y-o-u-r welcome.

**This post was originally published in March of 2016. I’m republishing for April Fools’ Day 2017. Note the ultrasound I mention is OLD. I’m NOT pregnant.**

This is kind of an atypical blog post for me. Basically I have a funny story to tell that is a little too involved for a facebook post. There’s no useful, encouraging bit, no metapicture… just a funny story from the inside of my funny marriage.

So… do you remember that time I whined loudly on facebook about the grammar of the entire Internet last week? It went something like this:

Are we being punked? It feels like the entire internet did a search and replace and every “your” is now “you’re” and every “their” is now “they’re.” I’m looking up verses on multiple sites and every single translation that has either “your” or “their” has it wrong. YOU CAN’T DO THAT TO THE BIBLE. (Also, every blog post, magazine article, and news story I clicked on last night while waiting for kids to sleep had issues with those words.)

GAH!!!!!

Too early for April Fools’ Day. What in the world?

Let me back up a little.

I’ve been a bit of a grammar nazi for most of my life. I try not to be obnoxious about it, but I generally notice errors. A couple weeks ago, I started seeing them in places that they really shouldn’t be. Places that should know better, like my email’s news site and Intuit.com (think Turbo Tax and Quicken.)

I took crappy cell phone pictures and sent very ragey texts to my sweet husband, who completely understands my hatred of misused apostrophes. The one that really killed me was this one:

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Amazon. AMAZON.

Somehow this hit me as the worst kind of bastardization of the language. If anyone should be able to afford editors that know what they’re doing, Amazon should. I don’t know. It made me SO MAD.

But I kept it inside.

For a little while.

And then last week, I was writing a post about my (then) upcoming ultrasound and all my crazy fears. I was working so hard to point myself back to the One who can calm those fears (and who commanded me to “fear not.”) I had some verses in mind, but I try to link to Bible sites so that you can check my hermeneutics if you want to. I don’t ever want you to take my word for it when you could instead take His.

And when I went to both biblehub.com and biblegateway.com (my go-to sites), both of them had your/you’re, they’re/their/there and it’s/its problems in every single instance and every single translation. I lost it. And by “lost it,” I definitely mean “posted a very angry rant on facebook.”

A couple days later was date night. Andrew and I had a lovely time out, and on the way home, I finally remembered to ask him about it. “Did you do something to the internet?”

Yes. Yes, he did. Apparently, my loving husband found (as in went looking for, not stumbled upon) some Chrome extension that switched every usage of its/it’s, your/you’re, and rotated uses of there/their/they’re. (Also replaced every use of “less” with “fewer,” which I didn’t come across.)

In that moment, I wasn’t sure whether his ability to punk me in the most subtly effective way possible was evidence that he was the best husband in the world or the worst.

In either case, it was pretty clear that a counterattack was required.


 

Many months ago, I stumbled across an Instagram photo of someone’s color-coordinated bookshelf. I thought it was beautiful. I also knew that it was strictly out of the question in my house. Andrew would go insane. He’s touch color blind, and he organizes things by category in his brain (and certainly not by color), so he’d never find anything.

So, naturally, I laughingly showed him the picture, with the qualification that of course I knew this would never, ever happen in our house because he’d hate it.

He nearly made me sleep on the couch for “impure thoughts about the bookshelf.” (He was kidding. But only kind of.)

So obviously…

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I picked a day I knew he’d be out late and went to work. The girls gleefully helped (I definitely just told them I was reorganizing, not that I was messing with Daddy) and we spent ALL. DAY. We have nearly 40 feet of shelf there, and a fair bit was stacked two deep.

(And, yes, I notice how nerdy it sounds that my husband and I have prank wars involving bad apostrophes and bookshelf organization.)

We sorted, we cleaned. It was a crazy mess, and it cut off access to the bathroom. (Whoops.) I even called in backup from a local “move a body” kind of friend. (As it turned out, I did finish just before she came, so we just got to hang out. Win!)

At one point, Jenna decided it was way too dusty and insisted on a dust mask, which she made with string and a styrofoam cup:

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The girls loved it. Jenna gushed on and on… “It’s so pretty! Daddy’s going to be so surprised and SO pleased!!!” Oh, he’s gonna be surprised!

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It is pretty.

(Also, we own a LOT of blue books.)

Now… we have a rule in our house that you can’t pull any pranks you’re not willing to help clean up, so this actually represents a tw0-day commitment to the silly bookshelf. (But I love my husband, so it really won’t stay.) (Andrew: if you’re reading, weekend after Easter?)

So I got done, put kids down, cleaned things up, and awaited his arrival.

10:30 pm, Andrew walks through the door. He takes a few minutes futzing with the fire, then he looks up. “What did you do to my bookshelf???”

I answer, with a very satisfied smile, “Y-O-U-R welcome.”

He thinks for a beat. I’m pretty sure I see it all register. “…You suck.”

And that, my friends, is love in real life.

 

a love story for your Sunday

…a story that concluded (but mostly began) beautifully twelve years ago today.

Once upon a time, there was an 8-year-old girl living in Southern California.

For reasons nobody remembers anymore, she was talking to God about the far-distant future.

Dear God, I would really like to be a wife and mom someday. But I don’t want to do the whole date-and-break-up thing. That sounds hard, and I think I’d give up pieces of my heart that I would rather keep whole to people who don’t deserve it.

I don’t know if this is an option, but I’d really like to just, like, be best friends with a guy. And then get married to him. I have no idea if that happens, or how it could. But that’s how I’d really like it to go. If that’s what you want. Amen.

(I know. She was kind of a nerdy kid. But that really is the conversation, as best she remembers.)


Shortly after the above conversation with Jesus, her family moved from California to Alaska.

Now she’s about 13.

As the oldest of five, she needs to find creative and free ways to spend time out of her house, away from her family. (Because THIRTEEN.) 

Score! There’s a program at a local Christian summer camp where teens can come and wash dishes for a week at a time. For free.

A funny thing about camps…

Camp crushes.

The next year, there’s a boy. He’s fairly good-looking. Lots of girls think so. She thinks so, too. But also, she’s hopelessly awkward basically runs away from him at every opportunity and he has no memory of her at this point.

A couple of summers pass like this. She’s now 15.

She sees him and is awkward. As time progresses, they both spend a little more time at camp in the summers and eventually start talking. She attends a church that began as a plant from the church he goes to. Occasionally, the youth groups do joint activities or she’ll just go join his group, because it’s bigger and they do more.

They talk on ICQ. (Kids, ICQ is kind of like facebook messages without the facebook. Say it out loud. I-C-Q. I Seek You. Very clever. All on computers, of course. Smart phones weren’t a thing, and nobody even had cell phones. If you were REALLY cool or, you know, a drug dealer, you might have a pager. This girl was neither cool nor a drug dealer, so she was stuck messaging on the computer. Late at night when nobody would be getting any calls, because the internet was actually the phone line. It was very cutting-edge in the mid-to-late-90s.) They share a little more deeply. She especially prefers this, because she writes far better and more comfortably than she speaks in person. And high school is hard.


Spring of Junior year.

She is in JROTC and in charge of planning a military ball. Because she has an official position at the dining-in, she needs a date. She has never had a boyfriend. She hasn’t had any offers. (Remember, awkward.) But she does know a guy that she’s become reasonably good friends with…

Awkwardness and hilarity ensue.

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And again the next year.

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Also around Senior year, without talking about it, they both decide to go to the same tiny one-year Bible school in Oregon for a year. Weird, right? They’ve also become friends with each other’s immediate and extended families.


They go away to Ecola Bible School after graduation. It’s October ’00.

They naturally hang out a lot. People ask with some frequency if they’re siblings or just good friends. Their stock answer is “yes.” Occasionally, someone will ask if they’re dating. This is awkward because he is actually dating someone else from school. So that would be a definite no. She still has a latent crush on him, but realizes this is never going to happen and ignores it.


Fall of ’01, back in Alaska.

He is single again. They are taking classes together. And they both work with the youth group at the church he grew up in and they lead worship together and his car died back in Oregon, so riding around together just makes sense.

Over the next years, it becoms increasingly (sometimes painfully) obvious that they’re going to end up together. They continue as friends, though… With all the stuff going on in this season, who has time for dates? They’re too busy hanging out and doing life.


December 22, 2003.

He says “I love you”for the first time. (So does she.) This is followed immediately by “Will you marry me?” (she says yes, after a solid minute of All The Thoughts, mostly trying to find a more articulate way to say “yes” since “heck yes” seems inappropriate at this moment) and a first kiss.

Later, they figure out this date is actually one year exactly since she caught the bouquet at his best friend’s wedding. And he caught the garter.


They endured the longest six months ever as they planned and waited for their wedding.

But then it finally happened.

And they lived happily ever after.


The beginning.

The years since that beginning have been amazing. It’s not perfect… One sinner married another sinner and that presents issues on a regular basis. Even after all this time. But it’s good. He is God’s good gift to me.

This is my favorite love story, partly because it’s ours.

But it isn’t only about a love story between him and I.

It’s also a story of a little girl (not so much older than my firstborn girl) who asked God for something ridiculous that she couldn’t possibly understand then. And, for reasons I can’t quite fathom,

He said yes.

He hasn’t, by any means, said yes to every ridiculous thing I’ve ever requested. For instance, I somehow never made the US Olympic gymnastic team. (Shocking.)

I have a friend who talks about these as “bread crumbs” of God’s faithfulness. (She’s on her own divinely romantic adventure now!)  This trail, the abridged version I wrote here and all the pieces I couldn’t include because it’s already far too long, is full of those.

And I know the God who was faithful to answer the prayers of an honest little girl will be faithful to continue the work he started in both of our hearts decades ago.

on “enough” …and other things.

I’m going to tell you a story today. Another one. Or maybe a few. I don’t tell you my stories because I think my life is earth-shattering and fascinating to you. I tell you my stories because… there all I have. I learn from them. And I hope they bring you hope or encouragement, too.

Andrew told me a couple weeks ago that he was “very satisfied” with me. It was kind of in a general context, not specifically related to anything I can remember. This speaks directly to the “enough” button in my heart. I struggle constantly with the fear that I am not, have never been, will never be enough. So hearing those words from his mouth was soothing to my heart.

Sort of.

Except…

Except… the last few weeks, I’ve been frickin’ on fire. ON. FIRE. All my daily, weekly, and monthly checklist items are done, as well as every single other thing I can think of to put on my to-do list. Its bizarre. I’ve run out of normal stuff to write on my list and started making crap up. I’m cleaning and decluttering spaces I haven’t touched (except to add junk to) since we moved in. I’m cleaning scuff marks off walls. Today I vacuumed the ceiling. True story.

It’s an illness or something. I don’t have time or energy to devote to this nonsense.

But still, I’m doing it. And, miraculously, my mothering is still on point, if I do say so myself. My kids are doing all the things they ordinarily do, and I’m handling all the crazy and any defiance with creativity and consistency. I’m finding stuff that’s working to discipline, which isn’t a small miracle, given my kids’ genetic propensity toward obstinance.

(I swear I’m not saying this to brag. I’m coming to a point here. Promise. Also, please note, NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL FOR ME.)

So randomly, inexplicably, I’m at my absolute, very best. Record best. And I feel kind of good, since I feel like, at least for now, I have my stuff together. But it also feels manic. Some of the busyness is about distracting myself from worrying about the baby. Some of it is simply trying not to fall asleep. I’m so tired lately, I’ve basically become narcoleptic. If I stop moving, I zonk out. And if I zonk out, the kids are almost certainly going to burn the house down.

So when I hear that I’m actually, truly, finally enough, I start to panic.

See, I know this isn’t sustainable. It can’t be. My energy will only go down and entropy will rule again for a good long while. This isn’t my first rodeo—I know how messy it all gets the last few months before baby and the first few months after. Third and fourth trimesters are killer.

So if I’m only enough at my all-time peak, what than? What if I drop all of the balls? Well, then I go back to regular. Regular, ordinary, never-gonna-be-enough me.

Is there grace enough for that?

Sunday school answer says “of course!” …but deep down in my gut? I don’t know. I just don’t. I mean, I’ll keep slogging through, of course. But somehow it seems demoralizing.

Was it easier when “enough” was strictly unattainable?


And why is Andrew’s assessment of my enoughness so key, anyway? [For the record: If I were to ask him right now, he’d tell me the concept of “enough” doesn’t even register as meaningful and when he said he was “very satisfied,” it wasn’t about me killing myself over the scuff marks on the walls.] Why is he the one I have to please? I mean, there are other people whose opinion should matter more. Like, I don’t know… God. And mine should possibly count, too, at least a little. But it’s my husband’s that I strive for.

If I’m being honest, God’s almost doesn’t count. I can’t possibly meet holiness as a standard. And the acceptance granted through Christ is freely available, so it says nothing at all about me. (Please don’t tell anyone I said that.)


..and then I actually talked to Andrew about it. After like a week of stewing.

He laughed at me.

“Of course. Because anything bad I say is about you and who you are inside. And anything good I say is about you’re circumstances and what you do. ‘Oh, the house! I’m so satisfied by the house. So… satisfying. The house.'”

Um.

Mind=blown.

And then he says, “Me? I’m the other way around. ‘Oh, Andrew, you’re so helpful and good looking.’ Yep. I know. ‘Oh, Andrew! I’m so pissed at you!’ I know. Because that thing happened. Are you over it yet? Because I was over it before you finished talking.”

The man kills me.

I mean, he’s not wrong. I expect him to be right in general… on rational topics. But when he whips out a dead-on insight about my emotional life? It freaks me out a little. He’s right. I internalize the bad and externalize the good. And since he goes the other way, I need to take his compliments and criticism the way he means it.

I have no idea how I’m going to shift this, but I think knowing about it is a good step one.


Immediately following that discussion, this hit me:

I’m hopelessly in love with each of my kids. Their each abundantly more than enough, as far as I’m concerned. Because their mine and their awesome. What if one of them wrote off my adoration? “She’s my mom. She has to think I’m awesome. It doesn’t count.”

It would break my heart if they discounted my opinion of them because I’m “obligated.” If they didn’t see that because I’m the mom, I see them at their worst and am still hopelessly in love. My opinion is more reflective of reality because of my position, not fewer.

…God is the ultimate Parent. I can’t write off His acceptance because it’s freely available and not based on what I do.

It’s based on Whose I am.

His opinion is more reflective of reality because of His position. Not fewer.


 

A’ight. So… reverse the things I internalize and externalize. Stop discounting God’s opinion of me.

Easy-peasy.

Sigh.

Paying attention is hard sometimes. If y’all have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

 

now about the *other* thing that happened june 26…

Sigh. I’ve had this post sort of percolating in my head for a long time. Like since before I had a blog. But also, I hate getting into it. So in general, I avoid the drama. But then something bizarre happened. While my husband and I were celebrating the anniversary of our marriage, the Supreme Court decided to redefine the word. And then my facebook feed blew up with pretty colors and not-so-pretty words. The response from my Christian friends has been mixed. Some use the rainbow filter. Some warn of doomsday. Some walk the middle, with a “love, despite disagreement” kind of attitude. Do I have an opinion here? You betcha. Do you care? Probably not. I mean, really. At this point, it’s been talked to death (and it’s only been a few days!) and you kind of scroll through, filtering folks into “like me” and “not like me” boxes in your head, because it is really not worth the energy of processing everyone’s opinion on the matter.

I figure the only people that I’m actively leading on this point are my children, two of whom currently believe marriage is not a gender-based thing as long as the prospective spouses are either a.) stuffed animals or b.) relatives. (So I clearly have work to do here.)

So this whole thing… Where do we stand? What do we do? I kind of hate to add to the noise… but I’m going to anyway, because I haven’t seen much attention to this obvious point: maybe we spend some more energy on the things we can actually change.

So while a huge portion of the internet and the country is flipping the heck out over the implications of this, I want to ask those who love Jesus and are married…

How’s your marriage doing?

See, here’s the thing.  

Marriage was designed by God to show the image of Christ and his Church to a world that doesn’t know him. And we, God’s people who live in the US, have been doing a generally terrible job of it. I know the divorce statistics are really not as grim as the 50% number we’ve heard tossed around for a couple decades, but it’s still not great, plus some of the decline is because people have lost faith in the institution as a whole and are opting out, choosing cohabitation instead. And even within marriages that last, how are we doing? There’s so much energy this week (and in general) being spent freaking out about the federal government’s definition of the word, but how much energy are we putting into the thing we can actually change? I don’t know about you, but my ability to change anything on a national level is very, very small. I have a vote, which I happily exercise (despite the hassle of all the preschoolers in a voting booth.) But seriously? That’s not much. But you know what I can do? I can pour a lot of energy into obeying God in my own marriage. In doing that, I can encourage  couples around me and show others the picture God had in mind, however imperfectly we do it. Will my marriage change the course of the nation? Nope. But can you imagine what would happen if followers of Jesus everywhere started obeying him in their marriages? That would have some effect. People would notice. The beautiful picture God created to show Himself to the world would be so much clearer.

So…

  • Do you love your spouse?
  • Do you respect your spouse?
  • What about porn? Is that playing any part in the denigration of your part of this marriage picture? (This isn’t just about images… Romance novels? 50 Shades?)
  • How do you talk to the person you married?
  • How do you talk about the person you married?
  • Demanding sex?
  • Withholding it?
  • Using it as a weapon or a reward?
  • Do you keep score of wrongs? Of favors?

I could go on, but you get the point. I’m not saying ours is perfect or that yours has to be in order to have or state an opinion on the Supreme Court’s decision. And I’m not against political activism or spreading awareness, per se. (I’ve gotta be honest- it’s really, really not my thing. But if it’s yours, I have no problems.) But can we please use this national facebook fight discussion about the meaning of marriage as a reminder to spend at least as much effort working on the one at home as we do talking and worrying about who else does or doesn’t or may eventually have the legal right to get married? Because all of it is messing up the picture.

We’re all just spray painting on the Mona Lisa while whining about the mustache that somebody else sharpied on her. Yeah, the sharpie mustache is a problem. I get it. But can we please stop vandalizing the thing ourselves? Maybe spend some energy restoring it where we can? That’d be great, thanks.



So how about you? What can you do this week to invest in your relationship? Speak kindly? Give the benefit of the doubt? Serve? Love? Read a marriage book? Get off facebook for a few minutes? Speak positively about your spouse to a friend? Write a love note? Let’s each make a difference.

 

the simply tuesday of anniversaries

One of my favorite things of late has been the celebration of the ordinary Tuesday. Emily Freeman talks about Tuesdays as the smallest day of the week. And every week, there’s a little party on Instagram where a bunch of people snap pictures of the ordinary beautiful and we all enjoy each other’s small moments. (Here’s #itssimplytuesday. At the moment, the feed isn’t entirely representative of normal, because Emily has a book coming out soon-hooray!- and her launch team got it this week, so there are a lot of shots of that. It’s still lovely and wonderful and good for a smile.)

Today, Andrew and I celebrate eleven years of marriage.


Oh, how I love that man.


Before “selfie” was a word. This a little bit past our first anniversary. I had to scan the thing in, because we’re old and the first several years of our marriage were photographed on film.

And these later, not-divisible-by-five anniversaries feel a little like Tuesday to me. There’s no newness and no big round numbers. Last year, we celebrated ten with a four-day trip out of town. This year, it’s a simple night away in town. (Somewhere. He’s not told me where yet. The magic still lives.)

Please hear me clearly: I’m not complaining. 


Just like Tuesdays have become a favorite because of their ordinariness, I love the smallness of an eleventh anniversary. I love the fact that we’ve had enough years for there to be ordinary anniversaries.

Ordinary is where we live anyhow. 

It’s the little things that make life and the little things that make a marriage.

Quiet not-quite-awake workday mornings.

Not-at-all quiet Saturday mornings, when the kids are up before we want them to be, and asking for Daddyday breakfast. (This man makes hash browns that have ruined me for any other hash browns, period.) Better get them fed before somebody gets hangry.

Holding hands in the dark while we try to stay awake long enough to pray together.

All those times I get thirsty right after I settle in to nurse a baby and he gets up to get me my water bottle. (Usually without snarkiness.)

More than half a lifetime’s worth of inside jokes. (We were friends long, LONG before we got married.)

Talking in code or spelling to sneak stuff past our kids. “I was thinking we could go for I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M tonight after dinner. What do you think?” This is rapidly losing effectiveness. 

Companionable silence. 

Doing dishes. Lots and lots of dishes. Sometimes he, sometimes I, sometimes we. 

Brief back scratches in passing. 

The way he works around my BIG FEELINGS and I work around his sometimes-crazy schedule.

Reading each other’s faces and tones.

Apologizing for misreading each other’s faces and tones. 

Arguments about nothing. Or the same something eleventy billion times.

Lots of grace to cover (and frequently avoid!) arguments about nothing.

Choosing to be on the same side, over and over and over again.

Learning to give the benefit of the doubt.

Diapers. Thousands of them.

Rubbing off each other’s rough edges.

Growing up together.


For better and for worse. Until death do us part.

This marriage thing. It’s a good, good gift. By God’s grace, we’re getting better at it. We’re living the dream, Andrew. I love our very ordinary life.

Mostly mundane.






blessing for insult

So I need to start out by saying I’m totally embarrassed to share this… I’m going to look kind of like an immature brat a few paragraphs from now. But… it’s been something I’ve been specifically convicted to share since the beginning of this process (when I was being an immature brat, but before I realized it), so out of obedience, I shall.

(Because real blogs have photos, and I like this one. Oh! Wait! Pussy willows mean springtime here and springtime is all about new growth! This blog is about growth! It totally goes. See? Plus maybe if I stall you with a random picture, you’ll miss the bratty part.) 


Last week, I mentioned that we recently got help out at Family Life’s marriage conference. Part of the the volunteering gig includes actually going to the conference, and it’s fabulous. Also, the material is more or less the same as it’s been since I first went in 2004, and actually basically the same as it was when my parents first went in 1978. It’s solid, biblical stuff, and I come away with new insights every time (because that’s how the Bible is), but also, I’ve heard it a number of times, so occasionally I check out just a little. But every year, there are a couple of points that seem distinctly for me and for now. 

Last year, the big take-home was “blessing for insult.” 


1 Peter 3:8-9 says:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30433K" data-link="(K)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> be sympathetic, love one another,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30433L" data-link="(L)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> be compassionate and humble.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30433M" data-link="(M)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> Do not repay evil with evil<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30434N" data-link="(N)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> or insult with insult.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30434O" data-link="(O)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>On the contrary, repay evil with blessing,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30434P" data-link="(P)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> because to this<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30434Q" data-link="(Q)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> you were called<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30434R" data-link="(R)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> so that you may inherit a blessing.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30434S" data-link="(S)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> 

The idea as applied to marriage is that God’s plan for communication includes paying back an insult with a blessing. (Actually, that’s fair to apply to communication anywhere, but this was a marriage conference, so…) If my husband says something mean to me, I can choose to be kind in return.

So that was my big idea from 2014. 

Which I pretty much instantly forgot.

But God is patient and reminded me again. So we circle around again in 2015. 

Determined not to let it slide this year, I started kicking it around a bit and have continued to do so for the last two weeks. And you know what my thought was?

My husband almost never insults me. 

Now, he’s not perfect. But he’s a kind man and it’s pretty rare that he spits out something that could be considered an insult, even when he’s angry.
However… I happen to have a special ability to read insult into almost anything he says. It’s a gift, really. Except the crappiest gift ever. 

So as I’m pondering this idea of returning a blessing for an insult, I started to wonder what I’m supposed to do with the fact that like 95% of the insults I hear from him aren’t really insults. They’re just him talking, and me being weird about it. Really. (Don’t you wish you lived with me?) So I hear myself asking (I warned you that bratty was coming)… So… if he’s not really insulting me, but I feel insulted, is blessing really the best way to go? I mean, if I bless him when he pseudo-insults me, he won’t catch that I’m returning blessing for insult, he’ll just assume that’s the response he earned (after all, he wasn’t being mean) and carry on his merry way. Sounds like a good way to encourage behavior that, while not malevolent, isn’t very considerate. I mean, he’s coming off really rude to ME! Plus, won’t that build resentment in me, if I just keep being nice and he keeps being [sort-of-not-really] mean? 

Seriously, y’all. It was like a week and a half I was having this huge conundrum. Are you annoyed? Because I totally am. Here’s the [completely obvious] truth that finally hit me:

Who the heck cares?


It’s not my job to figure out at that moment whether or not he was trying to insult me. And anyway, how backwards is it to withhold kindness if he isn’t?!? (…If it’s not legitimate “evil,” I apparently don’t need to return blessing? Mmkay.)

So here we are. My huge, genius, lightening-bolt idea from Weekend To Remember 2015, just like 2014:

Blessing for insult. 

And we’re counting anything that feels like an insult.


Now I’m not saying I’m going to be good at it. (Hon, are you reading this? No promises this is going to be as great as it sounds!) I am the girl who forgot for a whole year. And what, exactly, does blessing look like in this case? I have no idea, honestly. But I’m committed to doing my best. Every single time I remember. And because depending on my memory basically guarantees failure (see: 2014), I asked for a some backup from the Holy Spirit… Because He’s all over this kind of thing.

ten years.


So… ten years ago, my husband and I got married.

Not gonna lie, I feel a little old. Somehow this marker was reserved in my head for a crowd older than I thought I was. Definitely 30’s. (Wait…)

The cousins who were the ring bearers and flower girl? High school and college. College.

My baby brother, then twelve, who wouldn’t usher because, in his words, “I don’t want girls holding my arm!”… He’s apparently gotten over that phobia, we watched him marry a fantastic girl a couple of weeks ago. (Ryan and Amanda- sorry for the repeat here, there’s a lot coming that was in your card.) (Also? I just considered the fact that when they celebrate 10 years, we’ll be ready to celebrate 20. Because math. And I’m good at math. But still, framing it that way freaks me out.)

A lot happens in 10 years. 

There’s a lot of learning and growing. 

I’ve been thinking about this, specifically, for about a month now… we are really, really happily married. It’s good. Really good. Marriage? Well designed by a master Designer for our good and His glory and I couldn’t possibly be more grateful. (Well, actually, I’ve said that before. And I was wrong. And I’m sure I’ll be even more grateful, I don’t know… tomorrow. But today, I’m as grateful as I can imagine for this amazing gift.) Also, as Andrew and I grow together toward holiness, we’ve learned a few things. And I need to write at least a few of them down so I don’t forget and maybe, just maybe, to remind and encourage you.

Really quickly, here’s why I’m not writing this.

I’m not writing it because we’re perfect.


I’m not a perfect wife. Not by a long shot. He’s not a perfect husband (though, in all honesty, I think he’s a lot better at being married than I am… Most of the stuff I’ve learned, I’ve learned largely because he does it pretty well.) 

We still have our stuff. We fight. We have communication differences that have been issues for ten years. (Actually, we probably have some dating back a lot longer than that. Maybe 17 or 18 years? That’s how long ago we met. And when I developed a crush on him. But that’s a whole other story.) Sometimes it comes down to the simple and obvious: I am a woman. He is a man. Language differences make us crazy now and again. 

We don’t have it figured out. (Which is why marriage is supposed to last more than ten years.)

But.


But God is good and his grace is more than plenty for all our stuff. 

So here’s some stuff that I’ve learned in ten years of loving and living with this man.

We have to be friends.


We were friends for a loooong time before we got married. We’re good at it. But it’s not something that happens on its own.  The first couple of years, it was simple enough. We had school and work and stuff, but a lot of time was basically our own. We played. We talked. We worked together at things. We served together. We did all the friend things we’d already been doing for years. It was fun. And we got used to living together while still doing the friend thing, and life got hectic and being friends took a little more intention. Then kids came. Finding the time to connect and play (and prioritizing that over sleep sometimes) takes a little more effort now. 

But it’s so, so worth it. 

(Post-bedtime is currently our favorite- sometimes we talk watch a movie or just sit and read our separate things together or play a game of Dominion or Sequence.) 

I have to work on me.


If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Duh.

A healthy marriage is ideally made of a pair of healthy people.

It’s really easy to go all martyr these days… My job is kind of round-the-clock and based on other people’s needs. But when I just “selflessly” chug through, getting stuff done and people fed and bottoms wiped and laundry and All The Things… I do a pretty crappy job. (Honestly, this is something Andrew’s probably been encouraging forever, but I’m only learning in the last year that he’s right. That EVERYBODY’S right on this point: self care is not optional.) 

It’s easy to scroll facebook during a nap and call it a break. But I’ve learned it’s not actually that restorative. 

It takes a little bit more to discern what is actually a useful rest. For me, “useful” is writing, reading, running, talking with friends. Sometimes (um, last weekend), it’s scrapping all of those things in favor of sleep. Despite everything in me yelling that I needed to go out and be alone or, at the least, check some stuff off of my list. Not sleep through my only window of “me time.”

Anyway, my point… it takes effort and intention to figure out what is restorative and how to make it happen. And if I don’t do that, my kids get dregs and my husband gets nothing. Well, he doesn’t get nothing, he gets yelled at. Poor guy.

And it’s not just me. Andrew needs time to process and be, too. And I’m not as good at encouraging and enabling this as I want to be, not as good as he is, but that’s something I’m working toward.

Respect is a big deal.


We were fortunate to have been a part of a great small group from the start of our marriage, and one of the early studies was Emmerson Eggerichs’s Love and Respect. It’s not a secret that love is essential to marriage and that it must be unconditional. But in my early-20’s head, respect was definitely on a lower tier in some hierarchy of needs. And totally NOT unconditional.

Glad to have learned otherwise, and early. It’s not a small thing. I’m not always good at being respectful (especially when we’re having *ahem* a “discussion”) but I’ve gotten much faster at apologizing for being (or sounding) disrespectful! 

It’s still hard to find things that are specifically respectful. It’s easier to figure out what comes off as disrespectful. But I’m learning. 

We have to be generous.

This covers… kind of everything. I stumbled across a blog a few years ago that’s all about this, and I’ve been kicking it around since.

When I’m generous in 

  • loving and blessing my husband
  • forgiving him
  • giving him the benefit of the doubt (when I could otherwise assign him poor motives for something)

… everything goes much, much better. 


So there we have it.


Looking over the list, it feels like it should be longer and, I don’t know… more earth-shattering. If I’d read this blog post 10 years ago (which I wouldn’t have, because blogging wasn’t really a thing then), Little Me would have nodded along. Yep. That’s true. Check. Sounds good, I agree. But somehow actually implementing that list of things that I am sure I never would have especially disagreed with has taken ten years (and counting.) 

I’m hoping in another 10 years, my list of things that work for us will be a touch longer and I’ll be a little better at the things on it. For now, I’m glad to have gotten it down in words. It’d be a shame to forget. 

Anything you’d add to it? What have you learned?