Live Today! Lesson’s Learned In Changes of Life’s Seasons

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Our family is in a readjustment phase.  My husband has been gloriously blessed with a new job that so far, after 2 weeks, he seems to adore.  Unfortunately the downside of his new gig is his new schedule.  He is not home nearly as much as we were used to.  Over the past couple of weeks as we’ve made our adjustments I’ve learned a few lessons.

  • I have to plan!  I HATE to plan!  I’d rather just go with the flow and relax.  You know the old saying… “Failing to plan means planning to fail.”  Yeah… I get it!  Without a solid plan in place for each week we end up in chaos.  Meal planning, chore planning, schedule planning, homeschool planning… at least for the time being I feel like almost every detail of our lives has to be planned!
  • I hate 5am but I need that time more than EVER!  Yes, I’m back to waking up before the birds! I hate it!  I thought I left the working world in order to avoid it.  But it works.  I get some time with hubby before he leaves for the day.  I get some reading and prayer time in.  I get my PLAN for the day finalized.  Those hours before my children rise are a gift.  It is worth the sacrifice.
  • I LOVE my crockpot!  Meals made ahead of time, hot and ready to serve despite a time crunch?  Yep, the crockpot is God’s gift to me right now.
  • Maybe cooking isn’t so bad!  My hubby is our chef and our 6 year old is following in Daddy’s footsteps.  I have always really loathed cooking.  Too stressful and too messy! These days though, with a plan… a crockpot… and a little time to think about it… I might just come to like cooking.  At least a little bit.
  • My kids really are amazing helpers.  I sort of think of myself as an orchestra conductor.  I get the whole shebang going and keeping us moving but it is my kiddo’s that really do the work.  They are such a blessing to me.
  • I need Christ more than ever!  I need to lean on Him and draw my strength for my Lord.  If I try to do this all alone though my own power, I will fail.

What is my point?  Why am I sharing this with all of you?  Because I want to inspire you!  I can do more than I ever thought I was capable of and so can my children!  It isn’t all sunshine and roses.  Yes I’ve lost my temper more than a few times this week. My three year old had her share of blood curdling temper tantrums.  My 8 year old gave me his best anti-math tantrum!  Yes, I even had harsh words with my husband. Surely I’m incredibly exhausted.  I did fall asleep at 8pm the other night.  Over all though… I can do this!  I’m very proud of my family right now.  Somehow over the last two weeks we have grown closer to one another and closer to God.

Most importantly, I’m learning that I need to Live for TODAY!

Yes I’m planning planning planning to make every day go as smoothly as I can.  It is in those plans that I am learning to truly love and enjoy each moment with my children (well, maybe not the tantrums) and my husband.  I never know God’s plans for me.  I want to enjoy his blessings as I travel the road.

Now, off to plan NEXT week!

 

Marriage is hard work…the husband’s perspective.

Hi again everyone,  its Todd (Crystal’s less attractive other half).   A few weeks ago my wife wrote an amazing post on our marriage.  Usually I know what she’s writing and when she’s posting it.   This one, however, took me by surprise.   In my opinion, she pretty much nailed it.  Marriage can be hard.  Marriage can also be incredibly rewarding.  Ladies I’m hoping to give you an insight into the male mind.  Don’t be scared, many times there’s not much there.  Men, I’m challenging you to grow in your faith and hopefully point out a few verses that will help.

Our marriage has been a crazy road filled with highs and lows but I knew when I met Crystal in 1996 I knew that she was something special and in 1998 I proposed to her.  It’s been a long windy road full of mostly highs, but definitely our fair share of lows, ever since.

View of Newport Bridge from King Park

View of Newport Bridge from King Park

This is where I proposed to my wife to be.

Why I Think Marriage Is Hard Work For Women

Crystal will not agree with the things I am about to say one bit but my perspective is different.  I believe Crystal is a Proverbs 31 woman.  She believes she still has much to learn before that can be true but I say it is already true.  Striving to live this out is one of the reasons why I think women see marriage as hard work.   Crystal wasn’t always a Proverbs 31 woman, but fortunately for me she has sought God to MAKE her that way.  She seeks Him and he restores her and guides her to be the woman He wants her to be.  Let me show you what I mean by breaking down the qualities I see in her according to scripture.  I could use all of the verses from Proverbs 31 but I’ll highlight a just few of my favorites.

Proverbs 31:11 ‘Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value’   –  Only God himself gives me more than Crystal does on a daily basis.  I trust her with the lives of our children.  She homeschools them and I have no second thoughts on this AT ALL. 31:12 ‘She brings him good, not harm,  all the days of her life.’  – Crystal does everything in love.   (see 1 Corinthians 16:14, which strangely enough led me to write this post)  Crystal seeks to constantly improve herself and bring everyone in the family closer to God.  Proverbs 31:30 ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’   To me this is a command from God.  I often fall short on praising my wife, romancing her.  Sometimes I just have such a thick skull and I don’t get it and she’s left feeling like poop.  (Can I use the word poop on this blog?)  Oh well.

Why I Think Marriage Is Hard Work For Men

Don’t be discouraged ladies, and guys, don’t think you’re off the hook.  God doesn’t just call women to be Proverbs 31 women.  He also calls men to lead and clearly shows men what their responsibility is.  Any man that says Ephesians 5:25-33 is easy doesn’t really get it.  Christ died for the sin of the world because God LOVED the world.  Men we’re supposed to love our wives in that same way, with that much love, that much grace and that much forgiveness.  Whoa. Wait!! As a guy I like the Ephesians 5:22-24 verses and I think when Paul was writing this letter he should have just stopped there.  Wives submit to your husbands.  Sounds like a cushy life to me. But God wants more.  Sigh, there goes the cushy life.  Or does it? Maybe God and his infinite wisdom knows more than a dopey husband like myself.

The Message translation puts verse 25 this way: ‘Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting.’

THIS IS HARD!!! Especially as a man. I’m supposed to love and submit to her as well? Submission means weakness doesn’t it? At least that’s how I think a lot of men think of it.  I’m less of a man if I submit aren’t I?  God says no,  just look at the words of the greatest man himself, Jesus.  John 15:13 ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’   Jesus submitted his life on the cross.  Weak? Hardly.  God expects a husband to love his wife that much? Where’s the towel to throw in? Where’s the bell to ring out?  How in the world am I supposed to match that?

For me this is where things often go south.  I’ve never really been good at the romantic stuff.   Want my latest lame excuse?  How can I love my wife as much as Christ loved the church? I think I can’t.  So if it can’t be elaborate and big and fancy and have a huge ‘wow’ factor it wouldn’t happen.   Leave her a little love note? Rub her feet just because? Let her know I’m thinking of her when we are apart?  What is that compared to how I really think of her?  So nothing would happen.  Guys,  this is where we need to step it up.  A little note,  flowers for no reason other than to say you’re thinking of her,  picking up your junk before she asks you.  Are these things hard to do? No? Are they hard for men to remember to do? YES!  Not because we don’t love our wives.  Not because we don’t want to make them feel good, but because our minds just don’t work that way.  We want to fix worldly problems! You’re sad? Let me DO something and make you happy? So ladies, give us some grace.  We’re wired differently.  Understand that if your husband wants to fix the problem its his way of showing you he cares.  Yes we know we can’t always fix it and we even know that on very rare occasions when there is a blue moon, we’re the real problem.

How Can We As Men Get Better?

Do I fall short on living up to Ephesians 5? YES!! Men, if you’re not serving and loving your wife the way God has called you I ask that you first starting seeking Him.   I need to do this daily and many days I still fall short.  Start by memorizing Ephesians 5:25.  Learn it in multiple translations.   Expand on it with the rest of Ephesians 5.  Then maybe hop over to 1 Corinthians 13.   The more you connect with God the deeper you can connect with your wife.  Marriage is hard, but when as a couple you’re working together and seeking God together things can be a whole lot easier.

Tell us about your marriage! Are there verses that you strive to live by?  Have you found something that works for you?  Have your tried other things and failed.  What inspires you and your love?  Leave a comment… we want to hear about it!

 

Marriage is Hard! Or 7 Ways To Keep Your Marriage Strong

7 Ways To Keep Your Marriage Strong

Can I just say it? Marriage is the absolute hardest thing I’ve done.  It’s harder than birthing 3 babies.  Harder than homeschooling.  Harder than running a business.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Now please, don’t get me wrong or start any rumors.  I thank God every day for He gave me an absolutely wonderful husband and we have a very very strong marriage.  I am blessed by my husband every single day all day long.  In my mind my husband rises the moon and sets the sun.  There is none other like him.  But he is flawed just like I am and every other human being on earth is.  It’d be dishonest to not admit that sometimes our flaws clash with one another and there isn’t a little lightening and thunder.  But somehow, even when circumstances throw our marriage toward the ditch, we pull through and correct our course.

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How do we do that?  It is a funny thing because I felt led to write this post and share a little bit with you about how we keep our marriage on the right road, but as my fingers start to type I’ll admit that I’m not even 100% sure of what to say.  First of all, I’m no marriage expert.  My bachelors degree in psychology did not exactly prepare me to be a counselor or even and adviser   So please, take what I say with a grain of salt.  Keep what works for you and toss what doesn’t.

Onward then… How do we make our marriage work? 7 Ways To Keep Your Marriage Strong.

1.  We go to bed together, at the same time, every single night.  We snuggle and cuddle and chit chat about the day.  It’s our quiet alone time.  It is the one time we can usually be assured that we can speak without interruption.  It is a piece of the glue that holds us together.

2.  We have rules for arguing.  We do not tolerate mean spirited arguing, name calling, or even much yelling.  Notice I said much yelling?  I’ll admit, I’m the first to break this rule.  I’m not perfect at this and neither is my husband, but we strive to be the best we can be.

3. We are always on the same page.  Whether it be parenting, finances, values, or expectations.  We do everything we can to stay aligned.  This is part of the hard part because we don’t always agree with each other and that is where number 4 comes in…

4. We submit to one another.  There are just times when whatever the issue is isn’t worth laying down and dying over.  Sometimes I need to submit to my husband as the head of our household, although you should know I will not do so if I do not believe he has heard me and considered my opinion thoroughly.  On the flip side he too must submit to me as his wife when the right occasion arises.  For example I am the expert authority on our homeschool and my business.  At times I  keep a closer eye on our finances than he is able to.  Final decisions on these often, though not always, rests with me.

5. We put the other above ourselves and OH MAN CAN THIS BE HARD!  I am the first to admit I tend toward laziness and I can even be a bit selfish.  But if my husband is in need, he comes above all else.

6. We pray for each other!  Seriously! Stop and think about this.  If you are honestly and earnestly in conversation with God asking the Almighty One in heaven to bless your spouse, and take care of him, and protect him, and lead him in this world according to God’s will….how do you think this will make you feel about your husband?   I can’t hold a grudge or stay irritated after I’ve asked God to pour His love over my husband.  I end up being filled with my own love renewed for the man I married.

7.  And most importantly, but certainly related to number 6 above… we keep God at the center of our marriage.  My husband is only human, he will fail me.  Can I go so far as to say he HAS failed me in the past?  I will fail and have already failed him as well.  When you are filled with all that you need by Jesus himself those failures just don’t seem like such a big deal after a while.  Jesus was the most selfless servant to ever walk the earth.  He forgives me for all of my failures and all of my wrongs. What a perfect model to follow in my marriage.   I am called to forgive just as Jesus forgave me.

I can’t imagine my life without my husband.  On the day I said my ‘I Do’ on that alter I truthfully  had no idea just how much work marriage would take.  I see it too in the starry eyed gazes of my brides and grooms as I photograph their wedding days.  I pray for them that they learn what I have learned…. your husband is so worth the hard work it takes to keep your marriage strong.  Your husband deserves your best and your children deserve a mother and a father who work together.  Marriage is the hardest thing you will ever do and it is also greatest thing you will ever do.

I thank God for the gift of my marriage every day.  I’d love to pray for you and your marriage.  Leave me a comment or send me an email.


 

Happy Birthday To My Fabulous Husband!

Yep! My hubby has a birthday today!  That means he is now as old as I am…. because you know I’m a whole month older than he is!  My children cannot wrap their brains around this.  The biggest person is ALWAYS the oldest right?

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The kiddos gave him homemade cards this morning.  We’ll be doing a nice dinner too… at some point.  This crazy snow is still making getting out and about difficult.  More on that later.

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Ah.. isn’t my family adorable first thing in the morning!  Gotta love them! Happy birthday to my amazing husband Todd.  He’s helped me grow so much with all of his love and support.  I can’t imagine my world without him.  Amazing husband and amazing father.  What more can a wife ask for!

Send him birthday love ok?

 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

I’m a Scrooge! I admit it! While I absolutely adore the Christmas season I absolutely detest decorating for it. The only think I dislike more would be UNDECORATING in January. I just really wish I could snap my fingers and be done with it. My bad attitude leads me to put the whole thing off each year as long as I can.

The truth is I’m too cheap to put any real money into really doing my Christmas decorations justice. I lack the time needed to create things inexpensively. Plus I have 6 little hands that are just itching to take apart anything I do manage to put together. So, I’m just never really pleased with the outcome. My home is really just a mishmash of stuff I’ve just sort of acquired over the years. A lot of it came from former students back in my teaching days. It’s hard on my creative spirit to live with… blah.

One of these years I’m going to make it right. But this year isn’t that year. I think I keep telling myself my kids are still too young. It isn’t fair to them to have a Scroogey Mommy so I did tell myself I’d suck it up for their sake. They were so excited to get the tree put up! I had to remind myself that they don’t see mishmash… they see Christmas magic. I’ve decided I need to look at the world through their eyes.

I did pick up a few extra strings of lights just to put a bit more umph into our home. I do think one of these years I’ll buy out the store and just light up about every inch. That might just be enough to make me happy.

Our tree is up and so are all of our decorations. This just might be a record! I think we waited until the 22nd of December the year Noah was born. I really am trying harder.

 

PS. It’s now been more than 24 hours since I wrote this post and we finished our decorating.  I’m singing a different tune today.  While I don’t have a magazine style super creative Christmas display… I do think it feels very comfortable.  I did add a lot of lights this year.  I think I really like how things came out.  Actually, dare I say I love it!  I love the lights! I’m definitely adding more next year!

All Boy! There is nothing quite like a boy and a dog!

My mother recently adopted two sweet puppies.  My boys were just ACHING to go and meet them.  Noah instantly took to Harmony!  I think it was love at first sight!

 

Photo Challenge Submission

She Stole My Heart! My Baby Turned 2!

I am blessed to have three beautiful, healthy, and happy children. As each of them came into my world I fell over myself in love. They are as different as could be yet they share many of the same characteristics. My three have a pretty distinct look, especially as infants. Take one look and you know they are siblings.

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My boys are awesome! Full of life and always rambunctious. They always strive to be just like Daddy. I was always struck by how the mimicked him. I remember as a little toddler Noah would wrap himself in his Daddy’s belt and even take his Daddy’s pager and try to clip it to himself as he had seen their father do countless times. They wanted to dress like Daddy, walk like Daddy, and do whatever Daddy did. It was amazing and humbling. They watch us so closely. Once in a while they might try to be like Mommy, but really the sun rose and set around Daddy.

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Then in just before Christmas in 2009 we were told we were having a baby girl. I was absolutely shocked and beside myself. I only knew boys. I couldn’t imagine being the Mommy of a girl. I was absolutely elated for sure. But it was an idea I needed to get used to.

Fast forward now about two and half years. We celebrated that little girls second birthday. The last two years have been a dream. We named this baby Joyanna and the name fits her perfectly as she is an absolute JOY! Since the day she was born she has just been a happy, easy going, joyful presence in our lives. Now don’t get me wrong, she is two! She DOES behave just like any other two year old complete with full blown screaming temper tantrums and moments of independence that make me want to rip my hair out.

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What has amazed me, beyond a doubt, is how much she tries to be just like ME! I thought the boys watched me closely! That is absolutely nothing compared to the microscope I believe she keeps me under. She mother’s her babies just like I mother her. She insists on wearing clothes that resemble mine. She carries a purse over her shoulder just like I do. She even strives to wear her hair the way I do… only she doesn’t have enough yet so it doesn’t really work out very well.

How humbling! Yet how scary! I know that she is developing an idea of herself and her place in the world based on what she sees in me and how I interact with the world. If I’m secure, confident, and comfortable with myself then chances are she will be too. Knowing that I have such an influence makes me stand up and pay attention.

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I once read that Daddy’s have greatest influence on boys and Mommy’s have the greatest influence on girls. I can certainly see how that is true right in my own home. My husband and I remind each other of this often.

So my mini-me turned two. My heart breaks because my baby is growing. But I’m totally enjoying the experience.

She’s My Banana!

It has been a while since I shared to my blog. I have lots of sessions and weddings and other things just waiting to find their way out onto the big wide web. I think I better do some rearranging of life to make the time to do just that. In the meantime, enjoy my Banana. She just eats up Mommy’s heart with that smile! The little stinker!

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Oh Christmas!

This might just be my very most favorite photo from our Christmas festivities. I just adore these hats! And I love how my brother-in-law Steve hopped into the photo too. I’m sure this is one we’ll all look back on with a smile! So there you have it! My silly holiday photo! I hope it brought a smile to your face, even for just a moment.

 

Friends for Life!

Anyone who visits my blog even just occasionally is well acquainted with my crew of 3 amazing kids.  They consume most of my life so it is only natural that I speak of them often.  Like any Momma I am just as proud as anything over most anything they do.  I’m blessed to be able to homeschool them and as a result we share just about every moment of life together.  It is a pretty incredible life.

What everyone might not realize is that I was raised pretty much as an only child.  I’ve had a number of step-sisters, some of whom are no longer in my life, but none of which that I ever had the pleasure of living with full time.  It was mostly always just me, myself, and I.  I can’t really complain as my Mom did absolutely everything possible for me.  My mother’s choice to have just one was probably one of her most wise decisions given the hand life dealt her.  We did pretty well together, a team of sorts.  I wouldn’t change it for the world as my childhood made me who I am today.

But I have a different vision for my own children.  I live a life that allows for us to have many children.  (3 is many in relative context to being raised as an only child)  Since I can give it to them, I want them to have the experience of being a part of a larger family complete with brothers or sisters.  So that is just what I have done.  Two boys and a girl! Are we done? I don’t know.  I can’t say either way.  The door certainly isn’t closed but at the same time, I am immensely enjoying the family we have right now.  Time will tell.

One of my biggest hopes for my children is that they develop a friendship and a closeness between them that will last forever.  I know friends will come and go.  Siblings are forever.  So far so good!  They ADORE each other.  So much so that it is, occasionally…. a bit annoying!  The boys are hardly ever separated and are generally not happy when they are.  The two of the fawn over Joyanna like crazy!  Sometimes I just have to send them away so the poor girl can BREATH!  They laugh and they play together pretty much all day every day.  They share triumphs and defeats.  They cheer each other on and pat each other the back when the inevitable bumps of life knock them down.  And…. they fight!  Yes indeed they do!  We have our fair share of yelling and screaming and he said she said he did she did I don’t want him to…..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  But it never lasts more than a few minutes.

Friends for life!  I hope and pray that will be true!

 

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