Monday

Marriage Monday: Time To Reconnect

Well... hello there.

It's me. My name is Sarah. I blog occasionally. When my life isn't in grand upheaval.

You'll notice this is a "Marriage Monday" post. I STARTED to write 2 weeks ago: for optimal marital health,

never,
never,
never,
never,
NEVER
move. The end.

It still isn't bad advice, but I'm not sure it's reasonable.

We got moved into our house (with a little tension) and a few days of settling in, but I had to return to the other town (200 miles away) for the kids to finish school. And they did. Stellarly. (That isn't a word. But my kids are awesome and I am proud). My kids maintained great grades, played in their respective band concerts, fought bronchitis, and slept in 6 different places the last 4 weeks of school. No sweat. Seriously. I'm kind of goofy-over-the-top proud of them.

So marriage Monday stuff. So Thursday the kids got out of school at noon. I loaded them, the dog (who had been staying with a friend), the computer tower (that had been being repaired by another friend), a trombone and clarinet and all of our luggage in the truck and headed over. Now my husband and I are living together for more than 48 hours at a stretch for the first time in 6 months. Not. Even. Kidding. 6 months.

A bit of an adjustment. He is so happy to have us here and with him -- and has mentioned more than once how much lower his stress level is with us here -- and I am happy to be here with him and just flat happy to have a HOUSE after 3 weeks of floating.

But the reality is that not only are we adjusting to living together, the kids and I are adjusting to living in a new town. In other words, stress level is high.

I have to check my heart and my words quite frequently these days. I want to lash out -- and have more times than I care to admit. I want to be selfish -- and am too frequently. I have been in charge and queen of my domain now for 6 months. Troy has been basically a bachelor for 6 months. There will be some adjustment.

I know the main thing I need to be doing that I have sadly neglected -- time in God's word. I need to surround and fill myself with His word to remind me that this, my family, is my blessing and my calling and that His love, according to 1 Corinthians 13, is kind, patient, not rude or easily angered, and never fails. Yeah. I'm gonna need some divine help for that.

So look for me back here. Feel free to say a prayer as we learn our new town, each other (again) and our new neighbors. I'll be digging into God's word to be reminded of what this all means.

Friday

Friday Friends

Most of us have seen this, but I think this is simply a great reminder for all of us:


Monday

Marriage Monday: This is "Worse"; Are You In?

If you haven't kept up with the schedule, this is it! This is the week that movers put my belongings on a truck, my family moves into a hotel, then into a house, then in with friends, all the while doing a wildflower project for Pre-AP Biology, a band concert, and having some sort of honor bestowed upon a student. It's just a wee bit cuckoo 'round here. No wonder someone woke up with a stomach ache.

To add to the cuckiness, two weeks ago there was a ginormous hail storm (that 2 days later produced horrifically deadly tornadoes as it moved east -- don't worry, I have it in perspective!) and the new owners of my home would like all of their shingles to be in one piece, thankyouveruhmuch, so I have thrown a roofer who REALLY likes to ring my doorbell, insurance adjustors and paperwork into the mix.

Of course all of this Troy and I have tackled as a team, yet from 200 miles apart. Thank you, Lord, for electronic media!

Last week my parents came in and helped me pack. They are most precious and understand that my exercise is my sanity. They would send me on my way while they packed a box or 20. On one very brief run I ran by a vehicle that had been shoe polished: "I love you SO much!" on one window. "So glad you're mine!" on another. Didn't see the others. I'm sure they were equally gooey.

I smiled at the sentiment. I would have -- and probably have done -- equally sweet things. But to the shoe polish author I want to ask: "Are you all the way in? Will you still be there when it's hard? You're here for the better... what about the worse?"

Years ago I wrote about what real love looks like -- and it isn't pretty. It's slogging through times like these knowing you'll come out better.

Perhaps it's unfair to call this season of transition "worse" -- Troy and I have lived through the absolute worst a marriage could go through, and this is nowhere close. As long as two people are working together toward a common goal, it isn't the worse, no matter how far apart geography separates them. However, in no form or fashion can this be construed as one of the sunshiny parts of life, either.

I'm so thankful this season of separation is ending, but I know when it ends there will be a season of adjustment and healing. And, as in this season, God will be in it all.

Thursday

Teacher Appreciation

This month includes teacher appreciation week. Every year I promise myself that starting in April I will get all of my ducks in a row and do something excessively wonderful for all of my children's teachers. And every April looks just like the last where I finish out the month with disheveled hair and wild eyes screaming, "What was THAT??"

I rarely do anything excessively wonderful for my children's teachers but I do appreciate them.

I always tell people that my philosophy on choosing how to educate your children (public, private, or home) is to do it prayerfully and carefully, and be willing to admit at any moment that it is no longer working for your family and change gears.

Thus far, we have been in public schools. Thus far, I still cannot believe how blessed my children have been with teachers and administrators. I do not request or choose teachers for my children, I pray and let the One who knit them and knew them before I did choose my children's teachers for them. He has never failed.

Yes, my children are my responsibility. Beyond my responsibility, they are little pieces of my heart out walking around on this planet. But research tells us that the more adults my children have that take an interest in their lives and have a relationship with my children, the more successful they will be in all areas of life. My children's teachers have not disappointed.

To you, precious people, words are not enough. How do you say 'thank you for being a brush stroke and background lighting for this masterpiece of a human'? How can I tell each of you that your delight in my child's successes fanned into flame a passion that will carry them into adulthood? You have pointed out strengths and pushed them along and kept them from doing 'just enough'.

None of you have let my children blend into the background. You have encouraged and cheered, praised and prodded, expected the best and never accepted the worst.

I have done your job. That is why I am now not doing your job. It is NOT for the faint of heart (or weary of foot). It is for people with tender hearts, thick skin, and a million hugging arms. It is for people with cast iron stomachs, bladders of elastic, and Solomon's wisdom.

I know that by this time of year you don't want to be appreciated by any way other than a day away from these people and you wonder if you would actually come back. But for some crazy reason, back you come. Sometimes you wonder if it's just your car coming out of habit.

Even at middle school level, you wouldn't believe how much I hear about you and how you touch my child's life and shape their values by what you find funny, the way you treat other students, and even the music played in your class; how your sad days will make my tender-hearted child's heart ache until you are smiling again.

You live in my neighborhood, worship at our church, exercise at my gym, shop at my grocery store. We see you and feel like a part of your life. You are a beloved part of my family, but not the crazy faction that we try to abstain from visiting. And I am part of yours -- if for no other reason than the fact that you have given your all to my children and there is little of you left by the end of the day. Thank you, and thank your family for us, too.

I can't say thank you enough or adequately. But I do thank you, and pray frequently for you. This time of year, my prayer is "strength for the journey". May you truly have strength for your journey, and countless blessings in your life for the blessing you are in mine.

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

Wednesday

Mom? I'm Bored

originally in Abilene Families
posted here on 4/21/10

I was in the shower. Alone, as tends to be my practice. So a child wandered into the bathroom, of course. Does anyone remember back before they had kids when a bathroom was a sanctuary instead of a thoroughfare? Me neither.

“Mom? I’m bored...”

This was the first day of spring, the last day of spring break. Yeah, the day it snowed? That one. When we had all had all the fun with each other we could stand and couldn’t go outside. I could understand the boredom, but did I mention I was in the shower?

Hmmmm.... I would have to think on this one. Since I didn’t bring my “Bag-o-Entertainment” into the shower with me, I called out ideas:

“You could fold the clothes in the dryer!”

“What about picking up all those things off the floor of your room?”

“I’ve got it! You could write a 500-word essay on how my mom made my spring break the awesomest ever!” (My kids are accustomed to their writer mom using invented words such as “ridonkulous” or “awesomest”. Do not attempt until your children know the difference).

I couldn’t see the accompanying eye roll, but the child did wander away. Hoping for less sarcasm, I presume, though I was perfectly serious with all of those options as something to do.

When the kids were younger I had an “I’m Bored” jar. It had slips of paper in it with different activities on each slip of paper. Some of the activities may be a fun idea: “Build a fort with the covers from your bed,” “Draw a picture for Nonna and Grandad,” or “Play hopscotch with Mom.”

However, some of the activities weren’t so fun: “Clean windows for 10 minutes,” “Give the dog a bath,” or “Clean out a dresser drawer”. So, it was a gamble to draw from the jar -- would it be something fun or not? A job or a joy? (A funny side note: in asking my kids about their memory of this jar, they did not believe that I had any fun things in the jar, only jobs).

I found out which of my children will lose their shirts in Vegas as an adult, and which of the two isn’t willing to risk anything. Oh, don’t act as if you don’t want to encourage gambling in your children. I’ve seen you at Gatti’s.

One of my children never tried. One of them tried a few times, though I kept the jar on a shelf for a year or two. If nothing else, it kept the complaints to a minimum. Rather than complain to me and be threatened with drawing from the jar that I now realize they thought only contained jobs, they went off and found something to do that entertained themselves. I guess in that regard it promoted creativity, as well.

Perhaps it’s time for a teen version of the “I’m Bored” jar. However, most of the jobs my kids are capable of doing, they already do. Some fall into the “you live here, eat my food, wear my clothes, and use my gasoline so I expect you to do that” category, and a few are the “I’ll pay you ‘x’ for doing this” category. For those that I’ll pay them to do, I can’t afford to have them draw out of the job jar every time they get bored.

But who really has time to be bored anyway? What with all the texting, Facebooking, and I-have-to-be-there-5-minutes-ago going on. And soon (oh, all too soon) it will be friends picking up in the car going here and there, hither and yon. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, either.

Perhaps I will make myself a prayer jar, full to overflowing, with the prayers of a momma who realizes that these babies were never really hers to keep anyway. And, eventually, perhaps I shall shower in peace, as well.

Tuesday

It's Almost Dump Day!!

Tomorrow will be a huge day around the Internets and you are not going to want to miss out!

My friend, Trey Morgan, is hosting the 2nd Annual Dump Day! What in heaven's name is Dump Day? You will be so glad you asked. Trey regularly (twice a year, I think) travels to Honduras and takes a group with him. While there, one of the traditions they have established (I think this happens more often than when Trey goes -- I know about it through Trey) is to have what they call a "Jesus Banquet" at the dump. You see, there is an entire community of people living at the dump in Honduras so that they can find food on a regular basis: Luke 4:12-13 “When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”

Trey's team took Luke 4:12-13 quite literally. They go to the dump in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and prepare a banquet. A sit-down banquet: tables, chairs, silverware, a place to wash up, napkins -- and as much food as the diners can hold.Last year Trey fasted, prayed, and raised money for Jesus Banquets on the 1st Annual Dump Day. God completely overwhelmed Trey (and me) by how many people were moved to respond. Trey was hoping to raise about $10,000. By late evening he had $19,000! Wow, huh? However... Bread for a Hungry World contacted Trey and said if Dump Day raised $25,000 by midnight -- they would match it! Whoa! Guess what? Done!

Now the story behind this little girl:
Trey saw her at one point when he walked off by himself. She was completely alone, with her head resting on the cardboard. Shaking with chills from fever, she was obviously ill, even before he witnessed her turn her head aside to vomit. He had no idea if there were any parents or siblings around or who even knew that she was sick. He offered her what he had -- a few pieces of hard candy and a smile -- and prayed for her. She has haunted me.

Germophobe friends/ moms out there: can you imagine having to live at a dump and finding food for your children there? Can you imagine the sicknesses that must ravage their tiny little bodies from living under those conditions? Obviously a Jesus Banquet is a band-aid on a huge problem, but the funds donated are able to go beyond just one day every few months, especially as more people respond.

Trey has a Q&A about Dump Day here. Please be in prayer about what you may be able to give tomorrow. My family is in the middle of a move (read: hemorrhaging cash). I haven't decided yet what we will give, but it will be something. I typically have about 75 people visit my blog in a day. What if each person were able to give $10? That would be $750 for Dump Day! Huge stuff!

I can't wait. God always does big stuff when His people work together! Let's do it!

Monday

Marriage Monday: Give Up on The Fairy Tale, Put on The Work Boots

With all the hooplah of the last weeks/ months of the royal wedding, I have been intrigued by the attention focused on the couple. Perhaps I've been more intrigued by how little interest I had in it.

I am not critical of people who were interested in getting up in the middle of the night for it -- there are VERY few things that I will allow to interrupt my sleep, and a wedding of someone not in my immediate family is not one of them. I won't do middle of the night openings of movies, book releases, bargain sales, or store openings either. Maybe if my child were completing an around the world journey on foot or by sea. Maybe -- but I would request them to arrive at a more convenient hour for me.

Something said on "wedding day" -- I'm sure it was said more than once but I avoided fanfare as much as I could -- made me realize what makes me uncomfortable about all of the attention... besides the fact that the lauding from the balcony borders on worship and gives me the heebie jeebies. I heard a radio DJ -- I'm sure not the first person -- mention that it was our "modern day fairy tale".

Wait. There's already been a modern day fairy tale:
Sooooo... how'd that one work out? Color me jaded and cynical, but I just know that this fairy tale day will evaporate into a real life drama of hurts and wounds and health problems and family crises.

I know because it happened to my very own fairy tale wedding and marriage -- only without the paparazzi.

Again, it's fine if you want to become absorbed in this "fairy tale world" -- but if you are dragging your daughters into it, I pray you are spending equal time letting them know that the ONLY rider on a white horse in our fairy tale is Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:11). He is the only one whose love will never fail us, and who will never disappoint us.

I pray all the time for the spouses my children will choose -- that they will be godly men and women who will strengthen their walk with the Lord and complement my children's spiritual gifts. But they will be human. And my children will be human. And the marriage will be work. And there will be heartaches and sad times and difficult things and disappointments.

No, I don't fault anyone that wants to start off a marriage with a lovely ceremony and all manner of fanfare -- don't we all? But I think I bristle at the "fairy tale" concept. Because it simply doesn't work. Because everyone knows that with fairy tale comes "happily ever after" -- and we won't get to happily ever after until that rider on the white horse comes again. I, for one, cannot wait!

Until then, I have much work to do. I must be in prayer for my spouse. I will be honoring my spouse with my words. (LOVED this post from last week -- needed the reminder so much!) I am a co-laborer with him on this planet. And I will disappoint him. And he will disappoint me. And I will forgive. And we will go on because we have committed to each other. It will be hard and beautiful and lovely and messy and hurtful and determined.

It doesn't look like happily ever after. But it's a pretty good thing we have here.
 
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