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No More Hide and Seek

I'm a pretty even-keeled person, but once in a while, something will happen that will trigger and then override my usually polite self.

My husband says I let things build up and then one silly little thing will set me off. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. For instance, when I feel peopled-out (meaning it's been several days since I've had any time to myself) and my daughter, or an acquaintance, or my mom asks me to do something for them, I explode. Okay, so it's more like I implode. I don't kick and scream.  I shut down. I cry. I lock myself away and refuse to see anyone. 
Through my husband pointing this out to me, the Lord has been teaching me to be aware of my emotions, and more importantly to submit my emotions to Him. It's been a lesson in trusting the Lord with my most vulnerable self. He is teaching me to run to Him even when I don't feel like it. And that is very hard to do for this "I'll figure it out myself" person…

Becoming Me

A few years ago, I came to the realization that I was a Christian, a writer, a worshipper, and an outdoor lover long before I was a wife. And while my role of wife is an important one, it's not my only identity. I had at first been so caught up in attending to all my husband's needs and following his dreams, that I had neglected my own. I was burned out and bitter. It was mentors and writers, like Sheila Wray Gregoire, who inspired me to balance my identity as "Sarah: the writer, the Jesus follower, and the outdoor lover" with "Sarah: the wife." This blog is just one result of that balance.

I am super excited to now be partnering with Sheila and her team! She's the author of the book, The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex. (Check out my affiliate link below.) Her articles have both challenged and encouraged me. She has more to say on the topic of being a "perfect Christian wife" in her article:

I Am Not Just a Christian Wife, I Am a Christian

Brave

Oak paneling. Leather chairs. Sweet pipe smoke intermingled with the richness of men's cologne. The sound of raspy voices sharing stories and the occasional deep-voiced laugh. Somewhere in my mind, there is a memory of a place like this. A place my dad used to go when I was a child and I used to love to follow. A place whose very walls could tell stories of danger, and romance, and heroism. It's a place where you could breathe in the very essence of masculinity and camaraderie. I felt small (in a good way). I felt safe. I felt brave.

When we were courting, I used to feel that same way with my husband. Everything he did was amazing, and there was nothing he couldn't do. But too often I've allowed life to suck the wonder out of our relationship. What happened? Where did the danger, and romance, and heroism go?

It is still there, but I have failed to see it. I have forgotten how to see the knight in shining armor, and only see the knight who leaves his armor on the floor an…

Through New Eyes

Over the last few years, we have had many new friends over to our house for dinner or games. It always pleasantly surprises me when they comment on something that has all but become invisible to me. They ask me about where that picture was taken, or who painted that piece, or where did we get that desk, and as I tell them the funny or sweet story behind each object I realize what a rich and wonderful marriage we have had. 
My husband and I have moved so many times in our short marriage, that we have had to leave behind anything that isn't useful or sentimental. And we've had days when we could barely buy a gallon of milk, much less buy a new piece of furniture. So our home has become a fun, albeit eclectic collection of curbside finds and going-away gifts. Even as I sit in my dining room writing this, I can see easily see a dozen things that have been given to us or made by us. They are a constant reminder of how much we are loved and how many memories we've made together. 

Unloved

About 2 years ago I wrote a post about my struggles with not feeling loved by my husband. During this time, the Lord led me to a group of mentors that helped me get my footing again in my marriage. Some of these mentors were people I met in real life, and others, like Jolene Engle, were people whose stories, books, and teachings I listened to online. Jolene's words were hard to hear at first, because I was so deep in my own self-pity, but as the Lord softened my heart, her words became life-giving. She really tackles the hard, heart issues in marriage and I am the better for it. The link to her article is below:

10 Reasons Why a Husband Isn’t Loving His Wife with Christ-Like Love


Alone

I love my alone time.

I love time to write and color and think and read and talk to the Lord. 

I love stepping on a trail, swimming, and taking baths because it's all things I can do utterly and deliciously alone. 

It's funny that at one point in my life I thought that when I got married I wouldn't need alone time because I'd be able to share everything with my soulmate. But the truth is quite the opposite. Unless I am alone for a time, unless I have the freedom to be myself and with the Lord, I am no good to be with others. Especially not my husband. 

I have to be alone, because if I'm not, I look to my husband to fill all my expectations. I look to him to give me attention all the time, to listen to everything I have to say, to be everything that I, unrealistically, want him to be. I start to get disappointed when he doesn't get home early, or if he goes to bed before I do, or if he simply leaves his dirty socks on the floor. 

I have to be alone so that I can be t…

Tall, Dark, and Handsome

Me: "What's your type?"

Him: "Whad'ya mean 'type'?"

Me: "You know...type. Everyone has one. Do you prefer a blonde, a brunette, a ginger? Athletic? Short or tall? Quiet or talkative? Artistic or nerdy?"

This was the conversation my husband and I had on a long car ride once. A lot of laughter ensued, as well as a few new realizations.

I discovered, much to my relief and amazement, that I was indeed my husband's "type"--dark eyes, olive skin, and, ahem...curves. And to his surprise and amazement, he found that physically, he's not my "type" at all. Not to say I don't find my husband physically attractive--I think he's a total hottie!--but it's just that his build and features were not what I would have looked for when I was dating. 

Him: "So what is your type, then?"

Me: "Honestly? Um...ok, I got it. Think Hugh Jackman in the Wolverine movies. Dark, broad-shouldered, mysterious."

Him: &quo…

Unexpected Lessons

Since I'm taking a break from writing this week, I was looking back through my blog archive and found this one from 2012. 

When I was single, I had never had a budget. I had never saved away in an account. I never felt I needed to. I made sure all my bills were paid and appointments were made and that seemed to be enough. 

I never understood why a couple would want to get a divorce over something as intangible as money. It didn't seem like such a complicated thing. 

After all, now that I'm married, life should be better with two incomes, right? That means twice the money to spend as we please. Right?

Not exactly. 

There are two vehicles, two mouths, and two very different ways of looking at finances. Not to mention four hands pulling out of one bank account.  The car needs new tires, the furnace stopped working, and I need a wedding present for a friend this weekend. But the mortgage is due, the phone bill is due, and that parking ticket still needs to be paid.

We have felt the…

My First Love

Happy Fourth of July! Hope you are all enjoying a restful day with your loved ones as we celebrate this historic day. I'm taking a break from writing this week but wanted to share a post from July 2015 that's still as true and beautiful as ever. Enjoy!


I'm a huge romantic. As in mentally-matchmaking-my-single-friends-and-asking-strangers-about-their-love-lives romantic. I had a new crush every week when I was younger, and I'd dream about having a great adventure someday with my true love. I still love to watch older couples holding hands or sitting side by side on a park bench. Give me a sweet note or a walk at sunset and I'm a happy woman!
But reality is not always romantic. And neither is my husband. And most days I'm okay with that. I realize that he is a man raised in a household of men. I also realize that because he's a man he doesn't even remotely think about things like flowers, or candles, or perfume. Or birthdays or holidays. Or breakfast in bed…

The Longing

The breeze blowing the first leaves of fall off the trees overhead. The mighty roar of the waterfall just feet away from me. The cold water swirling around my feet. I sat and breathed in the beauty of the walls of green all around me. My heart was filled with the presence of such an amazing Creator and I was at peace. 
But along with the joy of this moment was another familiar feeling...

Sadness?

Sorrow?

Loneliness?

But how? I was sharing a moment with the most perfect of all Beings and yet I was lonely? How can that be?

I wished that my husband could be enjoying this moment with me. But I knew that even if he was here, I'd still be lonely. I'd want my best girlfriend with me. All my girlfriends.  I'd want their spouses and children with me. I'd want complete strangers to share this moment with me.

If I start to think about it, I always feel lonely. Even in the midst of worship at my church, or dinner with my family, or in a crowded festival, I feel lonely.

I long for companio…

The Jesus Inside

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;the Spirit of truth... you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

I remember the afternoon my husband came home from work and told us we were moving. We had been married about two years and had done a lot of painting and remodeling of our house already. We had drawn up plans for a deck and a porch, we had planted fruit trees and bushes in the backyard, we had begun dreaming of raising our children here. Why would he think of moving? Where would we go anyway? 

This scene has played itself out dozens of times since we've been married:  promotion, a new school, a better business opportunity, a big purchase, a new friendship--have all put us in the middle of making big decisions with our lives. And it seems that about half those times, my choice is the opposite of what my husband has decided. 

Many times I have wanted to put my foot down and yell at my husband "No way! No way …

Keeping It Clean

Growing up I had prided myself in being super organized. My weekly planners were color-coded with my class schedules, my exam dates, my extra-curricular activities, and my homework assignments. My textbooks were bookmarked, dog-eared, and highlighted. My desk was tidy. My backpack was perfectly filled with every kind of school tool needed, each in its appropriate place. 

When I got married, I couldn't wait to apply all my talent to my new home, my new life, and my new husband. I dove in, even before our wedding day, to sort and organize items in my future home. I was going to be the best organized new bride ever!

But even before my wedding dress was hung up and the wedding gifts put away, I had a problem. My new husband did not share my love for all things tidy. In fact, he preferred--no, he seemed to thrive-- in a disorganized environment. He had ongoing, half-finished projects in every room. He had piles of supplies "just in case" in the garage and in his car. Wherever h…

Unexpected Journeys

As I went to pull the handle on the fridge door today, I took a step back and chuckled.  I used to be so organized and neat.  I never thought I'd see the day when little scribbled drawings would fill the front of my fridge.  I used to be independent and travel solo through my life.  I never thought a little person who looked so much like me would be exerting her own will over the decisions in my life (like going swimming instead of washing the dishes.) 

Oh how much I fretted and worried about deciding to have this little person. How much I wondered if I was ready. How sick I was my entire pregnancy and how long and hard her delivery was. How many gray hairs and stretch marks I now have.

And now here she is, and I would not trade a moment of it for anything else. 

Many aspects of my life, like this one, turned out much differently than I expected. Much differently than I had even dreamed or hoped. They turned out better. Even after the heartache, the tragedy, and the grief, there is …

Watching Sunsets

Earlier in the spring, I sat back in my lounge chair in the backyard and watched as the sun set. The sky was alive with pinks and purples and oranges on one side and with the first sparkles of starlight on the other. I snuggled into my warm hoodie and enjoyed the cool, evening breeze on my face. I wondered why I didn't do this more often. Why I didn't simply allow myself to enjoy these fleeting moments of time that I so thoroughly enjoy. I love being outside. I love this time of day. I love chilly weather and warm sweaters. I love silence and looking up at the sky. It fills my soul and refreshes my mind. 
Later in the spring, my husband and I hosted a Memorial Day cook-out. The kids running after our dog with sand, and watermelon, and ice-cream on their faces. Babies snuggling with their moms on blankets. The men hooting and hollering at each other during lawn games. The women chatting and laughing and sharing photos. The house and yard were full, and so was my heart. This is w…

Searching for Prince Charming

I am a product of my generation. My childhood consisted of princesses singing about their longing for the perfect prince and pining away the hours until they met him. He was the one who promised to take them away from it all: from their overbearing families, their responsibilities, their boring lives. He promised to usher them into a lifetime of carefree days and romantic nights. He was the answer to everything their hearts desired. 
My young adult years have consisted of the same plot line, only now it's romantic comedies and Jane Eyre. 
And now I am married to my own prince. He is kind, strong, and handsome. But he isn't the answer to all my longings. He did whisk me away from my family, but I have more responsibilities now than ever. And my life is certainly far from boring, but not in the way I had expected.
I have met dozens of women who seem to be in this same predicament. Their husbands aren't Prince Charming. He is insensitive to her feelings, he refuses to grow up, h…

Let's Talk About Sex...Again

My wedding night was going to be the best night of my marriage. Romantic, passionate, and full of wonder. I had been dreaming about it my whole adult life.  

I had made it to my wedding day physically pure, which I thought was the ultimate goal of a Christian woman. What I hadn't been taught was that I would still have to deal with emotional and physical obstacles. Even though we were now married, I struggled with feeling dirty and ashamed around my husband. I struggled with physical pain, with frustration, with disappointment. 
I had spent most of my life being consciously or subconsciously taught that leaving certain parts of my body uncovered would cause little boys and later guys and men to, at best, be distracted by my body, and at worse to take it as an invitation for something more. Sex education classes in school, advertisers on TV, well-meaning family, and everyone within my Christian circles had taught me that my body parts were somehow dirty, shameful, and sinful. 

So as a…

Let's Talk About Sex

I first published this post in January of 2012. Our daughter hadn't even been conceived yet, I had just started writing, and my husband had just started his business. Still the stresses of life haven't changed much and things still hold true for our marriage 5 years later. 

One of the babies I watch cried all day today--literally, all day--stopping only for 10 minutes to drink her bottle and for another 10 minutes when I was singing "Old McDonald". We don't have a washer and dryer, so I took 6 loads of laundry one at a time, by foot, to the laundromat on the complex.  I started at 8 this morning and I am still drying clothes. While I was making tea this morning, my one small pleasure during the day, my teapot caught on fire--yes, I didn't know they could do that either.  There is still a bed full of clothes to fold, dinner to make, dog poop to clean off the patio, and baby spit-up in my hair.  I'm exhausted.
But when my husband comes through the door later …

Two Becoming One

All I knew was my husband wasn't living up to my expectations.

I started questioning his motives and intentions. Every action he took or didn't take seemed like a personal attack. 

"He left his socks on the floor just to spite me." 
"He forgot to text me from work because someone else was on his mind." 
"He didn't want intimacy tonight because he doesn't like me anymore."

Then I started to distance myself emotionally from my husband. If he was in the house, I would only give him passive-aggressive hints about how he had disappointed me that day or I'd give him the cold shoulder, expecting him to know what he had done wrong.
I could only see things from my perspective. I could only see how my husband's actions were affecting me. I could only see my unfulfilled dreams and shattered expectations. I only knew my hurt and my pain. I was so trapped inside my own thoughts I couldn't see how my thoughts and actions were affecting my husband.…