Category: Marriage

Your Text Messages Could Be Hurting Your Marriage

Honor your spouse with your text messages. It sounds straight forward, easy even. But as I scroll through the last few weeks of texts between my husband and I, I see ones that show respect, and love, and ones that don’t. Actually, far from it. These unflattering texts each have a story behind them, which I could tell you. Yes, I could paint a picture of exactly why I sent those snarky words. But when the burn of my anger fades, or the importance of the moment gets lost beneath more important things, all I have left are the words. Harsh words that I wish I’d never said, but are kept as a record on my phone.

Preparing for this piece, I went through and took screen shots of some of my texts. I had to wince a few times guys. Because I don’t know about you, but when I’m really angry at my spouse, the easiest thing to do is to shoot off an angry text with harsh words that wouldn’t roll off my tongue as easily. If its not clear, I’m the words highlighted in blue.

I asked my husband if I could share, and he agreed to go along, “if it helps other couples.” So, here I am, being a little vulnerable. I’m putting these angry texts in the light, because thats what God calls us to do with the shameful parts of us.

You Aren’t Alone When it Comes to Text Message Temptation

So am I alone in this? Or do you also send off messages to your loved ones that aren’t always so loving?

Too often I don’t think about how my texts can be ill timed, because I have access to my husband through my phone all the time.

But what if my husband is in the middle of counseling a bereaved wife after the loss of her husband, or scribbling down inspired thoughts for his next sermon? Since he’s a pastor, those are both plausible.

“I see why you need to be more thoughtful about what you text him,” you say, “but my spouse has an ‘ordinary’ job.” Okay, then imagine if she receives a snarky text from you while in the middle of showing a client a house, or in the midst of an exhausting day caring for your kids, already on the verge of tears? Or while he’s in the middle of a small lunch break trying to relax and regain energy, that you’ve now zapped with an angry text—that simply couldn’t wait for a face to face conversation?

Its so easy to share our anger or frustration, or ask our accusing questions, with the push of a button. But these easy words that cut through distance and circumstances, are still words—words that can cut, and damage, and steal our spouse’s focus and their joy, ours too. And I think God is challenging me to be more intentional with them.

I am called to be a bearer of God’s light to the world around me, but I’m realizing there’s a hole in my boat. It seems small and innocent, but if it continues, I believe it could continue to
undermine the love, trust, and loyalty that my husband and I work so hard to build. It not only impacts my ability to be a light to others, but it also slowly drains my husband of his joy and light in his world too.

Use Your Texts for Good

But good news guys! The story doesn’t end here. I also got to go through and see the loving exchanges. The tender words we shared over text that I remember savoring all day. Sweet little words that were kindling for a brighter light of love between us that we can pass on to the people around us.

Think about how words like these could rejuvenate, inspire, and encourage your spouse as they go about the duties and to do’s of every day life. What if I could gently offer him words of love, life, and reconciliation that could bring hope to the dry places of his life and soul?

What Would Jesus Text?

Because sometimes, I wait to share the tenderness and romance with my husband. I wait for the
special occasions instead of threading them through the fabric of every day life as a married couple. But as I look at Jesus’ life, I see how He transformed the plain and ordinary into the sacred and miraculous. He used spit and mud to make a man see, and some loaves of bread and a few fish to fill the bellies and souls of hungry people. I think if Jesus lived in a time where texting was common place, he would have found a way to use text messages to share love and light too.

In marriage we spur one another on. My goal this Fall is to use texting to uplift my husband and to funnel my love and God’s love for him, into his ordinary every day.

What do you think? I’d love to see your most loving, inspiring, or silly texts to the ones you love!

Oh Baby- This is Us

You know all my secrets baby,
The truths that I hold in,
Thanks for keeping quiet baby,
For holding tight my hand.

You know all my crazy baby,
The thoughts behind my smile,
Thanks for knowing the real me baby,
For loving my twisted mind.

You know all my stories baby,
The fire that’s brought us here,
Thanks for guarding the door baby,
For keeping God’s truth always near.

You know me all the way baby,
The whole twisted lovely mess,
Thanks for staying and laughing baby,
For reminding me we’re blessed.

Are You Listening?

are you listeningOn average women speak 20,000 words a day. That’s 13,000 more daily words than our male counterparts! But I would argue that as mothers, we earn every. single. one. of those extra words.

Yet, how often does it feel like our words fall on deaf ears? Especially when we’re asking our kids to put on their shoes, or our husbands to put their laundry in the hamper (not that I’m speaking from personal experience).

We all WANT TO FEEL HEARD.

One of the biggest fights I pick with my husband is when I feel like he’s not listening to me.
(DISCLAIMER: I’m totally guilty of doing the same thing!)

“But hun, I can watch Netflix, type up an email, and listen to every word you say.”

And the amazing thing is, he actually can. The man is actually able to repeat back to me every word I just spoke. And yet. And yet- I don’t feel heard. And maybe thats because I don’t just want my words to be absorbed, but I want my words to accomplish something. I think we all do.

In the past couple weeks I’ve been feeling fearful. With lots of change in our lives I’m letting doubt and fear creep into my thoughts. But I’ve had a song that I sing at the top of my lungs (when I’m home, or driving in the car, not in public-that’s just weird).

“I’M NO LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR, FOR I AM A CHILD OF GOD”

My three year old daughter looks at me like I’m crazy. But then she looks at me like I’m crazy a lot, so I just shrug and take it as a compliment.

But then, last week my little girl was struggling with fears of her own. One day as I stirred the crackling ground beef on the stove, down the hall, I heard a sweet little voice, singing a tune I knew well. It went a little something like this:

“I’M NO LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR, FOR I .AM A CHILD OF GOD.”

I realized, that my words really do stick. Yes ladies, our words stick

As moms we are the encouragers of our homes.

Our words shape and mold our children into the people God has destined them to become.
Our words embolden our husbands to make brave decisions, and to do the right thing.
As daughters, and sisters, and friends, our words inspire each other to keep going, even when life feels too heavy, or our bodies feel to weak.

But at the end of the day, after we’ve pushed and scraped, and given all we have to give, and still feel like we’re coming up short. When we lay our heads on our pillows with our thoughts reeling and accusing and questioning our efforts, our worth, our words– I want us to grab hold of 6 words.

“My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Because God has the last word.
And He looks at us and says- “My child, in my grace…You Are Enough.

A Homemade Kind of Love

Marriage Love

He squeezed my hand as my body shook with pain. I clawed at the sheets as the fire grew in my belly. My breaths came in labored gasps. I tried to focus on the conversation through the static of my throbbing brain, as phrases like “history of anxiety” and “panic attack” jabbed at my consciousness. My rolling eyes found his steady gaze; his clear blue eyes collected tears while his brow knotted together in a question mark. As I took another heaving breath and let out a sob, I anchored myself to the weight of his clear booming voice. “You need to treat her breakthrough pain. Call the doctor and give her something now.”

1930926_618040769213_9604_nWhen your chart says “anxiety” you get other unspoken words that dangle from it like “hypochondriac” and “over-dramatic.” But as the new nurse tried to affix a label and file me away with her other patients, my husband stood firmly in her way. He knew what it looked like when I wore real pain, and he wouldn’t stand by and watch me suffer.

He put his lips on my temple and shushed and rocked me like an injured child. “She’s taking care of it, it will be better soon,” he whispered. I squeezed my eyes shut until the delaudid coursed through my veins making my arms and legs heavy and my mind numb. I drifted off into a painless sleep, my heart wrapped tightly around the man who stood at my side.

My mom always told me “don’t marry the man who makes you feel loved, marry the one who shows you love.” I felt doubly blessed when I met the one who not only made me feel adored, but proved his love by moving his life, packed neatly in his  dusty blue Oldsmobile across 2,000 miles and 6 states.

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In the beginning of our marriage I clung to the butterflies, to the dreams of the future, and the feelings that were so powerful that they fueled me through each day. But as time passes, the butterflies can slowly become dormant, the dreams give way to reality, and the feelings that were once so vibrant, become less palpable. The love that we wrap tightly around ourselves for security, can become threadbare with the trials of time and struggle, and a love once visceral, can become hidden in the fabric of everyday life.

In the happy moments we celebrate our love; in the difficult moments we just love1736_634449585813_7635_n.

What my mom tried to teach me, from the lens of 30 years of marriage, is that love isn’t what we feel, its what we do. The winsome feelings that bubble over when we love someone are light and beautiful and airy and whimsical. But just as bubbles took my breath away as a little girl, they were also illusive; paper thin and fleeting fragments of beauty that popped as I tried to grab hold of them.  What’s left is the love that digs in and makes itself at home. The homemade love thats knit together by the choices we make every day. But also, love is seeing the best in someone when they can’t find their own reflection, and love is knowing what someone needs, when they can’t ask for it themselves.

We don’t always find love in the sparkle of an evening dress  and beside a candlelit dinner, sometimes it surprises us in the warm embrace of a fleece robe and under fluorescent lights in a hospital bed.

10551015_10102951303945063_2314241828432024367_nThe “falling in love” part is easy. Choosing to love someone every day, year after year, that takes hard work and commitment. It’s like comparing new shoes to an old favorite pair. New love is exciting, it’s clean and bright; but, love after success & disappointment, life’s surprises & day-to-day monotony, after realizing dreams & enduring the sharp pain of loss–well that’s the sort of love that you want to slip your feet into after a long day. It knows your grooves, it’s leather is worn and soft, and exquisite. That kind of love is ineffable–it deserves its own place on the shelf.

So to celebrate six years we’ll get a sitter and I’ll wear my heels and he’ll wear a tie and we’ll gaze at each other in the glow of a candle with wine warming our bellies. But I won’t just see my husband’s cleanly shaven face, I’ll also see his boyish smile at the altar, his worried frown as I curl up in a dark room, his awe at holding his two girls, and his tired face after praying with someone for their last time. I’ll know that he’s with me to delight in good food and butterflies, but by God’s grace, he’ll stand watch at my bedside during the seasons when pain intrudes. “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9

 

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Our Life is a Beautiful Mess

dandelion

dear b

I see the trash bag sitting on our flagstone patio and I’m filled with the dull ache of dread. I hate the small trek from my back door to the side yard where the trash cans are kept. Releasing a sigh, I step outside and sling the heavy white bag over my shoulder as I plot through the mounds of dirt and rock. My chest tightens with anxiety as I take in our yard in all its desolate glory. Holes and capsized trees litter the landscape, their stalky roots jutting out like the masts of sailboats.

I hate messes. From a small pile of coffee grounds on my kitchen counter to the chaotic scene of strewn toys and crumbs left behind from one of your playdates, messes make my skin crawl and trigger an immediate impulse to obsessively clean.

But I especially hate in-between messes– the untidiness that comes with an unfinished project. Your dad has the logical thought that there’s no point in cleaning up when a project is “in progress.” We should save the overhaul cleaning for when the job is completed. Part of me agrees, but then there’s the compulsive-anxiety-ridden-super-clean me that can’t stand leaving it. We’ll just say “under construction” is not something I do well with.

Since the birth of your little sister, it feels a bit like our life is under construction. Everyone says, “just survive the first six weeks and things will get better.” As I cocoon her in our home, I anticipate the days we can go in public, the nights when I can sleep, and the morning I can fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans.

You’re struggling with sharing mommy and daddy and making your feelings known in the only way a two year old knows how. With temper tantrums and visits to our bed at night, you ask again and again, “Do you still love me?”  And as we give you love and reassurance, people tell us, “just give it time, when the baby can interact more they’ll get along great.”

So we wait away the days for a moment that our lives will fit the happy family snapshot in our heads or on our Facebook page.

But if I’m honest, isn’t all of life kind of an in-between mess? If I took a snapshot of this moment it would show me, tired and unshowered, you in your underwear and a face smeared with food, and your sister in a spit up crusted onesie, and in desperate need of a bath.

There will always be manic Mondays, grocery lists, and smaller size pants to fit into. And as you and Elyse grow there will always be another milestone to check off, from rolling over, to giggling, to starting kindergarten, going to sleepovers, driving a car, kissing a boy, and graduating high school. But the reality is that life is really the sum of those moments in between. Too often I fix my eyes on the next big thing instead of pulling up a lawn chair and settling down right in the moment I’m living in now.

We’re ripping out the bushes and trees to lay sod in our yard. I dream of the day when the two of you can have a tea party in the grass, or lay on your backs and look at animal shaped clouds. But as I walk from the trash cans to the back door, looking down to carefully avoid tripping in a hole, I see a single dandelion standing proudly in a  mound of dirt and pebbles.

The summer after we were married, your dad and I went to visit his family home in Michigan. As we went through boxes of his old memorabilia, I found a square of crumpled paper that he had thrown discreetly into the “throw away” pile. I smoothed out the angular folds and read the small, boyish writing. It was a poem about finding a person who could look past his imperfections to love him for who he is:

“I’m just a dandelion.                                                                                                     But one day in the distant future,                                                                                    I will sit across the table from the one,                                                                  She will see a flower, when others saw a weed.”

Precious moments are hidden beneath the dirt and pebbles of a life that is under construction. They’re under piles of laundry, and dirty dishes, and unpaid bills if only we have eyes to recognize them. As I sit here in the quiet dawn of morning, I leave an unmade bed and a pile of dishes in the sink. I run my fingers through your hair and watch your sister’s chest rise and fall, her warm little body tucked snugly in the crook of my arm– and I thank God for my garden of dandelions.