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Merci Beaucoup!

There is only one phrase that Joseph and I use more in our everyday lives than "I love you"...

"Thank you."

Sometimes, I-love-you's are quick, sometimes we say them without thinking, and sometimes we say them even when we don't mean them or to fill a gap in conversation.

But "Thank you" is different.

I can't say "thank you" without actually meaning it. Thank you for working so hard for us, thank you for being tender when I don't feel good, thank you for picking up that big pile of dog poop on the porch. For not leaving toothpaste blobs on the sink or pee on the toilet seat, for encouraging me to write, for being super excited about being a daddy. Thank you for teaching me new things with patience, for holding my hand while walking through Lowe's, for treating me like a lady even infront of your guy friends. For all the big and small things you do every day.

And when Joseph says it to me, my whole day is made.

Last night we were w…

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My Husband, the Stranger

I was at a prayer meeting last week with Joseph, when a moment came when I realized just how much I still had to learn about my husband. One of the guys started sharing about his struggles, and Joseph too opened up and shared about how he shared a similar struggle.

Huh?

What?

How come I had never heard about this?

Suddenly the man next to me became a completely different man. As he talked, I found myself seeing him almost as a stranger again...but in a good way. I realized how very little I know about Joseph, and I was all at once in love with a deep part of him I had never known and ashamed at myself for never asking about it.

A couple months ago, I had a similar experience. I was sharing with Joseph about how much I loved our dog. Joseph had gotten her as a puppy just a couple weeks after we lost our first baby. She has been my constant companion and source of laughs ever since. I thanked him for getting her because I had needed her during those hard months of depression.  Joseph repli…

Looking Back

We are in the middle of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. A time to look back at our year, and look forward to new things. It is a time of renewal and new beginnings.  Even Jesus celebrated this and all the Festivals when he was on earth, so I have taken some time during this festival to think about all the wonderful things the Lord has done.

When Joseph and I were still courting, neither of us had any money to get married. He had been given a pay cut at work, his roommates had all lost their jobs, and payment on the house was overdue. Somehow he saved up enough money for a ring, and we began to plan the wedding date. We both wanted a simple occasion. No frills. But as I researched even homemade, DIY weddings, I could see the expenses growing, and I had no idea how we were going to pull it off.

To top things off, the week before the wedding, Joseph's car died, and I was taking him to work every day. Then, when I was planning the flowers at a mentor's house, my car died in th…

I Think a Change Would Do You Good

Ah yes! Autumn!  Although in the south it's still a hot and humid 91 degrees, I can feel September beginning and fall approaching by the way the sun looks in the sky. Here and there the leaves are starting to change color, and I have just been invited to my first apple-picking expedition of the season.

This is my favorite season of all. Although, if I think about it, every new season is my favorite season. I love the change to winter and all its holiday glamour. I love to see the earth come to life under the warmth of a spring sun, and then bud and blossom into summer. Really, how boring would life be without the changing seasons?

As human beings, we are so opposed to change, aren't we? A new policy at work, a new class change at school, a move to another location. We dread and try to avoid it.

But where would life be without change? Isn't a butterfly that much more magnificent because it changes from a caterpillar? And if a child didn't grow and change, we would con…

My Help Comes From the Lord

This morning one of the little ones I watch was playing on the welcome mat in our place. He was wearing little boy sneakers, the kind with the velcro straps on them. He turned to crawl away to another toy, and found to his horror, that the welcome mat followed him. He let out a loud cry and continued to frantically crawl away from the brown and green monster. But each time he stopped, he found the thing followed him and would not give up pursuit. I tried to get his attention so I could help him, but he just kept crying and crawling around the dining room table.

It seems cruel, but I decided to just watch for a minute or two. I knew that he had more than enough strength to pull the mat off his shoe (he has carried much heavier things with ease.) So I wondered what it was that kept him from just pulling the silly thing off, or even, crawling to me so I could pull it off.

I just sat where I was and continued to call him to me, holding out my hands in invitation. But instead he gave up tr…

She Works Hard For the Money

I am the doer, the planner, the one who attends to every detail of, well, everything. You need a house cleaned, a kid babysat, some help packing and moving? I'm there.  I will put aside what I'm doing and drive to the rescue of a flat tire, a friend at the hospital, or stay up and listen to the latest heartbreak of a girlfriend's heart. Isn't that what a Christian woman is supposed to do?

At home, I am always cleaning, organizing, rearranging. I cook, I do laundry, I watch kids, I walk and wash the dog, I make out my meal menu, I buy groceries, I buy the shower or birthday gift for a friend, a give my husband a backrub, I remind him of where he left his keys. I am an efficient and organized machine. And at the end of the day, I may be tired, but hey, atleast my floors are spotless.

So enter first trimester of pregnancy, and suddenly every moment of every day I am either eating or sleeping. Even the thought of getting up to put a dish in the sink is nauseating. I did mus…

All in the Family

No matter what you may have seen in Disney movies or romantic films, Prince Charming does not carry off the Princess to live by themselves forever. When you marry your prince, you marry his family.  So choose wisely.

I was blessed to marry into Joseph's wondeful family.  He doesn't always see how great his family is, but let me tell you what I tell him about them. 

First there is my mom and dad in-law, who took me in as their daughter from the first time I went to visit them.  They have been married for over 25 years and still are very much in love with each other.  They have raised 7 boys. all home-schooled, and all incredibly smart, respectful young men.  They have an amazing ministry and an amazing life of testimony of God's goodness. And the best part is, for some reason, they genuinely like me!  Do we see eye to eye on everything? No. But I didn't expect that.  There are the differences of culture, geography, and age between us.  But they have been an immense sou…

Money, money, money

I never understood why a couple would want to get a divorce over something as intangible as money. 

I work, I get paid, I pay bills, I pay tithes, and the rest is mine to do as I please. 

I had never had a budget, and had never saved away in an account. I never needed to. I made sure my money lasted until my next paycheck. Hey, atleast I I'm not in debt.

Here I am so proud of myself and my financial prowess, until I got married, and all that changed...

It should be better with two incomes now, right? That means twice the money to spend as we please. Right?

Wrong!

Now there are 2 vehicles, 2 mouths, and 2 very different ways of looking at finances. Not to mention 4 hands pulling out of one bank account.  The van needs new tires, the heat quit working, Joseph needs a new tool to do his job, I need a wedding present for a friend this weekend. But the mortgage is due, the phone bill is overdue, and that parking ticket still needs to be paid.


We have felt the pressure, especially in weeks…

In the Beginning

It all started at a youth group leadership meeting. I was sharing on "Heroes" and I asked everyone to find a partner and tell each other who their heroes were.  Everyone had paired up but me and this guys leader named Joseph. Our eyes met and he gave me the "will-you-be-my-partner-so-I-don't-feel-dumb-having-to-ask-for-one?" look. (Or atleast that's what I thought that look meant. It was only after we were married that he told me the look meant "Can-I-please-be-your-partner-because-you-are-the-cutest,-most-interesting-girl-I've-ever-heard-and-I'd-love-to-have-an-excuse-to-talk-to-you!") We had a conversation that I hardly remember, but that apparently stayed with him a long time.

Every Sunday and Wednesday after that, this small group leader kept asking me to come hang out with everybody after church, for lunch, or feeding the homeless.  I am extremely shy around new people, and I kept turning him down. I thought he was just trying to be n…

Homemaking

Much to the displeasure of my husband, I love country music. The stories, the twang, the guitars, the down-to-earth outlook on life. And when cleaning, cooking, or driving, I crank it up and sing along...usually when Joseph is not home.
One particular day about a year ago, I learned a lesson that began while listening to country music...
After a long day of work, Joe got home later than he said he would and then wasn't exactly thrilled about eating dinner. I know now that he was more thirsty than hungry, and probably more tired than both, but at the time I was really upset that my husband had not appreciated the effort I put into cleaning and making dinner.
Then he got on the computer and ignored me for a while.
And he left his shoes on when coming through the door, only taking them and his dirty socks off at the computer and leaving them on the floor.
Finally, when I asked him to take out the garbage several times, he was too busy being on the computer to hear me, so I just took it…

Sister, Sister

I was taking a walk with one of my girlfriends.  We were just enjoying the fresh air, taking a break from studying and working, and listening as we told each other about life since we last met. There is nothing like another female presence to make you feel all girlie again--cooing at the babies in the playground, giggling at the cute guy jogging by, hearing another voice tell you "I know exactly how you feel," and raving about the newest deal you got at the store. It's just the sheer joy of sisterhood that can't be touched by any other relationship.

I still can't believe how I lived so much of my life without girlfriends. It wasn't by choice at first, it just so happened that all the kids on my block growing up were boys.  So I learned to play GI Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without thinking twice about the fact that they were all male. But then as I grew into middle and high school I chose to hang out with my guy friends, well, because I was already …

Consumer Bride

When my mom was a new bride, she only had the clothes on her back and a sewing machine in her hand.  Everything else she either made, grew, or bartered for.  My mom worked as she went, putting an appliance on lay-away, finding fabric at thrift store, and all the while with an intense joy for seeing everything come together under her own hands.  She never swiped a credit card or took out a loan, and yet put herself through school and raised four kids.

I see so many new brides now, almost desperate in their desire to have everything right away. It only takes a credit card and the few months before the wedding to buy what took their parents 20, 30, or 40 years to collect. There is a sly whisper from every glossy home magazine and every extreme home makeover show: "You're only a good wife if you have those new leather parson chairs in the living room" or "Wouldn't that gilded chandelier look nice in the entry way?" or "Your china only works for the winter.…

Macho Men

I had to begin to understand the heart of the Father before I could ever love a man. The Lord knew that, and so long before he brought Joseph and I together, he had begun to put key men in my life who would personify the love of the Father. Some of these men I knew personally and some I only knew through a book they had written, but each one shaped, or rather reshaped, my view of Godly masculinity.

T.D. Jakes, in his book, Daddy Loves His Girls, writes: "A daughter watches her father and draws conclusions as to what men are like.  She watches and studies her father to ascertain what a male does and does not accept well.  It is on this safe perch of childhood that she can take notes that will assist her in later years.  She can determine that men are stable or unstable, reckless or responsible. We are, with our actions, defining the next generation's point of reference.  Her husband will be weighed on the scales of what her father was or was not to her and her mother."

My …

I Think I Can

I was breathing hard. My head was pounding, my chest burning, my mouth dry. All I could see was Joseph ahead of me climbing the hill so effortlessly, and looking back to encourage me on. Grr! I huffed, I puffed, and I cussed--yeah, it comes out when I'm really frustrated. The harder I pedaled the slower I seemed to go. Joseph was almost at the top looking down and telling me I could do it. Oh please, I thought, I don't even believe that! I mustered enough breath to mutter an exhausted "shut up!" between clenched teeth. How could I have let myself get so out of shape? I used to ride my bike all the time as a kid and I don't ever remember hills kicking my butt like this.

This whole scenario started a week before in our bedroom as we were getting ready to go somewhere. I couldn't fit into a particular piece of clothing and, whether because we were in a rush or because it was a certain time of the month, I just had a meltdown right there. I had gained 30 pounds wh…

Shut Up and Get Out of the Way

I love going to Lowe's with Joseph. I love designing a space with him and then picking up materials with him to make that project come to life. 


I love helping Joseph move a friend or family member from one place to another. I love packing boxes and getting them ready for him to move and stack in the truck.

When we work it's like a dance:  we know what the other person's going to do, and we know what the other person needs before they need it. We get the job done and love every minute. But it hasn't always been so.

When we were engaged, I dreaded going to Lowe's with Joseph. He would load up lumber, PVC pipe, and crown mold and I couldn't help. So I would try to take an end of a sheet of drywall to "help" him and he would tell me to please not get near. Once I tried to grab the end of a washing machine as he was loading it onto something, and I got a sharp "don't touch that!" I was only trying to help! I didn't deserve to be scolded…

Anniversary Trip

I laid back in the warm water and felt the bright sun on my face, the cool air on my arms, and breathed in the smell of dark earth bringing forth new life. All around me were a million shades of green peeking out from new buds and leaves and the dazzling blue sky over it all.

Joseph and I were in a cabin in the mountains.  Far above, it seemed, all the troubles and noise of the world.  A lone hawk swirled overhead and carpenter bees buzzed underneath the deck. I had snuck outside for a few minutes under this great canopy of creation, and I felt the Lord's presence in it all, but especially in the fact that I delighted in his creation.  I was filled with such a sense of wonder that I had almost forgotten I could feel. I saw myself again as a little girl, and the Lord reminded me that he always saw me this way. I was always his little girl, and everything he did in my life was to try to get me to always be in wonder at him.

Joseph came to join me a few minutes later. We both sat in h…

In Unexpected Places

Even before we opened our eyes that morning, we already knew it had been raining all night and was still raining. The smell of wet earth drifted in the screened window and the soft patter of raindrops from the trees sounded on the camper roof. Normally, I love warm, rainy days, but this morning I groaned at the thought of being wet. Joseph and our friend still had a shed to build, and his wife and I had moving and cleaning and errands to run. The idea of the goodness of the Lord had been fresh on my mind--I had been reading up on it-- and so I decided to take the Lord at his word. I felt something in my being shift as I defiantly said outloud, "Lord, those clouds are going to roll back, the ground will dry up, and by the time the guys are ready to start work this morning, everything will be ready for them, because you love them and because you are a good Father." Joseph agreed with me and we got up to get ready.

Two hours later, as the four of us finished breakfast and set ou…

Bambinos

Babies have been the topic of conversation between Joseph and I recently, I'm guessing for a number of reasons. The first being that we are finally coming to a place of healing about the stillbirth of our own baby. The second being that she would have been one year old this week. The third, that so many of our friends are having babies. Fourth, that we just celebrated 2 years of marriage and Joseph's business is doing well, (which were the 2 things I asked him for before having children). And fifth, is that we are surrounded by the babies I care for every day. So no matter where we turn, there is a shower, a dedication, a toy, or a movie that reminds us of babies and gets me sobbing like one, sometimes for joy and sometimes for sadness.

But despite the fact that Joseph and I really want kids, my heart is in a tug-of-war about my having my own. I adore children and youth, have worked with them in some capacity since I was 12, went to school to learn how to better minister to th…

Evening on the Dock

I remember sitting on the dock on the lake right after the last rays of the sun had set, chatting quietly with my friend and mentor while new counselors were being initiated by the giant zipline that crossed the lake. We chuckled as we heard the whoops and short bursts of screams as one by one the counselors leapt off the giant wall and zoomed across the lake, only one glow-stick shining where each of them was located.

As the evening went on, and stars came out one by one, our chat got more serious and more deep, as we talked about life, love, relationships, and future dreams. She was older than me by only 10 years, but she had 3 home-schooled children and a remarkable marriage. She was quiet and gentle, loving and graceful--every bit the woman I wanted to be. I often caught her disciplining her youngest in a very tender way, while I was shouting and impatient with my own campers. Even when her husband worked some long hours, she didn't demand he give her his attention. By doing s…

Man, I Feel Like a Woman

Joseph and I were in Wisconsin a month ago, spending some time with his oldest brother and his wife, my brother and sister-in-law, and getting some work done on their house. Joseph did most of the work during the week, so I got to take walks, read, and write--a few things I haven't gotten to do in some time.


I was amazed, and not in a good way, at how much of my own likes, hobbies, and little pleasures had gotten left behind when I got married. And it's not just me, Joseph too. His brother mentioned whether Joseph was allowed to skateboard anymore now that he was married. Ofcourse he is! I wish he would skateboard more! The guy I met would skateboard all the time; I think the guy I married has done it twice since we've been married.


And as for me, well I haven't been near as active as I used to, and I feel that taking it's toll on my energy and my waistline, and in turn my self-esteem. I used to give myself pedicures regularly, I used to shave more often, I used to …

When He Prays

Last night, as we were winding down for bed, Joseph pulled me close and laid my head on his chest and started praying--for us, for others, thanking the Lord for all his goodness. I closed my eyes and listened, both to his voice and to his heartbeat. It was a delightful moment, as I let go of the day and imagined the Lord holding us both in His arms. 

I love when Joseph prays. He has such a reverence for the Lord and such a tender heart to hear when the Lord is saying something.

Now, I love to pray too, especially for others. To dance. To sing. I love being alone with my Jesus and reading his word and blabbing on and on to him about how beautiful he is.  But there is something about when Joseph prays that is different. The atmosphere shifts when the head of the household takes my hands and speaks to the Lord. When I pray it is all loving and gentle. When he prays, the angels perk up, shake off their dust, and stand at attention. The head is speaking; the authority is giving command. Pa…

Bed, Bath, and Dancing

Joseph and I agree there are two things every couple should do before getting married:  put together a wedding registry and take dance lessons.  These two activities will force you to see what the other person is like and what you are like in everyday situations.

Two things we quickly found out as we headed to BB and B and they handed us our registry guns:  Joseph is a no-holds barred-it's-now-or-never-i-ain't-gonna-live-forever kind of person. He took that gun and started scanning everything he liked, regardless of price, size, or our need for it. I didn't scan a single item until we were about an hour into our visit. I wanted to walk through the whole store, check out my options, make a list of what we needed, and methodically check off each room of the house as we finished it. It was the first time our differing personalities were brought together to accomplish a task, and it wasn't pretty. I kept chiding Joseph for scanning stuff we didn't need and completely ov…

The Early Years

This month Joseph and I will be celebrating 2 years of marriage.  I think to us it has seemed like so much longer.  They have been the hardest and most exhausting couple of years either of us have ever lived.

Just the fact that we were able to go out this weekend, both by ourselves and then with friends, was a great achievement.  As we walked through the aisles of Lowe's, dreaming about the possibilities, and then got a little competitive on the disc golf course, we realized that it was a miracle that we could just enjoy a moment together.  We were healthy, we were tired but peaceful, and we didn't have any responsibilities, if only for a moment. 

The first year and a half of our marriage was all a blur and a rush of activity, work, and heartache.  We were several months behind on bills, we were working long hours, coming home, and rushing off to the next meeting, the next ministry, the next get-together.  We were providing boarding for a troubled teenage girl. We found out we…

Little Things

(This entry is from a draft I wrote a few weeks ago, and forgot to post on the blog...)
Last night, my wonderful husband came home with flowers and a movie, a box of chocolates, and a package of caramel popcorn. The best part was getting to cuddle and talk while the rain pattered on the patio.
The day before, we biked to the park and raced our friends' children around the playground. I felt like I was a kid again, and we biked back home tired but giggling.
About every week we have a Lowe's date and we walk hand in hand through the aisles and dream of things we'd like to put together in our place.
When we have an afternoon off, we take our dog and get some competition going playing frisbee golf.
When we don't want to go out, we make some tea or coffee, listen to some worship, or read aloud from whatever book we happen to have borrowed at the time.


It's nice to have these moments to write about in my journal. I spend enough time worrying about bills and work, stressing…

Dancing in the Kitchen

The first thing Joseph does when he comes home from work or a trip is find me, pick me up, twirl me around, and give me a big kiss.  It doesn't matter what I'm doing or what I have in my hand, he will make me put everything down and hug him.  Knowing this, sometimes, when I see his van pull in, I run to find a hiding spot. Ofcourse he always finds me, and I always end up trying to run away and get caught and rewarded with a barrage of tickles and kisses.  Sometimes I run toward him, in very dramatic, cheesy movie fashion, and he sees it and starts running toward me in slow motion too. And sometimes, if Im making dinner while listening to music, he'll just come in and ask me to dance, and we'll dance to whatever is playing, and we'll talk about our day and gush on and on about how we missed each other all day.  Too mushy? Maybe. Corny? Perhaps. But it's what we do. Sometimes it's the only moment we have together all day. We both believe that it's our &qu…

Full Belly, Happy Heart


A lot of my memories of childhood revolve around food.  My mom is a great cook, not to mention fast.  She can be stirring a pot, basting a turkey, and rolling out pie dough seemingly simultaneously.  (This was ontop of raising 4 kids (us and 2 others she babysat), keeping the house always neat and tidy, and keeping herself looking great as well.)  She was the one who taught me to always have something on hand to make if company should show up. She showed me that a meal should have lots of color:  red tomatoes, green peppers, orange yams, yellow squash.  She gave me a love for different textures of food and for the possibilties that spices and herbs can open up.  I think mostly what I took away from all those years watching her cook, was the joy of making something that others will enjoy--a meal that not only fills up the belly but fills up the heart as it is shared with people.  It's amazing that even to this day, if I'm alone cooking something, the first thing I do is pic…

The Simple Life

Six months ago, Joseph spoke of possible putting the house up for rent and moving to a smaller place, mostly because even with the two of us working full-time, we were barely keeping our heads above water financially.  Immediately, my very practical, very organized, very structured right brain kicked in and screamed "Are you kidding?" while Joseph went on about how great it would be to rent it out to someone in need, help a family out, yadayadayada.  All I heard was "move..soon".  Ok, love, do you realize that I am a nanny and that my babies come to me? Where am I going to have room to watch children in a small place?  And where are we going to put 1500 square feet of stuff, plus 3 sheds full of tools, 2 big dogs, and a cat? I told Joseph that it was going to take me some time to warm up to the idea, but ofcourse he was already off telling the whole world that our house was for rent. What does a wife do at this point? Do I scream and kick and try to get my way? Do …

Lessons from the Supermarket

Joseph and I found ourselves in the supermarket, aggravated at the errands we still had to do, tired from a long day of work, frustrated at how slow things seemed to be moving. I am not a night person, so that exacerbated the problem. Joseph hates grocery shopping. But we wanted to just hang out with each other. It wasn't working very well. I told Joseph he could just wait in the car while I shopped. Then I complained about how I always had to accompany him on his shopping trips and he always made my life miserable on mine.  We found ourselves in the detergent aisle, arguing over something silly. And then as Joseph always does, he stopped everything, took my hands and pulled me toward him. I stiffened up and acted like I was mad at him; real mature I know. He put his arms around me, and in usual gentle Joseph fashion, told me that he just wanted to spend time with me. He didn't want to wait in the car, or go run some other errands while I shopped. He wanted to spend time with …