These Days

It’s definitely about time for a personal update around here. While Micah has been a newborn I have been very busy trying to figure him out. He’s a tricky one. And then there’s Noah, a 1 1/2 year old who spend his days trying to convince me he is actually in his “terrible twos.” I haven’t had a lot of spare time to sit down and think about writing.

I loooove my boys. Love them. But I will always be one of the first to throw up her hands and admit motherhood is tough. It’s killing me, ya’ll.

But it’s killing me in the way that it should. I have little to no time for “me things.” (Let’s just not talk about how neglected my eyebrows have become.) I feel incredibly awesome when I get to take a shower, and when I get a shower TWO days in a row, I want to write it on my calendar (it’s that momentous).

I am dying a slowww painful death to “me.” Not by choice, mind you. If it were up to me, I would be painting my nails the perfect winter shade, sipping my Starbucks, and watching Parenthood right now. What I’m actually doing is  sitting on the floor next to an almost three month old who is trying to roll over, typing with one hand around the toddler in my lap, and watching Curious George. And my nail color is two weeks old and chipped to high heaven.

But it’s good, guys. It is SO good. Lately, the phrase “taste and see that the Lord is good” has been floating through my head. It’s just so true. Parenting is a “taste.” It’s hard and I honestly don’t know how people without Jesus can do it. When everyone is screaming, pooping, and spitting up all together and I feel like crying, I look at my ceiling and plead with my Father. Helllllllppp mee pleeeeeese.

And he always does. Whether he extends my patience, gives my heart a refresher, or soothes the crying babies. Sometimes I feel no help and so I put my head down and do what needs to be done. I focus and hustle. And probably still feel discouraged and overwhelmed. But later that day I will get a text or a phone call from a friend that lifts me up and puts me back where I should be. Yep, God is GOOD. I’m tasting and seeing.

In other family news, Connor and I are good. We are loving Colorado and our sweet little townhouse. It is perfect in every way….except for how the fireplace’s chimney is apparently blocked. So when we lit a cozy fire this weekend our whole downstairs filled with smoke. That was STRESSFUL. HA. The scent of camping is now gone and someone is coming to clean the flue out on Friday. Thank goodness.

I am much better at doing updates on instagram, so please follow me there if you want to know more! ;)

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We are failing at marriage

I have failed my husband. My husband has failed me.

And we are not alone. It is happening in every. single. marriage.

Failure.

When Connor and I were married three years ago, we included in our ceremony one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 14:4-7

I could not wait to share that kind of love with my sweet and wonderful husband for the rest of my life.

In the months following our wedding, we did everything we could to build a fortress around our marriage to keep evil out. We prayed together – over our marriage and each other. I felt so safe in our relationship.

Not to say our first year wasn’t rough. It was. Learning to respond with love and grace, regardless of our emotional state, was an incredible challenge.  But we really loved each other so, when those lessons of humility kept coming, we did our best to welcome them with open arms. Because, after all, love is not self-seeking. We made real progress. It was precious and beautiful progress towards maturity in our love and the ways we related to each other.

The scary thing, friends, is that all marriages are at risk of Satan’s influences. Even (and especially) the strong ones.

See, while we were “building” our marriage, I was still feeling “failed.” Things would happen between us that hurt me. Every time I would say, “I forgive you,” and would really want to mean it, but the hurt lingered in my heart and refused to go away. So I became passive in my love towards my husband. Eventually, I did not feel loved and I did not want to forgive my husband anymore. The trust we had on our marriage day had been dismantled.

I knew I wanted to repair our marriage to what it had been before the broken trust, but I kept getting lost. I willed my heart to forgive him. I prayed desperately for God to help me and heal our marriage. I thought I was making little steps of progress. However, there was still hurt and anger brewing inside me that quietly bided its time and built up potency – until one day, when it burst like an ugly pus-filled wound.

While driving myself to a meeting for work, I was overwhelmed with what had happened to my once beautiful love-filled life. I was MAD. I could not accept that my marriage was flawed and always would be. I could not believe that I had “chosen” to forgive my husband.  He needed to know my wrath, my disappointment, and my hurt in full force. He did not deserve to be forgiven. He deserved to know EXACTLY how he’d hurt me and to be punished. I had let him off too easy. Guys, these kind of thoughts are not unique to me. This is the human condition. Human nature longs, with an ugly bitterness, for retribution when we are wronged. So when all of these thoughts attacked my heart, Satan won a battle in those moments. I was seething and it was ugly. I was failing my husband. I had been offering him conditional love. “Mmm, I’m only going to love you completely if you do right by me, all the time. Otherwise, forget it.”

Drowning, I cried out to God with an utterly broken soul. And when I was done, he spoke to me very clearly. Very. He said, “Dearest, this is not your burden. I am the one who deals out judgments in righteousness. It is not your job to make sure your husband ‘learns his lesson.’ I have you in my hand, sweet one, and you are loved. I have your husband in my hand and he is loved. Do not despair – all will be well. You do not know what Connor and I are working through right now. I am with him. This anger is not for your own hands. You can release it to me.”

Finally, I was able to unclench the fist I had been choking my heart with. I began to realize that my husband is and will forever be a human. All humans are broken and imperfect vessels. That is where the true beauty of marriage in Christ begins. I did not marry a perfect man – he will never be a perfect man. He did not marry a perfect woman – I will never be a perfect woman. Spouses will fail each other. It is unavoidable.

From that point on, forgiving him for the things I had held on to was something I chose to do over and over again, every day. You see, sometimes, true forgiveness is a commitment you must choose to act on with every thought in your head and word in your mouth. Forgiveness is WORK. One step forward, two steps back, rinse, repeat.

As Christians we are told to love each other like Christ loves us. Christ loved ME so much that he died for me. Regardless of the fact I have sinned against him and spit on that gift in more ways than I can name. That he loves me, regardless of anything, is a truth that I know to be infallible. I have found only love and grace from Christ, so shouldn’t that be what my spouse receives from me? No matter what wrong has been committed. The “big” or “small” of the wrong does not matter. Our choice to forgive though – that matters.

There is a blood that covers over all of our offenses and imperfections. Both of our slates have been wiped clean. Our marriage has been wiped clean. While we are imperfect – GOD IS PERFECT!!! When we look to our spouses to complete us, we fail. When we look to Christ to complete us and choose daily to love each other with grace and forgiveness because God loved us – then, our marriage is daily renewed, deepened, and made into something more beautiful than you can imagine.

I LOVE my husband more than when we got married. I have more compassion for my husband than I ever thought possible. We work harder at our marriage than most. We refuse to fail. Having been to a fragile place in our relationship, we know we never want to be there again. We are strong, in Christ. We are imperfect, but we are willing and eager to love each other unconditionally.

This is why failure is happening in every marriage: because we are human. We are selfish. If you feel that failure in your marriage, my heart aches for you. I want you to know that you can have your marriage back. I want you to know you can find healing. It is not easy and it is not quick, but you can get there. It starts with forgiveness. Long-term whole-hearted forgiveness, that only Christ can give you the strength to follow through with.

Do you have a story about forgiveness and marriage? Questions? I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment below or send me an email at thegracefilledhome@gmail.com

Your husband deserves

Your husband deserves to be loved by you.

He might be cranky, he might be sweet, he might be overwhelmed, you might feel like he’s overlooking you. It doesn’t matter.

As wives, we are called to serve, help, give grace to, and believe in our husband.

And here’s the deal, our love should be consistent. It should supersede our circumstance (bad day, good day, weird day).

Ugh. So hard for me. I absolutely love my husband, but I also have ALL the feelings and they get in the way of expressing that love. I get mad, tired, irritated, overwhelmed, etc on the DAILY. Usually, Connor gets the brunt of my negative emotions. Enough said about that, hm?

Yesterday, I remembered that. I remembered that on the day I chose to marry Connor I had committed to choosing EVERY day to love him. So last night I left a fresh package of candy canes (his fave) and a short love letter on his pillow to let him know that I remembered. Then I dropped my phone in the pumpkin latte scented candle I lit for ambiance. Oops.

I encourage you to do the same. Love on your spouse for no reason (but maybe don’t drop your phone in hot wax…). Because when we married our wonderful, hard-working, human and flawed husbands we chose them for the rest of our lives.

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When they won’t. stop. crying.

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We were 15 minutes into our drive home and my two boys were in the middle of an “I’m more upset AND I’m louder” battle with no end in sight. With 15 more minutes of our ride to go, I juuuust about lost it.

In these kinds of brain rattling situations I always find myself in prayer. Prayers of desperation, usually. “Pleeeease let them stop crying. Bring their little bodies peace and healing. Give me strength to act appropriately and patience.” Repeat, repeat, repeat.

That particular day, in the middle of repeating this prayer for the 6th time, I realized that these moments of mommy desperation that bring me to my knees more often than any other moment, are opportunities to cover Micah and Noah in life-bringing prayers. Prayers for their future, their souls, their strengths and weaknesses. If I can just be aware of those moments when I feel overwhelmed and then switch my focus to things that matter in Christ’s kingdom, I can intercede spiritually on my children’s behalf  and ask Christ to bless them with the love and protection that is only available through him. That simple change of perspective has also helped me treat my children with the respect and love they deserve in those moments, which is so much better for them then the dying fumes of a mother overwhelmed.

Rather than focusing on what is temporary, shouldn’t we spend our time focusing on “kingdom” things? Things that are REAL and LASTING? When kids won’t stop crying, when dinner is terrible (again), when you run out of money for the month, when things just stink….it is so easy to pray. And you should pray. But choose your words and focus carefully, if you can. Prayer is powerful and we should be careful where we spend the majority of our time in it.

It is embarrassing that I have lifted “moments” up to Christ more often than I have lifted my precious children’s salvation. But that is about to change!

Joy and Thankfulness

I know I should have that birth story up by now. But. You know. Something about a toddler and a baby. It’ll show up here eventually. Promise. ;)

I miss blogging regularly. So I’m dropping in to give you a “life currently” post.

I was way cocky before having Micah. I thought I could handle two kids, no problem. WRONG. Currently, I have been unable to….

Since writing that last half-sentence I have changed three diapers, been thrown up on, spit up on (yes, there is a difference), peed on, intercepted a meltdown via a nap, and nursed Micah. So I imagine you get the idea of where I was headed before the interruption.

I so was not prepared for this new phase of motherhood.

I can tell you though, that there is an ever-growing joy and thankfulness in this kind of all-out exhausting effort of love. Thankfulness for help from family,  joy of new-ness.

And that is all I have time for this morning. Joy and thankfulness.

Hello, hormones.

I have spent the last couple of days in awe of those super mommies who have four kids in four years. Like. Major awe.

Yesterday my mother left the house for a half hour (which was my first time alone with the two kiddos) and it took everything in me not to ugly cry when she walked back in the door.

Inevitably, they had both woken up as soon as she drove off. And they both needed me. Right then. Noah didn’t understand why he had to share my lap with Micah (who I was feeding) and so, he started crying and trying to hit his little brother. Then Micah started crying. When Noah realized I was not going to put Micah down, nor was he going to get a larger piece of my lap, he jumped up and started walking around the living room sniffling and looking completely neglected. So my mommy heart just broke and I spent the rest of the day feeling bad for bringing another human into the world and interrupting Noah’s childhood. How can I love Noah the same way as before? How does Micah fit into this picture? I mourned the loss of constant one-on-one time with my child.

Yes, I realize the craziness of those feelings. I know my firstborn will be just fine, and that my life is even richer now that I have two perfect sons. But I definitely did not feel that way yesterday. Hello, post-pregnancy hormones. I also felt the need to wake Connor up in the middle of the night to cry and tell him what a great dad and husband he was, how much I appreciate him, and how sorry I was for not being a good wife and blah blah. I’m sure he doesn’t even remember, considering how late it was and how my babbling could have easily been confused for an incoherent newborn crying.

Change is hard for me. I thought the transition from a family of three to a family of four would be easy (because apparently, I’m crazy). But it’s okay that it’s not. This too shall pass. And I find a lot of hope in the fact that I am called to wait on the Lord for strength. I might not have a lot of emotional strength right now, but I am praying and waiting and I know that strength will come.

Soon, I will not feel like crying when left alone with my two little ones. But for now, I am overwhelmed. And for the moment, that is okay. I’ll just wait and wonder how those super mommies do it.

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He’s here!

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Micah Nolan Boyce has arrived. He was born on September 11, at 10:23 pm after only 15 minutes of pushing. At 8 lbs and 15 oz, all the nurses were exclaiming at how “big” he was (I didn’t think 8 lbs was considered big?!). Since he came so fast, he didn’t have a chance to squeeze some excessive fluid out of his lungs and we live at a fairly high altitude, hence the oxygen He should be off it by next week.  Keep watch for his birth story soon!!

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