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

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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via

 

Community Brew | He will provide

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I really enjoyed reading Madison’s opening words to this installment of the Community Brew link-up.

God DOES do big things. Absolutely. And I seek his provision daily and earnestly.

But Madison asked, was I seeking God with “open hands?”

Nope. Big negatory on that one.

I am a close-fisted seeker. What I have, I want to keep and have no intention of letting go.

I am devastated when He “takes” something away from me. Like a child. However, one of the the verses Madison shared got right to the heart of my emotional immaturity.

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9
 
 

God is not cruel. He is greater. Greater than me, greater than circumstance, greater than all things. He can see beyond. When He comes to me, and asks me to have open hands, He is not “taking” from me. He is making room. Greater room for greater things.

God has always provided for me. He has given me all I need and more. I have absolutely no reason not to trust Him when He asks for some things back. I should know better. Because HE knows better.

My greatest obstacle to seeking Christ with open hands is money. One of the subjects God is SO specific about in the Bible. Men and women who give their last pennies to God, without looking back, are praised and always provided for. Men and women who hoard their money are passed over and punished (Ananais and Sapphira, anyone?). That knowledge should be plenty motivating for me and yet, when it comes time to tithe I struggle. When I see someone sitting on a street corner, asking for help, I struggle. When I am asked to support a child in Africa, I struggle.

I have PLENTY of things I need to use my money on. “God-money” comes out last (and, as a result, usually has a $0 balance).

How unbelievably backwards and selfish is that?!?

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

Matthew 6: 25-26

 

Thank you Madison, for such eye-opening words!!

 

Linking up with Madison and Rachel. Thank you, ladies!

 

When your toddler drops your iphone in the toilet.

I did not have a super day.

Bleh. I don’t like admitting that. I’d rather post about how awesome everything is or how I learned this great lesson about parenting/marriage.

But today just wasn’t one of those days.

I woke up with Connor this morning, packed his lunch and kissed him goodbye. I am so proud of that man for working as hard as he does. I love waking up at the same time as him and squeezing in a few more minutes with him. So, despite the rest of the day, my morning was really nice. :)

Then Noah woke up and the day began, full tilt. I was loving life, feeding my little one breakfast, unloading the dishwasher, singing along with the sesame street radio station. After breakfast I put Noah on the floor to play and started cleaning his high chair. I turned to the sink to wash the removable tray off and then I heard it.

Clunk.

And I knew Noah had sprinted his little self to the bathroom and flung his hand into the toilet. He’s been doing that lately. And so, lately,  I’ve been gagging a lot. And washing his hands with soap for very long amounts of time. And keeping the bathroom door closed. Except I forgot this morning.

And this time, it wasn’t just his hand. It was his hand AND my iphone. Clunk. All the way to the bottom. I was not a happy camper.

It did not turn back on. And it makes me so sad to say this – but that totally ruined my day. And I was not the best mommy I could be. I felt like I was cut off from the world and OH MY GOSH  I couldn’t post anything to instagram! The phone is currently sitting in a bag of rice, but I don’t anticipate positive results in the morning. And I was a major grump all day. Patience did not flow freely.

Connor came home to find Noah and I sitting on the doorstep, waiting so very very eagerly for him to get there. We sat down to dinner and I told him, while holding back ridiculous tears for a PHONE, what had happened and that we didn’t buy insurance on the phone and I didn’t think we would be able to replace it and I didn’t even get a chance to shower today and *pathetic little sob*. My handsome husband told me to go take a long shower and that he would handle all of Noah’s bedtime routines by himself. I resisted a little, but really, that was exactly what I needed. So I accepted my husband’s gracious generosity. And I took a reeeeaally long hot shower. I even tried to laugh at myself for being so upset over a phone…too soon though. ;)

And now I’m trying to figure out what I can take from today. Heres what I’ve got so far….

1) Do not try to compensate for your depression by going to Goodwill to look for a rocking chair for the nursery. A divine intervention on behalf of your financial situation will occur and all of the store’s furniture will be gone. Really.

2) Do not rely on instagram as your main social outlet.

2) Do everything in your power to love and teach your son well, even when he makes you crazy upset.

3) Do not try a new recipe for dinner on days when everything has gone wrong. Just. Don’t.

4) Do always be extremely thankful for a husband who is gracious and loving.

5) Do pray. Pray often and hard during those hard days.

Thank goodness His mercies are new every morning. 

I am going to set this burden down tonight with prayer and more prayer. There is no need for me to carry this awful-no-good day with me into tomorrow.

Goodnight, friends. Sleep sweet and wake fresh.

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Taking the time to be his mother

I was sitting down, resting my swollen pregnant feet. Checking my email, scrolling through blogs, and generally enjoying my quiet Noah-free time. My mother (Nana) was playing with Noah in another room. After awhile I realized they had both been laughing themselves silly almost the whole time they were together. Instead of investigating, I stayed where I was. I was pretty sure my me-time was way more important than whatever they were discovering together.20140729-224544-81944269.jpg

He was learning how to somersault. He would stand up and bend over until his little head was resting on the ground. Then my mother would roll the rest of his body over. His squeals of joy were endless. He LOVED this new activity. My mother and my son did this again and again and again. Neither of them growing tired of it. My one-year-old even somersaulted by himself at one point. It was the most precious thing in the world. And, he will never somersault “for the first time” again.

I know all this because, eventually, I did get up. I peeked my head around the corner and beheld that heart-warming scene. I didn’t need to participate. But I did need to watch. I will hold in my heart that memory of those two dear faces, nearly tear-soaked with laughter, playing together on the floor.

It was goodness.

It was beautiful.

It was priceless.

Sometimes, getting “me-time” is very important. It invigorates and focuses me. I remember my priorities, my God, my purpose. But lately, I have been focusing too much on my alone time. There are a lot of things quickly coming up in our life that are consuming my thoughts (like baby #2’s arrival in a little over a month…), and it has become difficult to live in the moment. I don’t think a life lived entirely “in the moment” is good – we all benefit from some  planning and preparation – however, a life too planned is no life at all, in my opinion. Lately I have been spending most of my time making lists and very little of my time just letting Noah and I “be.” 20140729-224545-81945138.jpg

If I had been watching Noah that afternoon, I doubt we would have somersaulted together. I probably would have been trying to figure out which store to buy diapers at most cost-effectively while Noah played with a race car.

As I was watching this sweet scene and my heart was spilling over with joy, I realized that I am going to fast and too slow at the same time. I am looking into the future almost exclusively and spending all my time in the present preparing for the future. Yikes. What a mouthful.
But really, God told me he clothed the beautiful flowers and he feeds the carefree birds – He has ALWAYS done this and He ALWAYS will. So why do I dwell so much on making sure things are prepared, perfect and “ready”? Human nature I guess.

But I am writing this to keep myself accountable. I don’t want to miss special moments with my son because I am wrapped up in my head. I want to be fully with him most of the time. If I have to spend a few minutes thinking about legitimately important things, I am completely fine with that. However, I am going to focus my efforts (especially in the next few weeks before we add another member of our family) on loving my son (and husband!) without borders and being truly present.

I can’t believe I get to be this little guys mother. It is the biggest blessing I have ever received. It’s time I started acting that way.

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Sadie Sky Boutique

 

Becoming a SAHM…and why it’s harder than I thought it would be

We are officially settled into our new home. We live in a cute and quiet condo close to the mountains. We absolutely LOVE the location. We are 10 minutes from the zoo, Garden of the Gods, and all sorts of hikes. It’s wonderful.

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We do not, however, have air conditioning. And last night I was downstairs on the couch until 4 a.m. because it was so unbearably hot in our room upstairs. So miserable. I’m sure I won’t even notice come September 7, when I no longer have a little heater in my belly. A window air conditioner may be in our future. Out of absolute necessity. ;)

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The biggest transition for me has been transitioning into a stay-at-home mom. I worked full-time in South Dakota. I was gone from 8-5 every week day since he was 3 months old. It broke my heart, because all I have wanted to do for years, is be a home maker and a mother. So when it became clear after Noah was born that it was best for our family if I worked during that time, I was fairly devastated. BUT, I surprised myself. I actually liked going to work. I liked taking a shower every morning and putting on nice clothes. I liked getting out of the house when stress was high from a sleepless night. It still broke my heart to leave him (although it was easier because I was able to leave him with my mother almost every day), but I liked having a purpose outside of the house.

Now, my job is my home. And it is a lot harder than I expected it to be. It is difficult to know, at the end of the day, whether I have done my job well. Did I do the laundry to completion? Did I vacuum all the crumbs? Did I sweep the kitchen? Did I play with my son? Did I give him intellectual stimulation? Did I give him balanced meals throughout the day? Did I show him how much I love him? Did I welcome my husband into a peaceful home? Did I prepare a dinner that filled him? Did I soak in the time we had that evening as a family? Did I appreciate my husband enough?

Most days I don’t know the answers.

But that’s okay.

What I do know, is that I am so thankful for the chance to pour into my son and husband. I am thankful to serve God by maintaining the food, finances, and upkeep of my home.

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I’m not super talented at any aspect of homemaking. But I am excited to work my fanny off at it. Because I love that little boy and that handsome man.

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In other news, that little dude is now walking. And practicing his running. Oh dear. ;)

Coffee Date

If we were having coffee right now, I’d be so grateful for your company. I haven’t been out of the house for anything besides work or errands for too long. I go to work in the morning, come home in the evening, spend precious, precious time with my almost one-year –old (WHAT?!), dinner-bath-bottle-bed (with snuggles in-between). Then I go facetime my hubby, watch an episode of House, and welcome sweet sleep. Life is far from mundane and I’m loving it, but I don’t have much time to do “other” stuff. So. My heart needs a good sit-down. Thank you for sharing the coffee, friend.

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you I can’t believe my baby is almost a toddler. Almost one. Almost walking. It shocks me. He loves smushing his face on me, whether it be in my lap when we’re playing on the floor or in my shoulder while I’m carrying him. I wrap those moments up tightly and don’t plan on every letting them go. He “drives” everything. Books, balls, measuring cups, giraffes, etc. He grasps it in his chubby right hand and pushes it with him wherever he goes. He is, certainly, a boy.

I’d tell you I hate maternity clothes. Especially maternity jeans. The elastic goes up so high and squeezes my belly (no it’s not too tight, my skin just gets REALLY sensitive while pregnant. Even really light pressure drives me crazy.) and makes me miserable. I am really excited to be able to wear yoga pants as much as possible once we move and I don’t have to go into an office anymore.

And speaking of not going into an office – I am in awe of God’s blessings right now. IN AWE. Connor and I just got accepted into a condo yesterday. A condo that is both in a safe neighborhood and the exact right price that I shouldn’t need to work. I may take on part-time employment to help make extra payments on things, but I don’t HAVE TO. I can be a “home manager” and mommy. My absolute DREAM!!! While I cannot express the sadness I feel at putting ten hours between my parents and us (that sounds wrong…parents and us? Us and them? We? Hmm…), I also cannot deny God’s hand in these events. If we were having coffee, I’d be gushing right now. J

If we were having coffee, I would probably regret ordering sugary drink because it always sounds sooo good, but one sip in and I’m wishing for a plain latte. Silly girl.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I have an impressive list of fears for the move and transition. Finding a new doctor and hospital, unpacking, finding a pediatrician I love, feeding Noah well-balanced meals, keeping my house clean, managing our new budget, and oh my word I could go on for hours. BUT THEN I’d tell you that I cannot justify holding onto those fears any longer. God has provided perfectly already. PERFECTLY. I have no needs. I have only a heart of thanks. God’s timing is not my own. And it’s better than mine ever could be.

After talking nonstop for an hour, I would realize I hadn’t even asked about you yet! I would ask you how you are. What’s firing you up right now? How are you and God? How is your heart? And I would love to sit there, sipping coffee and listening to you.