Marriage & Family

Stroll Down Memory Lane

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Its been anything but boring…..life with this man.

C thought of something incredibly romantic on our first anniversary that has been a favorite tradition of mine every year since….. ¬†Every wedding anniversary, he buys a silver charm to commemorate the past year of our marriage and celebrate a significant moment, event or often…..a baby ūüôā ¬†Someday, my kids¬†will fight over who inherits¬†this bracelet. ¬†I love the story it tells.

Collage

2001 – 2002

Married on the beach on Saint Simons Island…God’s presence and glory showered down through a thunderstorm! ¬†Honeymooned in Key West. ¬†Settled in an apartment in Columbia SC. ¬†Got pregnant. ¬†Surprise of a lifetime – its TWINS. ¬†Threw up every day for nearly 9 months. ¬†Helped with a church plant and hosted a small group. ¬†Moved again into a second home. ¬†Gave birth to¬†Tristan & Abi. ¬†Our family grew from 2 to 4.

2002 – 2003

Began preparations to move overseas.  Packed up all our earthly possessions.  Spent the twins 1st birthday in London en-route to Ukraine.  Tristan broke out with chicken-pox on the trip.  Landed in Kiev and moved into a temporary apartment.  Discovered we were pregnant 2 weeks later.  Miscarried at 15 weeks.  Processed loss and grief alone in a foreign place.  C began traveling.  Found a permanent apartment and moved a 4th time in 2 years.  Potty trained the twins (why this seemed like a good idea at 18 months is beyond me!)

2003 – 2004

Katherine, my sister moved to Ukraine to be with us – a Godsend to help with twins so we could study language. ¬†We visit Sharm El Sheik Egypt. ¬†We began volunteering at an orphanage. ¬†C spending 30-50% of the time on the road. ¬†We spend Christmas in London and get to see C’s parents and my mom. ¬†We bring back a souvenir from England……due in 9 months.

2004 – 2005

Our sweet Britain is born in a hospital in Ukraine. ¬†My mother comes to meet her grand-girl. ¬†Our language skills improve….my attitude to the Ukrainian cold does not! ¬†We go back to the States for a short visit and to get some intensive counseling. ¬†Strain of living overseas has taken a toll…and….Im pregnant again. ¬† Twins are enrolled in¬†Russian pre-school for a short time. ¬† My daddy comes to visit. ¬†The Orange Revolution is taking place all around us.

2005 – 2006

We welcome Isabelle after a very scary delivery and almost losing her to placental abruption. ¬†My mother and 2 sisters come to visit. ¬†We develop close ties with our team members, our landlords, our language tutor and the orphans we are working with. ¬† We discover an international church that fosters friendships with other ex-pats. ¬†We begin hosting a small group and find “family” away from home.

2006 – 2007

A fun family¬†vacation to Marbella Spain. ¬†Once again, we bring back a souvenir – two pink lines on a¬†stick. ¬†We are asked to come on as directors of the orphanage/ministry to street kids we’ve been working with. ¬†A busy year as we take on directorship as well as buy, remodel and move into an apartment. ¬†Fifth move – first home we’ve owned.

2007-2008

We return to the US for Thanksgiving and Christmas to celebrate the holidays with family. ¬†Baby Evie born. ¬†We now have 5 kids 5 years old and under! ¬†Life changes forever with the diagnosis of Evie’s heart defect. ¬†The year we will forever look back on as¬†full of miracles! ¬†¬†Many tears. ¬†Many prayers. ¬†So much love and heartache. ¬†The blog is born. ¬†C returns to Ukraine while we are still in the hospital to ties up loose ends and move our family back to the States permanently. ¬† Charleston becomes dear to us! ¬†We settle into a quiet house on a lake in Prosperity SC. ¬†Tristan falls in love with country living. ¬†C and I leave our kids for the first time and go Jamaica for our friends wedding. ¬†I begin doula certification.

2008 – 2009

A bit of a blur. ¬†So¬†many hospitalizations, sleep studies, inpatient and outpatient procedures. ¬†100+ blood draws. ¬†Little by little, we see Evie begin to gain strength. ¬†That summer,¬†we’re invited to go work on C’s uncles ranch in Montana for the summer….we consider staying forever!

2009 – 2010

C buys me a “real” camera. ¬†My passion for photography and writing take off. ¬†A fun year of experimentation. ¬†I launch¬†three¬†businesses as a spin off to the blog….photography, modeling and boutique marketing. ¬†We¬†also begin homeschooling the kids. ¬†Fatigue sets in – surprise!! ¬†Another pregnancy!!

2010 – 2011

Seeing Andrea Bocelli in concert together makes for our best Valentines day ever!¬† Lots of “high risk” monitoring of pregnancy due to a heart condition they have detected in me. ¬† Gigi makes her entrance at a wee 6 lbs. 3 weeks early. ¬†Heathy! ¬†Such a redeeming experience to get to do a baby again….differently this time! ¬†C works remodeling our fixer-upper-house. ¬†Work/minsitry¬†takes him to Cuba, China and India.

2011 – 2012

Winds of change are blowing again.  Highlight of the year was returning to Key West ALONE together for a long weekend.  A fun excursion before we launch overseas again.  C and I make a scouting trip to Bangkok and secure an apartment then return home and start uprooting.

2012 – 2013

Family trip to NYC for embassy meeting and visas. ¬†We pack a pod, withdrawal from school, and move to the other side of the world. ¬†Another season of adjustment. ¬†We begin homeschooling, then enroll the kids in school when I get sick….a surprise pregnancy is short lived – we have another baby in heaven. ¬†¬†Proximity to India allows C to travel frequently and extensively to coach the Indian team. ¬†We are blessed to have many, many, many, friends and family visit us in Thailand. ¬†We get to play with wild monkeys. ¬†I travel back to the US for my sisters wedding. ¬† ¬†Life Group becomes a wonderful source of community and friendship for us in this new place.

2013 – 2014

Doula and photography opportunities growing. ¬†Ministry flourishing in India. ¬†Family beach trip with C’s parents to Phuket. ¬† ¬†My parents come spend Christmas holiday with us. ¬†Surprise visit from¬†Faith and Maggie – some of our dearest friends. Melina too….friends even dearer so far from home! ¬†We experience the Bangkok “Shut Down” and survive a Coup D’etat.

 

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Life has been anything but boring! ¬†Its¬†cliche to say “Id do it all over again” because honestly, I wouldn’t choose to go back. ¬†There were some really hard seasons¬†and truly, it just. keeps. getting. better!!! ¬†But…….there is NO ONE I would rather have done it with¬†and I love looking forward to more adventure and¬†growing old with this man. ¬†Happy 13th Anniversary love!

 

 

Dont Settle For Someone Who Loves You More Than Anything!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Letter to my daughter about the man you will one day marry:

There is no shortage of opinions about finding your ‚Äúhappily ever after‚ÄĚ. Books. Marriage seminars. Youth group campaigns for purity. Singles support groups about waiting for the right one. Online dating services. Romance novels. Chic Flicks. Premarital Counseling. Mentor programs. Some are useless or absurd, but you might find some useful nuggets along the way. And somewhere amidst the bombardment of information, my dear daughter, you‚Äôll begin to formulate ideals for what the guy will be like that you‚Äôll marry. A mental checklist starts to emerge. Some things on your list will be superficial‚Ķ.In my case, at 6‚Äô 2‚ÄĚ, it helped narrow the field to know I never wanted to date someone shorter than me.

Some might be common sense‚Ķ‚Ķagreed, don’t date a 30 year old who still lives at home with his parents.

And others might be strictly attraction based and superfluous…..I wanted to marry a California surfer dude Рand I did.

And sandwiched in there between your expectations of him being sensitive, romantic and buff, you’ll probably include a desire that he be a man of integrity, that he love the Lord and a hope that he be an awesome guitarist who loves to lead praise and worship.
It cant be helped. Ideals and attraction are human. And finding that perfect guy who adores you just might happen.

But there is one crucial piece of a budding romances based on these ‚Äúlists‚ÄĚ that make them destine for failure. If they‚Äôre lucky, the facade falls apart before they say I do. But often, it unravels after the vows are said and real life takes over. And here it is‚Ķ..in a relationship Dear Daughter, don’t settle for someone who loves YOU more than he loves the Lord!!

We are all star-struck by the iconic figures on the screen who coin phrases like ‚ÄúYou make me the man I want to be‚ÄĚ. We swoon when hear Jerry MaGuire passionately whisper ‚ÄúYou complete me‚ÄĚ and when we are told ‚ÄúIm a better person when Im with you‚ÄĚ, our heart swells and of course we want to believe that. But aside from the well intending romantic notions, if you look deeper, you see these statements are selfish and manipulative and dangerous.

We want to believe we are all that to our men. We’re flattered…..and naive to believe them.
Because dear one, we as women were never designed to meet the needs of our husbands in that way. We cant change them. We cant make them into something other than what they are now. They may feel empowered by the love and adoration of a wonderful girl, but true transformation doesn’t take place based on this. And even if your guy loves, adores you, treats you well, puts you first, sacrifices for you, but isn’t more passionate about God than he is about you, then your marriage is headed for unnecessary heart ache.

Because, daughter of mine, the things about you that are so wildly attractive and fetching and that help him rise to the occasion right now, might not always come so easily to you. You are not perfect and you will act at times in unlovable ways. You will inadvertently hurt each other. And life someday will weigh heavily on your now slender shoulders. There will be seasons that physical attraction will fizzle out at times.  Stretch marks, sleep deprivation and hormones will wreak havoc. Stress of raising little ones will take a toll. Strain of work and supporting a family will be all consuming. And sin and selfishness will rear their ugly heads at times for both of you!

If your man loves you first and foremost above all else, I can guarantee you there will be cracks in the foundation of your commitment, because you will fail. You will fail dear girl!!  If his commitment is to you alone in marriage, its a temptation to back out when you dont keep up your end of the bargain. And the same is said of him, when you see him struggle with temptation or fail to defend you or speak harshly or respond insensitively, you’ll doubt his love and will question his commitment and insecurities will chip away at your heart. But……but when a marriage commitment is made first to God, and secondly to eachother, that is an unshakable foundation!

Your daddy and I will celebrate 13 years of marriage this week.

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And by the time you read this one day, we will have many more years as husband and wife (many‚Ķ.many‚Ķ..many more years before you are allowed to even think about marriage)¬† ūüôā

You have seen our marriage up close and personal. Its not perfect, but its perfecting. We fight. We make up. We work hard on differences and clashes in our personalities that don’t always contribute to a harmonious relationship. We have learned to forgive quicker and extend grace more generously. But, I don’t doubt our marriage will stand the test of time, because of the one thing I saw in your daddy from the early days of our blossoming romance – He loved the Lord. Passionately.

Recklessly.

Incomparably.

And he seeks God with his whole heart. ¬†He spends time listening. ¬†And he has a teachable sprit. When he‚Äôs hardheaded and resistant to me, God still gets through. And when Im that ‚Äúdrippy faucet‚ÄĚ nagging wife, daddy might tune me out, but he is listening to the still small voice. ¬†(In fact, its when I shut up that he can hear God a lot more clearly sometimes!)

Ill be honest about 2 things;
1) I am genuinely more joyful, fulfilled and hopeful in my marriage today after sharing a bed with this man for 4,745 nights than I was on our honeymoon.
2) There were times in our 13 years together that I would have lost hope of our marriage working if I didn’t know beyond the shadow of a doubt that your daddy loved the Lord more than he loved me. That truth gives me incomparable assurance and security.

And here is the key….
The assurance that my husband loved the Lord and was hearing from the Lord has saved me from a despair on more than one occasions. Because I knew God would change him‚Ķ.I didn’t have to change him. And that kept me from loosing hope. Because my faith in God was bigger than my faith in your daddy. And because I knew that he was listening and responding to Him and that in Gods timing, He makes all things beautiful.

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So honey, be content with second place in his heart. Encourage him to pursue a love affair with the Lord which will reap the greatest benefits of intimacy and growth in your marriage. It is here that ‚Äúhappily ever after‚ÄĚ begins.

 

 

Keepin’ it real

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lest any of my posts be misleading that our life is a steady stream of Pinterest parties, culinary creativity and that my kids are ever-adaptable and polite, let me set the record straight.  Today was less than stellar.

Feeling like quite the Martha-Stewart-Wannabe, I bravely tried a new recipe today that came highly recommended by a friend. ¬†A delicious, healthy, pumpkin soup. ¬†Im not gonna lie….it was a lot of work. ¬†But following a recipe with 16 complicated, time consuming steps means it will taste awesome, right?

Yes, Im well aware that its 80 degrees here and not really “soup weather”, but living in Thailand, we don’t wait for the weather to be right. ¬†Our family generally likes hearty soups and stews and chili….so I thought this would pass. ¬†It smelled great simmering. ¬†Perfect savory seasonings. ¬†Blended up smoothly. ¬†Robust color. ¬†The makings of a great dinner (or so I thought).

I got called to go to a birth before I could taste test it.  Several hours later, I sent Abi an email from the hospital asking how it had gone over.

Can I just say, I so appreciate the candor in her response. ¬†Abi, you’re awesome!

Mother of the Year right here!!

 

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So….”everyone said it was ok,” except HALF of the kids eating it. ¬†And Tristan said it was “kinda good“. ¬†A glowing review indeed! ¬†Humbling to know that my youngest food critic went running from the room and that Izzy hates it a bit less than Evie hates it.

Im a winner!

Guess Ill be serving up Kraft mac-n-cheese tomorrow and steering away from creative and nutritious. ¬†After that raving review, give me a shout if you’d like the recipe.

……or better yet, just come eat our leftovers! ūüôā