Sometimes love is cooking breakfast at 9 PM

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One of the things I’ve been working on this month is building up others around me. My focus is on my family–my husband and my daughters.

And even though it takes a lot of time and deliberate effort, I’ve realized it isn’t too hard for me to find special ways to make their days better, easier, brighter.

I’ve been doing little things for my daughters:

  • Learning hobbies they love
  • Encouraging them to continue trying when we both want to quit–and succeeding
  • Miss Crafty and I went on an impromptu window shopping trip
  • The Inventor and I built a Minecraft Lego kit together
  • Having a 3 person race in the middle of the park and not caring who was watching our moment
  • Giggling like school girls, and joining in with their immaturity instead of letting the weight of adult stress take over

For them, it is about time spent. Taking every little moment and just enjoying it. Letting them know that they are perfectly loved for who they are right now.

It has been a little different with my husband.

We have an awesome marriage, and one I am thankful for. I hear stories of people who struggle to like their spouse–not love, but like. Who struggle to share the same air, let alone a room or bed. It breaks my heart.

This is not us.

And I am very grateful for that fact.

So building him up looks a little different than your average marriage self-help counseling book.

I was stuck. I couldn’t think of what to do for him. So I prayed.

It hit me like running into a brick wall.

Every day brings something new for him. Whether it be learning a new skill at work or school, or dealing with difficult customers and improving customer relations. Change is always around.

Instead of building him up, I needed to be the constant, the one he can always depending on to be there no matter what is going on or the need, the one thing that doesn’t change.

The foundation so to speak.

Instead of changing, growing, encouraging, I just am.

That shift in thinking has changed our family dynamic in a very real way these last few weeks.

I spend all day with the girls, taking breaks for myself scattered here and there, so when he is home it is about him.

  • It is cooking a hearty meal so he has the energy to get up the next morning and do it all over again.
  • It is massaging his sore arms and muscles to give him relief at the end of the day.
  • It is having a cold pitcher of water in the fridge when he walks in the door.
  • It is playing our online game together when he wants and his arms allow.
  • It is understanding when he has to take a break, and watching a movie with him during those down times.
  • It is suffering through those ‘guy movies’ because it is not about what I want to watch, but about him being able to rest and relax in his home.
  • It is sometimes sitting on the couch quietly beside him because he has no energy to talk, but being there for when he wants to.

 

It is being there as the constant, to love and support him, the one person who can give him stability in the midst of daily change and chaos.

 

So when he called me Monday night on his drive between work and school and mentioned he didn’t have time for lunch, and he had forgotten his dinner in the work fridge, there was no hesitation in my mind as to what I should do.

I asked him to call me when he left school so I had time to cook him dinner before he got home.

He just wanted boiled eggs and toast, but I knew he needed more to recover from the lack of food that day and to be ready to go to work the next morning.

I wanted to give him a surprise, a gift of love.

Instead of curling up to a movie after the girls went to bed I waited for his call. And when he called me at 8:30 I pulled everything out of the fridge and warmed up the griddle.

At 9 I started cooking him a full meal of sausage, eggs, bacon, and toasted English Muffins.

And when he walked in the door at 9:30 PM I had a huge plate of sausage, egg & bacon sandwiches waiting for him.

 

Because being a foundation built on love is about doing whatever, whenever, and giving selflessly of yourself to provide security and stability.

And sometimes that means cooking breakfast at 9 PM.

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When You Don’t Fit In

hiding to fit in

geralt / Pixabay

Miss Crafty built a dam. She has been busily constructing it around her and allowing certain people on certain bridges. From one bridge you couldn’t see the other and therefore left completely oblivious to the other side.

In this way she built herself a safety zone. An area where she could be herself.

She only let her immediate family into her safety zone.

I knew she would build it some day. I knew that the walls were starting to be constructed but I didn’t realize that she had completed the project.

Yesterday I discovered her dam and it broke my heart.

Miss Crafty has always been smart. She thinks and processes at a speed years beyond her age. There are times when she is smarter than me.

It has always scared me. My Husband and I do the best we can to keep her intellectually challenged and emotionally balanced.

On one bridge are her intellectual peers. It depends on the subject how old these peers are. For math they are the 13 or 14 year old A-students. For other subjects they are about 12.

On the other bridge are her emotional peers. They are your stereotypical 5th grade girls who love horses, pink, earrings, and all things girly.

Those two bridges cannot cross. Those two parts of Miss Crafty are at war with each other and she struggles to balance it.

And sometimes she fails.

Yesterday was one of those days. So I found myself in a tear filled conversation about her intelligence when she confessed her dam:

“I pretend to not know things just so I can have friends and fit in.”

My heart shattered.

Her dam was completed. She had learned something that no child should have to learn.

She learned to split herself in two and hide the other half.

She can’t fully fit in with her intellectual peers. 12 and 13 year-olds do not have the same maturity as a 10 year old. They are interested in different things.

She can’t fully fit in with her emotional peers. When playing, she sees the flaws in their plans long before they ever attempt something. 4th and 5th graders simply don’t have the base knowledge to understand physics in the same way. While Miss Crafty can see they are doomed to fail, they are obliviously enjoying the fun filled moment.

So she pretends.

And as we laid on my bed and shared tears I tried to empathize the best I could. Everyone can understand the difficulty of not fitting in as a child. I know what it feels like to be left out. I wish I didn’t.

I did the best to offer what hope I could. I let her know that it is okay to have these feelings, and that there is nothing wrong with being smart and wishing you weren’t. I also let her know that she would eventually find some place she fits in, it just many not be tomorrow.

I told her that she is just fine as she is.

And we watched /Scorpion/.

If you haven’t seen that show on CBS yet, it is amazing. I cried through the first episode.

Miss Crafty isn’t as smart as these geniuses but I see many similar qualities and quirks in her.

While we watched the show, she laughed and looked over at me and whispered, “I can totally understand how he’s feeling right now.”

And for the first time in a long time I think she could fully relate to someone–even if it was a fictional character on the TV.

I don’t have the answers for her. She knows that God loves her as she is. We often tell her that God made her exactly who she is, and that she is perfect.

That gives her foundation and security, but doesn’t solve her problem.

For now, she doesn’t fit in anywhere.

Being a parent is hard. It breaks my heart to see her hurting, and all I can do is pray, love her through it, and give her the confidence to shine.

~Crystal

 

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A step back in time

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This past weekend we took a trip to The Husband’s hometown. We haven’t taken a trip as a family for over a year. I can’t remember the last time we took a trip when everyone was mostly healthy so this was a real treat.

With the exception of a couple day trips, The Husband hasn’t visited his family for about 7 years. It was a long time coming. We loaded up in the truck after The Husband got off work Friday afternoon and headed out on the road.

We didn’t go simply to visit family, we went with a mission.

Last fall The Husband’s Grandpa passed away. Since his Grandma is living with others now, the family is selling the house.

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This isn’t your average house. Walking into this house is like walking into history.

The house is a large farmhouse originally built in the early 1900’s, long before days of electricity and indoor plumbing. Through time it was retrofitted to add lights, indoor bathrooms, and running water. This house has withstood the test of time. This house was built to last.

Each room has large open bay windows with sitting benches. Wood decorates the house from top to bottom.

There are hardwood banisters, molding around the windows and up near the ceilings, and built in desks and cabinets.

The house is large and open, each room naturally flowing into the next with large pocket doors if you want to close some rooms off.

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I walked around the house and noticed beautiful things around each corner. From parlor chairs to a full upright piano. From an old sewing machine to silver serving sets. This house is full of things that you see in the museum.

As we crossed the door for what will probably be The Husband’s last time, I couldn’t help but smile and remember. This is the house The Husband had lived in for part of his childhood, the house his mother was born and raised in, the house of his grandparents.

I only had the pleasure of making memories in that house for about 14 years, I can only imagine the memories others hold.

My memories were not of the house. My memories were of laughter filling the rooms, the memories of Grandpa’s stories, memories of my children meeting their Great Grandfather and his love for each precious new addition to the family.

[Tweet “It isn’t the things or location that mattered, but the #love that filled the air of that house.”]

And as we were driving 80 down the interstate heading to our own small house while listening to The Inventor sing Chris Tomlin’s version of How Great is our God in the back seat, I couldn’t help but think of the memories that I’m leaving for my own children.

Am I creating the kind of house that they will long to return to even after I’m gone, simply to walk through the halls and smell the air one last time? Not to gather items or because they want stuff, but because in each dent of the wall, nail hole, scratch in the floor, and stain on the carpet, there is a memory of love.

 

~Crystal

Marriage at its Worst

 

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

…to have and to hold,

from this day forward,

for better, for worse,

for richer, for poorer,

in sickness and in health,

to love and to cherish

till death do us part.

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At weddings we dream of the good times, knowing there will be bad times too but never fathoming how bad it can get. Marriage is a commitment and something that isn’t always pretty or easy.

I asked Kris if she would share a story from her life. Instead of chatting with me via facebook she sent me something she’d written a few years ago. After some edits to make it blog pretty….here it is in her own words.

 

Marriage and wedding day

Today, I am a happily married woman of 15 years and mother to four beautiful daughters.

But this wasn’t always the case.

My husband and I married when we were both young. He was just 21 and I was 23. The following year found us expecting our first daughter. I knew there were some things that my husband and I both needed to work on in our relationships with God, but I felt confident that we would both conquer any hurdles together.

In October of 2003, I gave birth to our second daughter. By this time, my husband and I were very distant. I began taking to medication to help me with nursing our daughter. I was unaware of the side effects which included fatigue, severe irritability, and depression.

I distanced myself even further from my husband because of this medication. There were many nights I sat at home alone with a crying baby, waiting for him to come home from work.

He began working longer and longer days. It seemed he had no time for me. The gap between us slowly widened until I felt married to a stranger.

In January 2004, I found out my husband was involved in an emotional affair with a co-worker.

My world was devastated.

People will tell you that an emotional affair is not as hard to live through as an ‘actual’ affair, but those people lie or have never experienced it before. Those first few nights after I found out, I just cried. What had we done to our marriage? Could it even be fixed? Did he even want it fixed?

I recall begging him on bended knee to please save our marriage and go to counseling. This was the single most humbling thing I have ever done in my entire life. And it worked. He agreed to counseling and we began the long process of picking ourselves up out of the bottom of the pit.

My first instinct was to berate him for all the things he had done wrong to cause us to get to this point in our lives. Those first weeks, I raged against everything: him, the girl who had coerced him away from me, even God. But then my attitude slowly started to change.

God quietly began speaking into my heart some painful truths regarding myself and my marriage. I resolved that I had to forgive many people, including me, for wrongs suffered. Such a hard thing when all you want to do is hit the girl who had (in my mind) caused the affair.

I resolved that I couldn’t change anything about my husband, even though there were a few things (ok a LOT of things) that I wanted to point out he was doing wrong. I let God instead be in charge of convicting, judging, speaking mercy, and redeeming my husband.

[Tweet “I resolved that I couldn’t change anything about my husband, even though there were a few things (ok a LOT of things) that I wanted to point out he was doing wrong.”]

Instead, I decided to let God speak to me and tell me what things I could be doing to become a better wife and a better follower of Him.

The first months of that year were truly a literal springtime for our lives.

We took the advice of counselors and friends and chose a devotional to read together. We worked through the book, “Fall in Love, Stay in Love” by Willard Harley, Jr. We also read a Psalm together every night and talked through how it could apply to our own lives and situation.

To say this was a difficult time is certainly an understatement. Committing to spending time with someone who has broken your heart and trust is never easy, but I stood on faith that this is what God wanted us to do. One of the key verses I stood on during that time was a promise from God:

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those with a crushed spirit. Psalm 34:18

This verse, along with a few others sustained me when all else looked bleak. I wish I could say things healed immediately, but I’m a stubborn redhead and uphold every single stereotype you may have heard about us.

Kris and Paul have fun

Things between us slowly started to look better.

It was only due to our diligence in keeping our word about being brutally honest with one another that we were able to work through issue after issue. Issues that had caused the initial downward spiral into the darkest time in our marriage. There were times when I didn’t want to allow him to hold me again or comfort me, but I had committed to keeping our marriage and that meant making myself emotionally vulnerable again.

Time eventually passed and my heart began to heal. God was faithful in sustaining us through what was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done in my life: surviving and thriving in a marriage after an affair.

[Tweet “What Satan had meant for a great evil and destruction became a testimony of redeemed love.”]

In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak our story to the women at my church during a retreat. Many women have come to me, some without knowing my own story, and said “My husband is having an affair, what do I do?” What Satan had meant for great evil and destruction in our lives became a testimony of redeemed love, commitment, and faithfulness of God towards broken, crushed people.

There were times I despaired that I would ever love my husband again the way it first had been upon our wedding day. I’m sure he felt the same way. There were times it was a lesson in obedience only that we even spoke to each other in a civil manner. Whole days when we thought things would never ever be okay between us again. And yet, we stand strong today.

Kris Family photo

Today, I am a happily married wife.

That newborn baby from 2004 is a gloriously beautiful almost eleven year old redhead with two younger sisters who would have never existed had we given up on our marriage.

I can’t imagine my life without all four of my babies together. I can’t fathom that there was a time that my husband didn’t dote on me or cherish me, because that simply isn’t my story any more.

Friends wondered then why I chose forgiveness and trust over throwing away a marriage and a husband. They wondered how I could possibly be ‘strong enough’ to start over again with him. Some openly mocked our decision to stay together telling me I was setting myself up for pain and heartache again.

I’m so thankful I listened to God on this one and not ‘man’. The years of happiness that have sprung forth from that desolate time in our lives has truly all been 100% worth every single night of struggle and wrenching desperation spent in redeeming our marriage.

 

 

Thank you Kris for sharing your story about love, grace, and redemption.

 

 

Every Thursday I like to share your stories. Stories of grace and redemption, stories of overcoming, stories of living life the best you can, stories of happiness and contentment, stories of real life. If you would like to share your story, please click here or on the “Share a Story!” tab above.

 

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Soul Survival

An accident, stolen memories, and love

Car after accidient

 

On August 28th, Ruth’s life changed forever. A truck ran a red light and hit the car she was riding in with her fiancee Mike. They were pushed into a light pole.

Ruth was severely injured. They had to cut her out of the car and the first responders were unsure she was going to survive.

Upon arriving at the hospital, she underwent several tests. They did a full body MRI and discovered a brain cyst that was there before the accident. Aside from a concussion, that was the only serious injury Ruth had.

She was sent home.

Ruth suffered through her serious concussion. The first couple weeks were very difficult for her. She was in and out of consciousness with lots of dizziness and headaches. Mike tried to help take care of her as best as he could.

Thankfully Mike’s parents live 2 doors down. They were able to watch Mike and Ruth’s three children while Ruth worked on getting better. Ruth had trouble remembering appointments and things so she had to write it all down. Mike’s mom drove Ruth to hip therapy.

Slowly, Ruth started to get better.

But as Ruth got better, Mike got worse.

About two weeks after the accident Mike starting acting odd. He was hallucinating. He would talk to people who weren’t there. He would lose consciousness and stare off into space.

At first, Ruth thought he was playing a joke. But then she tested it.“We got a pin and poked him but nothing.” There was something definitely wrong with Mike. He was there but they were losing him.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”200px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]He was there but they were losing him.[/dropshadowbox]

Those moments became more frequent. Mike became agitated easily. His body temperature was way off. There were times when he felt extremely hot or cold, no matter the weather outside.

He would stumble when he tried to walk. He looked and acted drunk although he was completely sober.

They took him to the hospital several times but the doctors never found anything wrong.

“I was out of breath and no one could help me. I was so angry when the doctors told me there was nothing wrong or nothing they could do. In my head I questioned why they were brain doctors and they couldn’t do anything.”

Ruth started to lose hope. She was trying to raise her 3 kids and train a new 4 month old puppy. She was homeschooling her oldest child and trying to balance the health issues with Mike. When she woke up in the morning she wouldn’t know if it was going to be a good day or a bad day.

It all depended on the mood Mike was in.

On October 3rd and ER doctor finally observed Mike’s hallucinations. They ran him through even more tests and brain scans and decided he had some kind of brain injury from the accident, although nothing was ever conclusive.

Ruth's love in hospital

But Mike continued to get worse. By October 16th, Mike started losing his short term memory. Shortly after that he was released and medically cleared to do therapy.

That didn’t help. The rehab clinic found out Mike’s insurance had run out and became hesitant to help.

Ruth was out of options. The man she loved was slowly losing his memory and nobody besides Mike’s parents were there to help.

By the middle of November, Mike’s memory problem continued to worsen. He was not retaining any new information and moving backwards in life.

He was agitated and angry. He lashed out and said things that would hurt Ruth and their children.

But Ruth remained dedicated to this man.

“When I needed him or someone beside me, he was always there. I had to return the favor. He needed me to be there for him. In my head I was thinking what would he have done if I was the one like that?”

By Christmas, Mike had forgotten week’s of his life. By January he was living years in the past.

One by one he forgot each of his children. On good days, he trusted his parents and Ruth that they were his kids. On bad days, he thought somebody was trying to tie him down with a family of strangers.

And then he forgot Ruth.

Ruth’s love. The man she lived with and intended to marry could no longer remember her existence. It wasn’t his fault, his brain was sick, but it was still a living hell.

There were days when she’d had too much. Days when she couldn’t take the anger and accusations from Mike anymore. Days when she was tempted to pack up and leave.

She would call Mike’s parents and tell them to come get him, that she couldn’t take it anymore and she didn’t want that stranger back in her house. He visited his parents for a few hours while both Mike and Ruth had a chance to calm down.

During this time the brain injury changed who Mike was. He wasn’t aware of who he was or what he was saying. He was ignorant to the harm he was doing. He was mean, agitated, and would say things that hurt those who loved him in their deepest places.

But there was a part of Mike that was still there. Each and every time he left to go to his parent’s house he still missed Ruth. He would ask to go back, and after she calmed down, she always welcomed him back home.

Ruth could have left. Mike didn’t remember her or her children. She could walk out at any time and Mike would never have known. By the next morning, he would be a single man living in a house 2 doors down from his parents.

Even Mike’s mom told Ruth that she could go. She told her, “Ruth, we don’t know if he will ever get better. Do what you need to do. Dad and I will take care of him. I don’t expect you to be tied down to this.”

There was a time when Ruth thought about leaving. She didn’t know the man in front of her. The man Mike was becoming. She saw her children hurting and wanted to protect them from the harm that their father was doing.

But Ruth’s commitment and love won out.

She loved a man who could not love her back. It wasn’t that he was unwilling, he was incapable of loving her because he didn’t know her. But she knew inside, beneath the brain injury he was still a good man. A man with issues, but good in his core.

[dropshadowbox align=”left” effect=”lifted-both” width=”200px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]It wasn’t that he was unwilling, he was incapable of loving her because he didn’t know her.[/dropshadowbox]

Like any full time caregiver, she needed breaks, but her love and her dedication gave her the strength to get through.

She prayed often, and asked others for support and prayer.

“I thought the hell would stop and everything would be back to normal. I was just waiting for that day that it would hit him and he would be himself….I felt my children didn’t need to go through that, but they love their father. I stayed because deep inside of me I was hoping and looking for the man I fell in love with. I thought deep in my heart he would come to me.”

So Ruth continued to fight.

She helped and supported Mike in every way she could. She continued to love this man who couldn’t love her. She continued to love this man who would be so mean. She continued to love a man who accused her of trying to trick him into a family.

By March, Mike slowly started to get some short term memory back.

If you’ve ever seen the movie 50 First Dates, Ruth was living with 10 Second Tom. Mike would remember something, but forget it 2 minutes later.

There was hope, there was progress, but Mike was still forgetting. 2 minutes slowly turned into 2 days. Mike began remembering bits and pieces of the present, but the past was still gone.

Mike decided he wanted to take a trip to Puerto Rico to meet Ruth’s family. A trip he had taken several years ago but had long forgotten.

Everyone tried to talk Mike out of it many times. Mike’s parents didn’t think it was a good idea. Ruth and their oldest son were scared. Yes, Mike’s memory was retaining things in bits and pieces but what if he forgot everything again? What would Mike do if he found himself in a foreign land, surrounded by strangers.

But Mike insisted, so the trip planning continued.

Ruth and mike in love

They knew he was showing some signs of improving and held onto hope. They were scared but the trip went as planned.

On May 5th, Mike, Ruth, their 3 children, and Mike’s 2 nephews arrived in Puerto Rico.

When they got off the plane and started toward Ruth’s Aunt’s house, bits and pieces of Mike’s memories started returning to him. He remembered how to get to her aunt’s house, and remembered where they had visited on the trip years before.

Then, he remembered everyone’s names. Memories continued to flood back in. He remembered things unrelated to Puerto Rico.

Prayers were being answered and God was working miracles.

But Ruth didn’t know. Mike didn’t tell Ruth at first.

He maintained the secret until the following day.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”autopx” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”At first when he told me his memory came back I thought he was playing around. I started asking questions only him and I would know and he answered them correctly.

Wow! My heart felt like it wanted to come out with joy. I went to tell my parents but I couldn’t speak. I was crying too hard. The words were not coming out. When I told them, my mom cried with me and so did my dad, but he didn’t want to show it.

The children looked at me like I lost my mind. I was filled with so much joy. I cried every time he would tell me he remembered that. Even now I still cry. I thought that moment of seeing my baby come back to me would never come.”[/dropshadowbox]

 

 

Mike still suffers from his brain injury and has his bad days, but his memories returned.

Because of Ruth’s love and dedication she got her man back. Without that trip to Puerto Rico, nobody knows who Mike would be today.

God kept his promises, and He returned Mike to his family.

This struggle has brought Mike and Ruth even closer. They are once again planning their wedding.

And what a beautiful wedding that is going to be.

 

~Crystal

 

 

Ruth’s love and dedication is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard recently. She chose to stay even though he had essentially lost her fiancee and those closest to her gave her permission to leave. Her choice to love when love could not be returned inspires me to love those around me a little more.

Every Thursday I share a story. Sometimes it is a story of love and dedication, sometimes a story of working through the hard times, sometimes a story of enjoying life to its fullest. If you have a story you would like to share, or someone you would like to honor, please contact me via the Share a Story tab above or by clicking here.

I would love to hear your story and share it with others!

 
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