Monday, November 23, 2009

Happily Ever After

Today's topic, marriage. What qualifies me to write about marriage? Well, nothing. I am married. But then so are millions of others in this world. I am happily married. I wish I could say the same for all the millions of married people in the world, but unfortunately, I can't. Why do some people have joyful marriages that leave them happier than they could ever imagine, while other people's marriages leave them wondering what they were thinking and wondering what happened to the person they married?

The answer - I just don't know. There it is. All I know on the topic of marriage.

Now, as with most things, I have theories, ideas and thoughts, and dare I say, opinions. Let me begin with my story. I have been married for 13 years. For about half of that I have been married to the most amazing man in the world. He is sweet, funny, smart, and the most fabulous dad in the world. (I could go on but why bore you, just trust me, he's great!) So what happened halfway through our marriage to change my husband into this amazing guy? Nothing. Honestly. Nothing changed him. I changed. I changed how I saw this man and began to remember why I married him. I remembered all the things about him that I thought were so great when we were starry eyed kids in love. He's still the same man. He still has faults (I suppose), but now I don't really look at those things. I look at the amazing things about him and I love him more each day. It is an old saying, but it is true. It is possible to love someone more each day. If you don't, you love is likely to begin to fade rather than grow.

Now, I know. You are thinking that I am in denial. I am blinding myself to the bad things and living in some fantasy world. You think eventually it will all come out, my fantasy world will blow up. It's simply not true. When irritating things happen or my husband does something I didn't like, I get upset. I lose my temper, blow my stack. Sometimes I just tell him I didn't like whatever it was. But, I don't allow those things to make up in my mind about who he is.

Last night I read and interest series of quotations. This pretty well summarizes my theory about marriage.

Arthur Gordon, author of A Touch of Wonder, writes "I have noticed when the going gets rough the partners tend to demonize each other, see nothing good, only the bad. Result is mutual appreciation dies and there's nothing to cushion the shock in quarrels or recriminations. If combattants (sic) would make an effort to recall one or two things they used to admire in their partner and force themselves to say so, however grudgingly,it might save the marriage."
He also writes, "To be manifestly loved, to be openly admired are human needs as basic as breathing. Why, then, wanting them so much ourselves, do we deny them so often to others? Why indeed?"
Becky Freeman, author of Marriage 911, adds "There is no reason, with any solid legs to stand on, for human beings to withhold their admiration from each other. After all, it isn't as if by hoarding our words of praise we are keeping anything of value for ourselves."

I said earlier that my husband hadn't changed. That isn't entirely true. As I changed my view of him, my willingness to see the good more than the bad, he did change. He began to see more good in me. As we began speaking nice things into each others' lives, we began each to see the fruits of those things. Now, because my husband knows how I really feel about him, how great I think he is, he is willing to listen when I have honest complains or concerns. Likewise, now that I don't feel that I couldn't please him no matter what, and I know that he loves me for who I am, craziness and all, I am not so hurt when he needs to tell me things that help me grow.

I challenge you today, think of two reasons you began your relationship with your spouse. Think of two good things about him. Pray about these things, ponder them, and when next you see your spouse, compliment him or her. Say something kind, in a way that he will believe you. And everyday find a way to say something to your spouse that shows him that you do admire (at least something about) him. If you think this is too hard, or won't work ask yourself two questions "Is it harder than living in unhappiness and discontent? and What bad can come of reminding my spouse, and myself, what it is I love(d) about him?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What do I do now?

I have read books, heard sermons and listened to friends talk about living your life "on purpose." I have to admit, I really didn't understand. Not really. I understood in theory, just not in practice. In theory it sounds great to live your life on purpose, but how exactly does one do that. Especially when one doesn't know what his or her purpose is.

I had the great privilege of talking with a sweet friend. She is the sort of person that everyone is attracted to, everyone wants to get to know and everyone wants to learn from. From this conversation, I came out with my first realization of living my life on purpose, and what it means.

I am a planner and an organizer. If you know me moderately well, you laugh because my life does not appear to have much in the way of a plan or organization. If you know me really well you laugh hard because you KNOW my life doesn't have much of a plan or any organization. You also know that it is true, I am a planner, I love to organize (people and events that is, not stuff!)

To a person who likes to plan and organize (did I mention control?), if one is going to have a purpose and live life for said purpose, that involves lots of planning for that purpose, organizing events to reflect that purpose. I had no purpose. I couldn't plan or organize to achieve some lofty purpose, because I just didn't see it. A purpose needs to be big, needs to be lofty, needs to be desired by others, right?

I realized today, for the first time, I have been living with a purpose. In my pursuit to find that big purpose, I was missing it. I kept thinking to myself "The only purpose I can see for the next 20 years is training my children." Yet, I was failing to see the true purpose in that. I knew it was enough. It was lofty, important, something many desire to do. Why didn't it seem to be right? Without realizing it, my sweet friend showed me my purpose was more, and apparently, I have been living it without knowing it. Now that I know it, I intend to live it more, well purposefully!

My purpose is beyond raising and training my children. Not that that isn't good enough, but well, it isn't good enough. My purpose is to honor God in all that I do and show His light to my children and the world around me through my relationships, primarily with my family.

I couldn't see why God was doing certain things in my life, good things, but confusing things. I didn't understand what I was to do. If God is doing these things, why me? And what do I do to prepare for what he wants? I now think I finally understand. I need to stop trying to figure out what to do tomorrow, next week, next month. I need to do that which God is calling me to today. That is how he is using me in my little world now, and that is how I will end up in the destination he has called me, and our family, to in the future!

Thank you dear, sweet friend for you ear, your kindness and your heart. And thank you for listening to God's voice and being the model for the life I so desperately wanted to live, but just didn't understand.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Do Not Explore Under My Bed, and Other Loopholes

Did you know that you should tell your children "You may not explore under my bed," before the children come up with such an idea? How about, "Don't take all the wet wipes out of the package and lay them neatly on the dash of the truck to dry out and become napkins"? It amazes me all of the things I am expected to have told my children before they think to do it. The problem is that I am not as smart as my children. Clearly. I mean, I never even thought to take a brand new, purse pack of 15 wet wipes and carefully lay them out to dry so that we can have napkins. Of course, that may be because we have plenty of napkins and no wet wipes but ...

Then there are, of course, the loopholes. You say "Don't run in the church," only to find them skipping. You didn't say no skipping, Mom. Or "Don't call your sister a meanie head" only to hear them calling her a meanie butt. Children are born loophole seekers and negotiators. They make professional lawyers look like amateurs. If only we could find a way to harness that power for good and not evil!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Many Hands

Many hands make light work. I realized after putting together a baby shower for a friend this weekend, just how true that statement is. I looked around the room with 40 people gathered to celebrate the exciting and wonderful event. I was amazed to see what had developed from the simple desire held by many women to bless a much deserving friend.

Two months ago I appointed myself in charge of said baby shower. That is how I like to work. I organize other people into having to do all the work! I decided as the self-proclaimed organizer, that I must get all the amazing women that I work with (volunteer with would be a better statement) to do their collective things. I called one friend and assigned her the job of decorating. She immediately accepted the job, delegating much of it to another, incredibly talented friend. We asked the fourth "baby shower committee member" what she wanted and YAY! she wanted to do the food. Immediate agreement was made as to who had to do the cake and she eagerly agreed.

Five women planning and preparing, never actually meeting as a group, were able to pool their talents and create a fabulous shower. No one woman did more than they were capable of. No one woman incurred too much expense so as to burden their load. No one woman carried the stress alone or took the compliments alone.

I have worked with these same women on many, many events and activities and been amazed each time. These beautiful, humble, amazing women have so much talent and love that it pours out in all they do. I am honored to work with them on such events.

My question, how is it possible to see people pull together for a special event and yet so many of us feel so burdened and overwhelmed with our daily lives? Isn't there a way we can help ease each other's burdens in daily life?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

To call or not to call - the Dr. that is

What mom, or dad, has not had the question, "Should I call the doctor or not?" How many of us have called our moms, sisters, best friends, auntie who is a nurse, a gal pal who once knew a nurse, etc. to determine whether the set of symptoms in our child warrants a call to the doctor. Why do we feel uncomfortable wasting the doctor's time, yet presume all of our friends and loved ones would love for us to waste their time to determine whether or not we should waste the doctor's?

Sure, we are busy moms, stay at home moms who don't (stay at home that is). Sure, we don't have time to run to the doctor for no reason. Sure, we don't have time to sit at home and wait for a callback from the nurse. Sure, we think the symptoms "She's cranky and she took a nap today" sound dumb when said aloud to a medical professional.

Yet, I think it is deeper than that. I think that deep down, we all fear going to the doctor and getting the patronizing smile and nod and the "I don't see anything wrong." Or worse yet, "It's just a virus, there is nothing we can do." We don't want to be one of "those" moms. You know, the ones who call the doctor for every sniffle. The one who the nurses see coming and sigh. You know. None of us wants to be her. So we continue to call our friends and loved ones with the question "Should I call the doctor or not?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Are those all yours?

I find myself wondering how it is we have come to this place in society. I know the idea was to replace yourself with your children and no more, but really, how did we come to let that idea so over take our world. How did we come to the point of three children is a nice, acceptable number, but four, wow that's A LOT!

People ask me if I always wanted a large family. I'm not really sure. I was the youngest of five, but despite the world even then making it sound so unusual, I didn't really think of us as a large family. Perhaps that is because my father was one of nine children and my mother was one of 11 children. Yes, that's right. I have 18 biological aunts and uncles before you even start counting their spouses. Now that's a big family reunion!

My husband is one of two children. His parents came from families of two and three children. My husband always wanted a lot of kids. When we were dating, he wanted six kids. I wanted two. I don't know that I cared, actually, I just figured two made sense. We agreed upon a nice even four. Now we have five. Who knows, my darling hubby might get his six kids after all!

What really amazes me today is the reaction people have when I am out is public. Why do people think it is perfectly acceptable to make rude comments, in front of my children, about something of no importance to them. I don't go up to people and comment on wearing their pajamas to the store or that perhaps they might want to remember to actually wear more than their underwear in public, yet they will say the most unkind things to us. My favorite is "You know what causes that?" My husband has taken to answering, "Yes, and we are good at it!" If you are going to be rude and crude to us, perhaps we should reply in kind.

You also find the mom with one or two children at the store who says, "I don't know how you do it with five, I can barely handle my two." Usually when that statement is made, it is obvious to all those around that she can barely handle her two. She is usually out of breath from trying to keep them out of things.

Then you get the even more surprising comments like, "What a beautiful family!" "More people should have large families." "You are so blessed." Comments like this are far more frequent than one might believe. Nearly every time I take my children grocery shopping I am stopped by some, usually older, person who admires my children and my family. I am thankful for those people.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Things I never thought I would say

When I became a parent, many things changed inside me that I never expected. I learned first hand about true, sacrificial love. I developed magnified vision enabling me to see microscopic germs on bathroom door knobs. I developed super hearing allowing me to tune out alarm clocks but awaken to they cry of children rooms away. And I lost the ability to connect logical thought to my words before they come out of my mouth.

For example? Well, the day I uttered the now much remembered phrase "You may not ride your sister!" I realized I had crossed some line, never to return.

Being parents of principle, my husband and I agreed our children would not be allowed to eat french fries until after eating their grease laden hamburgers or nuggets. With the advent of bagged apples at fast food places instead of french fries we found our selves saying "You may not eat your apples until you have eaten your cheeseburger!" What are we thinking?

Holiday World 2011!

Holiday World 2011!

Baby # 6

Baby # 6
Welcome to the world and welcome to our crazy family!

Fort Benning

Fort Benning
We finally made it to Georgia!!!

Just a day at the park!

Just a day at the park!

My Hero!

My Hero!
I don't do dead things. Fortunately for me, God gave me boys!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!
Daddy and Grandma make Jammies every year for the kids, They love it!

Christmas in PJs

Christmas in PJs
Don't I just have the cutest kids?

2010 Jammies

2010 Jammies
Once again Daddy pulled it off. They look cute!

Round 2 birthday parties

Round 2 birthday parties
Cake number 1 of 3 done. I am so not an artist, but I think it came out pretty well!

My Girls

My Girls
Borrowed dance clothes, my girls sure look cute.

Couped up

Couped up
More images below showing the children feeling a bit "couped up" from the long winter!

Chickens: Take 2

Chickens: Take 2
Cute chicks!

The robot cake. I am glad my kids' standards aren't as high as mine!

Tree Climbers

Tree Climbers

Summer Fun!

Summer Fun!
Hi Daddy! Hope you are having fun at work!

This one is so bad, I had to label the cake so you would know it's not a cow!

Dressed for Church!

Dressed for Church!
Come as your favorite Bible character night!

Too cute for words!

If the boy wasn't so tall, I could get a picture of his face!

Establishing the pecking order!

Babies!