Um, hello. (Sheepish wave and grin inserted here.)
I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been living. Sometimes it’s really hard to do both. I admire those who can.
Apparently, my last post was before we went to England. Well…we went to England.
We had an incredible trip, and made some really special memories with some of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege to serve with. God is so faithful, and He never fails to teach me a very specific lesson every time I give up my time and my priorities and my money to make Him known. The first year I went, it was all about seeing others as Jesus sees them. Realizing that so many don’t know Him, and don’t know how much they are loved by Him opened my very blind eyes and changed me so deeply I am not the same today as I was before I went. The second year, it was about the church, and the way we love one another and serve one another. I’ve been in church all of my life, and I’ve belonged to some great congregations, but we don’t love or serve one another in a way that demonstrates our love for Jesus. We love and serve because it makes us feel good, and we do want to help others, but there is not a desperation to be a part of the body of Christ. This year, it was about learning to lead. I’ve always been very comfortable letting someone else take the lead in situations that require a leader. This is not because I couldn’t do it, but because I didn’t want anyone to think I was being bossy, or trying to elevate myself in any way. I learned on this trip that leadership doesn’t mean you think you are above anybody. Being a leader means you see what needs to be done, and you help equip others to be able to do it. You also work alongside and share the labor and follow the leadership of others in the areas they are gifted in. My experience with working in this particular church led to several opportunities where I needed to be able to lead our group and know what had to be done next. It was a step out of my comfort zone, and I’m so glad I had the chance to learn.
Since we’ve been home, I’ve started homeschooling, and started a job. The leadership skills I learned while in England are paying off now! I spend much of my day overwhelmed. Teaching fourth and second grade, and kindergarten is a blast, but involves a lot of preparation and thinking. At night, when it’s finally all done, I can barely form sentences in my mind. But amidst the mental marathon of the day, and the constant housework (homeschool is messy, y’all!), the atmosphere in my home is wonderful. We laugh, we play, we create, my kids are reading constantly, they’re learning cool stuff, and I pray above all else, God is being glorified here. He is the only reason I’d even attempt this crazy endeavor. He equipped me for it, and so I’m doing my absolute best to be what my kids need right now.
But I haven’t talked about marriage yet. It’s funny, while writing about the England trip, I’m reminded of the hardest part of the experience. Michael and I love serving together. We love traveling together. We love working alongside one another. We celebrated our thirteenth anniversary while on the trip. But it takes a toll on us. We have very different personalities. I am so verbal. I love to talk things out and at the end of the day, I process my thoughts and emotions by discussing every little thing. Mission trips are so emotional for me, I need to work out all those feelings at night when we get to our room. Michael, on the other hand, wants to stop talking. He has used all his words for the day, and he wants to spend some time in God’s Word, and then just get some rest.
Now this is not a comparison to say that one way or the other is a better way to decompress. I have my way, he has his. But after three or four nights of me needing to discuss and him not wanting to talk…there is tension. Nothing major, but tension nonetheless. We’ve made this same trip together twice, and have experienced the same struggle each year. Both years, at the end of the trip, I got on the plane and asked myself if it was worth it: going on a mission trip with my husband, only to struggle with communicating with him. Both times, the answer is a resounding yes. It’s completely worth it. We’re always able to work it out. It may be after we get home, but we work it out. I’d rather have the stress of those few moments than give up the experience altogether.
And as for recently, I’m learning how to be a wife in the midst of being a mom, teacher and employee. I’ve always worn just the two hats, wife and mom. Putting on more hats is a challenge, because Michael is wearing several of his own. We both feel strongly about the things God has called us to do. Right now, more than anything, I think we are to encourage one another at all times. We’ve started going to the gym, and that calls for encouragement. He’s teaching and counseling, and working his very busy job. He is also committed at church, and is the best dad our kids could ever have. I’m doing all my stuff, and every now and then I sing in church, and try to invest in the lives that God has put in front of me. We don’t take any of those things lightly. So we encourage one another. Just today at lunch, Michael had to remind me of some things I needed to hear because I was having a tough time with school. He is such a cheerleader for me, and makes me feel like I can do anything. I know God put us together, but I am certain at times like this that God is sovereign and knew before “we” ever happened that I’d need him at this time in my life.
So every stage, every experience, is a time to learn and grow. Marriage, just like life, should never go on autopilot. It’s worth our full attention, and our one hundred percent. I’m sure I thought when I was younger that by thirteen years of marriage it would be cruise control from here on out. It’s never going to be cruise control if we want this to be the best it can be. If marriage is a reflection of our relationship with God, then cruise control is not an option.
And I’m glad, because I don’t want to miss a minute of this trip.