Something I’m Learning

Yeah, that’s a pretty vague title, but I don’t have time to be clever! I wanted to name it “Prioritizing My Husband (in other words, what I have not been doing for the past 6 months)” but that was too long 🙂

The other day in my morning time with the Lord (and often with Zoe), I was praying for Jack and using the book The Power of a Praying Wife. I quite randomly turned to the chapter/prayer entitled “His Priorities” and began praying for him. But that particular prayer started with praying for HIS WIFE’s priorities before praying for his. At first, I admit, I thought, “Well, sure, I know I stink at this, but what choice do I have? It’s not like I have more time or more attention or more energy to give…” as if I was exempt, as if somehow it didn’t apply to me.

Just a few sentences in, even though I had prayed through these pages before, the Lord was definitely talking to me! I wrote in my journal, asking the Lord to help me learn how to prioritize my husband. Over these past few days, I’ve realized it’s more of an attitude than a list of more I have to do. Marriage is hard work, especially when you feel like you have nothing left to give or you have a hard time getting in sync due to all.these.other.people.in.the.house or just thinking completely different thoughts about completely different things all day long. For me, the difficulty stems from being an introvert and craving time alone, so when a moment of silence arises, I don’t necessarily want to give it up, or when free time surfaces (hahahahaha, but someday it will), I want to THINK MY OWN THOUGHTS! There’s nothing wrong with that, but eventually, BOTH need to be regular things: time for me to unwind and recharge, and time for US to unwind and recharge together. Anyway, here are some thoughts on that attitude change…and how I’m noticing the Holy Spirit lead me in learning how to prioritize my husband. They sound so simple, but I wasn’t feeling responsible to do them and I have a far way to go.

  1. When he tries to say something, (yep, 5 girls in the house) take a second to tell the kids their dad is talking and I want to hear what he’s saying. Ask them to wait. Turn my face AND eyes to him until he’s done.
  2. Whether I really want to think about what he’s talking about or not (again, we are thinking different thoughts about a multitude of things all day long so it takes me a while to get on the same page), LISTEN. Give positive feedback even if I can’t give a definitive answer.
  3. Respectfully, not with a major annoyed sigh, tell him when I just can’t listen right now and ask him if he would please remember to talk to me about that the next time we will see each other, such as certain nights after the kids are in bed or Sunday afternoon while they are “resting” in their room.
  4. One more detail about the listening: Always recognize and say out loud that I can see how that might be a good idea, and show respect instead of quickly announcing “that won’t work”, “that’s not what I’m wanting to do”, “that doesn’t make sense to me”…I married a very intelligent, creative man, yet often I act like if he has a plan that doesn’t make sense to me or that goes a different direction than I anticipated, that it will be disastrous. That’s rude and arrogant of me. This wife has got to learn to share the load when it comes to plans and decisions!
  5. Answer texts from him as immediately as I can, and take time to text him at least once throughout the day.
  6. Answer or return a call from him, even if it means our routine gets messed up a little!
  7. Love what he loves. I don’t mean I’m going to follow his hobbies (i.e. looking online at vintage cars, adoring manly men’s beards- oh my, he needs some free time to get some real hobbies!) but I do mean that when he is excited about something, wants me to come, wants me to get on board, I need to at least share the enthusiasm. If I can physically be there, I want to be there, bring the kids, make it a big deal, buy the t-shirt. I can’t do everything. In fact, I can do very little. But I need to be willing to try, to see, if it’s possible to rearrange some things to be by his side.
  8. Pray for him. I’ve always prayed for Jack daily, and I want to continue in this, asking him more often how he would like me to pray for him. Maybe I can start doing this on Sunday afternoon, write the need down somewhere I’ll daily see it, and check in and see how that situation is going the next Sunday. It’s not a rule, just an idea.
  9. Show appreciation for sacrifices and hard work. “Thank you for going to work today! Thank you for coming home! You are crucial and needed in both places!” I need to LET Jack make sacrifices and do things for me more, kindling thankfulness in my heart that I truly should already have.
  10. Find a way to make special time with him happen. I have to get in bed earlier than most adults on the planet, but surely one time a month I can rent a movie, get some of our favorite snacks, and stay up late just us two on the couch for a stay-at-home date. Someday we’ll get to date again and when we do, we will make space in the budget for it, and my girls will see that even though it’s a sacrifice to leave them behind for an afternoon, marriage is an important relationship one can’t take for granted. Until then, I want them to see that my attitude and heart toward their dad is one of gratitude, enjoyment, and respect.

 

 

 

15 Years of Marriage…and the Lies That Add Up

(Ooh, I didn’t mean to make such a scandalous title but now that it’s there, I just can’t erase!) It’s okay, you’ll see where I’m heading as you read on…

Jack and I are celebrating our 15th Anniversary tomorrow, New Year’s Day! I can’t believe it’s been 15 years. I will never forget that snowy day in a packed church where we, with such hope in our eyes, said “I do.” No one could have told us what would come next, what trials we’d face, what mistakes we’d make…we just had to experience it for ourselves.

And along the way, along with the surprises, doesn’t the enemy of our souls just enjoy coming in and devouring that hope, those promises?

The lies do begin to add up as he whispers fears and blame…and after 15 years, I’ve finally learned to call him out and let him know I’m not afraid of these words. They have no hold on me. My choice is made because I bend my thoughts and will and desires to another whisper. Do these lies seem familiar at all to you?

Lie #1…”We have nothing in common.” For me and Jack, this “lie” has lots of truth in it. We are hilariously opposite in truly almost every way. Extrovert, introvert. Hot all the time, cold all the time. Owns seven screens, happy with one. Steak, salad. Small talk, heart talk. Jokes, blogs. Midnight, 9:30. So guess what? This doesn’t have to be a problem. It’s all about perspective. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us there are different kinds of gifts, and that the Body of Christ is made up of many parts–and no one could do their part well without the other members doing their part well. That’s how it can be in a marriage, too. We can appreciate the way our spouse thinks whether we understand it or not. They are an individual first before they can be a member of a partnership. I like myself, and I like being an individual first. I have every intention of hanging onto what makes me ME. So, in the same spirit, I have been learning to value Jack and his opinions, strengths, and even weaknesses, as I want mine to be considered and accepted. I don’t want to put my convictions on anyone anymore. I get my one life, and so does everyone else! The only thing we need in common is loving Jesus, each other, and our family. That’s the truth to cancel out this lie!

Lie #2…”He’s changed.” Well…yeah. That happens to people over a decade and a half. The only way I could recognize Princess Leia in the most recent Star Wars movie was by her eyes. And she’s just as beautiful…but obviously she’s changed through the years. Someday that’ll be us. And not just our physical appearances, but we all evolve through time mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially. We aren’t always going to like what we’ve become or what our spouse has become. But here are three things I’m learning to do to combat this lie.

First, we go to God’s Word, which reminds: “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 what grievances you may have…” (Colossians 3:12-13) We are MUTUALLY accepting, having compassion, being patient, with ONE ANOTHER. Do I really think he’s the only one who has changed, who has built up a mound of grievances and idiosyncrasies? Whether I see it or not, I am being loved and accepted as I myself work to love and accept. As we love and accept even things we don’t like (I’m obviously not talking about sin, evil, abuse, etc) people tend to unfold, and their layers come off. They let go of defenses and you connect. It’s a beautiful thing to see someone free to become who they really were meant to be, and they will never become that if someone is pressing them. It’s scary, it feels risky, but it’s really good. It’s offering to someone what you would hope they would offer you as you grow into the best version of yourself.

Second, we pray! When we pray for our spouses, no matter how long it takes for fruition, our perspective and heart toward them changes very quickly. I have seen so many times where I chose to not start a difficult conversation, but prayed for several days or weeks instead, only to see my husband’s countenance change and he himself bring up the problem for us to discuss. We can trust the Lord, He’s a good Father! He knows what we need, and He loves our spouses and is quite capable of speaking to them! (I love and recommend the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian!!)

Third, we set our hearts to serve and obey the Lord with our own lives first. I can’t live Jack’s life for him and I’m not supposed to. He has duties that are not mine to perform. I can support him by doing what is on my plate faithfully and joyfully, and trust him and the Lord with what is really not mine to worry about or accomplish.

And last but not least, Lie #3…”If I had married so-n-so, I’d have…” Ugh. This one’s really a sad and desperate attempt of the enemy to get us when we’re down, because we rationally know there’s no way to know what would have happened if we had chosen a different path. We never know what someone else’s home life is truly like either. This thought, this lie, is a mirage in the desert. I think I could have been happy with several different guys that I liked in college and Jack could have been happy with several different girls he liked, too. Why? Because we CHOOSE to be happy. “God’s will” for our lives wasn’t one choice 15 years ago, His will for our lives is right now, every single day. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us what God’s will is for us: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is God’s will for us. In what we chose, or in whatever situation we find ourselves in somehow, this is God’s will for us. Our active stance is to take joy, pray, and give thanks.

 

The lies have a way of adding up if we listen to them, but so does God’s Word. We can go from strength to strength, building precept upon precept, living out the love He gives, without condition.

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Bring Back the Wonder

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We all have days where colors are brighter, every word has meaning, and we want it to stay just like this forever…

Then we all have days where we feel grey, discontent, just old and done. Our callings feel less sure, our blessings feel more like burdens, and our joy is slipping through our fingers.

It’s a really beautiful thing to have a God thatwants to take these realities and help us with them.

It’s a really beautiful thing to have a God who is waiting for us to ask Him to make life new again, to make all these components of life come alive once again!

So let’s pray for this together–

Our Father, Lord, Friend, Helper, Great Resurrector,

In our bodies–our getting out of bed, our walking, our talking, our eating, our work and our play– please bring back the wonder of it all like only You can.

In our homes–our calendars, our finances, our family table, our conversations, our dreams–please bring back the wonder of it all like only You can.

In our marriages and relationships–our helping, our praying, our giving, our supporting, our listening, our loving–in this privilege of partnership–please bring back the wonder of it all like only You can.

In our parenting–their faces, their noise, their character, their hearts, their schooling, our pivotal role to play in their walk with You–oh Jesus, please bring back the wonder of it all like only You can.

In our ministries–on the street, in the store, to the Body of Christ within and without the Church, to the poor and the broken and the lost, in prayer or in physical action–please bring back the wonder of it all like only You can.

Come make it holy, because it is. Come make it precious, because it is. Come make it meaningful, because it is.

Amen.