Category Archives: Marriage

The Broken Cookie Cutter Marriage

I never used to believe that I was creative.

No. I was too busy lining up cookie cutter pictures of the way life was supposed to be. The perfect good girl looks like this. The perfect student does that. The perfect Christian can’t think or dress that way.

I read book after book about the specific ways to find the perfect spouse and finally decided to stop trying to find a husband altogether. Then one day, when the last thing on my to-do list was to find a man, I met him. Instead of being “perfect,” he was the real deal, more bona fide than any suit-and-tie guy who only quoted the KJV I’d met. He was the just the right fit for me, exactly what I needed to give me a new perspective on how to look at life.

I’d spent 22 years building a kingdom exclusively out of cookie cutter cookies. The only thing is, as pretty as those cookies are to look at, they will never beat a batch of chocolate chip, mismatched in size and shape as they may be.

I have only grown to love the genuine man who has proven over-and-over that being real and true to who you are created to be is worth it. He has made me see that life is far richer when I will embrace the creativity that God has placed within me, even when it looks messy. Messy is real, and it can clean up into something that will inspire others.

On our ninth wedding anniversary, I celebrate the man who unknowingly started crumbling my cookie cutter kingdom eleven summers ago when we met. Others have tried to mold him into their definition of “acceptable,” but instead of settling for their definition of good enough, he has been brave enough to ask God what pleases Him first, and change according to His standard instead.

Nine years of living brings about a great deal of change, but what I love about having a marriage with two people who are real rather than ideal is that, for better or worse, it is rich. I am grateful that I married a man who encourages me to be real and has proven he meant his vows.

Even when I’m not looking or acting pretty, he’s my consistent encourager. He has not only been there in sickness and in health, he’s helped me clean up kid puke in the middle of the night, even though he had to deal with patient puke at work. He’s not only been there for better or for worse, but he actually believes that I can do better at my dreams and passions than I’d ever allow myself to imagine. He’s worked hard and sacrificed much to make our poorer days rich in memories.

I thank God that, when He gave me Tanner, He didn’t send the picture I had in my head. He sent me someone far greater than I could have imagined.

New Love

Love Today

A fun little then and now. Top picture was taken the summer Tanner and I met, and the bottom one I took today.

 

 

For Better or Worse

Yesterday was my parents’ 34th anniversary. They both took the day off of work to spend together. And that’s exactly what they did.

Starting at 1:30 in the morning when my dad woke up mom telling her something wasn’t right. The only time they were separated was when she followed behind an ambulance taxiing him to the hospital as his body went through a massive heart attack the doctor has made sure to reiterate people are not supposed to live through.

But he did. Because God is the one in charge of the days of our life, and He still has a purpose for one of the greatest men alive to continue living on this earth. And I’m thankful, all of the reasons for which are for another post.

Yesterday I was reminded how privileged I’ve been my entire life to witness true love and marriage vows being lived out by two people who have always striven to live out life authentically for me and everyone else to see.

I was able to see the way she genuinely and quietly stated her heart when others said, “Sorry it’s not a very happy anniversary.” She said it over and over and she meant it more every time. “It is a happy anniversary because I still have him here with me.” Not once did she feel cheated, but only immensely blessed. Healthy perspective once again illustrated to me by the woman who has taught me so much about living by faith.

I got to watch her feed him his cardiac-patient meals covered in mystery gravy instead of sitting across from him at a restaurant recollecting their years together. They still smiled and reminisced and proved their love and devotion to each other as he lay flat on his back with innumerable wires coming off him, and she held his hand.

True love endures through better or worse. They meant it when they said it, and they’ve proved it countless times over the decades. On this anniversary their day started out the worst way imaginable, but they chose to see it for better as the day wore on because they still had each other’s hand to hold as they celebrated another year gone by.

For Better or Worse

 

Love & Marriage: The Non-Fairy Tale Version

This past weekend, one of my dearest friends got married. The story leading up to her wedding day is incredible. She waited a very long time for God’s perfect match for her, and He gave her just that. I wanted so badly to be there to witness the sheer joy on her face because I knew most all of the story. We were single young women, speculating and crying together over loves that would not be. We knew the details of each crush and listened to the other swoon when the she found true love.

This is her time, and while I couldn’t actually be physically present to watch her rightfully bask in the fruits of waiting for God’s perfect timing, I have loved hearing every detail I could from the first time her now-husband sent flowers a half year ago until now.

On the day that she exchanged her vows, I stayed home with my kids and their snotty noses while my husband was at church camp for the weekend. Hundreds of miles away, she donned her white dress and radiated a beauty that can only come from a bride in love while I threw my hair in a pony tail and sighed at the sight of dark circles under my eyes.

I won’t lie. I was disappointed when the funds for a plane ticket never miraculously appeared so I could be a part of her wedding. I’d have much rather been posing for pictures in a bridesmaid dress instead of nursing my summer cold with two kids demanding my attention. But God showed me that I needed to focus on my life’s current chapter rather than fantasizing of fairy tales like we women like to do when we’re at weddings.

We tend to lose sight of the beautiful thing we have in a good marriage as we sigh over the romance in the dramatic airport declarations of love from the movies (See Lisa-Jo’s post about this here. It’s a good one!) In reality, that rarely happens.

In fact, I lived through a dramatic airport scene, but it involved getting thoroughly dumped with the guy driving off into the sunset without looking back twice. Take it from me, the fairy tales aren’t worth dreaming about. The Godly men of character, on the other hand, are worth every laughable chick flick misstep.

So I got engaged in a parking lot. But it was to a man who woke up Christmas morning in a cold, empty dorm room so he could spend the day with me after saving up all of his money to buy me a gorgeous ring.

I haven’t had a so much as a weekend away with my husband in 5 years, but I have a husband who supports me living my dream of being a stay-at-home mom by working hard and going without a lot of things so we can do what we believe is the right thing for our family.

Instead of getting roses randomly delivered to my doorstep from the love of my life, I get a man who has already taught my four year old how to pick wild flowers for me and daily proves that he values spending time with his family. As a bonus, he even cleans up the kitchen after I make dinner!

If I focus on the fairy tale version of what happily ever after looks like, I’d be quick to bemoan the fact that my newlywed season is over. But I’ve grown to chuckle more and more at the whole dramatic airport scenario society deems romantic. Airports are dirty, noisy, and far from cozy, so let it go ladies!

Vows1

Love is not having to feel less loved when you have extreme bed head and are in desperate need of a shower.

Love is having the man who has promised to care for you in sickness actually doing it even at the cost of getting sick himself.

Love is enduring hardships together and finally getting to a mutual place of feeling hope because God’s gotten you through enough difficulties together thus far.

It’s feeling loss together and bringing children into the world together.

It’s being met with a hug when you’ve succeeded and the same hug when you’ve failed.

It’s forgiving and choosing to remember no more.

Love is taking over the bedtime routine when son and mom’s heads collide and mom gets distracted with her first bloody nose.

I may not have been able to attend my precious friend’s wedding last weekend, but I could happily wish her well because as much as I wanted her to have a wonderful wedding day, I can’t wait for her to experience what ever after does to grow their love. The day-to-day that turns into year after year – that is the truly beautiful part of love and marriage, and it’s greater than any fairy-tale version.

Here’s another great post I read about marriage this week as I was cooking up the one I just wrote. It’s worth reading, too!

Marriage is about Unraveling {Guest Post}

I know you will find joy in reading today’s post! My friend Ashley is kind enough to share a little about what she’s learned about the delicate art of patching up the rough times in marriage. May you be encouraged! I also highly recommend you check out her blog, Little Pieces of Ordinary.

Photo Credit

My husband and I welcomed our third baby in five years this last October. We’ll be married seven years in July and we have a four year old, a three year old, and now a five month old baby.  Marriage, it has seasons and rhythms like tides and my Tim and I, we’re finally learning how to keep our footing in these wild waves of baby’s first year.

Right after Isaac, our youngest, was born, we’d meet each other coming and going and find ourselves splitting to make it all happen, him with two, me with baby or vice versa. And we didn’t sit down and talk with each other but rather talked at each other on our way out the door.

Could you bring the sippy cups?
We need to pack an extra pull-up.

Will you feed Isaac his rice cereal?
Abby wants to read a book.
Isaac needs a bottle.
Did you start the dishwasher?

Which kid do you want to put to bed?
Did you visit ________?
Did you remember Abby has ballet tonight?
We need toilet paper soon.
Could you stop by the store for…”
 
And on and on.  This is our life right now.
We’ve been pretty good at scheduling dates up until Isaac was born. But a nursing baby makes dating difficult, and sometimes it’s just easier to drift on the outgoing tide.

Until we find ourselves fighting in the bedroom late on a Thursday night. And I look at him and I want him desperately to tell me that he’ll be there always, that he’s not giving up, that I’m still precious to him and he still loves me.

But he doesn’t say those things. Instead he looks exasperated.
And he is exasperated because he doesn’t know what I want him to say.
And I don’t want to tell him; I just want him to know what I need to hear.
The sun went down and the moon came up with our anger still kindling.

The next day I texted him:

Me: Do you feel like we are unraveling a little bit?

Tim: Yes. But … Don’t freak out about that. Marriage is a constant process of unraveling and binding up.

I knew he was right. It’s not a shock to unravel. Marriage is hard and our hearts will drift away on the tides of life without efforts to anchor them in the storms.  The question is not “Will we ever unravel?” but “What will we do after?”

Touch can be love in action to physically declare your intentions to never let go of that man. Long hug at the bathroom door, arm around his shoulder during church, head and back rubs, holding hands in the car are all ways to stitch up those necessary splits when there are more needs than time to nurture togetherness.

Date nights are a vital way to remind each other: this is the beginning.  In the beginning it was only us and we hold it all together. Our kids, the branches of our little family tree, but we are the trunk and if we let the wind blow us, rock the cradle of our union, they fall too.

There will be seasons when marriage is mediocre.  On one hand, we acknowledge it: marriage is the unraveling and the binding back up. On the other hand, we refuse to allow the unraveling to continue through passivity.  We choose to bind back together, no matter what it takes.

A believer and a dreamer. A pastor’s wife and a mama to three. A little creative and a little messy. Imperfection guaranteed. By the grace of God, I am who I am and His grace to me has not been without effect. Ashley blogs over at Little Pieces of Ordinary. A place where she shares how God reveals His grace to her through the everyday occurrences of life.

 

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Marriage Starts with Goodbye

Marriage is about making it through the seasons of life with the person to whom you’ve committed to faithfully have and hold, love and cherish. This year my husband and I will celebrate our sixth anniversary, and in this relatively short time, we have endured some crazy seasons.

Today starts a new one as Tanner begins a new job. You should know that I’m actually writing this post at the end of his last day with the one place that has remained a constant throughout our marriage. We are both a bit emotional about it in this moment because we are still in the difficult stage of saying goodbye and letting go of the familiar. We’ve been here before, however.

In fact, that’s how marriage starts – with saying goodbye to our solitary lives to begin the sweet yet painful process of becoming one new unit. It sounds dreamy when we’re little girls, and especially after we have those pretty engagement rings on our fingers, but when the day comes to vow our faithfulness and life-long commitment to the man who stole our hearts, we begin a process that will continue throughout the rest of our lives.

  • Saying goodbye to personal preferences in order to find compromise that will make it possible for those two separate people who chose to wed to actually become one.
  • Saying goodbye to well-laid plans when those unexpected health issues arise and take over your vacation budget or ability to do the things you thought were incredibly important to you.
  • Saying goodbye to the comfortable routine you establish with just the two of you if God chooses to bring children into your family.
  • Saying goodbye to jobs or relationships that you thought were permanent, only to have each other.

Yes, saying goodbye is difficult every single time we do it, but as sad as we feel when we’re facing another goodbye, each time draws us closer because we know we will have each other once the last remnant of our old normal is behind us.

It is then that we can give each other a hug and turn towards the promises of hello together. The unknown threatens to intimidate, but we can join hands and pray with confidence that God will make us stronger through the new challenges.

We can begin to develop our new plan of action and freely dream new dreams, for with the sadness that inevitably accompanies each goodbye comes a sweetly fresh vision.

We find more opportunities to communicate because we can now reflect on what we learned from the past goodbyes and then applaud each other for coming out of the experience stronger.  No longer is there a need to hold back in sharing what we want for our future because we are seeing its potential from the other’s perspective.

The seasons of marriage are unpredictable, but three things are always true of each one. It starts with a hello, that often brings with it excitement, but then it becomes a challenging time of waiting as we live through it, and then it ends with a bittersweet goodbye. I can guarantee nothing else about anyone’s season of marriage but that you are somewhere in one of these stages and that you have no idea how it will actually turn out.

Let me encourage you, no matter where you are in your current stage of life with your spouse, hold onto hope while holding onto each other. Where you are now may be making you feel like a lonely exception or mundanely mediocre, but do not lose heart. This season can make your marriage stronger – make you stronger – if you choose to face it with your spouse.

I’m looking forward to focusing on marriage this week on the blog. Be sure to head back later when I am honored to share an encouraging story from a sweet friend on learning to make marriage a priority when it seems nigh impossible.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Parents and the Dating Game

When I think back to how complicated and awkward life was when I first entered the dating scene, I thank God it’s over. No more lying awake at night, trying to figure out if this guy really liked me or not. No more fussing over what to wear or say the next time I saw him. Yep. I happily traded in those days for a marriage to a wonderful man who loves me for who I am without a doubt.

When we added parenthood to our list of accomplishments a few years back, I started to notice some of those old “dating days” symptoms arising again. Does this man really like me anymore with my stretch marks and boxy t-shirts? Does he find any joy in the thought of coming home to me when he knows I’ll look just like the mess that I am on the inside? The irony of this whole scenario was that I was having all of the dating girl insecurities without actually going on a single date with my husband.

Well, there was that one date we tried going on when our son was a month old. I knew he was in good hands with my parents, yet I spent the entire length of the movie stressing over the possibility of the little guy’s head exploding at the spot where I accidentally bumped it right before we left. So that wasn’t exactly a date worth remembering.

Several months later, my husband and I were so in need of a date it was ridiculous. We spent those months doing what we thought was noble. We threw ourselves into our responsibilities as parents and leaders in our church, and held onto the knowledge that we loved each other.

Somewhere along the way, we started to realize how far from happy we felt as a couple. The fact is, love is not enough unless we’re putting effort into proving it and living it out. Everything in life needs to have a balance, and that includes the amount of time we spend with and apart from our children. So we started collecting restaurant gift cards we received for Christmas and made it a goal to go on one date per month.

I started to notice that we began communicating more in the day to day when we were making dating each other a priority. I also love knowing that my son is learning some important lessons about the purposeful efforts that go into making a marriage successful.  He deserves to have parents who care enough about him to care about each other.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. “That’s all nice in theory, but there are a couple of problems with going out on the town with my man. First off, we don’t have family (AKA free babysitting) close by. Second, we don’t have the finances to enjoy a date in a restaurant that doesn’t have a value menu.”

Those are some big challenges to overcome, I know. While I’m blessed to have family close by, I do understand the inability to go out for a date at times due to the lack of funds. What have I discovered? It’s all in what you make it. If you can’t make your date a night out, determine to have a special night in. At-home dates just work better at certain times in your family’s life.  When you have a baby who needs nursing every two hours or your family has been quarantined by illness for what seems like forever, Mom and Dad sometimes need a break from the parenting survival mindset to reconnect as a couple.
There are tons of ideas online for fun dates with your spouse. A couple of my favorite resources are The Dating Divas and Love Actually.  If you’re a creative type with some money to spare, you can do some pretty elaborate things. If you’re not, or more importantly, your spouse is not the type to get into elaborate things such as this, try some of these simple things – or your own more special ideas – soon.

  1. Movie night: Cost – Renting a movie from Redbox -$1.20 or you could also re-watch an old favorite DVD for free!
  2. Game night: Remember those board games and deck of cards you used to play with when you had friends over? What’s stopping you from dusting them off and giving them another whirl?
  3. Spa night: You can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. Go on YouTube and find some calming music, whip out some massage oil or lotion, and take time to pamper your husband.
  4. Themed or Candlelight Dinner: If dinner is a possibility on your date at home, make it more special than your usual evenings together. Make or pick up carryout for a favorite Chinese dish then plan some activities that go with Chinese. Origami swan making competition anyone?
  5. Stroll Down Memory Lane: Pull out old pictures, watch your wedding video or videos of your kids when they were younger. There’s nothing wrong with talking about your kids on your dates from time to time. They are a big part of your life, after all, and no one is going to more excited to see what they’ve accomplished in their short lives than your spouse.

Dating has the potential to be complicated no matter what season of life you’re in. Choose to make it fabulous now that you have a man who is committed to you. It really boils down to the determination you’re willing to put into making it happen no matter what.

 

 

My fun-loving husband  and me on a date last weekend. We have this goofy tradition of trying on hats when we’re out shopping.

 

 

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar. Have a blessed day!