Seriously, enough with the change already

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This year is supposed to be about looking what we have and improving on it. The foundation is set, we have what we have, and now I build.

But I am already wrong.

The “life building plans” just changed.

Last Friday my husband was told he has been put on an out of town job for as long as they need an extra man or until construction is complete. It is a large project and they’ve already been working on it for 2 months. This means he is gone every Monday-Thursday.

Every.Single.Week.Until.Who.Knows.When.

Then Tuesday he was told there would be at least one weekend involved. And it could be this coming weekend. As with all construction projects, it just depends on the stage of the project, when they can get in, and what other contractors are doing. We just don’t know.

So Wednesday morning I sat down with the girls on my bed and we had a chat of sorts.

I explained the situation. I told them it isn’t anybody’s fault, but it just is the way it is. That doesn’t mean it is better, it just is.

Through tears, they started asking questions.

  • When exactly is he going?
  • What weekends does he have to work?
  • How long is the project?
  • Does he have to go every week?

All I could say was I don’t know, dad doesn’t know, the company doesn’t know, because when dealing with construction anything can go wrong. Timetables can be tossed out within a moment’s notice and sometimes it has nothing to do with your work.

As I held them, I was reminded of the families who do this often. Of long haul truck drivers, traveling business men, and those in the military who leave for months with a tangible possibility of never returning.

And I felt slightly guilty living in my selfishness. My husband gets to come home every weekend for 3 days. My husband gets to make nightly phone calls. My husband isn’t putting his life on the line.

I made myself stop.

I know some families do this often, but this isn’t what we wanted for our family. He intentionally looked for work that would give us more family time, not less. It doesn’t seem fair.

I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, the job will end, he will be back home, but it doesn’t make this any easier. I’m tired of the change, tired of the unknown, tired of being flexible for anything that may be thrown away.

I want consistency. I want to know what is coming up.

But for now, I don’t get that.

Some days he’ll be here, some days he won’t. Some weeks he’ll be out of town, some weeks he won’t. And because he is the extra man and everything is dependent on how the project is going, we may not find out he is leaving until the day before he goes.

As Miss Crafty said, “This just sucks.”

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I try to stay optimistic and find the positives in any situation.

So to help me prepare for his absence, I’ve been looking. I had to dig deep and search hard this time but I came up with a short list:

  1. He will get 3 day weekends. So we get one extra day a week with him home unless it is one of those rare work weekends.
  2. He is doing so well at school that his teacher has given him a pass from attending class while he’s out of town. As long as his assignments are in on time and he’s doing well, he doesn’t have to do any additional make up work.
  3. We’ll use less diesel in the truck. I’ll take him to work Monday morning and pick him up Thursday nights. This is in essence only 2 days of commutes instead of 5 plus school.  It will save us $40-$50 per week.
  4. There’s gotta be something I can build in this situation. I don’t have it yet, but I’m holding on to the idea that a part of me is going to be stronger when I’m looking back from the other side.

That’s all I can come up with but at least it is something. So today, through my frustrations, I’m trying to hold onto those 4 things because in reality I want to curl up in bed and just pretend this isn’t happening.

It’s not fair.

I want to plan my life, or at least next week.

I want my husband home with me.

The girls need their dad.

This.Just.Sucks.

~Crystal

Side note: I will get over this, and I do understand how fortunate we are. But in the spirit of Living in Green Grass I’m choosing to share this side of me too–the side that shows nobody’s life is perfect or rosy. Sometimes things happen and it is what you chose to in that moment that helps determine whether you are content or not.

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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Dear daughter, I embarrass you because I love you

 

embarrass girl

Greyerbaby / Pixabay

Every night when I tuck the girls into bed we talk about good things. It started as a way to focus Miss Crafty on positive thoughts when she had night terrors. 8 years later, it is still part of our nightly routine. I consider myself very fortunate that my 9 and 10 year old daughters still want to be tucked into bed each night. It is a special time of girl bonding.

Often it leads to conversations that wouldn’t occur any other time of the day. I have a captive audience. They are stuck in their rooms and can’t get away from me.

A couple nights ago we had one of those kind of chats.

(fyi: I used color to help you follow the conversation. I am red, Miss Crafty is purple, and The Inventor is blue.)

I decided to kick it off as boring as I usually do: What is something you’re happy or thankful for tonight?

Miss Crafty: That tomorrow we might get to go to Wednesday night church.

I don’t know what came over me, it was completely spontaneous, but before I knew it, I was looking out the door checking out my husband who was standing in the hall. With a gleam in my eye, I found myself saying,

Well, that depends on what time my very handsome husband gets home with the truck.

Shock crossed her face. She covered her mouth and started giggling like a middle school girl who just found out her best friend has a crush on the boy next door.

Mom!!

Well, he is handsome.

But mom, no!

About this time The Inventor made it into the room to crawl into bed. Unaware of the conversation we’d just had, I asked her the same boring question.

The Inventor: That tomorrow night is church.

Sister!!! No!!!!!!

With a gleam in my eye, I looked at her, smiled, and heard the giggling middle school girl plead with me.

No mom, not again.

Well, that depends on what time………..your dad gets home with the truck.

Realief washed over Miss Crafty. Perhaps she thought I was done embarrassing her for one night.

Oh, thank you mom.

What was wrong with that? I don’t understand what mom said that was so bad.

You didn’t hear her the first time. She said that dad…… No, I can’t say it.

Knowing that I couldn’t leave it at that, I decided to fill The Inventor in on my little secret.

You see, sweet daughter, when your sister said that I told her it depended on what time my super handsome husband got home to his wife.

Miss Crafty tried to hide her red face and stifle her giggles with a pillow. It was completely unsuccessful.

A look of understanding crossed The Inventor’s face. She smiled, looked at me with eyes that seemed to say, “I think I just heard something private between you and dad, but that’s cool.”

With a giggle, hug, and a kiss, I walked out of the girls bedroom knowing I had achieved something much more important than embarrassing my daughter. When The Husband and I started our family, we decided that appropriate PDA was going to be allowed in our house. My girls see us hug, kiss, and flirt often.

It is intentional. I want them to know that it is entirely appropriate to be infatuated with your husband even after the honeymoon years.

[Tweet “I want my daughters to know there is more to physical attraction in marriage than locked doors.”]

I don’t want them to feel ashamed of being attracted to their husband or sex and in the Christian culture I think that happens more often than people are willing to admit. We are taught about abstinence until marriage. We are taught that sex is dirty and a sin.

Then suddenly, one day, it all becomes okay. Magically, after one ceremony and a signature on a document, sex, physical attraction to the opposite sex, touching each other, flirting, etc becomes encouraged and healthy.

There was shame that you felt anything before, and an internal struggle that it is suddenly okay. It is like one big dark cloud of confusion.

One that I’m trying to lighten up a little for my daughters. I’m attempting to model appropriate healthy physical relationships for them.

And I think they’re getting it, in a developmentally appropriate way.

So, for the rest of their lives, I will continue to embarrass them. I will continue to be that mom who flirts, kisses, and holds the hand of her husband outside of our bedroom, and outside of our house.

All because I love them…(also because I love my husband and feel like flirting with him)

 

~Crystal

 

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Marriage at its Worst

 

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…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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I’m honored to wear Mrs. Walker’s wedding ring

I got a (kind-of) new antique wedding ring last week. I’ve lost so much weight that my old ring wouldn’t fit any more. I haven’t worn a ring for months because the last time I had one on I nearly lost it in the park.

This new ring is has a story of its own. It is full of history, lessons, and love.

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In the summer of 2000, The Husband and I were dating. I was 19 and thought I knew it all. I was ready to conquer the world and if things weren’t going my way I forced them to. I was a very selfish, self-centered person. It was all about me.

To this day, I don’t know what The Husband saw in me but I am so thankful he saw something of value. We were polar opposites. He was a lot like he is today. He thought of others and how he could help them. He went out of his way to make things better for other people. He gave away his personal things to someone who had less. He loved to listen to people’s stories, where they came from, and what made them who they are. He listened to the older generations, their history, and learned from them.

That summer, The Husband took a job as a youth ministry intern in Northern California. I was not happy. It was too far away and I missed him dearly. Our conversations were limited to the short time on the phone every few evenings.

I wrote letters. I’m surprised I didn’t scare him away because I wrote pages of letters. I would send him thick envelopes almost weekly. By the end of the summer he had a book’s worth. I smothered him, but he still saw something in me.

On the other hand, he spent the summer doing maintenance instead of the youth internship he thought he was going to do. He worked on the church and helped with other projects. He essentially did whatever was needed.

One of the things he did was paint the basement of the church with Mr. Walker. While they painted, Mr. Walker would fill the day with stories from his rich life. He told of how an ancestor was one of the original Texas Rangers and joked about the show, “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

He shared stories of his military career. While in the military, he met the love of his life–Mrs. Walker–where they both held the rank of Sargent. His wife had died some years earlier, but he still kept a picture of her at his bedside.

Over 4th of July weekend, I flew down to visit The Husband. I got to see what he was spending his summer doing and meet some of the people. I don’t remember meeting Mr. Walker, but The Husband assures me that I did.

It was hard leaving The Husband when my weekend was done, but I had a plane ticket and a job to get back to myself. It was only a few short weeks until I would drive down, pick him up, and bring him home.

Towards the end of the summer, Mr. Walker had a priceless gift for us. He gave The Husband Mrs. Walker’s wedding ring set. It came unconditionally, to use, wear, sell, or do whatever The Husband wanted to with it. Mr. Walker said it was because he liked The Husband, had a nice girl, and just wanted him to have it.

First wedding ring.

My first wedding and engagement ring.

Sometime after the summer was done, The Husband showed me Mrs. Walker’s ring set. The look on my face must have horrified him. It was too small for me and it would never fit. One half of it was okay. I did not like the other half and didn’t hesitate to tell him. It was gawdy, ugly and would never go on my finger. It is no wonder it took the man many more months to propose. I have no doubt he questioned our relationship…and to this day I am in awe and amazement that he still wanted me.

I was selfish. I wanted better. I deserved a new ring that The Husband picked out just for me.

At that time, I didn’t see it as a symbol of love or a gift. I didn’t see it as an honor. I saw it as a large hunk of metal with a few stones in it.

He had two rings split apart and up-sized the half I approved of. I’m sure he was terrified more than the average man when he finally got up the nerve to propose about 9 months later. I had already rejected his ring once, would I change my mind and reject the “acceptable half” too? Thankfully, I didn’t.

Four months later we were married. The other half of my wedding ring set was a simple gold band that we purchased together. A few months later, we had the set fused. I had the man I wanted, a ring on my finger and I was on my way to design my life. The other half of the ring went in a box up on a back shelf.

Over the years, I’ve grown and matured.

I have learned to live outside myself and about being considerate of others. Just by living with The Husband and his selfless heart, I have gained much wisdom. I have learned to think of others first, putting myself second. I have learned to look at what I have and think “what don’t I need” instead of “how can I get better”.

Occasionally I thought of the old ‘ugly’ half of the ring up in a box hidden on a top shelf. Most of the time it was when we were in a financial hard point. I have no idea of the monetary value of these rings, but I do know they are worth a bit. It was tempting to get it appraised and try to sell it to get us out of a hard place–I would never wear it anyways.

But every time I mentioned it to The Husband, he would simply say no. I now understand. It wouldn’t be right to sell such a thing.

As time went on, my thoughts began to change. I would think of the ring I wore, how it belonged to another woman, and what that truly meant. The selfless gift of Mr. Walker to my husband is one that still makes me pause. It didn’t bother me to wear another woman’s ring, I saw it as sharing love, passed down through the generations. This ring was a symbol of my commitment to my husband, as Mrs. Walker had been committed to her’s many years before.

I thought of the other ring and it too took a place of value in my heart. A symbol of who I once was, where I had come from, and the love and grace those around me had while I grew and matured. That ring became beautiful. It wasn’t because I thought it was pretty (although I love it), or that antique is now in style, but because of what it stood for–selfless love. A selfless love that I now understand, treasure, and value. A selfless love that I desire to pass on to my children and hope to inspire others to live too.

Through my illness and weight loss this past year, not only did I lose all the baby weight, I made it to my target weight. All I wanted was to be the same weight I was when we got married. I saw that weight come, and go. As I struggled to get control of my health, I have crept down to the what I weighed in my early High School years. I am still a healthy weight–just skinnier than I though I would ever become.

And that ring that would never fit my finger and I would never wear?

Well, it now fits. Thankfully, I am not the 19-year-old self centered girl I once was. It is a georgous ring and I love the way it looks, but there is so much more to it than that.

Wedding ring

My new ring that I once thought was too ugly.

It is not only a symbol of my husband’s love for me, but of the man who he is. He is a selfless man who works hard and loves people.

If I could go back in time and meet one person, I would want to meet Mrs. Walker. I want to hear her story and who she was. She had to have been an incredible woman to be married to such a selfless man as Mr. Walker. A man who saw something in my husband to give him his wife’s wedding ring set. A woman whose ring I wear. A ring that reminds me of love, grace, and has taught me that there is so much more in this world than stuff.

While I will never meet her, I will say, “Mrs. Walker, I am honored to wear your wedding ring. I hope I would make you proud.”

 

~Crystal

 

 

Every Thursday I like to highlight what it means to Live in Green Grass. I like to share stories of growth, contentment, or times when all seemed lost but good came in the end. Please click on the Green Grass Awards tab or here. I would love to hear and share your stories.

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