Thursday, April 7, 2011

View From My Window

When I look out my window and into my front yard, what do I see? Honestly, it depends on the day. When I am bogged down in the mundanities of life, stressed by all there is to do, I see an overwhelming mess. I see a porch that needs cleaned desperately. I see toys scattered throughout the property. I see bits of projects, started but not quite finished, laying haphazardly around. I see trash that the dog scattered, grass that usually needs cut and vehicles that need a bath.

You see, all too often I look out my window with tired, overwhelmed, grown-up eyes. Every once in a while, however, God blesses me with the insight and ability to see reality.

Reality is, out my window is a magical world. It is world in which 5 children run, shout, build, dream, imagine and play. It is a world in which apple trees are the greatest climbing devices ever made. It is a world in which a grove of small trees becomes an Indian Village, 5 gallon buckets become makeshift porta-potties (don't ask), and spindly little shrubs and trees will someday drip with as much fruit as 6 kids can possibly eat.

And the all too stark reality is that this reality shall fade in the blink of an eye. Too soon this reality shall transition to a new reality, one in which these small children are chasing small children of their own. God is showing me how to slow down time while being excited about the future. I'm learning to love each moment of this time, these child raising years, before they disappear. Sure, I still get frustrated daily, but now I hear the voice whispering at me that there will come a time when I will wish for these moments and I try to avoid wishing them away.

Friday, April 1, 2011

On Guarding Your Heart

I grew up on country music. There is a certain quality to country music that has always spoken directly to my heart. As with anything, there is good and bad to listening to country music. It certainly didn't have the type of "profanity" and amoral content you might hear in some other styles (though I grant there is some). Yet I found, years later, one important way that it affected my heart, a way in which I was not expecting, nor was I ready for. Young girls especially, take heed, it isn't just music. You can be setting yourself up for problems without ever knowing it.

Here is my story. I am married to an amazing man. Now, after 15 years (nearly) of marriage and nearly 20 years together, I am loved and adored beyond my dreams. But this has not always been so. When my husband and I first married, we were happy. Of course, we didn't know any better, but we were happy. We bickered and argued, but who doesn't? We were in love. Of course, I knew what love was, I listened to all the great songs on love, country music. Country singers are the experts on love, or so it seems. I heard all the songs singing about how he couldn't live without her, she was the most beautiful creature in the world, he would walk to the ends of the Earth for her. And there begins my problem.

After 3 or 4 years of marriage, I didn't feel like I was being loved like this. Don't misunderstand. I married a faithful, kind, honest man who would never mistreat me or behave in any way that was less than ethical. Yet I was certain he was not as deeply in love with me as all these songs implied he should be. I wanted him to be gaga for me, but I didn't realize I had a part to play in this. I needed to behave in a lovable way.

I am not saying I was the worst wife in the world and he was miserable. Far from it. I was a mediocre wife, he was a mediocre husband, we had a mediocre kind of marriage (from my viewpoint). Once I became convicted that the only way I could make any changes in my marriage was to change my behavior, I saw real improvement quickly.

I began to try to treat my husband like he was the king (ok, that was my goal, I may have fallen short some). I wanted him to feel special and adored, the way I wanted to feel but didn't. I don't know how long it took, but 10 years later if feels like it was overnight that he began to reciprocate and began to see me differently.

Here I am, a decade later, more in love than the day we married. I truly know what it is like to be adored like the women in the country songs that I rarely listen to anymore. But I regret the years that I spent longing for what my heart misunderstood due to the influence of the music I listened to. I let my heart be affected to the point where, had God not intervened, my marriage would have been eaten away until we were no longer two mediocre spouses in a mediocre marriage, but two selfish people unable to make even a mediocre marriage work.

I am grateful God stepped in, showed me how to make my marriage what I longed for. I am grateful that God stepped in before I did lasting damage to my marriage and to the amazing man He gave me. Now as I am endeavoring to raise godly children, I think more about the influences in their lives, not just bad language or bad messages, but the heart of the matter.

I encourage all you young girls, or even married women who have issues in their marriages that are making them unhappy, search your heart for expectations that may not be from God. Ask Him to teach you to make your spouse (current or future) happy, not to show your spouse how to make you happy. Don't let "romantic" notions in your heart set you up for unrealistic expectations. Instead, let God's design for marriage, a relationship filled with servanthood and love, lead you to the best God has for you.

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!