Quirks and All

In twelve years, (yes, twelve! I remembered this time!) you learn a lot about someone. I know there is much more to figure out, and I look forward to the next fifty or so years. But for now, it’s fun to notice the quirks that are part of what make Michael distinctly who he is. Such as…

-he drinks lactose-free milk, and has figured out the perfect formula for his own chocolate milk. I won’t even attempt to remember what all goes into the mixture, I just know it’s Nestle’, Ovaltine and Carnation all mixed up in there.

-he puts his keys, phone and wallet in a different place every night when he comes home. Sometimes they’re on the piano. Sometimes on the counter. Sometimes on our dresser, but never in the same place two days in a row. I think it’s cute.

-he loves to buy books and has to “break them in” as soon as he takes them out of the box. His twelfth grade english teacher taught them how to do this, and I’ve never seen him open a book to read without breaking it in first.

-he watches movie trailers to relax, and will go back and watch trailers to movies that have been out for years if he loved the movie.

I’m sure there are ten times more things he can say about me, so I’m going to let him say a few:

-she never puts things in the same place twice. I say, “hey Anne, where are the nail clippers?” and she says, “try the dresser, or maybe the bathroom cabinet, or maybe the kitchen table, or maybe by the tv, or maybe the van…”

-it took the first two years of our marriage to realize that sometimes she calls and is frustrated and just needs to vent…and all I need to say is “mmm hmmm…that’s frustrating…I understand.”

-she’s a salsa-eating machine. She eats chips and salsa for at least one meal every day…EVERY DAY.

-She brushes her teeth first thing every morning, even before drinking orange juice. (note from Anne: I don’t drink orange juice. This quirk is invalid.)

We’re just keepin’ it real, folks. I guess what you can learn from this is that it’s a pure miracle from God that we make it out the door with our stuff, considering we never put things in the right place. There’s a reason we’ve never had a very big house…that’d be a nightmare.

The Clock

It’s either moving way too slow or way too fast.

When we were engaged, the clock moved at a snail’s pace.
Our wedding day, the clock decided to get with the program and the time moved so fast, I couldn’t absorb it all.

When I was pregnant, I felt like I had been pregnant for about four years each time.
My baby turned five years old today and I have no idea how that happened. I don’t have babies, toddlers or preschoolers anymore. My son is getting taller by the second, my middle girl is absorbing knowledge faster than I can give it to her and my baby has opinions about her clothes.

Make it stop.

Since I’m supposed to writing about marriage, I am reminded of the first few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I was at work, and thought I might have some sort of sinus infection, so I went to see the nurse. I told her that I needed a prescription, but wanted to make sure I wasn’t expecting before I could take the medicine. I told her that I knew I wasn’t, but I am not a risk taker. I just stood there talking about how there was no way I was going to have a baby, I just needed my prescription and I’d get back to work. The nurse grinned at me and said, “Really?” She showed me the blue line and I felt the floor tip sideways. I gripped the countertop until my knuckles were white and said, “WHAT?” I couldn’t breathe. My vision was blurry. The nurse told me that the baby would need oxygen, so I should take some deep breaths. I stumbled out of the office, somehow got my purse and drove home. I prayed the entire time, for the baby’s salvation, good health, and for Michael’s understanding. This was NOT in the plan.

I walked in our little apartment and Michael was in our overstuffed green chair, with his Bible open on the ottoman in front of him. He had his elbows on his knees, leaning forward, reading the Word. I stood there in the doorway and he looked up, very concerned. He asked if I saw the nurse and was I okay. I walked over and sat on his lap and told him I was very okay, and that we were having a baby. He was dumbfounded. He told me to go see a doctor. We called and made the appointment and I went on back to work.

We saw the doctor a couple of days later and he confirmed what the test showed. We were becoming a family of three. We started telling people and I started googling things I had never googled before.

The weirdest thing happened at this point. I didn’t see it coming at all.

Michael quit speaking to me. He just clammed up. He wasn’t angry, he just pulled away. I was overloading my mind with information on pregnancy and babies and he didn’t want to talk about any of it at all.

It scared me. I felt alone and unsure of everything. What if he didn’t get past this? Why was this MY fault? It was a strange time, and it lasted a little over a week. On a Sunday, after a long weekend of youth events with our church and feeling further from him than I ever had, I drove home to New Orleans from Ponchatoula where we served at a church. He would ride with a friend and come home later. I was alone in the apartment and fell apart. I wanted to eat something with sour cream and wasn’t sure if I could eat sour cream while pregnant. I mean, it says “sour”, right? I cried my heart out right there on my couch, and needed a hug more than ever.

Michael walked in, and I pray I never forget the expression on his face. He walked straight to me, pulled me to him and hugged me tightly. He apologized and told me over and over again that he was okay and we were going to be fine. The Lord arranged that day for him to ride with his friend Mike. Mike encouraged him and told him that your family is what you make it to be. Michael heard him and believed him. He came to the conclusion on that ride home that we were going to be great. If this was God’s plan, then we were going to enjoy it and do our best to be faithful.

The next day, I was heading to my office after lunch and the florist was dropping off a huge bouquet of daisies for me with a card that said, “We’re going to be fine. I love you and our baby.”

We had no control over the clock. We planned to have kids after five years of marriage. On our fifth anniversary, I was six months along with our second child. I said I didn’t want three kids, and my third baby is asleep right now, dreaming away the last few minutes of her fifth birthday.

Our heavenly Father is the timekeeper. We are only responsible for how we respond to the events that He has set on His timeline.

My life is immensely full of blessing because of my lack of control. I have no regrets, because when I became His child, I gave up my right to create my own timeline anyway. Losing my life to gain Christ has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Knowing Jesus is enough, but the fact that he put Michael, Aidan, Molly and Paisley on His timeline for my life is better than I could ever deserve.

 

 

Q&A With the Dude

After a long Mother’s Day of church, lunch, visiting parents, kid-wrangling, and grocery shopping…my best guy is going to answer some questions. We’ll see how this goes…

Me: So hey Michael. What’s up?
Michael: You’re putting me on the spot. I have nothing to say.

Me: Okay, legit question: After eleven and a half years, how is marriage different than you thought it would be when you were single?
Michael:  I thought we’ve been married twelve and a half years.
Me: Seriously? Dude. We got married in 1999.
Michael: I don’t remember what it was like to be single.
Me: Do you want me to say that?
Michael: Yeah, go ahead.
Me: You’re really into this, I can tell.
Michael: I still haven’t gotten past the whole roommate “equal chores” thing and I still put away just my clothes. But it’s only because I don’t know where to put your clothes.
Me: That’s okay. Now that I’m the one that is home more often, it makes sense for me to put my own clothes away. Is that your answer?
Michael: Who are you, Regis? Okay…turn the question back to you. How is it different than you thought it would be?
Me: I honestly don’t know. New question.

Michael: What were you least prepared for?
Me: Conflict resolution. I stink at that. In every relationship, not just marriage.  What about you?
Michael: Same thing. I avoid it and I’ve had to learn to face conflict with you, and learn that that is a good thing.
Me: I hate conflict. I’d rather just say I’m sorry and move on.
Michael: Then you just make a smart-aleck comment thirty seconds later.
Me: True. It’s not a characteristic I’m proud of.

Michael: When did you lose a year?
Me: We’ve been married eleven years.
Michael: We’ve been married twelve.
Me: Let’s count. (holding up fingers….) WHAT? We’ve been married twelve years? When did that happen?
Michael: Maybe you lost a year during Paisley’s first year of life. You had a four year old, a two year old and a newborn.
Me: That would explain a lot. I feel like I should apologize to the world for my miscalculation. I hope it doesn’t cause any conflict I need to avoid later.
Michael: Well, when you’re aiming for sixty years together, what’s one or two?

And that folks, is why I married him.

Last Night

I sat down last night, feeling guilty about not blogging much this week and tried to get some words on the screen.

I had two problems. First, my eyes kept closing. Second, I had nothing to say.

That’s the hard part about blogging. In order for people to keep reading, you have to keep writing. And there are just days when there is nothing to say.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day tomorrow, I am going to use my lack of words to my advantage and show you what eleven years of matrimony has produced.

How about this dude?

Then this little dumplin’ came along…

And a few years later, she showed up and knocked our socks off…

And then they turned into these people…

And I couldn’t be prouder of them. I love being a mom, but I especially love being THEIR mom.

And I’m married to a guy who shows me every day that I am loved and appreciated. Home is our favorite place to be, because we are each other’s favorite person.

I’ll have more to say about marriage next week, but tonight I am just enjoying it. I wouldn’t trade these people for anything in the world.

Two Hours a Week

We all know the importance of setting aside time to just be with one another. No kids, no work, no scheduled events. Some people manage a date night once a week. Some manage to get away for a weekend every few months.

We love those things, and we will jump at the chance to go on a date or get away, but in the last two years we’ve found a way to have “our” time without spending a lot of money or getting a babysitter.

We watch “Castle” on Monday nights, and “Person of Interest” on Thursdays.

Those two hours a week are a lifesaver for me a lot of times. We are not big television watchers, and these are the only shows we follow. The key is that we always watch them together. We make a large effort to get the kids in the bed half an hour before the show comes on and we get comfortable in the living room and talk for a while, then enjoy the escapism that only cops and bad guys can bring.

There have been weeks that those two hours were the only time we had to be by ourselves. We are so committed to our family, church, work, and friends that we find all of our other hours filled with the requirements of those commitments.

So we protect our two hours a week. I know it sounds dramatic, but we fight for it. I write it on the calendar and make sure we’re home. Last Thursday night, we took the kids to a community event and they were having a blast…but we made them leave by a certain time because it was important for us to get home so we could have our hour together.

We take that time for ourselves, but I don’t consider it being selfish. We give so much of our time away, it’s fun to give those hours to each other.

And wondering what is going to happen to Castle and Beckett, or how Finch and Reese are connected and what part does The Machine play in it…that’s all just icing on the cake.

Make time for one another, any way you can.

 

When the To-Do List Gets Long…

Our list of things to be done in this house is never ending. We need to sell it so badly, but we don’t have the time to get it “just right”. Weekends are out of control with our schedule, and quickly our weekdays are becoming very busy.

Tomorrow will be an incredibly busy Sunday, and we’ll be running from start to finish.

We need rest. By this time every night, our eyes are so heavy. The kids are finally asleep, and we really need to spend this time working on chores.

About three or four times a week, we look at each other in the evening and say, “There is so much I need to do, I’m just SO TIRED.”

So, because it’s late, and because I’m worn slap out…I’ll leave you with this and call it a day:

The list we’re working on…we’re working on it together.
The places we have to be…we’re going there together.
The decisions we have to make…we are praying through them together.
And at night, when we’re dog tired and can finally lie down on our pillows…we’re there together.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

 

The Weird Thing About Marriage

The title should probably say, “One of the many weird things about marriage”, because marriage, as cool as it is, is pretty weird. I mean, two people who are as different as night and day in many ways are coming together to live, work, play, and be a family. We want it, but when we get into it, we sometimes think to ourselves, “Seriously? This is the ‘for worse’ part they told me about!'”

Why is that? Why is it a relationship unlike any other?

Because it’s all our relationships balled up into one.

Think about all the relationships we develop with others. Friendships, co-workers, family, romantic, teammates, roommates…we build different types of relationships with lots of people based on how we know them.

Then, when we get married, there is one person who is our friend, our co-worker in the home, our family, our lover, our business partner, our support and backup, our companion. All of those relationships are rolled up into one person. That’s a lot of relating! It means that all the joys that come with each of those relationships are found in our relationship with our spouse.

It also means that all the frustrations and things that bug us in those relationships are found in our marriage as well.

We will have conflict with every person we know if we spend enough time with them. Every person we know will get on our nerves at some point. When you get married, and all of those relationships are represented in this one person you are committed to, conflict is inevitable.

The difference is, we don’t expect to have conflict with our spouse.

I mean, we know we’ll disagree here and there. But conflict? It’s hard to see that coming through the rose colored glasses we put on. During the engagement, wedding and honeymoon, we’re so excited about being together and our expectations are of years of joy and happiness.

Then, in the face of conflict, we’re disappointed because our marriage doesn’t look like what we thought it would look like.

If I can encourage anyone, especially young adults starting out, but even people like me who have been working at marriage a while…please let me say that you have permission to lower your expectations. Please expect the conflict. Please anticipate your spouse getting on your nerves. That doesn’t sound encouraging, but I really mean it to be. I can’t tell you how many people have told us, “We really don’t foresee any problems with ____.” Our expectations are for all of our relational needs to be met in this one person who represents all of the roles people play in our life. But all of the people in our life can drive us nuts! So it’s okay to assume that your spouse will, too. There is freedom in lowering your expectations and knowing that there will be conflict.

And the cool thing about conflict is that in dealing with it, you become stronger. Conflict has a wonderful way of bringing about intimacy. There are a million metaphors I could use here, but you’ve heard them all. We assume that intimacy is built through a lack of conflict. It’s actually the opposite. Working through conflicts yields intimacy. Basically, if your expectations are lowered, then your relationship will grow to a higher level of understanding. It’s weird how that works, but I told you…marriage is weird.

Weird…and worth it.

 

 

Roomies

When we were first married, one of the biggest adjustments Michael and I had to make was in the area of doing chores.

I remember spending a few hours washing, drying and folding clothes in our little laundromat at our seminary apartment complex. I was still so happy to see our clothes all mixed together in the basket. I carried our neatly folded clothes to our apartment and left the basket in the living room, with the intention of putting them away. I got busy doing other things and had to leave for a little while. When I returned, Michael had put away the clothes.

Hold on, let me rephrase…Michael put away HIS clothes.

Mine were still neatly folded in the basket.

I started to notice a pattern when soon after that, I cooked dinner for both of us to eat. I set our little table and we enjoyed our meal. Then Michael got up, washed off his plate, and put it in the dishwasher and left the kitchen. I think he was studying when I sat down beside him and asked if we were just going to split all of the chores fifty/fifty. He gave me a blank stare and said, “I don’t know.” I told him that if we were going to do that, I was just going to start paying half the rent and half the utilities. (He was in school and I worked full time.) He was taken aback by that, and I explained that if we were going to live as roommates, we were going to pay the bills like roommates.

We were brand new at marriage, and had no idea how to live with one another. It has been so much fun figuring it out! That is one of my favorite memories, because it shows how different our lives were before we got married. Michael lived with a bunch of guys. They split the chores and responsibilities. I lived with my parents, and had been declared “unmarriageable” by them because I didn’t know how to do anything.

We have worked it out. We’ve found our way. We’ve argued and discussed and laughed about it.

One of the greatest gifts God gives people in marriage is the time to learn about each other. You don’t have to know it all when you walk down the aisle. You don’t have to be good at it. You learn about each other and about yourself. It does take patience, but God has given you the rest of your life. It does take understanding and commitment, and forgiveness if needed. It takes a good dose of humility as well, because sometimes you have to say, “Okay. This is not how I would do it, but I’m okay with your way.” The world is not going to end if things don’t happen exactly like you think they should.

You’re more than roommates. You’re in this for good. Enjoy it.

Encourage One Another

Every now and again I’m reminded very clearly of why God gave me Michael.

I promise not to brag on him in every blog post. But if I don’t write about this today, I’ll forget about it because my brain is so full of the things I have to remember to functional normally.

Today as I was driving to pick up the kids from school, I saw someone that needed help. You don’t need the details, and this story is not about what I did. Just know that I couldn’t get past the need that I saw in this person’s eyes. It made my heart and my stomach hurt.

I texted Michael to tell him that I really wanted to help this person but I was afraid. He wrote back and asked me why. I said I didn’t know if I was being safe and smart. I didn’t know what to say or do. I was afraid of going alone without him.

Basically, I was having a spiritual tug of war, knowing what God was telling me to do, and feeling the fear of doing it.

Michael’s next text to me said, “‘do not be afraid, for I am with you.’ -Jesus”

I read that, I prayed, I acted on what I felt I was supposed to do and God opened the door for me to show grace to someone who needed it. Three people, actually.

I’m very capable of doing what God tells me to on my own. However, because I’m quite human, my fear of the unknown can sometimes debilitate my efforts, even though my heart longs to obey.

I needed encouragement, and Michael said just the right thing. Rather than discuss it with me, or give me pros and cons, or tell me what he thought about the situation, he told me what Jesus said.

Because in the end, what Jesus says trumps all of our words. He is the final word. And if He says He’ll be with us, then He will be. And because I’m His child, he’s more than just WITH me, He lives IN me.

So I can obey because He is in me and is actually doing the work through me.

In any relationship, the best encouragement is when someone can speak scripture to you and you know without a doubt that God’s word is true and active and alive because it was EXACTLY what you needed at that moment.

In marriage, encouragement is crucial. Building each other up and cheering each other on is a huge way of showing love to one another. I depend on Michael’s kindness and him cheering me on. But saying, “I know you can do it” is one thing. Letting me know that Jesus is with me and I have no reason to fear, that’s loving me as Christ loves the church.

Know God’s word. Read it together. Encourage one another with it.

 

The Little Things

My husband is great.

He does small things for me that are really huge things, and they matter a lot.

He is supportive when I do what I love, and is a great cheerleader. He goes to family events without complaint, and has fun. He plays with the kids while I cook dinner and then washes the girls’ hair when they take a bath. When I say, “Look at this cute necklace on Etsy”, he looks, and usually acts interested.

He recently did something that made me smile. My all time favorite movie is Singing In the Rain. I have seen it so many times, I can quote it word for word. We watched it last weekend with the kids and I fell asleep. The next morning on the way to church, Michael told me that he spent some time watching YouTube clips of Gene Kelly and reading about his background and how he got started in movies. He wanted to show me the videos he watched, because he knew I’d love them.

I did love them. And I love my husband so much more because he loves me enough to take interest in what I am interested in.

I just recently finished the book, The Blind Side. It’s a good story, and I’m fascinated about what happened in Michael Oher’s life, but I also learned so much football history while reading it. I would tell Michael what I learned about Bill Walsh and the way he structured his offense and used the left tackle to protect Joe Montana when he played for the Forty-Niners. Never in my life have I cared a whit about football, but it was fun to talk about something he enjoys and to learn about what actually is happening on the field, rather than just watching where the ball goes.

Making the effort to know your spouse and then building on what you know about them is fun. You have to try a little, and step outside of your usual interests, but when is learning and growing ever a bad thing?

So I’m thinking…now that the Dodgers are having a good season, it’s going to be a good year for baseball.

Maybe we’ll also take tap dancing lessons.