Archive for the ‘Healthy marriage’ Category

Escape v. Rest

If you are a medical wife, or the wife of anyone with a crazy schedule, then you know how precious “down time” can be. This month is especially busy for my husband, and this past weekend was the first days off he had since the month started. Not to mention that he has been getting home no earlier than 6 (and often around 10) each night of the week. And did I mention the 5am wake-up time? Suffice it to say, it was really precious to have time together.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that whenever my husband and I have down time, we can often find ways to escape the busyness of life. For us, escape is usually found in the form of mindless entertaiment. TV shows or movies. We sit side by side and engage in another plot that is not our own. And while it does give our brains a few hours of relief, we have both found that our hearts are not refreshed afterwards. Because here is the truth – escape does not equal rest.

This past weekend we sat down and made a list of all the things we needed and wanted to do with our weekend. He had charts to catch up on. I needed to kick some laundry in the booty. I wanted some alone time. He wanted to catch up on sleep. We both wanted to initiate our outdoor fire pit. We also wanted to catch up on our current TV show, but as we put together our wants and needs, we saw that the TV show would definintly need to be the last thing on our list if we were to try and have a truly restful weekend. So he worked on charts during our girls naps, and I folded clothes while he distracted our toddler. And then, instead of zoning out to the television, we wrapped ourselves up in blankets and lit a fire. We talked about our future – about our hearts post-residency and the dreams that brought us together. And when our heads hit the pillows, we felt rested and connected.

So what am I saying? I am saying that you need to watch out for the things in your life that are escape but not rest. And it doesn’t mean you can’t do them (we actually did squeeze in a movie one night), but it means that when you do them you recognize that at it will not put your heart at rest – that it won’t connect you to your spouse. You recognize that at the end of whatever it is you will have disconnected from stress, but not necessarily connected to life.

Your marriage isn’t mine. So movies & TV might truly be restful for you. But it might be helpful to ask yourself, how do I try to escape stress? What are ways I can rest with & connect to my spouse rather than just retreat into escape mechanisms? Perhaps it might behove you to turn off the TV and light a fire. You don’t even have to have a deep conversation. Just get some tea and think of fun memories. Laugh. Stay silent. Hold hands. Connect.

Find joy in the journey,
~ Melissa

Day 6: Worth fighting for

One of the most important things about having a home is atmosphere. And there are several great ways to make a “homey” atmosphere. Good smells, handmade touches, no monsters lurking in the closet. However, all of these things can be present and a home can still be an unwelcoming place. Because one of the most vital aspects of a home is peace. Without a word you can tell if the occupants of a home are in at peace with each other. And if there is underlying strife, then no matter how beautiful the house, it won’t feel like a welcoming home.

Today my husband and I were able to make a home by working on making peace. We took the time to talk. To reestablish our heart connection and strengthen our home. We have an Enemy, friends. And our beautiful homes are nothing if we don’t fight for the peace of our home. Peace makes a difference. As we ate dinner tonight, our home seemed a warm, welcoming place – even though it wasn’t spotless.

I want to encourage you to find the intangable things that are impacting the atmosphere of your home. Do you need to talk something out with someone? Forgive someone? Reestablish some boundaries or open up your heart? Do so! I promise, it will make your house that much more of a home.

For the joy in the journey,
~ Melissa

P.S. Here is another post I wrote about my role as a wife in fighting for peace in our home

Click here to see a list of all previous 31 Days of Making a Home posts

Unashamed

On July 30, 1981 a child was born.

Well, actually, more like 490,000 or so children were born. 150 of them were born in the same minute as this particular child I am talking of.
That child was me.

In a few short days I, along with 490,000 other people (give or take) will be turning 30. On the 30th. Of July.
My golden birthday.

I happen to live in a time where age is so much more than an number. I have noticed recently that when people (especially women) get past a certain number (35? 40?) they began to refuse to give their age or come up with some clever response that side steps the question.
This greatly confuses me.
Just today, in fact, I was “rebuked” for telling someone’s age. And she isn’t even 30 yet. Hm.

Especially in the church. I know that the world worships beauty and youth…but we of the Body worship Him who is Eternal. We worship the Creator of Time, and the One who sets us in it.

Isak Dinesen writes in her book Out of Africa,  “In the highlands you woke up the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.”
Here I am, where I ought to be.
Shouldn’t that be the chorus of our life as we follow the Lord?
I was born in 1981 for a reason. This year I turn 30.
And here I am, where I ought to be.
Why should I be ashamed of where I am? Where He has placed me?

I hope I will always be the woman who will tell another, without any shame, how old I am. Because every one of those years represents a beautiful journey. I was born in Africa, raised among friends of many colours. I came to America young and innocent. I have been educated, married and born a child.
And now, I live in the United States. I have hopes and dreams for the future.

Here I am, where I ought to be.

I hope you feel the same way.
Enjoying the journey, all almost-30 years of it,

~ Melissa

A wife’s role: guarding the peace of my home

My little girl was three weeks old yesterday.

The first two weeks were a breeze. The last one has become increasingly more difficult. Although she is not “officially” diagnosed yet (there is a rule of 3 hours, at least 3 days a week, for 3 weeks) – she is leaning heavily towards becoming a colicky baby.
And it breaks my heart.

The last several nights she has cried for several hours, and by “cried”, I mean screamed…with real little tears on her face.

As we have added the role of “parent” to our lives, my dearest husband and  I have asked ourselves what our roles look like now. Even though we have almost 5 years of marriage under our belt (thank goodness!), things are different now that we have a little soul in our charge.


Photo Credit

Today, I awoke to an absolutely wrecked house. Dishes piled high, laundry that needed to be done, and a husband headed into a full day of work. When Makena finally went down for a mid-morning nap (after another bout of her screaming-cry), I went to the Lord. My heart needed to hear Him. He knows us. He knows my daughter. He knows my heart and my house.
I can read 100 books and blogs, but no one can answer my questions like He can.

After spending a few quiet moments with Him, I got up revived. I spent her nap time straightening the house and realized that as a wife it is my responsibility to guard the peace of our home. For me (today), that meant several things:
1. Spend time with the Lord
2. Clean the dishes
3. Fold the laundry
4. Do a quick pick-up of our home
5. Brainstorm with the Lord about our daughter’s new symptoms & how to help her.

While I don’t think that this list is a rule book of what it looks like the guard the peace of your home, the question to all of you women is – what does it look like for you, today?
I fully believe the the husband is the head of the home, and in his own way is called to guard it’s peace. But I am here everyday – I choose how clean it will be (for the most part), how peaceful it will feel, and what the routines and pace of our home life will look like.

Today, fighting to guard our peace looked like this:

Photo credit

How are you called to guard your home today?

Fighting for your marriage: know thyself

A few days ago I was reading a friend’s blog post about needs, and it reminded of one of the most important things I have learned in marriage.

picture credit

In order to share your heart with someone, you must first know it well enough to share it. I once overheard someone say that one of the hardest parts of genuine relationships is that you have to take the time to drudge up your own heart in order to be able to express it.
And sometimes, the work of knowing your heart well enough to express it is…well…so much work that people give up.

It’s true.
Knowing yourself can be a draining task.

What do I need? Why am I feeling this way? What are the things that are most important to communicate in this limited amount of time?

All of these questions can feel overwhelming, and so we don’t ask them. We don’t ponder our own emotions. We don’t go to the One who can help us sort out our feelings because, well, our feelings are messy. And we don’t want to deal with them.

But, if we want a marriage full of life; a marriage that is healthy, thriving, green – this is a must. We must take the time to sort through our own hearts in order to help the other person see them more clearly.

Here are few ways that I have found that are doorways into my own heart:

1. Journal
Taking time to write about what is happening in life  and my heart is a great way to connect with what is going on inside of me.

2. Simply stop
Many times the reason I don’t know myself very well is because I don’t stop. I rush about, filling every spare moment with busyness. Often times just stopping and sitting will bring about a rush of thoughts and I will find out something has been on my mind, I just didn’t know it.

picture credit

3. Prayer
There is Someone who knows your heart better than you know it yourself. Prayer connects us, not only with the Lord, but also with our own hearts. We find ourselves in prayer. We receive guidance and wisdom in all of life’s situations.

Finally, one last thought on knowing yourself.
And it’s about the dreaded E word.
Emotions.

Emotions are not truth, but they do have a way of telling us something about ourselves. We shouldn’t always obey them, or respond to life based upon them, but we should recognize them for what they are – a waving flag.

Today, for instance, I have felt on the verge of tears the whole day. I kept asking myself why. I realized it is because in the last several days I have barely seen my husband. He has been at work until late, and then going to bed quite early to try and get some sleep before the next crack of dawn day. And I miss him.
So I scooted my little self off to the hospital for a (literally) 10 minute lunch.
Just to see his face, hold his hand, and remember that there are days ahead where he won’t be running around like a headless chicken.

I could have just cried, or tried to ignore my tears, but I did neither – I asked myself why, and then did what I could to alleviate the reason & spoke hope to my heart.

In fighting for your marriage, I hope that each of you finds ways to connect with your own hearts and needs so that you can learn to communicate with the person you love.

What about you?  What ways have you found that are effective in discovering your heart’s needs? How have you seen that discovering your heart is important in marriage? I would love to hear your thoughts!

My love

It’s been nearly 5 years since we said “I do”
Almost 6 since we first started walking with hesitant steps towards marriage
And nearly 22 since we played together on a playground in Africa…so, so many years ago

God’s ways are so much higher than ours. Even now, only 5 years in, I look back and see the miracle of you and I together.
How quickly our hearts found each other.
How miraculous it was that my father, who has jealously guarded his daughter’s hearts, said yes. Even though he barely knew you, he knew you were the right one for me.

And even though our hearts faced truths painful and shattering, I still dressed in white and we still embraced an unknown future.

And then I woke up, and realized that I had somehow married a doctor.
And it shattered me. Broke into a million pieces all the dreams of my heart. Left us both wounded and fighting for a marriage and love that seemed impossible.
We cried together as the Enemy of our souls attacked, again and again. We went, together and alone, to receive counsel,  to try and piece back what was once so precious.

We smiled fake smiles and laughed fake laughter with others, but together – alone – our hearts knew that we were both dying. We knew that hope was being swallowed up by despair.

But slowly, through late nights, and the grace of conversations, through much counsel and the choice of forgiveness over and over and over…the dark fog slowly lifted.
I don’t know when exactly the dawn came, when the sun finally shone through, but we are now walking in the light.
Our hearts are stronger together than ever.

You have found the grace to walk freely. I have found the grace to walk with a doctor.
We, together, are a miracle.

We have both found that our roots go deep in Him, and that our souls were meant to walk the earth together.
And we look together towards the future with hope, believing the best is yet to come.
Dreams of an African sunrise bring a smile to our faces.
We see ever more clearly the possibilities of  our lives together.

I love you so deeply.
You are the man for me.
You are my dearest friend, and my greatest source of delight on earth.

Here is to many, many more years  of serving Him.
Here is to the beginnings of the next season of our lives, starting a family, and learning to lead and grow our children in grace.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my precious second,

~ Your wife

Marriage: worth fighting for

Marriage is wonderful.
Marriage is hard.

Marriage is….
worth fighting for .

This is a core belief that you must have in order to have a marriage that thrives.

In today’s world of divorce and “dead” marriages (where  the spouses live together in a work relationship, without growing together in friendship and love), the lie that marriage isn’t worth fighting for is all around us.

A few nights ago, my darling and I had a pretty “off” night. We couldn’t seem to connect – he was stressed and distant; I was tired and grumpy.
The next morning he got up to go to work and it ended up snowing almost a foot…and he was “stuck” at work.

Or so I thought.

“I may try to come home. We aren’t okay and I’m not okay with leaving you alone…”

And so he drove the icy streets, parked a half mile away, and trekked through snow up to his knees to come home to me.

Because we are worth fighting for.
Because even the little distances aren’t worth it in the end.

And he won my heart, and we melted into each other with words of apology and a renewed sense of love.

When life pulls you in endless directions apart from each other, this has to be a belief that you hold tightly onto.
Our marriage is worth fighting for.

Even if the fight looks like trekking through snow.
Or having the conversation that hurts.
Or choosing the other person over convenience.

And so you take the hand of the one you love again…
and walk into grace.

And that will be the foundation to every other choice you make.