Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just Us: Covered with Grace

Okay, so I have kind of failed at keeping up with blogging this month. You know those months that just kind of keep giving you a left hook? Welcome to my February. I can't even say exactly what it has been...maybe a million little things. I had grand intentions to (one) blog every day and (two) post challenges for us to pursue in our marriages each week. I haven't even blogged every week, and I'm not sure if I've posted even two challenges all month! I have flat out bombed my hopes for this series!

All that (failure) got me thinking though, about how often we fall flat on our faces in our marriages. We have the best of intentions and then...well, life. I meant to keep my mouth shut but then things just started to come out. I meant to pursue my husband romantically this week but then I was just soooo tired. I meant to cook a hot meal this week but things got so busy. I meant to...and sometimes our well-meaning plans just don't quite make it to fruition. Now, I'm not saying we should make it a habit to not follow-through with our commitments--we absolutely should aspire to be men and women of our word--but there are times when we just fail.

I am not good at failing. In fact, I hate failing so much that for much of my life I wouldn't even try something that I didn't have a relatively strong belief I would succeed at. I missed out on untold opportunity because of this...and at times I catch myself living in this same mentality today. Early on in my marriage when I would fail at being the spouse I wanted to be, instead of getting up and dusting myself off I would turn tail and run. I would shut down, close my spouse out, and put up walls. I mean, I had failed. Wasn't that the only option? To quit? Thankfully, I have a spouse who lives by the words of Thomas Edison, "I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways [to make a lightbulb] will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." He believes that any attempt at working on something is progress...even if it ends with us falling flat on our faces. I love this about my man! Especially because I am so not good at living it out...I have had to see it lived out through him thousands of times to begin instilling it as a habit in myself.

I guess what I'm saying is that in life, in our goals and dreams, in parenting our kids and in loving our spouses there will be times that we thoroughly botch things up. When we do we have a choice. We can either run away and distance ourselves hoping that putting up walls will solve our problems, or we can accept our failure as part of the path to perfection. There is grace in that. There is room to breathe. There is a sigh of relief that through each "proof" that a certain action or word did not build up...the next one can. Let us seek to be the spouse we want to be. Let us not give up pursuing the goal of being our best selves. And yet, let us also grab a hold of the grace to accept our shortcomings as avenues where untold growth and potential lay. Imagine the possibilities that may await our marriages and our lives if we do?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Just Us: Choose Kindness

Hey y'all, I am so sorry I flaked out this past week! My littlest has been avoiding sleep at all costs and so this mama has been EXHAUSTED. No energy to do much but trudge through my days and occasionally snap at my husband (not exactly the hope I had for this 28 Days of Loving thing, ha!). It is often those in whose love we feel most secure that we lash out at though, isn't it? Certainly in this case it was and my husband got the raw end of the deal with me this week, may he be blessed!

I have to share this though, the other day I was beyond tired. Like the kind of tired where you bawl your eyes out and throw clothes across the room in a mini-temper-tantrum because you can't find the baby's nose snuffer and HEAVEN HELP YOU YOU NEED THE STINKIN' NOSE SNUFFER!!! Ahem, not like that happened to me or anything...I am way too mature for that. (Not.) Anyway, that day I was not exactly the Proverbs 31 wife if you know what I mean. I was not opening my mouth with wisdom or teaching kindness with my tongue, and my husband was definitely most definitely not thinking of how praiseworthy I was making myself. Because I was just downright a jerk. And do you know what that man did to repay my attitude? Can you even guess how he may have responded to my snarky, nit-picky comments directed his way with no provocation? I will tell you what he did! The man bought me flowers! He bought me flowers to repay my meanness! Who does that?!? Well apparently he does, my friends. Or at least he did that day.

 Knowing I was tired and emotional and feeling like I was at my wits end he chose kindness instead of retaliation. When the "proper" response would have been to bite back, he did the difficult thing and loved me in spite of my meanness. I don't say all this to make you wish you had that kind of marriage because we all have our ups and downs. We all have stories that make our marriages look perfect and stories that make our marriages look like they're on their last leg...that's just life. It's messy. I tell you this because we can choose to be the bringers of kindness in our marriages.

I have to be honest, if my husband had treated me the way I treated him I am pretty sure I would have lashed out. I would have taken the bait and ran with it (I mean who is he to talk to me like that?!). I don't even think the thought would have entered my mind to do something nice for him at a time like that. Yet, isn't that what people who choose kindness do? Don't they choose to do the kind thing despite what they feel like doing? So the next time your (or my) husband does something to get our hackles up and make us wonder how we ever fell for such a barbarian, what if we choose kindness? We need it, and I guarantee you our spouses need it too.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Just Us: When Loving Isn't Easy

Some days marriage is just hard isn't it? There is no way to sugar-coat the pain and frustration or the raw and bleeding heart that precedes you in each moment. It feels hopeless and you feel stuck. Friend, if that is you today, you are not alone. You may feel alone in the midst of others whose marriages seem to be more together than your own, and there may even be a cloud of shame hanging over you as you wonder what you did to deserve this or how you ended up here

I want you to hear these words no matter where you are in the midst of the difficulty. You are not alone. Maybe you've heard words of condemnation. Maybe you've experienced isolation. I may not know your story but I do know that you are daughter to a big God. And He is there, in the midst of those moments you feel most alone, loving you. In the petty fights with your husband that seem to occur again and again, He is there. In the screaming matches that leave you raw and ashamed, He is there. In the aching loneliness that seems to consume all of your joy, He is there. In the inability to communicate with the man you thought it would be so easy to love, He is there. In the sea of isolation that leaves you clawing for breathe, He is there. In the betrayal that tears you apart and breaks you down, He is there. When you are left to pick up the pieces and have no idea how this puzzle can ever be put back together, He is there friend. He. Is. There. You don't have to do this alone, beloved. You do not have to do it alone.

I have no idea where you are in your marital journey, but I do know that there is one who walks beside you through the muck and will never leave you to go it alone. There is one who goes before you to take the brunt of whatever gets thrown your way. There is one who goes behind you to cushion the blows that try to knock you down. When we can grab a hold of this God--this One True Love who is the only one who can love us fully and completely without a hidden agenda--we can be more free to love the spouse who often falls short of loving us in the way we ache to be loved. 

Wherever your footsteps take you today, oh dear sister I pray that you walk in the truth of This Love. In This Love we are capable of moving mountains. Mountains in our marriages, absolutely. But before that, I promise you that you and God can move--can level--the mountains that are building in your own heart. Let Him.

You, my friend, have an epic love story. Own it. 
We love because He first loved us. ~John 4:19 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Just Us: Remember What You Love

Before there was the kids or the house or the joint bank account, there was a look. There was a smile. There was a caress. There was a question. There was an commitment. There were dreams. There were plans. started to happen.

Today, however busy your schedule and however varied your commitments, make time for the one who stole your heart all those years ago. Send him a text letting him know what he means to you and why you chose him. When you see him tonight...once the kids are in bed and the day is coming to a close...pull him close. Kiss him like you used to kiss him goodnight when he wasn't yours yet but you wanted him to be. Tell him how lucky you are that he chose you. Look into his eyes and affirm that if you had to choose all over'd still choose him. 

Get out there and fall head over heels for that man of yours all over again.  
Join us in a challenge this February to put our marriages first !

Monday, February 2, 2015

Just Us: 28 Days of Putting Your Marriage First

Before there were kids there was just us. Someday, after the kids have grown and gone there will once again (Lord-willing) be just us. In the midst of busy season after busy season the just us can get left behind and our marriage can get put on the back-burner (and, let's be honest, sometimes it gets taken off of the stove altogether). This month, I want to change that. I want us all to change that. I want us to start an epidemic of rejoicing in our just us. There will always be a reason (excuse) not to put the time and effort into our marriages, but honestly, when better to start then right now? It may not be the perfect timing and we may have no idea where to start. But I am tired of leaving my man hungry for more of me (physically, mentally, emotionally) while pouring into too many other things. (Anybody feel me?)

I have to be honest, a while ago my marriage was not in a very good place and I knew we needed to make some changes. It has been a journey and today I am reaping the benefits of putting the work in, even when it has been difficult. This month is a month of celebration for our just us. It is a month to throw out the red carpet for the man I committed my life to six years ago and celebrate that all we have created (including our two beautiful children) started with just us.

I also want it to be a month of celebration for you, dear friend. In marriage God takes two glorious messes and crafts a masterpiece. Your marriage and my marriage--they may not look like much now. But the Great Artist is creating something beautiful if you let him! It may look like an unfinished Picasso at times and some days we may wonder where the beauty is in all this mess. But honest-to-goodness there are gems to be found! Perhaps if we don't see the beauty we need to start digging? 

Will you grab a shovel and join me? Will you commit to taking this month to mine the gems that are hidden within your just us? Whatever state your marriage is in today, make a commitment to put your all into it for the next month. Commit to single-mindedly pursuing your mate these next four weeks and just see what happens. Whether it's polishing what is there to make it shine or getting geared up for a complete overhaul, all masterpieces start with a first brushstroke. This month, may we go from marriages that are tepid to marriages that are alive. Let's do this thing!

Want to join?! Leave a comment letting me know you are "in" and, for more encouragement, head on over to my facebook page to keep the conversation going!

This post is linked up with some or all of the following: Mommy MomentsMuch Ado about MondayMotivation MondayGood Morning MondaysMama ReadsFaith and Fellowship Blog HopCoffee and ConversationWedded WednesdaysMaking Your Home Sing MondaysTitus 2sdaysWifey Wednesdays, Life we Live 4Women with Intention Wednesdays, & All My Bloggy Friends