out that this was a beautiful thing.

The last couple months have been the worst for me health-wise. If I’m honest I also confess that emotionally it’s been pretty rough, too, because of my health problems. However, the past seven weeks have been some of the richest for me on many different levels: friendship-wise, spiritually I have been challenged and grown, and I’ve been forced to show my vulnerability and need for others. If they hadn’t been here to witness it, I would have put on my brave happy face to the world because I’d be too proud to tell anyone I have been suffering.

Another benefit was that we learned from them while seeing their family interact. It’s amazing what you can learn watching a married couple as they do life, and it helped me to see how they love on their kids and parent them. We certainly didn’t have a spiral notebook out and plan to be creepy watchers, but we gleaned so much during the ups and downs of daily life. It was good!

Maybe you won’t have another family live in close quarters with you for a month or two, but you can intentionally connect closely with a couple of families that you trust. Be real, and show where you are weak and struggling. Celebrate daily joys and victories together. You’ll all be better for it. Plus it’s REALLY fun!

I love this man!

commitment, love, marriage

Marriage is not for sissies. Anyone who’s been married for a couple of years or more will tell you that! It took me about a year of being married to learn this. Okay, it probably only took me a month or so, because I quickly learned that it wasn’t really like Disney’s Cinderella movie where we’d ride off in our carriage together into the sunset and live “Happily Ever After”.

Here's what I thought marriage was

I was pretty shocked when we got back from our honeymoon and there weren’t birds singing in chorus as I did my chores around the house. Very disappointing that squirrels, birds, and friendly mice didn’t help me get dressed each morning. Seriously, I think I watched Disney’s Cinderella way too many times!

It didn’t take long for me to realize that being married meant I’m still me.  I still wake up with morning breath, next to someone else who may or may not have morning breath. (Let’s protect the innocent. This is not his blog, so it’s only fair to leave out any of his imperfections.) I remember devouring books on marriage because I quickly learned that I was in big trouble if I didn’t figure out how to do this thing called marriage. I didn’t really know how to be a wife. And since I am pretty selfish by nature, how would this play out? I don’t think I’ve got it all figured out now, but we usually work together in a good rhythm as a couple.

I love this man! He's a man of integrity, he's passionate and full of life. This is him teaching junior high students.

Over time I love my husband more and more, as we experience life with all of its joys and sorrows together.  In fact, I might go as far to say that when we persevere as a couple through the trials of life and difficult times, we love each other in a deeper way. Now that I’ve nauseated you with all of that, I can go back to my initial point: Marriage isn’t for sissies. The daily ups and downs of life are the reality. Maybe one of the biggest things I’m learning in marriage is love can be a romantic feeling. But love is also much, much more than that.