Marriage & Family
17 years and its never been cleaned, but somehow it still sparkles and I’m absolutely ga-ga for that crystal jeweled detail and lace up corset as much as I was nearly 2 decades ago when I tried it on for the first time.
I pulled it out of the back of the closet on our wedding anniversary for the girls to try on.
But, they insisted I put it on first.
Boy those girls know how to make a momma feel good.
They “ooh-ed” and “aah-ed” and told me I looked like a princess and insisted I keep it on until their daddy got home!
And then they each, in turn, slipped on the crinoline underskirt…..and we cinched the lace-up corset around each of their various slender and slender-er frames……and hooked the ballgown skirt closures at the waist …..and they each turned to look in the mirror with a little “gasp” and wide-eyed wonder ……and this momma may or may not have gotten a huge lump in her throat as they each took my breath away!
Because, another 7 or 17 years will pass in a blink and Ill have daughters who aren’t just playing dress up.
Daughters who wear white.
Daughters who walk down the aisle radiantly.
Daughters who embark on the hardest and most rewarding of life’s paths – marriage.
So, grow in grace, girl!!
You have your whole wonderful life ahead of you…adventures, plans, passions and so much to accomplish in the short years before you choose your life partner and lay down your individual rights and will to partner with another.
Dont take lightly that surrender of who you are is a big part of what marriage is.
Yes, its love and its comraiderie and its sex and its partnership and its fulfilling and its fun, but its a giving out of the deepest part of your soul too.
Its a surrender, a dying to self.
So grow in grace, girl!
You’ll spend the next few years finishing your education. You’ll develop a calling and pursue a career. You’ll make friends and establish a way of doing things that feels right and comfortable to you.
And then you’ll marry and it will feel sometimes like you’ve lost a part of yourself.
So, grow in grace, girl!
Be mindful that the world will define beauty as skin deep. Your slender form now will one day meet the challenges of childbearing and the metamorphosis of becoming a mother will be an internal, not an external glow.
when morning sickness leaves you heaving over a toilet…
when childbirth damages physically and drains you emotionally…
when sleeplessness takes a toll and hormones wreak havoc….
you’ll look in the mirror and sometimes won’t recognize the girl looking back at you with bags under her eyes.
The nails you and your sisters love to polish almost daily, might be unkept. But your hands will serve your husband, maintain your home, and caress your babies and beauty will be there, growing, flourishing, but might not be visible.
So, grow in grace, girl!
Grow in grace, girl.
For grace is the only beauty that won’t age.
Put your roots down deep in the Lord.
Draw your strength from something that is not your own.
Marriage is not for the easily discouraged.
Being a wife is not for the entitled.
Mothering is incomparable with selfishness.
Strength & dignity, determination and dedication, passionate pursuit of the Lord are the cosmetic bag of beauty tools that aren’t going to expire.
Grow in grace, dear girl!!
That unfading beauty is yours!!
The census is way down at our house this week with 4 of our 7 children visiting family out of state.
That leaves “only” three at home.
(Practically a vacation for me!)
I figured I’d have a record amount of uninterrupted time and I planned my to-do list accordingly.
With overcast skies as an excuse to not leave the house today, my best laid plans included staying in my yoga pants, working on my business from home, and filling the blow-up-pool to entertain the two youngest.
After we finished a pancake breakfast on the patio, I employed by teenage son to blow up the kiddie pool (no small endeavor). After which, we realized that the backyard hose wasn’t working. (Do you have any idea how many rubbermaid containers filled and carried outside it takes to fill a kiddie pool? )
While Tristan worked on re-plumbing the backyard hose system, I heaved 10,000 buckets and basins of water outside.
That was a lot simpler in my mind that it ended up being!
Well into the late morning now, I settled myself on the patio in my adirondak chair in blissful 79 degree weather with my bible, computer, pen and paper, journal, juice and sighed deeply!
No sooner had I cracked my computer, Eden wanted his sunglasses.
90 seconds later later, Gigi needed a towel (you know….so she could dry off and then get back in the pool again!)
It’s now been at least an hour since breakfast, so they are “staaaaaaarving” and requesting a snack.
Eden stubbed his toe on the concrete….tears.
Gigi needed her hair pulled up in a ponytail….again.
When I told Eden to stop drinking the pool water, he then of course needed his sippy cup.
Gigi was grossed out by grass that got tracked in the pool and Eden was mad she wouldn’t swim with him anymore.
What a neurotic notion on my part that they’d play contentedly for hours!
I think we stayed outside for a total of 27 minutes before Eden’s teeth were chattering and it started to rain.
The pool toys are now strewn all across the patio, towels are soggy, my journal is wet from splashing, and my creative juices are the only thing that are not flowing!
Im pretty sure this is where the term “throwing in the towel” comes from.
As I dried everybody and everything off, I silenced my headstrong tendencies to pound out some overdue correspondence and polish off projects, and instead, I climbed in bed with my cranky toddler.
And Gigi too, snuggled in saying she was tired and cold and just wanted to “rest, not sleep“.
Lying in bed with an unproductive morning behind me, and my arms full of cold, cuddly babes taking naps, I couldn’t help but smile.
How many moments like this do I miss by striving to “do” instead of being content to just “be”?
Grateful for these end-of-the-rope mommy moments that readjust our life and realign our priorities and remind us….
Remind us that our children are not just little comrades of chaos to disrupt our day and shake our sanity. Their requests, demands, dirty diapers, needs and interruptions are all a means by which God is sanctifying us. Our pouring out for our kids weeds the self-centered gardens of our hearts and gives us a gift we dont know we need…..that of laying down our lives for our children. A sowing that will bear fruit and that makes a difference.
In the daily grind.
With dish-water nails and messy bun.
In the moments of feeling unproductive and measuring our worth by measuring our accomplishments. It’s then that one more sippy cup needing filled can drive us to our knees, slow our distracted pace, and focus our weariness on the wonderful gifts that are ours.
Give yourself a break.
Just go with it, momma!
Go snuggle those little loves and pull the covers over your head for a while!
The words of our pre-marital counselors have rung in my ears for nearly 2 decades now….
“But for the grace of God, your marriage doesn’t stand a chance“.
John and Leeba, our mentors, were straight shooters and Im so grateful they were!
Let me offer a qualifying statement here. They were not saying that we shouldn’t get married or advising us to break up.
They were communicating the immense level of commitment we would need and analyzing that each of us were entering marriage with some baggage, which would require a lot of grit and grace for our marriage to thrive!!
And they were absolutely, positively right!
We’ve laughed before contemplating the fact that we’d never have met on a dating website because, we’d never have passed an algorithm that would deem us “compatible”!!
Truly, opposites attract and while we are still madly in love, we drive each other mad too!
But for the grace of God, 17 years later, we would not have thrived.
We would not have survived.
And I dont say that lightly.
All cliche’s aside….there have been moments of wanting to quit and seasons of intense hurt. This has not been an easy path, but one we choose…daily….taking each other by the hand, committing to not look back at past mistakes but to continue pressing on together knowing the view from the top will be worth the climb!
We still make some of the same, juvenile mistakes. We communicate poorly. We react. We inflict hurt with unmeasured words.
But we can glance back and see growth too.
My silent treatment game isn’t as strong as it once was, and God has chiseled out some sharp edges of Chad’s personality.
Some seasons are smooth sailing.
This has not been that season.
We’ve been in another cycle of hard work recently in this thing called marriage. Before my mother or mother-in-law reads this, yes, we are fine!!
(…and when I say FINE, I don’t mean Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional!) 🙂
We are in a good place, but this season of transition, a major move from overseas, reverse culture shock, role re-definement, job adjustment, lifestyle change, financial strain and children’s needs through the uprooting have been taxing factors on our time and relationship.
Someday, we’re gonna be a cute, doting, old, wrinkly couple who have “made it” and it will be easier then to talk about the hard days that are in the past. But for anyone else in the trenches, we hear ya and we’re there too!! Falling on grace every day as we thank God for this mirror of marriage that exposes our need of Him!
Chad and I are both quality time people.
We require a lot of communication, conversation, and uninterrupted engagement to be in a healthy place. Add seven children to the mix and you have a lot of competition for that time.
We were somehow under the false assumption that time time together would be easier when our kids got a little bit bigger. We’re there now with teens and realizing the opposite is true.
Our quality time used to be a matter of putting all the babies to bed at 7:30 and having a couple hours every evening that was “our” time.
Now the teenagers are putting us to bed and we have to be creative to connect over the chaos. We steal away to the back porch for a drink after dinner. Or run together early in the morning when our sleepy summer-schedule crew are still snoozing. It takes flexibility, but finding time for ‘just us’ is paramount!
I got to accompany Chad on a trip to CA last month for some meetings. This was the first time we’ve been away from the kids for more than a night in years! And it was so good for us!!
A reminder that someday, it will just be us.
Much of the conflict that we wrestle through is not directed at each other. It’s the circumstances of life. Someday the needs of children and voices and expectations of friends, family and in-laws won’t be as prominent and there will just be us.
And as we biked the golden gate bridge with no tagalongs, we remembered that we really do love us!
There are a few practical exercises we’ve found benefit us and remind us to extend grace when we’re consistent in implementing them.
There is something about bringing your brokenness to the Lord together that begins a healing process that cant be expedited through any other effort of restoration. Its a posture of humility. Before God, we are both sinners. We’re both at fault. Pretense and self-righteousness just dont hold up in front of a Holy and Just God.
Our walls of indifference, resentment and grudges are deconstructed by God as we lay down our right to be right and invite Him to heal. There are times I’m so angry that we cant talk, but Chad will take my hand and start praying. There is a short wrestling with God (with whom I am no match)…. and then tears.
Prayer together moves us from fighting with each other to fighting for our marriage. Confessing our sin and taking ownership. Opening the door again to communication with one another through a Mediator who forgives us and filters our failings and gives us grace for one another.
Im saddened by the number of friends who tell me they cant pray with their husbands either because their husband won’t, or because they’re not comfortable being that vulnerable around their husband. If you’re in that place, start by praying alone, that God would give you two the ability to come together in prayer and that He will build spiritual intimacy.
The kids come second.
We women tend to respond to whatever cries the loudest, (and typically, that’s not our husbands.) There are a dozen things vying for our attention, affection and time on a daily basis and we juggle the duties of chauffeur, nurse, tutor, cook, cleaner, counselor, mom, friend. And sometimes, the role of “wife” gets pushed to the back burner. Or even if we are aware of it, we forget that “friend” and “playmate” are part of the job.
Chad has n0 tolerance for interruption when he and I are having time together. That means when the little ones come wanting a snack or interjecting in our conversation, we dont engage them. They are reminded that this is mommy and daddy time and that they can wait until we are done.
Confession: Im not good at this.
But Ive cut too many conversations short by defaulting to the other needs that aren’t necessarily “needs” and allowing interruptions to derail our conversation. Children who grow up with the stability of knowing their parents commitment and love for one another will be able to rebound from any damage done by a delayed snack!
And your bright young rambunctious toddlers will not be permanently stunted by you letting the TV babysit them for 20 minutes to give you and your honey a few minutes to debrief their day!
Date your spouse.
We all hear it, but the excuses range from financial to logistical! This doesn’t have to be a hire-a-babysitter and make reservations on a Friday night expensive date. We’ve had to get creative over the years. When the littles were young (and we never had a babysitter). it was a regular thing for us to get wine and cheese and have a candlelit “dinner” after the kids went to bed. During the school year. sometimes it made sense for me to meet Chad for lunch or coffee. And thank God for a back porch and adorondak chairs in this season of life right now! We retreat there regularly.
The gesture of time carved out that is just yours gives something to look forward to and reminds us that all pressure, routines and stresses of life aside, this is us and grace has gifted us each other!
I think if we were all honest, we could identify with the same truth our marriage counselors not-so-subtly told us.
“But for the grace of God, your marriage doesn’t stand a chance.”
But for grace.
But for God!