A Marriage Recycled

I’ve never been a good recycler. I aim high with my recycle bins and fabric grocery totes, but since I’m usually multi-tasking and running behind, I generally remember to recycle after the fact.

It’s just not my ministry. Ya know?

But I love recycled things. Go figure. I’m glad someone is responding to the high calling. I love love love trash to treasure stories.  From Mercy House to my marriage, I’ve learned to view God as the ultimate recycler. He is the master of taking rubbish and redeeming it.

This month my husband and I are celebrating 18 years of marriage. I’ve written about our testimony and I’m so thankful He transformed the garbage of our lives into something for His glory. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s evidence of God’s hand.

One of the things I love most about recycling? You get something new. There’s still a trace of the old, but when it goes through the fire, something different, often better is created. After God recycled our marriage, 7 years ago now, we took my engagement ring, wedding band and an anniversary band and had them melted down. The three pieces were beautiful and I loved them, but we both wanted a new ring to represent our new marriage. But my original set was very special and we wanted to keep it.

A local jeweler crafted one new gorgeous ring from the materials of my 3 separate rings. It was the same, but completely different, better, just like my marriage. And that’s exactly what God is able to do in your marriage too.

When my friends over at Union28 sent us their new new shirts, I smiled. I love knowing after all these years my marriage STILL rocks; It’s getting better with age because God is the ultimate recycler.

Want to see my new (old) ring, click here.

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Does your marriage still rock? Get the t-shirt or tote to prove it! Union28 is helping us celebrate 18 years with these awesome new Recycled shirts. Use Code: U28MMSR20 This code is an exclusive offer just for WeAreThatFamily readers!  It’s good for 20% OFF 2 or more Regular-Priced tees & will be valid Thursday & Friday (12/6 & 12/7).

One Hot Marriage, Please

We spent the first 5 years of our marriage surviving-hard jobs, finances, infertility and more. The next 5 years of our marriage we spent struggling-kids, career changes, finances, freedom and forgiveness. Then during the next 5, we discovered our sweet spot.

But the last 3 years? Whoa. Maybe it’s because we decided to live scared, but it took years to unlock the door to hot monogamy, And now that we’ve found the key, we are never going back.

Lean in, I’ll whisper the secret (since this is a family blog and all)…..

:: serve your spouse::

Not what you were thinking, huh?

I think we skip right over serving because it’s sounds so, well, servant-like. But I’m telling y’all, that’s where it’s at.

And by service I don’t only mean, picking up their clothes, running a dreaded errand for them, hushing instead of nagging, surprising them with their favorite drink, having sex when you really don’t feel like it, ETCETERA. I’m also talking about putting aside your own desires, interests and dreams occasionally and helping your spouse pursue theirs.

When my hubby turned 42 in September, the kids and I surprised him with NASCAR race tickets. My hubby has been an avid NASCAR fan since college (go 24!). About a hundred  years ago, when he was considering a career switch from full time ministry, we talked long into the night about direction and the future. When I asked him what he really wanted to do in life, he answered drive NASCAR. He was kidding. Sort of.

So, this past weekend we traveled to the Texas Motor Speedway to watch the race, my first. We got there early because my hubby knew I’d love to add in a visit to a huge flea market nearby. It’s not his favorite thing, but he enjoys that I enjoy it and serves me like that. Rabbit trail: Look at this fun red shelf he carried all the way to the car for me:

and this tin Texas on my wall:

The race was hot and there was a lot of walking. We were surrounded by rednecks galore and the blood alcohol count around us was epic. We blocked out the deafening speedway noise with intercom headsets and we had an awesome time. Do you know what I loved most about being there? Being with my hubby and and sharing something he loves with him. In that crazy, loud place, we fell in love all over again.

On our late night drive home, we held hands and talked about how much fun it was to spend the day with each other. It was fun for our kids to see us enjoying each other’s interests. It’s hard for them to know where he ends and I begin…

We’re one month away from 18 years and I just want a million more.

Unlock the door to the marriage of your dreams by serving your spouse, even when they don’t deserve or return it. God will honor it!

How to Be a Good Husband

Q:

Hi Kristen,

I’m 25, about to get married in June next year and so there is a real curiosity on how to be a good husband. I’ve read a few books already. For Men Only and Christian Husband. I think my fiancee is the most amazing woman in the world and I want to reciprocate that. I guess I’m looking for  from the wife’s perspective.

I hope I’m not being too intrusive. I don’t think guys are supposed to ask girls for advice on how to be a husband.

Thanks for your time,

Billy

A:

Dear Billy,

I love that you asked me this question. I usually tell myself that men don’t read my blog.  But I’m sure you’re not the only one, so I thought I’d write this out loud for the men out there. I’ve never been a husband, but I’m married to a good one. If my husband wrote this list, it would look different, so I’m glad you’re asking from a wife’s perspective. I’m going to tell you what makes my man such a good husband. I think a lot of young men can learn from him.

  1. He listens to me. Looks me in the eye, stops multi-tasking and just quietly listens. I love that about him.
  2. He doesn’t try and fix whatever I tell him. He resists the urge to make it all right and just lets me talk.
  3. He encourages me like no one else. He is my best friend and acts like it.
  4. He believes in my crazy dreams and pushes me to chase them.
  5. He values what I do, even if I don’t get paid for it (being a mom, volunteering, etc)
  6. He recognized years ago that an occasional house cleaner would let me focus on the things only I can do.
  7. He tells me when he’s struggling and let’s me help if I can.
  8. He works hard. I’ve never once doubted he would do whatever he has to in order to provide for our family.
  9. He likes being with me, even if it’s just taking a drive or grocery shopping.
  10. He wants me and pursues me. Enough said.
  11. He dreams big with me. We’ve done some crazy stuff in our marriage. We are a team.
  12. He brings me sweet tea regularly.
  13. He turns off my alarm so I can sleep a little longer.
  14. He serves me on a daily basis.
  15. He doesn’t let me manipulate him. This is big. Because the bad part of me would.
  16. He leads our family.
  17. He picks up his dirty clothes (most of the time).
  18. He trusts me and we are partners in this life.
  19. He prays for me and with me.
  20. He loves God more than he loves me.

I’m just scratching the surface, Billy, but I hope this gives you some direction. Oh and one more thing, I think part of the answer you’re looking for can be found in your question. Don’t ever stop asking it.

Kristen

Do you have any advice for Billy? Please add it in the comments…

I Like You

My in-laws celebrate 50 years of marriage next week. We are throwing a big party in small-town Oklahoma with BBQ and gold latex balloons.

We are all about The Fancy.

I’m in charge of the table centerpieces and a few other things. I’m going with mason jar decor since my in-laws are farmers and they make their own food, seed to table.

[black pictures of them dating and their wedding party 50 years ago, tucked into mason jars, with a little gold bow and cupcake picks I got off Etsy]

My parents just hit their 46th year.

I believe we have what you call A LEGACY on our hands. It’s a heavy mantle.

This December we will celebrate 18 years of marriage. I love that guy. I share my life with him. We are in this thing for the long haul. We’ve been to hell and back and we are committed for life.

But do you know how I think you get to 50 years?

You’ve got to do more than love your spouse, you’ve got to like them too (at least most days). Let’s be honest, that line between crazy passion and white fury can be fine. One of the things I love most about my in-laws and my parents is they generally like each other. They enjoy eating together, talking and just being together.

I know it may sound simple-minded, but I know a lot of couples who airquote love each other, but treat one another pretty badly. It’s sort of like the way people feel about extended family sometimes– you probably wouldn’t have chosen them, but here they are.

But we did choose are spouses and that choice is for the good, bad and ugly times. Making a conscious choice to hush when we really want to say something negative or thank them when it cost us something or putting our plans and dreams aside temporarily to make theirs come true–that’s what makes this whole thing work.

I texted my husband this picture while he was sitting in a two day meeting on the other side of town last week.

I love him.

Even more, I like him.

And most of all, I choose to do both even when I don’t feel like it.

Get the Shirt. Tell the world you like them.

Funny side note: I wore this shirt to the airport the other day. I got flagged for a security check because the guard wanted to get the website. Plus, I kept getting “thumbs up” from random men. At first, I was confused (thinking I must look really good) and then I remembered the t-shirt :)

Disclaimer: My friends over at Union28 sent me this shirt and this post is part of a joint initiative we have to make our marriages rock!

A Birthday Letter to My Husband {Giveaway}

UPDATE: Congratulations to the randomly chosen winners! Stacy and Bethany – an email has been sent your way.

Dear Husband,

This week you turn a year older. Lately I’ve noticed how good older looks on you. The gray in your beard makes you look distinguished, the crinkle around your eyes reminds me of all the laughter we’ve shared, usually at inappropriate times. No doubt about it, you are getting better with age. Forget going over the hill, you make it look sexy.

Yesterday you quietly turned off my alarm clock and did my morning routine, so my head cold and I could sleep longer. How did you know this one small act would make my heart smile and make me feel better? I’ve lost count of all the small acts of kindness over the years, but they do not go unnoticed.

I love the way you love me.

A young married mom from church sent me a thank you note recently. She wrote that she loved watching the way we love each other. She’s only been married a couple of years and wanted to let us know our marriage inspired her. She doesn’t know how easy it is to love you, how unselfish you are, how far we’ve come….

But I know. And when I read her words, my heart beat wildly because I remember the hard days when we tied a knot at the end of our marriage and clung for dear life. I remember wondering if we would make it another day, much less a year. I remember wondering if we’d ever feel the way we do about each other today. I am thankful for those hard days because they make the good ones better.

Today, I celebrate you.

Happy birthday, honey.

I’m wearing this super cute shirt to let the world know. (I’ve been stopped by two people already asking about it. I beamed telling them about you. I used to think love like this was gross…):

Your love covers me.

Love,

Your Wife

P.S. Here’s the back in case anyone wonders how I really feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In celebration of my hubby turning a year older (42!), Union28 is giving away two of their adorable new Umbrella Tees. They come in all sizes/styles. Winner’s choice.

PLUS: Use code: U28TFK15 to get 15% off your order! Great sales going on right now…

Leave a comment telling me how your spouse takes care of you as your entry!

This giveaway ends on Thursday.

Dear 22 Year Old Me:

We were packing the living room, surrounded by a mountain of boxes, when she found it.

Her eyes lit up as she held the white fabric up for size. “Mom, can I try it on? Please.” My almost 13 year old was holding my almost 18 year old wedding dress buried deep in the entry closet.

I hesitated. Not for sentimental reasons, just because I’m task-oriented and it would be another pause in the long road of packing up our home for the pending move.

But I just couldn’t extinguish her shining eyes. And we needed a break.

I love times like these, the ones where I live in the moment.

I swallowed the lump as I zipped the back of my beaded dress.

Then she turned around:

Her Daddy could hardly speak. A flood of memories, doubts and fears, dreams and expectations assailed me. It was surreal seeing my child, so radiant, wearing my dress. The last day it had been worn was the day I committed my heart and future to her daddy, eyes brimming on the other side of the room.

I couldn’t help but think about that young naive girl so long ago. There are a few things I’d love to tell her today. I will share them with the my daughter standing in front of me when she walks down the aisle in her momma’s wedding dress one day …..

Dear 22 Year Old Me:

This marriage thing is going to be harder than you think. But it’s also going to be better than you could ever imagine. “Marriage is made in Heaven, but so is thunder, lightening, hail and tornado.” -unknown

The big stuff you’re worried about won’t really matter. It’s the little things you need to know:

  • Remember why you fell in love
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Kiss everyday for various and numerous reasons
  • Respect each other
  • Laugh when you feel like crying
  • Don’t fret the God stuff
  • Leave the past behind you
  • Lock your bedroom door
  • 40 isn’t old
  • One day your little girl is going to look amazing in your wedding dress. Breathe.

18 years ago today, we fell in love, after 3 years of being best friends. Remember when we “accidentally” kissed while hugging hello and then got married 10 weeks later?

Yeah, after all these years, I love you even more. The best is yet to come.

Love,

the 39.5 year old me

How to Host a Marriage Revival

He’s my best friend, my closest confidant, the guy who helped me get my only demerits in our strict college when his hand found my knee.

I’ve never regretted those marks my husband helped me get on my perfect record.

We’ve been together now nearly as long as we’ve been apart. We’ve grown into one these 18 years and I don’t know where he ends and I begin. I am 39 years old and I am beginning to understand Oneness.

And with all the familiarity, comes, well, familiarity. It’s not a bad thing, but the common can be too common. With three kids, busy jobs, Mercy House and now moving for the first time in 8 years, the distractions abound. Irritation and exhaustion are partners to distraction and we rub each other the wrong way over unimportant matters like where to hang a towel rack.

It started out as a convenience: timing our kids annual visit to their grandparents farm in Oklahoma within the week of moving into our new house, along with a few of my hubby’s vacation days. For the first time, our youngest would be old enough to join her siblings and stay without momma and daddy, running hay bales, naming baby cows and eating homemade ice cream. Ya know, suffering without internet and stores.

I was work-focused, a list a mile long. It didn’t occur to me until he returned from delivering our kiddos to his farming mama how significant this week would be.

He walked in slow, voice husky, house quiet and for the first time since we started birthed babies more than a dozen years ago,  I realized we would spend the next four nights and four days in our house alone.

!

I don’t think we knew how bad our marriage needed a revival. Sometimes you just have to hush the world around you. We didn’t recognize the dead places until we started to feel alive again.

After these days and nights together, where we have recaptured and remembered some of what we’ve lost in this hurried life, it’s like we’re living a new production of an old play.

We are in synch again, leaving the little irritations little. Why are we tempted to make the little big and the big little?

I catch him running hot bath water for me because he sees me massaging the muscles in my neck. This is big. He sees me. It touches something deep within me and the desire to give back makes my blood pound.

When I hear of marriages young and some as old as ours, ending, I break too. After so many years of trying to figure this out, we have discovered joy in the endurance. And if you’re not getting my point, let me just make it plain: marriage is like fine wine, every area gets better with age.

We’ve had the bad, the raw pain of a marriage so shattered, only God could mend the broken places. Maybe it’s so good after all these years because we remember when it wasn’t. I don’t know, but it makes me long for more.

This ebb and flow: it is good. We worked hard last week, sweaty from the hot Texas sun, exhausted from getting our house in order. We chased our confused dog around the neighborhood (twice) and laughed our way back home, excited about the renewal we experienced that mattered the most.

5 Little Ways to Revive Your Marriage:

1. Go out of your way to touch: Walk across the room to hug your spouse, hold hands every chance you get, kiss in the kitchen, whisper in her ear, make him blush, push yourself out of your comfort zone to physically connect, even for just a moment.

2. Get alone: Somehow, someway, make time together a priority. If you don’t have family who will take your kids for a day or two, find good friends to switch with or a trusted babysitter. Regular date nights are a must and an occasional overnight alone, even better.

3. Give up the excuses: Skip the illusion that it must cost money to kickstart your marriage with fancy restaurants (our favorite $11 meal was the highlight of several “dates” last week) and exotic trips. We fell in love again at The Home Depot, y’all. As we drove to pick up our kids, hands touching, he said, “this week was the best I can ever remember.”

4. Go slow: There so much noise in our lives, we are ruled by distraction, always rushing. Be purposeful and quiet the distractions. I confided to my husband how I struggle with relaxing and letting go. I am so task-oriented and it perpetuates the fast-pace hurriedness. I am working on setting aside the lists and living more in the moment.

5. Get naked: I read this list to my hubby and said, “What would you add?” His quick answer, “When all else fails, get naked.” He explained that nothing renews his focus on our marriage like physical connection. We ended up having a really amazing conversation that was enlightening to both of us. Being vulnerable (emotionally naked, too) with your spouse is a great way to ignite the spark that leads to fire.

 

Father On

I roll over and the empty spot next to me isn’t even warm. He’s been gone since dawn, maximizing the hours, shouldering the pressure.

He comes in from a long day, and starts his next job of husband and father, crouching to build legos, cleaning up dinner, reading a book before bedtime. His head won’t hit the pillow until he spends a couple of hours preparing his teaching sessions for our trip to Africa.

He starts it all over again the next day.

He gives and he gives. And then he gives some more.

He is tired, weary from all the giving and yet he continues to father on.

My eyes fill as I run my hand over his broad shoulders carrying the weight, shielding our family, offering protection and provision.

With a word, I can add to his load or lighten it. I can demand more money, more time, more stuff, more, more, more and with every complaint, I weigh him down.

Or I can ease the burden by encouraging and whispering, reminding: you are enough, thank you, I trust you, thank you for giving, you are doing a great job.

My husband is a better father, when I’m a better wife.

How to encourage your husband as a father:

  • Tell him you respect him
  • Even better, show him: don’t question or scrutinize every action he takes
  • Trust him as a father: let him have a say in parenting decisions
  • Thank him regularly for being there.
  • Give him a break: from the honey do’s and the house-encourage him to take time for himself

Part of the reason our world is so broken is because of father’s who aren’t there. If the father in your life is a constant, they need to know they are appreciated every day.

We are celebrating my husband’s health too, today! In November 2010, he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, with a devastating A1C (overall blood sugar average) of 8.4, which indicates poor health. For 18 months he has changed his lifestyle by exercising and eating right. This week his A1C was 5.9—excellent health (for a non-diabetic)! He is focused on living well and living long so his children can have a father.

Happy Father’s Day, Terrell. We love you!