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Relationships

5 Low-Key & Simple Ways To Be Together

So the last few weeks have been pretty crazy for both Chris and I. We have been meaning to go on a dinner date for over a month and just haven’t had time. Either one of us is working late or we are stuck in a meeting. So what do you do when you just don’t have time to dress up a little, drive into the city, and sit in a nice restaurant for a couple hours? Well, I thought I would share a few low key ideas that might help to keep perspectives realistic, as well as ensure that being together, happens.

Go to the Gym

Going to the gym is a pretty awesome way to both stay healthy and be together at the same time. You don’t necessarily have to do the same exercise routines, but just being near each other while increasing those endorphins is not only productive, it’s healthy!

Cuddle Up & Watch a TV Show

Sometimes going out can take a lot of time, especially if shops or other attractions are far. Living in the city, it takes a while to get anywhere because of either traffic or red lights. Often, Chris and I will just watch a cooking show on the Food Network. A whole movie takes up a lot of time and can cut into sleep if you are wanting to do something on a weeknight. Also, a light-hearted show allows for dialogue between two people. A movie can get pretty intense and so it can be hard to talk when you are trying to keep up with the scenes.

Go Grocery Shopping

Maybe we are weird, but we like to buy groceries together sometimes. We end up talking about how we can eat better and will usually find fun foods. Most of the time, when we go grocery shopping, we are also planning a yummy meal for Sunday afternoon. We don’t get to eat together often, so it’s nice to make something yummy together and then eat it. We make “gourmet” veggie burgers usually.

Drive Somewhere, Anywhere

Probably my favorite thing to do with Chris is ride in the car while he drives somewhere. Usually, it is on our way to church, which is 45 minutes away. Other times we are headed to New England to visit family. Our deepest conversations usually happen there and not at home. Thankfully Chris loves to drive and I love to ride. We talk about life, where we are going to be next, and what else we can do for God.

Just Stop & Relax

Being busy isn’t always bad, but sometimes it can take away from being together. We can get so caught up in doing amazing things that we neglect those we love. Sometimes just cutting something out of our schedules is important too. Just by letting one chore go for a little bit can create time. I sometimes have to just let the laundry sit there so that we can relax together. Just taking a moment to talk and recognize each others’ needs, is so crucial.

Doing something together doesn’t always have to be overly extravagant. Sometimes we create expectations that aren’t adaptable to regular life. I am not saying that planning something extravagant is wrong, sometimes it just causes us to put off spending time together. Next thing you know it has been a few months and you almost feel like strangers!

Just like when we take a few moments everyday with God, our human relationships also need that everyday time as well. If you would like more ideas of what to do with your special someone, Alison shared 4 almost free date ideas a while back that will hopefully get your creative thoughts flowing as well.

Relationships

Extravagant Love

You know how Bath & Body Works has special scents around the holidays? Well, there’s one in particular that I just love! It’s called Pink Sugarplum, and oh my word it smells delightful.

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I remember one year when my husband and I were dating he had somehow found out that I really liked that particular lotion, so for Christmas that year he bought me some. But he didn’t just stop at buying me one bottle of that lotion; instead, he got me like 12 or 14 bottles of various kinds of Bath & Body Works lotions and shower gels! I have to admit that I kind of laughed when I opened them all, and no joke, I still have one or two bottles left almost 4 years later. I told him that I would have been happy with just one or two bottles, but he said he knew that, but he wanted to give me more.

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I was thinking about that Christmas gift a few days ago as I was using my lotion, and I kind of laughed to myself again because looking back I realize that at the time I had no idea that that kind of over-the-top extravagance was going to be par for the course with Timothy. When he gives me gifts, when he does sweet things for me, or when he gives me words of affirmation, it is quite frequently in that same hyperbolic fashion. It makes me feel slightly spoiled, and it also makes me feel very secure in his love for me.

As I was reflecting on the generous measure which Timothy often shows me his love, I had an epiphany: That’s exactly how love is supposed to be. Extravagant. Excessive. Over-the-top. Always wanting to give more than what is expected or acceptable.

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Mary Magdalene understood this. When she anointed Jesus’ head and feet, she was giving a very extravagant gift. The ointment she used could have been sold for almost a year’s wages! And she just poured it out all at once. The disciples who saw it were, appalled and even asked, “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8) Jesus’ response? “’Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.’” (Matthew 26:10, 13)

Jesus wanted to make an example out of the extravagance of Mary’s gift to him. He wanted everyone who hears her story to know that you can never give too extravagant or costly a gift of love to God. No gift that you could give to God would ever be so excessive as to be considered a “waste.” Because love can’t be wasted.

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That’s the kind of attitude, the kind of crazy, extravagant love that God has toward us—He sent a part of Himself to Earth, gave up what was rightfully His, and laid down His own life just to be with us! And it’s the same kind of over-the-top, hyperbolic kind of love that He craves from us.

So let me ask you this, when is the last time you gave extravagantly to God? What are some tangible ways that you can give of your love in excess to God? How can you give God more than what is acceptable or expected?

Relationships

Trust

Yesterday morning we had another incident with Emma. Like I’ve mentioned before, she’s very much like me and gets in trouble easily. This time, Jordan and I were still in our room talking before starting our day, and both girls were down playing in the living room. Or so we thought.

When Jordan walked down the hall, he heard from the kitchen, “Daddy’s coming! Hurry, we have to close it and put it away!”

Uh oh.

Emma had instigated getting a bag of caramel corn with chocolate off the counter, and both girls were stuffing their faces as fast as they could before getting caught.

Emma knew she needed to ask permission before getting the caramel corn down, that had been the rule all week. But when she was alone she decided to do things her way, and it got her into trouble. And this time, she got her sister in trouble too.

This opened up a conversation about trust. We told her that because she kept doing things like this when we weren’t around, we didn’t trust her. We explained that trust is knowing she will stay out of trouble when we aren’t looking. And because she had broken our trust, her consequence yesterday was never leaving my sight. If I left the room for any reason, she had to come with me.

So I had a little redheaded shadow all day. We talked about trust some more during the day, and it got me thinking about trust in marriage.

Trust in marriage can be defined in the same simple manner as I explained to my 4-year-old. Trusting my husband means I believe he will stay out of trouble when I’m not around.

“Trouble” in a marriage can come in many forms. It can be spending money on a whim at the expense of paying bills, it can be looking at questionable things online, it can be a wandering eye, or even blatant infidelity. There are more examples, and each marriage has it’s own “trouble” that could hurt the trust between husband and wife.

Trust can even be affected by things in a person’s past, even if the spouse has never done anything to break trust themselves. Past relationships, abuse, or even just watching a close friend get hurt can all affect the trust in a relationship.

I struggled with trusting Jordan in the first couple years of our marriage. If he didn’t call me after work, I could quickly come to the conclusion that he was with someone else. One time his Facebook Messenger was hacked, and a fake conversation with one of his exes showed up that was very inappropriate. I happened to see it when I was using his phone to look something up (I promise, I wasn’t at the point of checking up on him!)

That incident opened up a conversation that helped us both. We were able to talk about why I was struggling with trusting him, and he was willing to take steps to reassure me.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Communication is key!! Jordan has never done anything to make me not trust him, it was only my insecurities that were causing problems. But if we hadn’t opened up and talked about it, we would probably still be struggling over trust.

If your spouse has done something to break your trust, you still need to talk. Maybe even find a counselor to mediate. Your marriage is worth it. Your spouse is worth it. You are worth it.

Relationships

Total Family Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra

I will be honest, I wasn’t that excited about reading this book.  I more thought, “This will be good for me to read as a parent.”  But inwardly I was kind of dreading it.  I didn’t want it to be added to the list of things I should do but would never actually do.  Even getting the book I felt a little dismayed at the amount of information that seemed packed into the page.  But then I began reading…

WOW.  I couldn’t be more glad or thankful that I started to read this book.  I couldn’t stop reading it.  There was so much in this book that spoke to my heart as a parent trying to raise my children for God.  Melissa Spoelstra’s writing is easy and engaging to read.  She doesn’t expect you to do things exactly like her but invites you to create these 8 steps in ways that will fit your family.

Each chapter has two sections: Modeling and Training.  I wish I had words eloquent enough to express how good this was for my soul.  This book is more than just a book on how to help raise your kids for Jesus, it is a way to help you get your soul and spirit back into the places that you need them to be so that you can model what you long for your kids to have in their lives.

I highly, highly recommend this book.  We’ve already begun to put this into practice at our home and it fills my heart with joy.

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Here is the blurb from the publisher:
God calls us as parents to be key disciple-makers in our children’s lives, but if we’re honest, some days it’s a battle just to get them dressed and ready for school on time. How can you mold their hearts when sometimes you can’t even find their shoes?
In Total Family Makeover, author Melissa Spoelstra gives parents a way—a sort of spiritual track to run on—when it comes to building family discipleship. She focuses on eight key habits of growth:
•         Spending Time in Prayer
•         Reading God’s Word
•         Growing Through a Mentoring Relationship
•         Finding Community in the Church
•         Serving Others
•         Taking Time to Rest
•         Giving Back to God
•         Sharing Your Faith
Disciples are made, not born. Whether your children are babes in arms or teenagers getting ready to leave the nest, making disciples at home starts with you! Give your family a makeover with this practical approach to helping your children learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Relationships

Tips For Flying With A 1 Year Old

Tip #1 Don’t do it

Recently my parents asked me to fly to Texas so I could be there for a procedure my dad was having and he was going to be in the hospital for a couple days. I would be happy to say that they wanted to see me, but really they wanted to see Jack. (I know this because all most of the time when we are video calling my parents ask to see Jack. I don’t blame them, he is really cute) The problem was that I was flying by myself with someone who stares at people when they are eating hoping they will feed him and has no clue that crawling over a person’s lap is not socially acceptable when you don’t know the person but… I couldn’t get out of flying as it was really important that I be there for my family. In the process of flying down and back with only a little crying from me I came up with some helpful tips. I also asked some friends who have flown with their young children who gave way better advice than I could give. Here they are:

Tip #2 Get a seat for your child

My parents flew a lot and have a lot of miles that they saved. Because of this, they were able to get a seat for both Jack and I. I know that I am extremely lucky and this gave Jack a little room to move around. I also chose to not bring a car seat. I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to calm down or sleep but instead I found it a lot easier because he was able to look out the window and could almost lay down on the seat. (I kept trying to tell Jack that this was the only time he would be able to lie down like this in his seat… He really didn’t want to listen to me, but I tried.)

Tip #3 Avoid lay overs, especially really long ones img_4798

On the way down I had 4 hours at DFW. Because Jack had gotten up really early and had only slept for 1 hour on the plane, he did ok for part of the time there. At least they had the skylink and we rode around it for like an hour. Towards the end of the 4 hours, he was done but unfortunately we had another plane ride. And. he. yelled. for. most. of. the. flight. When my husband and I flew down over Christmas, we had no lay over and that was wonderful!

Tip #4 Bring a stroller

It doesn’t matter what kind but if you can’t do Tip #3, bring a stroller. We purchased a cheap umbrella stroller and it was super helpful at DFW. I was able to walk everywhere with just a backpack, a bag with stuff for Jack to do on the plane (See tip #9) and Jack in the stroller. Another helpful tool for an infant is to use a carrier to carry your child. It helps with going through security but a stroller is easier if you are by yourself.

img_4817Tip #5 Ask the flight attendant if there is an entire row free

I asked at every flight if they had any rows that were completely free. Because I was flying on a Tuesday during non peak hours, they had the space and I had the entire row to myself besides the first flight. I was at the back of the plane most of the time, but it was louder so not as many people could hear Jack when he was yelling taking loudly. It also allowed us to get up and walk. (See tip #9)

Tip #6 If you are flying with a significant other book an aisle and a window seat

I asked my friend, Kijana who recently flew from Austin Tx to Stockholm, Sweden with her husband and 9 month old and they only had 2 seats between them. She said if you do this to “pray [that] no one books the middle seat so you can have that for baby and baby’ stuff.” She did not mention if they were able to get the middle seat, but if you check out tip #5, having a row to yourself is amazing. Also, they were flying a really long time with a 9 month old. Give them a (virtual) high five for doing that!

Tip #7 Book a bassinet

My sister-in-law did this for many of her cross Pacific trips with her two sons. (Count them, 2 under 4…) If you call the airline ahead of time I have heard that you can book a bassinet so that the baby can sleep in front of you if you are in one of the bulkhead seats. This is not available on every flight so you want to call ahead of time and see if you can get it. It is probably is available on the long flights.

Tip #8 See if a flight attendant can watch your child while you go to the restroom

A flight attendant actually offered this to me and she mentioned that the best time to do this is after they have served the drinks. Most of them are parents and understand that sometimes you have to go to the restroom. It’s worth it to ask! Also, trying to hold a 1 year old in those restrooms is a once in a lifetime experience.

Tip #9 Activities for your child during a flight

  • I ended up packing a lot of Jack’s favorite toys and books. I would not pull them out until it was obvious he needed them. He kept taking the magazine and emergency pamphlet from the seat in front of him. Kijana said that if your child is a light sleeper to plan on keeping your baby amused for the whole flight. If they have the plane entertainment system it might also be a necessary break for the parents.
  • Another friend, Janice let me know about these sticky items that stick to the window of the plane (and other areas) that can be found at Target’s $1 area. Her son was amused by these stickers and I am pretty confident I would be too. Give Janice a (virtual) high five.
  • If you have a sippy cup, make sure you open it up before the planeimg_4818 takes off as water will shoot out of it and make a mess. (Learned this the hard way. Also sorry seatmate in front of me)
  • Pack snacks. Keep in mind easy and anything that can cause a mess will. I put cheerios in a small cup that Jack could pull out when he wanted. (Yes they went everywhere but it meant he was preoccupied for a bit of time. I figured that was a win even though I was picking them up at the end of the flight.)
  • Pacifiers or bottle or food for takeoff and landing. Moriah, whose 2.5 year old has flown all over East Asia mentioned crunchy snacks especially help. (She recently just flew with a 2.5 year old from Taiwan. Give her a (virtual) high five also.) I had 4 pacifiers and all 4 fell on the ground at some point by the end of my flight down to Austin. Luckily we had already landed when the 4th one fell. This helps relieve the pressure caused by the taking off and landing.img_4797
  • Moriah said that sensory books were helpful where the pages of the books have different fabrics and babies like to touch all the pages.
  • Jack was just at that stage where he was starting to walk but not on his own. For the last half hour of most of the flights we ended up walking up and down the aisles. It seemed like everyone was super happy to see him. One dad even said that he had a 1 month old and I felt good because I was able to tell him that it gets better. Also, the best part is waiting on the plane for the stroller (see tip #3). Jack waived at everyone as they got off and it was hilarious/adorable.

Tip #10 Pray

Kijana wrote “Be courteous to other passengers but not apologetic if you have to do normal things to take care of baby. You’re doing nothing wrong by flying with an infant!” Moriah said that most people are pretty chill and understanding and I found that no one complained or glared at me when I had Jack. Inimg_4794 fact I had a lot of people help me out whether it was holding something so I could put Jack in his stroller to watching him on the airplane so I could use the restroom. I knew that my prayers were answered because I made it there and back without too much screaming effort. Most importantly, I might consider ignoring step #1 again in the near future.

Oh and my dad’s procedure went well and one of the first things he asked for was to see Jack. Special thanks to Janice, Kijana and Moriah who all ignored step #1.

Do you have any tips for flying with your child? What has worked or not worked for you?

 

Relationships

She’s Just Like Me…

As a Mom, we all dread the day we open our mouths, and our own mother comes out. No matter how wonderful your Mom is, it’s very strange to hear yourself tell your kids the same things your Mom used to tell you.

The only thing that is harder to comprehend is when your daughter starts acting just like you.

I’ve been facing this a lot lately. My oldest, Emma, is 4 and a half going on 14. She is a sweet, happy, caring and generous kid. But she’s just like me.

That smile is infectious!

That smile is infectious!

My Mom can tell you, I got into trouble as a kid. It was never intentional, I just got curious about what would happen if that little area of peeling paint got bigger. This week my daughter got curious about what would happen if she colored on a chair. Both times we were unsupervised and our sense of judgement wasn’t quite mature.

Emma has also inherited my stubbornness and my temper. I fear for her teenage years! We butt heads frequently, and my pregnancy hormones definitely don’t help. My poor husband has to deal with two crying women (ok, one of us is 4) more often than he would like.

I’m still trying to navigate this motherhood thing. I’m about to do this for the 3rd time, and I still feel like I’m floundering. Just when I think I’ve read the Mom Handbook and I’ve got it all figured out, the rules change! We have our good days, and we have our “weeping and gnashing of teeth” days.

My Little Butterfly

But she’s still my girl. I can always count on her to stop whatever she’s doing to say, “Mommy? I love you!” She loves to take “silly pictures” on Snapchat to send to her Daddy. She adores her little sister, even though they bicker and fight, and she is so excited for her new baby brother or sister. She loves to sing songs about Jesus and she asks questions about Jesus a lot.

She’s a little ray of sunshine who will talk to anyone and leaves people smiling. She is quick to love, quick to forgive, quick to smile.

She’s my girl. And she’s just like me.

She's my Mini-Me!

She’s my Mini-Me!

Relationships

Being Like Jesus

I had a divine appointment a few Sabbaths ago. God orchestrated certain events in such a way that I had the opportunity to be exactly the kind of mom and Christian that God has called me to be.

We had communion at church that day. Typically, our little family of three will go into the family/ couples room to wash one another’s feet so that we can teach our daughter about the ordinance of humility. As we headed that direction, Brian detoured and told me he was going into the room where the men go; Rachael and I continued into the family room.

be-imitators-of-christRachael asked where Daddy was and I answered her and said that Daddy was being like Jesus.  We talked about how Jesus washed the disciples’ dirty feet and that He wants us to show love for each other in the same way, including those we may not know very well. As I washed her feet and talked about loving like Jesus loves, a new member approached another lady asking to wash her feet and was dismissed with the words, “I’m waiting for my husband.” And that was that.

By the grace of God, though I was talking to Rachael, I noticed what played out beside us and very quickly said, “I’m happy to serve you.” She and I and Rachael served one another.

At the time, I just I saw a need and met it. I’d like to be able to say that it’s because I’m always very aware of others, but that is not the case. Honestly, I am probably rarely very attuned the needs of those outside of my comfort zone. It wasn’t until much later that I fully realized what had happened. This lady was a new member, in the wrong room and uncertain of what to do, but had the courage to approach someone and was rejected. My heart broke. How often do we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to see the needs of those around us? I know that I have been guilty of that!

While saddened by what happened, I was also so excited because I realized that God had given me the opportunity (and courage) to reach out and serve this lady. Not only that, I was able to demonstrate to Rachael what it means to love and serve like Jesus does as I was talking about it.

I made myself available for God to use me and received such a blessing because of it. I challenge you to make yourself open and available for God to use you and pray for opportunities. I promise that you will be left with a fuller heart for having given of yourself.

Relationships

What I Learned About Friendship

A few weeks back I was busy cleaning our storefront church, with earbuds in my ears, when Emily came in to grab her mail. I made conversation but was feeling pretty overwhelmed with my own thoughts and I didn’t even notice that she was becoming short with me in conversation. It wasn’t til a week or so later that I really knew something was wrong.

It’s kind of embarrassing but I am going to get real here. I want to do it in hopes that others will learn from it. I was browsing the webs when I came across a photo that our dear friend Jackie had posted. She shared how Emily had stopped by and gave her a gift and took the time to see how she was doing. I immediately got a little jealous, but then something else came over me. Something deeper. In that moment I began to remember how Emily expresses her friendship. Emily is so good at reaching out and saying, “hey we should hang out at a coffee shop on Friday!” or “let’s take a walk on Kelly Drive.” It made me realize that I had not done my part to reach out and be a friend, in a way that she understood, in a very long time. It’s easy for me to get caught up in my own woes or thoughts. It’s easy to go for a time and forget that I have friendships to maintain.

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In that moment I felt like I had royally failed. I wanted to crawl into a deep hole and just be lonely forever. So dumb, but true. The awesome part is that I didn’t act out that temptation in the end. I found myself thinking about how I should connect with her and say, “hey we need to check out that paper store you were telling me about a while back.” So I got up the courage and we set up a time to hang out this past Friday. In the meantime, both Emily and her husband went through some crazy stuff and I connected with her again and said, “instead of going to the paper store, we should just chill at the coffee shop and catch up.”

We met and had the most amazing conversation. It reminded me of why I wanted to be friends with this cool person in the first place. Emily and I are similar in a lot of things and even our husbands have pretty similar ways of thinking. What makes being friends with Emily special, though, is that we aren’t entirely the same. I am very introspective and she is very good at sensing what is around her. In our conversation over tea and white hot chocolate, Emily told me that the day she had come to get her mail at the church, she was hoping that I would reach out and ask how things were going for her. I, unfortunately, was oblivious and didn’t ask and didn’t seem to really care. She told me that she got upset and started to feel like the friendship was one sided.

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I immediately connected all the pieces in my mind as to what was going on and told her that I was so sorry for how I had been, that I am not good with getting hints or reaching out. I appreciated her honesty, even though it was hard for her to do. We realized that day that both of us reached out where it wasn’t easy for either of us and came to a resolution. Emily expressed how it is so easy for her to please people instead of expressing how she really feelings about something. It was pretty awesome to be able to share our strengths and weaknesses with each other and be able to talk about how we were going to work things out in the future.

I am so grateful for all of the women that I have had the pleasure of knowing these last couple of years. Our friend Jackie is another heart that I have felt a true bond with and she gave me this awesome cup yesterday! I feel so blessed to be loved despite my complexities. Haha. I am honored to know such warm and honest hearts. When we take the time to let go of our expectations and reach out to others in a way that might not always be natural, but healthy, it creates bonds that can’t be broken. Sometimes we think that we have to walk on eggshells to keep our friends, but really it’s all about getting down in the dirt and growing together.

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Are there friendships that need mending? Maybe you feel like your friend needs to step up to the plate and do more, but what can you do? Maybe forgiveness is the cure? I am one of the most awkward people and probably not the easiest person to understand or know, but God has been changing my heart. He knows what it takes for us to feel loved and connected. I mean, he made us relational, right?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14

Relationships

Welcome Home!

My husband, Brian, works hard to provide for our family. I try to be intentional about making our home a peaceful, inviting place so that he looks forward to walking in the door after work. Some days are really busy with homeschool, giving piano lessons, taking Rachael to gymnastics, running errands, homeschool group, appointments, etc.; other days are more relaxed. No matter how busy our day is, I still try to find some way to welcome my husband home, whether large or small.13925317_1828318704069368_5137121424825402222_n Confession: I am not the perfect wife. I often fail at the very ideals I strive to live up to and do the very things I try not to do. (Seems like Paul had that problem too!) In fact, as I was in the process of writing this, my sweet husband walked in the door and I completely ignored him. In fact, since he found out that I was working on writing this, I have endured plenty of good-natured teasing about ignoring him.

Here are some ways that I have found to make sure that our home is an inviting place for Brian after a long day of work. These take varying amounts of time, depending on whether I have 30 seconds or a few hours.

  • Open the garage door – This says, “I’ve prepared for your arrival.”
  • Meet him at the door – This says, “I was looking forward to your arrival.” I’ve learned that if I keep the garage door closed, it gives me a second to run to the door when I hear the garage open!
  • Have supper ready – Crockpot suppers make this more do-able on busy days!
  • Have a clean house – This could be as simple as having Rachael pick up her toys or as involved as vacuuming, dusting, and scouring the bathrooms.
  • Create calm instead of chaos – Turn off the TV, turn on soothing music, have Rachael engaged in a quiet activity such as coloring.
  • Prepare myself – Throw on a comfortable, but cute and clean cotton dress. Brush my teeth. Brush my hair. Spritz on some perfume or body spray. Just freshen up.
  • Steal a few minutes alone with him – Brian dresses up for work and always changes when he gets home; I often will take advantage of this time to say hello and ask about his day. It helps if Rachael is already engaged in an activity instead of talking to us through the door.

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    Photo Credit: Stacy Cotheran Photography, Boiling Springs, SC

Here is what I’ve found not to do. Most of these seem so obvious until I’m on the tail end of a pull-my-hair-out kind of day. I often need to remind myself to not do some of these.

  • Immediately ask him to do something – give him a minute to get in the door!
  • Unload on him about how bad my day was – it sets a negative tone for the whole evening.
  • Tell him about Rachael’s misdeed of the day– there is time for this later! I try to give him the chance to greet her without bias. Besides, it’s amazing what Daddy’s arrival does for changing her behavior.
  • Catch him up on all the good of the day because I’m just so glad to be able to converse with someone over the age of 6 – too many words!
  • Ignore him – this goes without saying. At least say hello!
  • Being on the phone when he arrives – Sometimes this means ignoring phone calls and returning them in a few minutes or watching the clock and saying goodbye before he is due home.

Is there anything special that you do to make sure your husband feels welcome? What suggestions do you have or what has your husband pointed out that he appreciates when he arrives home? What kinds of things make him want a do-over on walking through the door?

Relationships

The Wall

Have you ever undertaken a home renovation project with your spouse? They will change your marriage, I promise you. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, but home renovations do not leave you the same.

Last winter we redid our floors. Out with the super old and cruddy carpet and in with new hardwood. It took us almost 3 months, with help from both Jordan’s family and mine. If I could do it over again, I would do many things differently. It definitely put a strain on our marriage, with the living area completely torn apart, no room for the girls to play, and never being clean. I am SO glad that is in the past, and we really have very nice floors now!

It’s been a while since we attempted another home reno project. Until this past weekend. Jordan finally had a Friday off, and we just went for it.

Our entryway wall was floor to ceiling wallpaper. And not the good kind either. This was pink and gold and velvety. We called it our fuzzy wall. That paper HAD to go. We’ve been in this house for 4 years, it was time.

So Friday afternoon we started pulling the paper down. It came off easy enough at first… but then it started peeling away the top layer of sheetrock too. Some areas were really bad. Jordan spent a long time patching the bare spots on the wall so it would look even after we painted.

So much patching!

So much patching!

Saturday night we sanded the wall.

Here’s a tip: if you are going to be sanding joint compound, hang up plastic first. Or you will be vacuuming up dust forever. Seriously, there was dust from one end of the house to the other. We are still finding it!

Another tip: check and double check and triple check where you sand. Otherwise you’ll end up in a puddle of tears when Hubby starts painting and discovers an area that you missed with the sandpaper. Or maybe it was the pregnancy hormones that made me cry…. either way….

It looked like snow...

It looked like snow…

Sunday morning we cleaned up the dust and started to paint!

This was my favorite part. Our girls had been asking and asking to help paint this wall since we started taking down the paper. Emma was all set with her little craft paintbrushes, until I told her they were too little. But then we gave them the chance to leave their mark on the wall.

Dressed in old t-shirts, they took turns sitting on the stairs and Jordan helped them hold the brush and paint the wall. Then they got to paint without help. Jordan painted their first initials on the wall, so now they are both a part of the house!

They were so excited to be able to help us paint!

They were so excited to be able to help us paint!

The wall is painted now. It’s dry. But it is far from perfect. There’s the spot that was skipped over with sandpaper, there’s a few dings that didn’t get filled in, there’s a few thin spots with little specks of white showing through. But this is our wall.

I couldn’t really help much with laying the new flooring. But this wall was something I could get right in and do. I helped with every step, I didn’t have to just sit back and watch Jordan do all the work. This is OUR wall. The first of many of OUR projects, in OUR home. We made this happen together.

This wall reminds me of our marriage. We have put a lot of work into our marriage. We’ve learned some lessons along the way, what not to do, what to do more. We’ve made mistakes. Our marriage might look pretty from across the room, but if you look super close, its not perfect.

But it’s ours.

Our marriage is not something that someone else can do for us. Sure, we can get advice from parents or counselors or friends, but in the end, marriage is something we have to decide to do for ourselves.

And we can’t just go halfway or skip a step. Imagine if we hadn’t filled in the holes, and just painted over everything? That wall would look horrible, and would probably start to flake and peel in a couple of years. Or what if we did fill the holes, but never sanded the wall after? If we just painted over the rough ridges of repair? There were some really sharp points that would hurt to bump against, or would snap off and leave big gaping holes.

The finished wall.

The finished wall.

For our marriage to be it’s best, the small issues need to be fixed, mended, and smoothed over before the beauty can truly shine. It will still show the scars, like our wall does, but it’s something we can be proud of. We started this, and we are finishing this.

And now that our wall is painted and dried, it’s ready for it’s true purpose. To hold photos of our family, in living color, for us to look at even when the days get rough.

Marriage isn’t easy, but it can definitely be beautiful with a little work.

Relationships

With The One Who Thinks Differently

Do you wish for someone to connect with? Do you want to be on the same page with those closest to you? Do you wish your spouse or significant other would just think like you?

Let me first tell you that as single person I wished for that major connection. My personality thrives  on connection and kindred spirits. Not too many people think similarly, so when I meet someone who does, it’s pretty awesome. When I met Chris I was kind of surprised by the fact that I could talk to him for hours and not get bored. You see, Chris thinks very differently. Honestly, at first it used to kinda bother me how differently he thought. I used to be like, “how come you can’t just feel like I do?” Or, “can’t we just sit here and talk about our feelings for a bit?”

At first, it might seem like we aren’t on the same page or that we don’t get along. The thing is, Chris talking about his feelings isn’t always what makes me feel closest. Him being a thinker is actually what really attracts me to him, so when I get all pouty wishing he was more of a feeler, it is really just me being selfish.

Last week, we were driving up to MA, and we got talking. Riding in the car with Chris is probably my favorite thing. It’s where we do the most talking.  We were talking about a situation I wished I had handled differently. When Chris tried giving me pointers, I asked, “Why do I have feel everything, why can’t I just think like you?” I really admire how Chris thinks before he speaks and knows exactly what to say. I was feeling a little sorry for myself and was wondering if there was something wrong with my way of thinking. Chris changed that.

He told me about how he admires my loyalty. He explained how strongly I will stand up for something no matter what flies my way. When I told him how bothered I was by what someone had said, he told me that those feelings were good. That not everyone is in tune with recognizing the signals that something is wrong. He then went on to say that I was only lacking one thing.

“Krystal  you just have to stop and think about why you feel those feelings. Stop and think about what it means before you jump to conclusions and just base everything on the feeling. If you do that, you can do a lot of good.” When I considered this, I then expressed why I was bothered. Chris then said, “If I were in your shoes, I would not have approached that person with as much heart. I probably would have plowed them over with my logic and would have hurt them. You took logic and put a heart to it. Your way of thinking would have spoken to their heart and made them think.”

In that moment I realized what was so powerful about being so different than my husband. In that moment I realized that together we could do something really beautiful for God. If I hadn’t considered his way of thinking, I wouldn’t have fully appreciated my own way of thinking. I wouldn’t have been able to take what I know and improve it. I wouldn’t fully understand how sharing the Truth could definitely be covered in deep Love.

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Relationships

Truth Be Told

I listen to stories for a living. Sometimes they’re joyful ones like hearing about a baby’s first smile or a successful trip to the grocery store with a newborn. However, sometimes the stories I listen to are painful ones about a sexual assault or how it felt birthing a dead baby. Every day I venture into the unknown as I knock on the door of my client’s homes never knowing what story I will be given that day and whether it will be one that wounds me to my core.

I started going to story slams earlier this year in Philly, and it has become one of my favorite events to go to. A story slam is where there is a predetermined topic and people come prepared to share an experience that reflects that theme. One slam that I went to had a lot of talented storytellers who often weaved in humor into their pieces to lighten some serious events and get the crowd laughing. After several people shared their stories, there came a man who went up on stage and talked about his experience with cancer. No jokes, no lighthearted anecdotes. Just the raw truth of how he almost died and that sometimes he wished he had. After he was finished people politely applauded, but I could feel the discomfort in the room as the host for the evening returned to the mic.

“We need that sometimes,” the host said to the crowd. “I want people to know that these stories don’t have to be happy if they aren’t happy. They don’t have to be anything except true.”

I’ve learned in my practice of listening to stories that the heavily edited version of myself isn’t the part of me that God uses to draw people to Him. The reason I know this to be true is because the parts of the people I love and care about are also what makes them so completely imperfect. It’s the flawed parts of loving that makes me wonder if as a culture we’ve adopted an entitled attitude in only exposing ourselves to the stories that are aesthetically pleasing to us. We habitually change the channel, filter our newsfeed, metaphorically put our fingers in our ears, and even worse, walk away from people in need of our empathy and compassion because it seems too ugly, messy, and hard. In turn, we don’t realize how much we are cheating ourselves from truly experiencing the real beauty in humanity. A beauty that includes stories that may be challenging to hear and be a part of.

There is a storytelling podcast called The Moth and above is a story from a woman who presented at one of their community showcases in Seattle. She shares what it was like for her to find a home in community after her marriage fell apart. I hope that as you listen to her unpolished truth that it inspires you, as much as it has for me, to let others in on your first drafts and to choose to lean into theirs.