It never fails… once I begin to feel like I’m getting a handle on this church planting thing, our lives get even busier. There are rarely nights home as a family… our laptops come out to finish work as soon as the kiddos are in bed… and my hubby and I forget to connect. It isn’t until we are laying in bed, ready to say prayers, that I realize… “I have so much I want to say to him… but he’s almost snoring already! I should have put my laptop down and just forced him to talk to me earlier.” Ha!
The thing is, within our marriage, I’m not the only one who notices when we barely have time for each other. Just the other day, Michael spoke to me, with a slight whine to his voice. “Hun, are you going to be busy every night this week with meetings?” He gets it. I get it.
So… when we realized we had to get a handle on our time together, we sat down and made some specific choices that are helping our marriage.
Put Down Technology
For us, after a certain time (decided by both of us), we put down our laptops, phones and turn from the TV to actually engage in each other. We need to talk about anything BUT work. (And it’s usually church work that we want to discuss…)
This is something that begins to lack noticeably when we began to become more and more busy. As of now, we’ve stopped grabbing a bite to eat even when we’re running late from soccer. We go home, make sandwiches (or I prepare something in the crockpot beforehand) and we sit down as a family and talk. I’ve seen a huge difference in our boys’ lives. They are more self-controlled, less whiny and are more content than when we’re forgoing our dinners around our table. Plus, we take this time to discuss serious and silly matters that we don’t normally talk about (and they LOVE this.)
Regular Date Nights
Many of you may think… “Yeah, yeah, yeah… we’ve all heard that before.” But seriously people… are you taking dates with your spouse regularly (at least twice a month)? This is so important! And they don’t need to be extravagent! We have had a date as simple as putting the kids to bed, grabbing a “redbox” DVD and snuggling on the couch.
No kids allowed. Seriously. We have, since we were newlyweds, made sure that we have an escape away from our home in order to reconnect with each other. Every other year, at least, we schedule a weekend away (using calling our parents to come and stay with the kids) and GO. We usually take this time to focus on us as a couple… and not on anything else that’s going on around our lives. (Check out a Weekend to Remember… they have great marriage retreats and hotels lined up fairly often.)
This is extremely important. My husband and I have decided that we will try to take a minimum of 2 vacations as a family. Find someone reliable to fill in your shoes at the church while you’re gone and go visit family that lives in another state… travel more to stay at a resort hotel with water slides for the kids… or plan a quiet camping trip. We all need time where our kids will see us “stress-less” or more in tune to them. Sometimes getting away from your church can be useful. It will give you a time of rejuvenation, stillness and extra bonding time for your family. When you return to your church plant, you will be ready to jump back in, fully recharged.
It’s Worth It
True rejuvenation will occur when you see the fruit that God has planted within your church. You will watch as it grows and matures into something beyond understanding. I love this passage in 1 Thessalonians where Paul is speaking so sweetly to the church there.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 (The Message)
9-12 You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you. You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren’t freeloaders! You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.
13 And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn’t pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God’s true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!
Keep pressing on, friends. Remember that God is with you and wants the best for you… no matter how busy you become!
Call me Meg. I am super privileged to be able to work from home while getting to take care of our THREE! wonderfully, energetic boys, and adopted daughter. I’m wife to a Stud-Muffin of a man (also known as Michael) who has been called to plant a church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
One of my super heroes
Our life is CRAZY and it never stops.
I sometimes long for peace, quiet, and a simpler farming life… but then I am jolted back to reality with the scream of one of my precious boys in the next room. My daily struggles are: keeping up with the laundry (wait- did I say keeping up? I meant to say “attempting to keep up” and yet never getting there!), keeping the sanity in our home, and most importanty, growing in my walk with Christ. (He is definitely my hero!) Without Him, I would be nothing. Literally. Probably just a shell of a person scraping by.
Too many times, I have criticized my husband… to friends, family and under my breath (okay, sometimes out loud).
(Why? Okay- confession time. I’m a control freak. I like to keep everything in line… including my husband, children, house, etc. The HUGE problem is… I will never be able to control others and the choices they make.)
Take for example, my 5-year-old son. We had an awesome block party last weekend, and thanks to an amazing block party coordinator (Go Deborah!), the Fayetteville Fire Department came out to check our corner hydrant. Since they had no calls, they were able to stay for burgers, show off the truck, spray cul-de-sac down with water and let kids take turns spraying the huge fire hose. My middle child was in awe of the hose. So much so, he ran directly into its path, full force, and face to the water. Now, if any of you have met my child, he can scream and wail, like the best of them. I was in fact, talking to another mom at the time, until his “well-recognized” scream broke the “normal” block party noises. (See photo.)
My husband (who was across the street) and I both turned to the sound and leapt into action. We picked him up, soaked to the bone, clutching his face and we comforted him. As soon, as his cries had ceased, we both talked to him. “You need to be careful close to the hose. That water is super powerful and hurts when you put your face in it.” He nodded his understanding and within seconds was back in the thick of it, playing his heart out.
Now, I would like to say that he made the right choice in not making his way to the front of the water stream again. But he didn’t. Ten minutes later, another one of his piecing screams disrupted the partygoers and I found myself, once again, holding a soaking wet child.
This is just one example of not being able to control others. As a woman, I find myself wanting not just to control myself and how others view me, but my entire world… that includes my husband, children, extended family, etc. Now, before you start thinking to yourself, “Wow, this girl has got to loosen her grip!” I want you to know… that I tell myself that constantly.
I learned early on, (I was 13, in fact) that I was considered a perfectionist and that I would always struggle with the need to control things around me. Over the past 15 years or so, though, I have learned slowly but surely, how to let that need waste away. I still struggle with it- believe me! When my husband announces that he’s invited several people over to dinner with only a couple of hours to spare, I usually freak for a minute or two. (Not at him, mind you—in my own crazed mind! Ha!) And in the hour, leading up to the group arriving, I do tend to push my “bossiness/control-freakiness” to the limit. (I am working on that!)
During a women’s bible study, (one in fact that I was leading- God has a sense of humor), it pointed to the fact that since Adam and Eve’s sin, we as women would always struggle with “rebelling” against or struggling to control the men in our lives.
Shortly after Adam and Eve told God of their sin, He spoke some truth into their lives that haunts us even today. Genesis 3:16, in the New Living translation says, “Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.”
(WAIT FOR IT…. IT GETS EVEN BETTER…)
“… And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”
“Ouch”. Can you imagine being Eve and hearing those words come out of God’s mouth? I wonder if Eve fully understood the depth to those words. Could she even fathom the generations of women who would struggle not to bitterly suggest to their husbands that they pick up their nasty socks out of the middle of the living room floor? Or that some of us would bicker and fight with our husbands over what jobs they were applying for? Or what job they “needed” to apply for? Could she even determine that some of us would even go as far to say, “I wear the pants in this relationship.” Hmmmm…
Should we be proud of that?
Are we proud of that?
You see, this isn’t even a talk about that horrible word that we all cringe when we hear: SUBMISSION.
This blog post has nothing to do with that.
But it has everything to do with supporting our husbands.
How do we do that without controlling? Believe me, ladies, I have not quite figured this out. But I believe it starts with beginning to think of us as walking alongside our husbands and allowing him to lead our families and us.
It might look like sharing your opinion, but supporting his decision to choose something different. It might look like praying for him, when you see his struggles and the vast amount of choices that he has to make everyday. And it will probably feel a tad bit like you are sitting “shotgun” in the car… just try to not become a back-seat driver…. I will too. ☺
I sat on our leather couch, laptop on lap, recounting the events of the day. My Facebook profile is up; and the curser flashes where I’m about to post something for the day. “My kids are amazing…” Nope. Delete. “I love my children!” Again. Delete. I found I could not lie anymore to my Facebook friends, because even though I do believe in my heart that my kids are amazing and I do truly love them, today… well, today… it would have been kinda, sorta… a lie.
Today is one of “those” days; when I am fighting everything within me not to throw my hands up in the air in defeat and crawl into the next deepest hole. I know I’ve said this a thousand times (mostly in my head)… but sometimes, everyday life can be wretchedly hard. (A bit dramatic… yes, I know. But sometimes, just how I feel.)
That’s a good word for it. Wretched. When your body feels as though there is no energy left to survive another unloading of the dishwasher. Those 4 minutes are torture! Meanwhile, all you can manage to do is throw up quick prayers for strength and understanding. Usually I am in physical pain when I am wrestling through things/sin/being hurt by others. (Psalm 32 is a comfort for me during those times.) And all this “wretchedness” because of an innocent social media outlet called Facebook (okay- maybe it’s not the only reason why I feel so wretched today… but its the biggest one at the moment.)
Oh, Facebook. How I love and hate you in the same moment. Is it just me- or can one person’s post throw another into a tailspin? One harmless innocent post can ruin another’s day. How do we tolerate social media?
I have a daily struggle with Facebook. I love that it keeps me up to date with my friends near and far. I love that it helps to bridge another communication level with our church. I love that it has helped our church grow. But…
Are we more than our Facebook statuses?
The posts that read, “I LOVE BEING A MOM!!!” make me wonder… is that woman even human? Is that real? (As in, loving being a mother every second of every day… in CAPS?) Does she ever fail at being a mom and wife? Does she realize that she probably is failing? Because I feel like I’m failing most days. I fail when I let my anger seep out at my 5 year old when he’s distracted by his Legos and doesn’t even lift his head to listen to me. I feel that failure when I lose track of time, and once again late to another appointment.
I admit: I have been that Mom… that only posts the pretty pictures where my boy’s clothes match, my house is clean and straightened, and my marriage is PERFECT. And then I realize… wait, Meg… that is such a lie. My kids rarely match their clothes when they pick them out themselves (and do I care anymore? Not really. They’re dressed, aren’t they?) My house… let’s just clarify something… WE LIVE HERE. And on top of that, I stay home and work… so you can imagine that my house gets seriously messy. (As of right now, there is a trail of Cheerios through my entire living room. Will I vacuum? Soon…)
After calling my own precious Mom last week, she excitedly told me about this book that she’d been reading… how it had changed her life (not like Jesus though- haha!) and she was sending it to me pronto. I had actually forgotten about this- and had in fact even forgotten the title… until it arrived today. I immediately opened it and stuck it in my purse to take with me to a doctor’s appointment. (Wouldn’t you know– I ended up waiting for 55 minutes to be shown to the room and spent it reading the book! Ahh!!! Moments.) The title is…drumroll please…. “Unglued” by Lisa TerKeurst. And… it pretty much knocked my socks off. As I read it, I kept thinking… wait- this is written by someone else? Because it totally sounds like me… About 10 minutes in I had a thought, “Why do we do this to ourselves?” Where is it in the “How to Be a Woman” manual does it say, “Here’s how to appear to be perfect all the time”? Is it our competitive nature? Our own perfectionism? Our clouded judgement of other women?
I was convicted. So as of today, I REFUSE to pick up my house in order to take a “perfect photo” for Facebook. I REFUSE to spend hours in the bathroom making sure my makeup is perfect, my kids’ outfits color-coordinate and their hair is combed to perfection in order to have a “candid” photo opportunity to post on Facebook. I will (with everything that is in me) try not to give others the appearance that my life is perfect. Because, it’s definitely not. I am human. And on top of that, I am an emotional, exhausted, (but pretty amazing dance party starter) mom who has no end in sight to the family’s laundry or the dustbunnies that find their way under my refrigerator.
I watched this video last night, and it convicted me. He states in the video,
“We edit and exaggerate. Crave adulation. We pretend not to notice the social isolation. We put our words into order until our lives are glistening. We don’t even know if anyone is listening….”