Mom

Written by my sweet husband, Lyle, today…

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lylegradmom

Mom

April 20th marked the 8th anniversary of my mother’s passing at the age of 40. Nine days before her 41st birthday and a month before I turned 21. Today would be her birthday again, and she would be 48. Next week she would have celebrated Mothers’ Day as both a mother of one and a grandmother of two wonderful little boys.

It can be easy to look back on all the stupid things we fought over, the arguments that we had, the stances we each took and the decisions we each made that drove us apart. I can also look back on some wonderful memories and things we experienced together that built up the positive image of her I have in my mind. The sacrifices she made to give me the best she could.

But none of that really matters at this point.

What matters is the impact she had while she was here. The attitudes, thought-processes, drive, determination, steadfastness,  that she exemplified that resounds in my memory whenever I think of what I learned from her.

Was she a perfect mom? No. Was she a terrible mom? No. I can easily look back and find moments and situations where she was one or the other at the time. Looking back, I can also recognize that she was doing the best she knew how to do, and that as I went through phases of growing up, I was a different challenge from year to year, month to month, week to week, or even day to day. And she was constantly trying to keep up, all the while maintaining living situation and providing for our little family.

Most of the time, our family was me and her – as far as we were concerned. Because I was an only child, and she wasn’t very good at marriage – 5 tries and nothing stuck beyond the three-year expiration date. We adapted to new homes and new people living in them and new patterns of living relatively frequently as I was growing up. The stabilizing factor in my life was my grandparents and their relationship – but that’s a subject of another story at another time.

Some of the things I think I learned most from my mom that have helped guide the way I think and approach things in my life are:

  1. If you’re serious about accomplishing something, push through until you get it done – even if the process sucks. I can remember her deciding she finally wanted to pull our family out of the financial dumps – and the only way she knew how to do that was to get a nursing degree. I recall her being so nervous for a make-or-break exam that we would have to pull over on the side of the road so that she could throw up. But she got it done – and we were proud, may grandparents and I. And our quality of life did improve.
  2. Family comes first. Personally, I benchmark God above family, but that is the ONLY thing on the list that goes above family. I learned from her that education can happen all around you and will happen for the rest of your life- so don’t be afraid to play hooky with your kid(s) once in a while and just have a day with them doing fun things or going fun places unexpectedly and unplanned. When someone in your family is being accused of something or anything else where there are people poised against them, you ALWAYS stand with family – you can figure out the details later and handle it. But you get their back – whatever that means at the time. I could write whole stories about parent-teacher conferences and administrators and such that learned the hard way that my mom was NOT going to just accept whatever they had to say before hearing my side of the situation (I feel like I should note that I was not a trouble-maker – but sometimes stuff happens).
  3. I learned how NOT to do marriage. Believe it or not, as bad as she was at being married, I learned a lot about what NOT to do – and have applied it (and continue to do so). I learned a lot of what TO DO from my grandparents. It just goes to show that God can work even the most difficult situations and heartbreaking moments out for your benefit if you let Him and don’t just wallow in your circumstances.
  4. Be honest. I learned this one from my mom as well as my grandfather (her dad). He actually had a reputation in our town (as he was the mayor) of being one of the most honest and sincere people you could ever meet. My mom, even when it was hard, was honest with me about what was going on regardless of the situation. Sometimes it might have been more than I could handle, but she knew that I knew something was up and figured it best not to leave me in the dark, wondering. I’m sure there is plenty that I didn’t know or was not aware of, but there was also a lot that I was involved with. After all, it was just me and her.

Reflecting on my mother today, there are a few things I miss – things that were and also things that would have been:

  • I miss her matter-of-fact-ness in discussion, but with a light tone that let you know she cared about the response.
  • I miss that even if she disagreed with what I might have been doing, she always believed in me – and would remind me of that occasionally.
  • I miss the completely unexpected response she would have to situations and discussions. Sometimes my wife and I joke about how my mom would have responded to things.
  • I miss that at one point my wife was my mother’s favorite person, maybe even above me. It would be wonderful to have that relationship still in existence.
  • She got to see me get married, but she didn’t get to see me be a husband for nine years, a father for almost three years, and how wonderful my family is.
  • I miss that she didn’t get to meet her grandchildren – one of them even named after her father. She always joked about not wanting to be a grandmother because that would make her officially “old” and about not liking kids. But I can only imagine the transformation after holding her baby grandsons and looking into their eyes. After all, they look just like me when I was that age.
  • Many more wonderful family memories that will never be. ..

But we make our own memories and we continue on. This is a moment of reflection – but there is a whole life to be lived and kids to be raised and a family to be loved and people to lead and encourage and so many great things out there that she helped prepare me for one way or another. These wings will soar (she would get it).

Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, and Happy Mothers’ Day – Mom.

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Thank God it’s One O’clock

Thank God it’s one o’clock.

Today was supposed to be wonderful. It was supposed to be just like I imagined. It was supposed to be Mommy’s special day with Charlie before my maternity leave ends in a few days. Charlie has still been going to the babysitter during the day as always while I have cared for our newborn (can I still say newborn now that he’s 6 weeks old?), Jase. But today we were the three caballeros.

And thank God it’s one o’clock.

Hubby and I have been working on learning to discipline our Charlie, who is 2 and a half and seems to be the boss around here, unfortunately. I’ve written about it before, and we are still fighting the good fight. Some areas seem to show improvement, and it’s not just Charlie that is learning and adjusting – we parents are really having to change our thought process and habits, too. But lately I have felt like this new pattern is swallowing up another essential area – falling in love.

Have you ever heard that people fall in love because they’re getting continuous “deposits” into their love bank, and they fall out of love when there are “withdrawals”?  I have been neglecting deposits in favor of correction when actually they are both necessary. So last week, Lyle and I took the boys to a special party day at the pool!2dgizbok1tr

20150207_124136 20150207_133133 20150207_143318We had a blast! All of us! And today I wanted to make some deposits too. We started off at Chick-fil-a for breakfast and then spent some time with a group of mommies and kiddos from church, singing and playing and snacking and crafting. You can see I had high hopes when we started our day:

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Oh yeah, I got this. 

No, no I don’t. Trying to leave the restaurant involved chasing.

Trying to leave the play group involved chasing.

Trying to get into our house involved tears.

You want a snack? Cereal? Ok. But I gave you Cheerios. My mistake, thinking that’s cereal.

You want chips? Ok. But I put them in a bowl. My mistake. Why on earth would I do that?

This is not the day I imagined. I don’t feel like I’m making deposits, but he is making withdrawals from my love bank big time. And I’m so glad it’s One O’Clock…

NAPTIME. I don’t even care that he is still calling me from his room 10 minutes later. It’s naptime!

Can anyone relate to this???

Whew. Ok. I needed a break. So I helped myself to the leftover chips and cereal. As I propped my feet up on a chair and opened my Bible app on my phone, I couldn’t help but pout, thinking what a waste of one of my last days with Jase this has been, and that I’m a failure and have made zero deposits.

The verse of the day popped up. It’s Galatians 6:9, that verse that says not to give up.

Is that a message for me? I opened up the whole chapter.

YOU GUYS. LISTEN TO THIS.

(Verse 8 and 9) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. (OMG THAT IS MY SON). But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

I can’t believe it. This morning wasn’t a waste after all. I’m doing my job helping him move from decay and death to everlasting life – and all the discipline and love I’m pouring out are worth it, because “just the right time” is coming.

In the meantime, do you think it’s still ok that I’m overjoyed that it’s one o’clock? I could go for some baby cuddle therapy. Ahhh, that’s the stuff…

What harvest are you pressing toward?

Don’t grow weary!

Love, Carolyn

 

 

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The Life of Jesus Starring Charlie (2014)

This time of year I like to stop and reflect on Jesus’s childhood (check out my thoughts in 2012 and 2013)… I look at my own son and imagine how Jesus grew and what he was like… what his parents experienced… and just try to get a bit of an intimate glimpse into my Lord. I always come away in awe of how he went through a human life like my own just to be able to relate to me, and also wondering if his sinless existence made him different than my sinful little one {“GASP, did she call her innocent little boy SINFUL?” Um, yeah, just like everyone. Trust me, when you have children, you realize how innocence and sinfulness can co-exist}.

And discipline… oh, discipline… did Jesus need it like Charlie does? I wonder if Joseph ever had to do, “JESUS… ONE… TWO…TWO AND A HALF…. Or was this a non-issue? Sidebar – remember the time Jesus was 12ish and disappeared for a few days without his parents knowing where he went? Hm… that doesn’t really fit with “honor your father and mother,” but it was honoring his Heavenly Father as he learned in the temple… did he get disciplined for that? Should he have? I’m willing to bet he disobeyed direct parental instruction like “stay in the caravan…” Anyway…

This year I’m also expecting another little boy ANYMINUTENOW… and it made me think, did Jesus lay on Mary’s sciatic nerve and make her walk slower than a turtle through molasses? I know he delivered us from pain and disease when he was suffering and beaten (“by his stripes, we were healed” – 1 Peter 2:24), but he hadn’t done that yet. So… what was Mary’s pregnancy, labor, and delivery like? I’m also curious whether riding mammalian transportation would make that worse. And how did she get a leg over? Maybe she rode side-saddle. Or waddled on foot. Questions, questions. Don’t you love imagining the scene?

Anyway, here are some things we’ve experienced with Charlie this year, from 1 ½ to 2 ½.
At this age, our Charlie has been…

  • Climbing out of the crib and getting a (very) bloody lip.
  • Using complete sentences and having actual conversations – vocabulary EXPLOSION!
  • Moving into the Big Boy Bed.
  • Interacting with Mommy’s belly with Baby Brother on the way.10703750_855613132823_8274360143619281394_n
  • Moving into “our new house.”
  • Reciting every other word or phrase when Mommy and Daddy read to him
  • Wrestling with Daddy.
  • Holding hands to pray before dinner.
  • Delaying bed time (and other things) with “just one other hug,” and “Oh! I gotfor (forgot to) kiss you, Mommy!”
  • Feeding the pets.
  • Playing the timeless sport of bowling for the first time.10615385_858783010363_8924896967631875450_n
  • Trusting Daddy to catch him mid-air.
  • Imagining sooooo much (who taught him about dragons spitting fire????)
  • Confusing us with, “I want this,” immediately followed by wailing, “NO DON’T WANT THIS!!!”
  • Pouting and whining too much.10488001_816264283233_4297569493793862184_n
  • Learning manners – when to say please, thank you, I’m sorry, and following “I farted” with “Excuse me.”
  • Being completely charming.
  • Being such a big helper… involved with EVERYTHING….10616212_857876801413_5585395776736731008_n
  • Saying, “Daddy, you’re my best friend.” And other heart-melting gems.
  • Using and misusing common phrases, like “Bye, Alligator!” or telling Daddy, “Give my heart back! You broke my heart!” upon Daddy “taking” different body parts (you know how you always take their nose…) Oh, and apparently he is “cray cray.”
  • Practicing sitting on the potty.
  • Learning to share (and even more fun, being shared with).984042_793119395773_1305051651_n
  • Doing the same thing OVER AND OVER AND OVER BECAUSE IT’S SO FUNNY AND I WANT TO KEEP LAUGHING FOREVER SO I’M GOING TO DO IT AGAIN NOW AND ONE MORE TIME IF THAT’S OK AND LOOK IT’S FUNNY THE 48TH TIME TOO. But you know, it doesn’t get old for Mom and Dad either because his laugh is so intoxicating.
  • Singing medleys of ABC + Happy Birthday + Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Can you see Jesus acting this way? Doing these things? He was 2 years old once. Because he wanted to experience human life like yours and understand so he could sympathize with your weakness (Hebrews 4:15) and offer you the grace you need to make it through in the tough times. He gave up his throne in heaven for over 30 years and instead lived on earth where he “had no place to lay his head,” (Luke 9:58) and people were constantly plotting to take his life (oh, and they did). Doesn’t sound like a good gig to me. But he did it for love. He did it for you. Thank you, Jesus, and Hallelujah.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Cor 13:14

Merry Christmas!

Love,

Lyle, Carolyn, Charlie, and Baby Brother

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The Parent Screw Up

I believe most parents do their best. Really. They want their kids to be happy and successful and to turn out ok. They love their kids. Most parents really do.

And most parents screw it up royally. Like me. Our son is two and we have another on the way. Most days I’m excited, but more than occasionally, I’m terrified. Why? Because mine is the son that escapes me at the grocery store, initiating a yell and a chase and resulting in a straitjacket hold if I can catch him and pin him against my pregnant self. You know… the “spirited” boy.

"Spirited" Child

…He really is cute though. I’m just saying. Yesterday he put on a stern toddler face hiding a smile and told Lyle, “Not funny. Not funny, Daddy.” A charmer. A defiant charmer.

I am in such trouble.

And I read all the parenting blogs that tell me I’m a good one, that shout “No more Mommy Wars!” and encourage parents that they can choose breastfeeding or formula or co-sleeping or cry-it-out or homeschool or spanking or emotional spoon-feeding and still succeed as a child-raiser.

And that sounds good to me. I want you to support one another and be peaceful amongst yourselves.

But I still want to do it better than you.

In fact, I want to do parenting better than anyone in the history of ever, because I can’t think of anything more critical in this life than healthy, happy, successful family relationships. It’s one of the things I care the most about and I just know deep in myself that if families were fixed, nearly everything would be fixed as a byproduct. So naturally, my family must be perfect, and I must be the perfect mother. Sorry Lyle, you are also required to be the perfect husband and father. It’s like you won the lottery! {Ok, you are seriously not perfect, but you are pretty amazing. Keep up the good work}.

So now that I’ve established the good rapport and trust of telling you I want to be better than you, don’t you want to read about the things I’ve learned? Well, I think you will be glad you did because it involves me crying in public-ish {again}. You’ll like that, won’t you?

I was in church this week on a Wednesday evening and silently reflecting as the music roared around me. I may have been the only one not singing. But I was tired. And God doesn’t want me to yell just to yell. There are lots of ways to praise him.

I want to please God as a parent, and that was on my mind. I thought of my son’s defiance and my inability to control him {don’t lie, you wish you could control your kid to some extent… don’t you?}. I considered what I had read about shepherding his little heart to honor God, and how to model God’s love to him in Biblical ways. I was slightly choked up because even though an ugly part of me is selfish and wants to be “perfect,” I really do want to do my very best to unselfishly love my son and honor my Lord.

All this was reeling in my brain when a song began that said, “Jesus, Jesus, all I want is to be like you.”

Isn’t that the best way to raise a family anyway? So I sang it out. And in my heart, God spoke… “There is nothing you can do to screw up your kid bad enough that I can’t fix it.” And I cried a little.

I lifted my head to see right in front of me, my beautiful friend Laura. Laura has shared with me pieces of her messy family history. She has journeyed through and continues to climb up and out of the muck. And there she was, praising God. Her parents made some pretty big mistakes, but God has helped her put together broken pieces and has kissed all her wounds the way only Daddy can.

I cried a little more.

Next to Laura, her tender teenage daughter stood, arms raised and singing out with a full heart because God creates new legacies for seekers and breaks chains of the past. Her grandparents treated her mother poorly – What did that have to do with her? Why should that pass through the generations?

I wailed.

By my side, my dear amazing blessing of a partner in life sang out to God, who saved him from a legacy of divorce after divorce after divorce… of alcoholism and affairs… of promiscuity. His life could be so different.

But God redeems.

When I don’t know what to do when my boy cries for eternity because I corrected him in the middle of Kohl’s and I imagine all the eyes and ears around me and even my own are focused on how NOT PERFECT I am at this and I don’t know what EXACT THING OUT OF ALL THE THINGS I’m supposed to be doing in this moment…

God redeems.

“Do your best, and let God take care of the rest.” Yep, got that one from helping out at Vacation Bible School this summer. :) Simple truths…

I’ll keep trying to be the mommy my kiddos need to the best of my ability. But in the end, I’ll remember God can fix it all. And my prayer will be, “Jesus, Jesus, all I want is to be like you.”

Have you ever felt like a parenting screw up? What “simple truths” did you hold onto?

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Up Me, Mommy! / Seven Words of Praise

If you’ve been around little kids at all, you know their neediness can be both heartwarming and overwhelming. But even in the trying moments when you just want to continue the task at hand, it’s hard to refuse the sweet face looking up at you with arms stretched high.

This week Charlie has increased his requests to be held. He charges at me and reaches toward my waist, half appealing and half demanding, “Up me, Mom-my.” If by chance it takes me a moment to respond, he barrels impatiently into my shins with a little whine and grabs behind my legs. “Up me, Mom-my!” I scoop him up for a squeeze and a kiss {my lips are grafted with magnets attracted to every inch of his toddler skin}. The boy thinks he needs me, certainly wants me, and it brings me back to what’s important – my distracted heart is refreshed.

up me arms

Did you know there are seven words the Bible uses which all translate to our one English word “praise”? That’s right, SEVEN. Can you imagine if there were only one Spanish word to translate breakfast, lunch, dinner, meal, dessert, kitchen, and restaurant? Yikes! So when King David wrote that “They who seek the Lord will halel [rave, boast and celebrate] him” (Psalm 22:26), and when he expressed he would “Barak [bless by kneeling or bowing] the Lord” with all his inmost being (Psalm 103:1), I was oblivious to the stark contrast between them – my book says “PRAISE” in both verses. I’m thankful for this message from itown church, “Fresh Air – Get Worship,” that explains how God’s love language (or what we can do that makes him feel loved) is expressed in more than one form.

All of these words are translated to “Praise” in most English versions of the Holy Bible:

  • Halel… to rave, boast, celebrate in a clamorously foolish fashion.
  • Yadah… to acknowledge in public, give a raised hand.
  • Barak… to bless by kneeling or bowing, presenting ourselves to God, perhaps expecting a blessing.
  • Zamar… making music to God with strings, loudly.
  • Shabach… to address in a loud tone, to shout.
  • Towdah… to lift hands in adoration, raise hands to receive.
  • Tehilah… exuberant singing.

As my pastor walked us through these seven words, my heart flip flopped when I heard something that resonated deeply, and I can’t get it off my mind.

Towdah. Not only does this word of praise indicate the raising of hands, but it alludes to a little child approaching a parent with raised arms, expecting.

Oh, my baby boy… How I adore him. How my heart explodes when he reaches for me and physically displays his yearning to be near me. How I cannot resist bending over to embrace him, to satisfy his desire, to comfort him or to share his joy. To lift him into my world and nestle into the wonder of what was made from my very self. I cannot fully express the simultaneous emotion and peace this encounter brings me. I am honored when my son offers me towdah.

And God is honored when we offer this to him. He is enraptured when we surrender ourselves to him. When we reach out for him if our spirit is broken or if it’s soaring high, it shows him that we trust him. When we display that we need him, we desire him, we want to be as close as possible, and show him that we believe he has the power to protect us, and to make everything better. “Oh, my little one, made from my very self, I just can’t get enough of your love.” He is proud, he is captivated, he is inundated by our love for him.

Don’t you know you can’t overwhelm God with your mess? He has time for you, no matter what other miracles he is working on. Lift your eyes and your hands, and reach for him like a little child. “Up me, Daddy.” And he will. Because it’s not just you needing him. It’s you praising him. Honoring him. And his arms are strong to lift you into his world with laughter, comfort, and adoring love.

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How do you love on God? What word for praise resonated in your spirit?

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Bouquets of Looooove

A few weeks ago, my 22 month old son walked in the door carrying a beautiful bouquet of fuchsia flowers. “He ye go, Mom-my.”

HEART. MELT.

I’m telling you, this kid’s smile and dimples will get him a long way in life and spare him many pains (just like his dimpled Dad). Add out-of-the-blue blossoms to his charm and I was a puddle on the floor. This would have been an opportune time to ask Mommy for a cookie, or a Red Ryder BB Gun.

I kept those flowers for probably 10 days, hauling them to work (so our kitty cats wouldn’t eat them), hauling them back home for the weekend, and hauling them back to the office on Monday, carefully balancing the vase-half-full in the passenger seat and driving with one hand. Everytime someone noticed them, mentioned them, breathed in their aroma, or just anytime I caught them in my glance, a feeling of being sweetly-loved welled up in me. I’m a sucker for thoughtful gestures and anything beautiful.

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Central Indiana is GORGEOUS this time of year. Have you noticed all the trees blooming? White ones, red-violet ones, barely pink ones… Fluffy trees, trees that snow petals, mossy-looking redbuds…

I have never seen a larger bouquet than a tree in bloom. And when I walk outside, surrounded by budding tree bouquets, created and given by God after the most ridiculous winter IN THE HISTORY OF FISHERS INDIANA, that feeling of being loved is even more intense. It bubbles up and pours out of me. Only a big, big God could hand over bouquet after bouquet of this magnitude. I absolutely can’t keep myself from grinning – and I look like a fool in love.

But I’m no fool.

Because His is the best love ever given.

“Now I am going to pursue her, lead her out into the wild openness, speak tenderly to her heart, and win it.” (My own paraphrase of Hosea 2:14)

HEART. MELT.

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Seven Year Itch

Lyle and I have been married 7 years (ok, almost 8). I wish this were a sitcom so I could flash back for you 30 Rock style, but it’s just a blog, so allow me to summarize our married life in 10 sentences or less…

Year 1 – The honeymoon. Woo hoo!
Year 2 – Goodbye college, hello big city!
Year 3 – The death of a parent, job disappointments, and onset of depression for a jobless and motherless young man.
Year 4 – Breadwinning wife is FRUSTRATED. Credit card balance up, bank account balance down (like, way down).
Year 5 – Dual income again, but with a price – coworkers who negatively influence and SO MUCH PRESSURE to keep them happy.
Year 6 – New home, new (better) job, and pregnant – full of joy, and also every possible mood without any warning (Thank you, Little Macaroni in my womb).
Year 7 – Parenthood, postpartum depression due to both the wild hormone fluxes associated with breastfeeding, and finding I am the working mother I never ever planned to be. Yipes.

But this year feels different… We are changing. We are maturing. We are learning, with more perspective and grace. And instead of a “seven year itch,” we are experiencing the surprising bliss of a new honeymoon phase.

The world would like you to believe that your first year together is the most romantic and exciting time you’ll ever experience, and that it’s all downhill from there. Honestly, it has taken me by surprise how “in love” I’ve been feeling lately. I’m a teenager again, infatuated with my crush (who, by the way, I remember as a blue-haired, bass-playing teenager*), and I just want to spend every moment I can snuggling up to him.

Just like yours, our life has taken some rough turns (not as rough as many, but they were rough for us), and just like you, we have each had periods of being selfish jerks along the way. So where did this 7 year crush come from?

I think it was a choice. First to survive, then to thrive.

TO SURVIVE, we made these preliminary decisions as husband and wife:

  1. To never, ever, EVER use the 7-letter D-word, in speech or thought. Til death do us part, baby, whether you like it or not. Once, years ago, I nearly failed at this. I remember explaining to my husband that “most women wouldn’t stay through this.” I instantly regretted it 100% and decided I would never even imply it ever again.
  2. To prrrrrraaaaay, pray, pray… and ask others to pray… and not to pray for your spouse to do what you want him to do, because he’s likely praying for what he wants you to do too, and chances are good that neither of you have a clue what you really, truly need the way God does.
  3. To seek counsel and knowledge and wisdom about glorious relationships from the Bible, books, mentors, pastors (like our pastor in his Love Song series at itown church), and other happily married people seeking God.

We had to make sure our marriage SURVIVED to even get to a place where we could BEGIN to thrive… And recently, life has become even richer. I blame it on two tweaks:

He has been more intentional about caring for me.
About 6 months ago, Lyle started sharing thoughts about why he loved me, how he appreciates this and that about me, or what I do or even try to do… he’s been very specific, and also enduring in this practice. He offers me written words I can keep from an email or handwritten card mailed to my office… and even once displayed on Facebook for all to see (his sweet message of gratitude got him record likes!) He knows my love language is snuggling, holding hands, and any kind of tender touch – and he does that for me. He even offered me a back rub last week (whaaaaaat????) I could go on about how amazing he is with the baby kiddo, and around the house… It all seems so very intentional. Most people complain about things, but don’t point out when things are good – Lyle does.

I have been more intentional about appreciating him.
Also about 6 months ago (maybe a correlation?), I had a question on my mind: “How much should I expect from my husband?” I had some expectations that I knew he could meet, so I automatically believed he should meet them!  I began reading The Power of a Praying Wife. The author, Stormie Omartian, directly addressed my concern before Chapter 1 was over. In a nutshell, her answer was “Expect as little as possible.” This is really less about where the bar is set, and more about a heart of entitlement vs. gratitude. As Lyle’s wife, I’m not entitled to anything except what God commands of him as a husband! Anything beyond that is an overflow of surprise blessings that bring true joy. Once I realized this, the blessings my husband offered became overwhelmingly clear.

Now that I look at these… they are really the same. It’s intentional gratitude.

I want you to know that I’m not bragging about a perfect life. My life will never be perfect and neither will yours. I know that I will need to re-read this message many times in my future, but while I’m in a place of peace and joy, I desperately wanted to use it to offer you some hope – that’s my only goal in writing this week. Let’s just be honest, sometimes it feels nearly impossible to find even one reason to be grateful toward your spouse. But the more you do it, the more obvious it becomes, and the more you default to a positive marriage.

Are you missing the happy in your marriage? Got a 7 year itch you need to scratch out before you lose something you can’t replace? The solution isn’t in demanding what we “deserve.” It has to be about our lover. I’m so grateful that our family is experiencing a season of (relative) calm this year, but your life can be drama-free and still not be filled with romance that you could be having if you would be intentional. I know, it’s not always this simple, but often it is. Could it be up to you to start?

What can you find to praise about your spouse? How can you be intentional today?

*I know, you want to see it, but unfortunately, no suitable photograph of my blue-haired hunk could be located. Maybe someone can convince him that his non-profit colleagues would accept a 2014 replay of 2002. Yes?

 

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