Saturday, May 18, 2013

the sappiest top ten

Shawn and I have been married for 17 years today!  In this day and age, that is an eternity!  We do a lot of marriage  counseling and pre-marital counseling with other people, and because of that I am often of reminded of how blessed I am, and how much marriage is a gift from God.  This post is not meant to hurt anyone out there struggling with singleness or a hurting marriage - if you are our friends, you know we pray for you constantly!  Actually this post is not designed for anything except to say thanks to God for this full, amazing marriage he has given me!  So here goes...

Ten reason why marriage to Shawn rocks!

10.  I have a live-in bug killer!  As you know from  a recent post, I hate bugs.  I remember clearly when we were in Florida on our honeymoon...we were fast asleep and a big bug crawled on me.  I threw it across the room, then couldn't sleep because I was afraid it would come back!  Shawn patiently got up and looked around, then when he couldn't find it made up some silly story about it coming in to find food for her children, etc., etc.  It was dumb - and made me laugh and forget about being scared of a silly bug.  I knew then (again) that I had made the right choice.

9.  He makes me laugh.  Sometimes he makes me laugh when I am feeling down or sad, and I love that.  Other times I am trying to be mad at him, and he still makes me laugh, which makes me even madder - temporarily.  But there is no shortage of laughter in our marriage.  The times that we have realized something serious is going on and we have sought counseling were those times when we couldn't remember the last time we really laughed together.  I am thankful for a sense of humor - you need it being married to me!

8.  He doesn't do just the "man things" in our work load.  I admit, I am a woman who likes to say, "Anything you can do, I can do better."  But it's just not true.  Nor do I want to do those things.  I love that he takes out the trash, mows the lawn (when we have one), and packs up the car for trips.  But he also puts the kids to bed each night - and has always done that.  He was often the one who woke up in the night to feed howling babies, because he needed less sleep than me (and decided that a little tiredness was better than a grumpy wife!)  He's kind of all-purpose.

7.  He balances me.  My emotions are everywhere and off the chart.  I get caught up in something and want to jump right in.  He looks, prays, asks advice from wise counsel, and prays some more for days (weeks, months...)  I am thankful that we have had a lot less consequences to deal with because of his patience than we would have with me being impetuous.

6.  He is a good friend.  Not just to me (though he is my best friend) but to his other friends.  To become Shawn's friend, it takes time spent together.  He does not make friends that he trusts with his heart easily.  But once he does, you are his friend for life.  He prays for them, he calls, and he tries to visit.  He spends as much time together with them as possible in a world where everyone is on the move and relationships become as in depth as facebook.

5.  And speaking of friends - he is wise is choosing them.  I like the men that Shawn would call his closest friends.  They are fun, love Jesus, challenge him, stretch him, pray for him, give good counsel, and make me laugh.  (You have to have a good sense of humor to be Shawn's friend, too, apparently!)

4.  By being married to Shawn I was adopted into an amazing family!  Not just his immediate family - though they kinda rock.  But his whole family.  And it is a BIG family - I was number 120 from his grandparents on down!  I love it.  I love traveling across the US and staying with cousins all along the way.  I love that there are constantly new additions and that the family really tries hard to get together and be with each other. This summer we celebrate his grandmother's 100th birthday and there will be a ton of family there - I can't wait!

3.  He is a walking encyclopedia.  I hate that when I am playing against him in trivia pursuit.  But in real life I have gotten used to saying to people, "Ask Shawn, he would know."  (I can't believe I am admitting that out loud!)  He retains what I joke to be "useless" fact, but it makes life interesting.  He can tell me baseball stats, stories from history, and he kicks butt in geoguessr (a google game).  He is also willing to try to learn new things.  He has recently bought a bass guitar to learn and even talks of taking a class in mechanics while we are fund raising.  He keeps me on my toes!

2.  He is an amazing dad.  Let me say that again - AMAZING.  Our sons will have no excuse when it comes to growing up to be godly husbands and men - they see it everyday.  And Anna will know exactly how high that bar for a good husband should be.  I anticipate that  our "PK"s won't grow up resenting the church, because they have seen their father be real, genuine, and love what he does and the people he does it with!  He loves the kids wholeheartedly, forgives, asks forgiveness, talks realistically with them, plays games, hugs, laughs, cries, wrestles, snuggles, prays with them, prays for them, and loves me in front of them.  When I married him I suspected this would be the case, but to see it plays out each day takes my breath away.

1.  Finally, he loves me completely, as is.  He loves me more than I love myself often, and is teaching me to love myself better.  He does this by falling in love with Jesus more and more each day.  We have discovered that our relationship with each other can only be as healthy as our relationship with the Father.  So when we start to notice those telltale signs - loss of laughter, joy, time together, etc, we jump back into the Word and start from there.  He is my rock and my best friend.  (Sappy enough for you?  lol)

So there you have it.  Sorry this is not some great, life-changing post (as if any of them are!)  But this is my way of saying thanks to God for this awesome marriage and man,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

scars of life

Yesterday the kids and I were talking about scars.  It started when John pointed one out on his arm and said, "I still have this scar."  I told him it might fade, but the scar would always be there if he looked hard enough.  This got us looking all over our arms and legs and talking about the scars and where they came from.  Some of the stories were cool, in a gross out sort of way - bones sticking through skin, cuts from an Africa adventure, and a weird burn scar on Shawn's arm from a lawn mower that the nurse thought he had don purposely for me because it looked like a heart!  Others were more silly or embarrassing - the pencil points stuck in Anna's head and John's leg, or the numerous shaving scars from when I was a teenager (Seems I was always in a hurry!)  There were a few that were not shown, but talked about - the scars from C-sections or gallbladder surgeries.  Shawn also has a scar from his cleft lip surgeries all through childhood.

Scars are kind of cool how they have a story to tell.  Some are good - life giving or life saving even.  Some changed quality of life.  Some are from the everyday bumps and bruises that we get in this life.  Regardless, they all have a story, and they all are a part of us from that point on.

In the evening we were at church and we were talking about the job of the Holy Spirit.  Pastor Chris was writing on the board and putting people's answers up to the question of, "What makes a Christ follower different?"  At the top was, "Forgiveness" and underneath was "Love your enemies."  I was staring at those two things and it clicked in my mind that forgiveness is really the key, because if you forgive, the person is no longer your enemy.  Not if it is something from the past, anyway. (An ongoing forgiveness is a different thing.)  The consequences of the situation may still be there, but like those scars, they will fade.  And like those scars, they each have a story, and that story helps to shape us.

I was thinking about the times in my life when I have had to forgive.  There have been little situations - misunderstandings, hurtful words, etc.  They are like those little scars that we only notice if we look hard.  They are still there and have helped us be molded into who we are today.  Maybe I learned how to be a better friend because of it, or I was reminded that the only perfect in this world is God.  Whatever the outcome, it has become part of me.  The bigger things - abuse, betrayal, etc - those are the big scars that stand out and sometimes make us self conscious.  They might be the ones that we would rather have plastic surgery on and forget.  Yet even if they are covered in makeup or new skin, they are still part of our body and have affected us.  We can try to forget, ignore the repercussions, or look the other way, but ultimately their existence is still very real.  And the consequences are a permanent part of our outlook.

But - just like those scars that people see and we can't hide - those stories of our lives are ones that need to be told and shared.  They are the ones that are used to affect people, to help them learn their own forgiveness, and to have hope in a real future.  When people with a cleft lip (or someone who has gone though it) see Shawn's scar, they are instantly a friend-someone who understands and can bond.  When they find out he has made a life of speaking in public, it is an encouragement and hope.  The same happens with those emotional scars.  When people hear about overcoming abuse and see a life lived in freedom and fullness, they gravitate towards the one who is victorious in it and have their own hope.

Not anythings new, by any means,  Not even close to a new analogy.  But one that was sticking in my mind all day yesterday.  Thank you, Lord, for my life - the good and the bad; the scars and the new healing. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

cockroaches and crabbiness

It's amazing how something so little can be my undoing!  Tonight I saw a cockroach.  Well, actually I saw two - and the second one did not make me react any less than the first!  I know,  I know - I can hear you all now, "You're moving to Africa.  Suck it up, honey."  This is not the first time those little brown (or black, depending on where you live) bugs have made me question my sanity.  A few years ago when we visited what was then Sudan, I wrote a blog about waking in the night and losing it over a cockroach I almost stepped on while going to the bathroom!  (I was trying to post it here, but for some reason the blog has no title.  You can look it up back in 2010 if you want proof!)  Those things give me the creeps!

It's the element of surprise, you know?  There you are - making breakfast  and minding your own business when suddenly one scurries past you on the counter in your peripheral vision!  Too fast to be sure, but not so fast that you have any real doubt!  Or you're putting sunblock on your face and reaching in the bag causes you to screech and yell out your husband's name along with the words, "Kill it, kill it" because it is hiding in the corners of the toiletry bag, it's antennae feeling around and almost touching your hand!  Or you are sleeping at night and you feel something crawling on you so you instinctively do a grab and throw, only to fully wake up and realize with horror that your night of sleeping is done.  Yes. That's my relationship with those little, disgusting creatures.

"You'll get used to it again, Babe," says my patient and brave husband. "You did last time."  I suppose I will.  I remember very clearly in Malawi when I tried to sleep the first night and I tucked my mosquito net in as tight as possible and avoided having any of it touch me.  I watched as lizards ans spiders crawled everywhere and got very little sleep those first few nights - even after a LONG plane ride to get there.  By the end of our time there I was in a store picking up some food to make dinner and a huge rat ran across my feet and into a pile of rice or flour or something at the end of the aisle.  Not my favorite animal, but what was I to do?  I simply laughed and kept shopping.  The horror I would have felt a year earlier was replaced with the practicality of living in a 3rd world country with my family.  It was adjust or have a nervous breakdown!  And God was good in giving me the strength to do it.

These are silly things when compared to the harsh reality that many people live in.  Bugs and rats, really?  But the truth is, I can react this irrationally in many situations that are different from my normal life now.  Sometimes Satan sneaks in the doubt through those little things.  I see bugs and freak out - "Can I do this?"  Last summer while staying in a cabin at Delta Lake I was trying to take a nap because I was sick. It was one of those few NY days where it was almost 100 degrees outside, so the cabin was hot and stuffy and there was no sleep to be had.  One week of heat like that to sleep in and I was grumpy and tired.  I fretted and worried the whole time, "Can I REALLY do this, Lord?"

Nope.  Not on my own.  I already know that.  There's no romantic notions in my head about that part of moving to Africa.  I will still HATE bugs (in my oatmeal, in my bed, in the latrine - there's no good place for any bug); I will love not having snow, but the heat will be oppressive at times and sweat will be my new scent of the day;  I will lose sleep in those nights when the drums beat all night long and the wailing from a funeral happens; I will have times when people I have grown to love get sick or even die from things that should be preventable; and I'll get frustrated, angry,  and overwhelmed by the brokenness of this world more often than I can imagine.  And God will never leave me nor forsake me.  He will be my Rock and me Redeemer, just as he is now.

Just as he was last night, as I actually fell into a deep sleep soon after seeing a roach, and dreamed of flying on a plane and hanging out with friends instead of having a restless sleep for fear of bugs!  I'm a sad case, I know.  ;)  But God still loves me!  

Another in the fire

Maybe you don't know what the process to move overseas is like, but there was a lot of what we thought of as jumping through hoops ...