Some Days My Marriage Isn’t Awesome

Congrats to random t-shirt winners: #301 Amy and #151 Jill!

There it is again in my Facebook feed. This time it’s a selfie with her husband and her status reads, “The best date ever! My marriage is awesome. #always”

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Sure, it’s sweet. And I love a good marriage shoutout. But every time I see the “perfectly happy marriage” update, I want to say, please tell me you argue over who is letting the dog out at 2am or confess that sometimes just the way he breathes is hashtag annoying.

We probably all have friends who seem to have the most awesome marriage all the time. Every day is flowers and romance with him remembering every little thing and her sweetly ignoring every little thing he forgets. There is never arguing or irritating. It’s hashtag awesome.

First of all, I’m not so sure this kind of marriages exist.

I have been married 20 years. I have a great marriage. I have the t-shirt to prove it.

But some days my marriage is not awesome.

We don’t always communicate well, live selflessly enough, or remember to just be nice to each other .

We don’t always agree over financial issues, have sex enough, see eye-to-eye on parenting stuff.

Just the other day, there was a kitchen standoff because he heard the trash can lid close and asked me if I put the empty container in the can while he was getting a liner. I had the empty container in my hand and I held it up like a boss. Proof. Ha! He walked over to the trashcan and opened it. He leaned over and retrieved the empty bottle of Ranch Dressing I had just dropped in there. He was disgusted. And strangely enough, I had no recollection of putting it in there. This is a Thing in our house.

We’ve argued over less important things, if you can believe it.

Yeah. So maybe my marriage isn’t awesome everyday.

But that’s okay.

Because perhaps our greatest strength is that we know this and we still try anyway.

Marriage isn’t awesome because it’s perfect. It’s awesome because we keep at it.

It works because we don’t give up. We push through the long, hard days. We forgive selfishness and try to be less selfish. We ignore little annoyances and try to be less annoying.

All marriages have bad days. But every morning is a new chance for an awesome day. And when we have them we should share the happy moments instead of dwelling on the not-so-good ones.

So, the next time we are scrolling down our feeds and we see that friend’s happy marriage status, let’s go ahead and like it. Because maybe that’s what she’s doing.

—FUN MARRIAGE GIVEAWAY—

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What do you love about your spouse today (even if you have to think hard)? Tell me in the comments on this post and two commenters will be randomly chosen to win a $25 gift certificate towards marriage shirts at Union28. Or get 15% any of my favorite “My Husband/Wife Rocks” shirts with code:U28WATF15. Plus, they have a big sale going on right now (shirts under $9!)

4 Things We Need To Do After a Long Day of Motherhood

I woke up at 6:30 to kiss my high schooler goodbye and I went back to bed- a rare luxury that only happens when you schedule a dental appt at 8:45 a.m. for two of your other kids.

I congratulated myself on my brilliance since I’d woken up with a headache. I set my alarm for an hour later.

I got my kids up and put frozen waffles in the toaster since we chose sleep over healthy food. I did put black beans in the crockpot for dinner, so there’s that.

They brushed their teeth for the third time because there’s nothing like preparing for a dental visit the morning of one.

Every Monday morning, we have 4-5 ladies (many young moms) come and serve at the Mercy House building in our backyard.  It’s a great way to start a new week and get a baby fix. They were coming to work on Fair Trade Friday stuff so I didn’t have time to wash my hair or shower. Choices.  Terrell agreed to run the kids to the dentist a couple of blocks from the house, so I could get the volunteers started.

Our new dog, Jane, which we rescued a week ago from the animal shelter has been acting sick for the past few days, so I reminded myself of the vet appointment at 6 p.m.. Lesson learned: Nobody just goes to “look” at dogs at an animal shelter.

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Terrell was back home by 9:45 with three cavities between two kids. But at least they didn’t find head lice (it’s a long hilarious story, but you know it if you’ve read  my first book.)

While volunteers stamped and licked 550 end-of-the-year statements and got February product tagged, I ran back into the house and took ibuprofen. We have more than 600 monthly members and every box gets 3-4 items. So that 1800-2400 items to tag every month.

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I took our youngest to school while he got to work on donor management software for Mercy House.

Somewhere in there my throat started feeling scratchy and I started coughing. Yay!

Our son had an archery tournament two days before on Saturday for the Texas Championship and as we were leaving home for the 3 hour trip, we noticed water pouring out of an overflow. My husband said this was bad news and he was right. Our water heater malfunctioned and water damage was already apparent in the garage. He called a plumber and I stayed home while they replaced it.

I watched them drive off and cried. Not just because of the $1000 check I was about to write.  I had to miss my son shoot. (He ended up getting second place for his age group.) He has had a hard time lately in the friend department (junior high can be brutal), so when he asked to stay home after his dental appointment, I said yes.

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I swept the house (it’s a daily compulsive habit for me), answered some email, wrote a blog post, unpacked new Fair Trade Friday product and at lunch time, my son asked me if he could spend his Old Navy gift card from Christmas. We ran to the store and he found some shirts and I picked up 5 shirts in the next size up for my youngest because they were $2.49 each. At this point, I was sure I was coming down with something. (Sorry, Old Navy).

I got back home by 2pm and got another hour of work done before my high schooler and youngest got off the bus. There was homework, laundry, a disagreement over something important like socks and dinner before 5:30 because it was also youth group night for my oldest. We wrote out Psalm 23 with only a few tears and only about 2/3 of us liked the new way I cooked the weekly pot of beans.

Terrell and the kids  helped clean up the kitchen (which is a polite way of saying there was some grumbling and complaining because my kids still gawk at the chore chart that’s been on the wall for 2 years) while I signed some school papers.

My husband took the kids to youth and my youngest and I took the dog to the vet. I was tempted to ask them to look at my throat. She had a cold, maybe kennel cough, and needed two prescriptions. We got back home and I spend 15 minutes trying to get Jane The Dog to swallow 2 pills. I was half tempted to take them myself.

My little girl had been asking for an hour if I would watch her new jump rope trick and I collapsed on the couch to do just that. After 3 jumps, she tripped and hit the hard floor with a smack. Twenty minutes and a bucket of tears later, she had her leg propped up with ice and Tylenol and was limping. Awesome.

That uncompleted foster care application on my nightstand mocked me.

When my husband got home, all three of us were piled in the bed debating who felt worse.  I asked my husband to look at my throat in the bathroom while my older kids took my spot on the bed, and he winced at the white pockets and streaks down my throat.

It felt totally redeeming.

My kids were impressed and scooted over to let me lie down in my own bed.

The crazy thing is–it was just a normal day of motherhood. Nothing big or bad happened. But it was long and hectic and I felt drained at the end of it.

A friend on Facebook posted a tired selfie and asked if there was a filter for motherhood, one that hides the dark circles and the exhaustion that comes with having little kids. I smiled at her wishful thinking. I think that filter might be called Pinterest.

I have to remind myself that it’s okay for not everything to be okay. That there is joy in crazy-busy-hard-but-overall-good days. We might have to look a little harder for it.  It’s good to confess our weariness and show off our tired eyes. It’s okay to ask for help when we need it and take time for ourselves.

Busted pipes and busted knees, sore throats and sores we can’t see, these are the days of motherhood. Older moms tell me I will miss them, today I want to survive them.

As I crawled into bed, I wrote down the 4 things I needed most on a piece of scratch paper.

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I’m determined to give them to myself. Maybe you should to:

  1. Rest-I took two naps the next day. And two hot baths. Yes, I was feeling crummy, but mostly I was tired. Moms don’t get sick days. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them. I asked my husband to take my share of carpool and a couple of things off my plate. He knows if I’m laying in bed in the middle of the day, I probably need to.
  2. Renewal-I scheduled a girls night out. Sometimes the best way to renew yourself is to surround yourself with other people who get it. I also ordered myself a book I’ve been wanting read–not for work, just one for me. I also thought about getting a pedicure, something that I usually reserve for a special occasion.
  3. Release-I had a good old fashioned cry. Yeah. Sometimes I can feel this building of emotions and worry and I know I need to let it go. Tears aren’t always the answer. Sometimes it’s exercise or a nice loud scream (those are harder to come by because you scare people have to death).
  4. Reflection-Sometimes the best way to face another day after a hard one is to look behind you. It’s easier to see how far we’ve come when we reflect on where we are. We don’t alway see growth when we are growing. Just a little perspective change can turn our grumpiness into gratitude.

Your Family Won’t Regret Doing This For The Next 30ish Days

I get it.

I know just how hard it is to get dinner on the table and five people around it who are all going five different directions at five o’clock.

On Monday night, my oldest two have church youth group and on Tuesdays my youngest has tumbling. Wednesdays are for meeting with other families for Bible Study and Thursdays, we have dental and eye appointments or –well, you get my point. Some days the window for all of us to be together is so small, it would be easier to just eat on the go or at least separately.

And other days when we have long moments to linger –that’s when the big kids irritate each other until an argument erupts and the youngest is picky and cries in her dinner and we have a big fat mess spilled all over our good intentions.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.

Because dinner isn’t really about food. It’s about connecting. (When our kids were younger, dinner wasn’t always an option for connection. We found the best time to intentionally have a devotion together was one-on-one, right before bed. Don’t give up. Find something that works for your family in the season you’re in).

It’s about pursuing intentional, meaningful conversation that your children will never forget. It’s about building relationships and communicating purpose and goals. It’s about going deeper. It’s about breaking Real Bread together.

We’ve been working on memorizing Psalm 23 and last night, we took turns quoting it in different accents-German, Irish, Redneck. Unconventional yes, but still a seed planted in our heart.

It’s about the best 10 minutes of your day.

This time last year, I wrote an e-Book that has 30 lessons to complete in however long it takes you. There’s no pressure in this easy-to-use guide that encourages family togetherness, conversation, connection and fun around the table. I wrote it for you and it’s only $1.99.

Saying Yes to God As a Family has a suggested icebreaker to get your family talking, a highlighted passage of Scripture to read, questions to ask, a suggested memory verse and a prayer to lead your family in.

Saying Yes coverSample day (not final)

It’s designed to be read on a mobile device or printed into cute colorful cue cards. There are printables at the end to brighten your home and to go along with the daily activities.

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Practical Ideas to Make it Happen:

  • Plan a weekly crockpot meal so you aren’t overwhelmed once you get everyone at the table.
  • Keep a large family calendar in the kitchen and make sure at least 3 nights a week are free (even if it’s different every week.)
  • Keep a basket of Bibles near the table. Read them together.
  • Make the window of time interactive: This ebook Saying Yes to God As a Family: 30 Lessons for the Table from Rhinestone Jesus was created just for this precious 10 minute window during your busy day. Each short lesson has a suggested Bible passage and 3 questions to promote interaction and deeper-thinking.
  • Have fun. Painting our kitchen table with chalkboard paint was one of our best decisions to keep our kids around the table longer. Printing out paper placemats for drawing will also keep little hands busy (there are ones included in my ebook). Celebrate great nights together with ice cream!
  • Keep it short. Because kids.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Some nights I want to go straight to bed after dinner because it’s THAT BAD. But we do it all over again the next day. It’s worth it. Don’t give up!

When we persevere through the mess, we discover beautiful moments together, sometimes sandwiched between really bad ones. (That’s life, huh?) If we choose to be intentional, we have the opportunity to connect on a deeper level. We uncover glorious tidbits that carry us through the hard days. We giggle and laugh. We hear about one another’s day and learn more about each other.

We often find the best 10 minutes of our day when we look for them.

 

edited repost

Maybe Life’s Biggest Moments Are Really The Small Ones

Waking up to my little girl in bed next to me.

Good morning kisses with terrible morning breath.

Leftover birthday cupcakes for breakfast.

Piles of dishes in the sink.

Asking him to turn down the music. Again.

Catching my kids swinging together.

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A teenaged daughter walking out the door with my favorite sweater on.

His cowlick.

Her first manicure.

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Breaking up a sibling argument by being louder than they are.

A tween boy on the way to school coming back into the house because he forgot to tell you goodbye.

These are all the small moments in a day that would normally frustrate me or be missed. 

But today I saw everyone of them.

I have a friend who is dying-a friend that sees every moment as the last-because it may be.

And I’m realizing something that every person who faces eternity knows:

Maybe life’s biggest moments are really the small ones.

All of our days are numbered. But when they send you home and say they can’t offer you any more days, you long for more of those small moments.

Five names are written on the chalkboard on our pantry door. They remind us to pray for a miracle. But it’s more than a reminder to pray for those who are fighting for their lives, it’s a reminder to live.

We circle weekend trips and fun events and parties and career positions and vacations on our calendars like they are the big things in this life. We scratch off the days and live from one big day to the next. And we often miss the moments in-between.

But if you asked those with numbered days what their number one day was, they probably wouldn’t answer a dream vacation or a step up the corporate ladder. They might answer

Watching the sunset on a Tuesday

Cooking dinner for my family

Hugs after an argument

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Listening to my kids tell me about their day

These are things you see differently when you look at them in a new way.

We can’t wait until someone numbers our days to realize each one is a precious gift.

Don’t miss them.

I Have Everything I Need {The Psalms 23 Family Project}

“We need to find a place to serve.”

 

I whispered these words to my husband, five days after Christmas.

He nodded his head. He could hear the kids arguing and nitpicking upstairs, too. Ah, Christmas break. Presents had been worn, plugged in and played with and a dose of perspective was next on the list.

Twenty-four hours later, we sat on a blue tarp in the inner-city of Houston with a bunch of kids at a Sidewalk Sunday School event.

It was so cold it didn’t take long for children we didn’t know to crawl into our laps and lean close for warmth. Terrell passed out the extra sweatshirts and throw blanket we keep in the car.

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Pastor Scott, the faithful man who drives his colorful truck to low income apartment complexes nearly every day of the week to teach children about Jesus after school, told the children to sit still, listen close and cup their hands in their laps and open them for the blessing they were about to receive.

I looked over at my daughter sitting in-between girls she didn’t know. I got a lump in my throat when I saw  her little hands cupped, waiting for her blessing.

I’m pretty sure she was hoping to catch the small toys and candy in her open hands like the rest of the kids. And I couldn’t blame her really.

But when she leaned over and whispered, “If I catch anything, I’m going to give it away to the other kids,” I wanted to shout yes because looking around at her peers without shoes and coats, she could see her hands were already full.

She could see she already had everything she needs.

Perspective for the win, again.

I’m learning we need constant perspective reminders and by we, I mean, me.
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download this free printable here

Giving to others is s-l-o-w-l-y changing my family. We can’t always feel it when we grow, until we turn around and see how far we’ve come.

Before the Bible story, Pastor Scott told the kids he had new backpacks for those who could recite all of Psalm 23. Hands shot up in the crowd and one by one we listened to precious children recite the life-changing verses.

I  blinked back tears listening to these disadvantaged quote verse after verse and I whispered prayers over them. God, provide what they need, be with them when they walk thru the valley of the shadow of death. Comfort them. Help them to know that goodness and mercy will follow them all the days of their life.

My son leaned over and said, “Mom, I don’t even know Psalm 23.”

I know. We are going to fix that.

My kids are advantaged and yet they need the truth of the words these children quoted over and over.

They need to be reminded the Lord is their shepherd and they have everything they need.

 

If you’d like to join us, we will be memorizing Psalm 23 together in the next few weeks.

Psalm 23 Family Project:

Week 1: Verse 1

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have everything I need.

  • Write down needs that have been met in your family

Week 2: Verse 2
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
    and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.

  • Take a day of rest with your family-unplug, go on a long walk, play worship music in your house.

Week 3: Verse 3

He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
    as he has promised.

  • Talk about your family’s journey- When has God guided your family?

Week 4: Verse 4
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
    I will not be afraid, Lord,
    for you are with me.
Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.

  • Comfort someone going through a dark time-with a card, a visit, a meal

Week 5: Verse 55

You prepare a banquet for me,

where all my enemies can see me;you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim.

  • Fix rice and beans for dinner for a week (or a month) and talk about the blessings on your table

Week 6: Verse 6
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
    and your house will be my home as long as I live.

  • Find a way to serve others: feed a meal, collect coats and blankets, change your children’s perspective