Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Musings - 8 Reasons Why I Love My Marriage

Yesterday, Brian and I celebrated our 8th Wedding anniversary.
Wow.  8 whole years.  That is high school and college put together.  (It's funny how I still judge lengths of time by comparing them to high school and college.  I wonder if I will ever grow out of that.)
We went out on a little date to celebrate and had lots of good conversation; both of which are real treats around here these days.
I spent much of my day pondering the many things I appreciate about our relationship and I thought I might as well write about it.
Here it goes:
(Disclaimer:  I am going to go ahead and skip the whole 'Im married to my best friend' cliche and just take that one for granted.  Also, I am going to intentionally leave out anything that has to do with children.  It is very rare these days that our marriage gets much thought or recognition all by itself without any mention of kids.  I would like to do that here. )

1.  It is hard - yes, my marriage is hard.  Like most marriages it has it's good times and it's bad.  But the inevitable difficulty that comes with intimately sharing a life with someone serves as a catalyst for all kinds of good stuff.  Eventually.  If I let it.  The fact that marriage is hard reminds me that life is hard, at least sometimes, and that it doesn't do any good to whine or complain or try to run from the inevitable disappointments in our time here on earth.  I have learned that tension and conflict are not as scary as they once seemed.  There is no need to be ashamed of them and in fact, they are very important parts of growing together with someone else.

2. It changes me - like I said, good stuff often comes from the bad.  My marriage is a fire - sometimes it burns but it refines me like nothing else.  Lord knows I need refining.  My marriage forces me to continually face my flaws and weakness head on and because ignoring them or pretending they are not there would be a great insult to my husband, I am forced to deal with them.  And I am better off, for sure.
Never before have I been so aware of areas of my life that need changing and never before have I been as eager for the change to actually occur.  I enjoy change and though it proves to be terribly difficult, I enjoy process of working toward healthy change in my life and person.

3. It is unique - there is no other marriage like it.  I love that.  No use comparing ourselves to other couples out there. They are not us.  Brian and I recently revisited our Meyer's-Briggs personality profiles.  It is so interesting to think about the many ways that we are different and the same.  We are such a unique blend of varying personality trait, interests, desires, fears, etc.  Knowing that really causes me to value our marriage for its specialty and appreciate the present state of our union, no matter what's going on.

4.  My husband is very humble - One of the most attractive qualities I find in Brian is what I like to call his 'humble contentedness'.  It's difficult for me to ascribe either of those two characteristics to myself despite my deep longing for them and he continuously inspires me to work toward them even more.  Others may strive to prove themselves, to maintain an image or perception from others, an exhausting pursuit both to live and watch, from which I find such relief in Brian.  This relief drew me to him like a magnet in the beginning.  It still does.  In my marriage I find freedom to be nothing but exactly who I am, ugly though she may be at times.  Brian's humility frees him from needing me to be anything else.  He needs no trophy.  Not in the form of a wife or in any other form for that matter.  He does not seek self recognition.  He is a great example of how to live as an extrovert who deeply values social connectedness without needing others to validate his self worth.  He is content with himself and what he has to offer.

5. My husband is adorable - this embarrasses him greatly, I know.  Apparently being adorable is some kind of grave violation of one's manhood.  I'm sorry, but it is true.  Everyone who knows Brian loves him. He has a way of making people feel comfortable and making people laugh (and laughing with them).  His laughter is contagious.  His lightheartedness is refreshing.  He takes a genuine interest in others and makes you feel important.  You can not help but adore him. You know you do.

6.  My Marriage is FUN - I married a very fun-loving guy who, as I mentioned, loves to laugh.  He loves to remind me that because laughter is the hearts best medicine he is likely going to live longer than me.  Sometimes I take myself a little too seriously and make too big a deal out something too small to worry about.  (just sometimes) I am often relieved by Brian's 'Hakuna Matatta' approach to life.  Even though we have slightly differing views about that constitutes 'fun' in regard to pastimes (i.e shopping, pedicures and having tea vs. hunting, fishing and gaming) we always manage to have a good time.  Often times I find myself in need of some good old fashion fun and my marriage is a great place to find it.

7. It gets better by the year - I fear that at first glance this appears corny and cliche.  But, what I mean to say is not that marriage is always, in every moment, better than before.  Indeed there have been seasons when we have been worse off than ever.  There is no telling what life will bring our way that will strain and test and try and even break us.  But despite the lowest of lows, we emerge better, stronger, wiser, closer.  Only by the grace of God.  My marriage is such a vivid example of the working of God's redemption in our lives.  If he lets us hit a low, enter the depths of the pit, its only so that He can pick us up and carry us out, so that He will be revealed and known in our lives.

8.  My marriage is home - Like a child who thinks of running away or hides under the bed, there are times when I chose not to be fully present in my marriage, thinking that being somewhere else for a while, even just mentally, will provide me some kind of retreat.  But no matter how hard I seek I will never know rest, comfort or companionship better than than I do when I'm at home.  I love being home.  For better or for worse, I am here to stay.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Old Friend

Dancing is like an oxygen mask for my soul.  It stretches, carves, nourishes, wounds, heals and grows my entire self - body and spirit.  I often feel like I can't live without it.  But alas, I have been without for too many years now.  Aside from a short 3 year stint of teaching and running a very small little program, it has been almost 8 years since I have danced on any kind of regular basis and that makes me want to cry.
Upon turning 30, (which reminds me, I never did write about that big day) I made a resolution -  If I ever want to dance again it needs to be now. If not, I fear my body will be too far gone to ever take the form of an experienced dancer again.
The pressure is on.  
The problem is not that I don't want to pursue taking class somewhere, obviously, but rather a tragic lack of access.  Sigh, the joys of small town life.  
But I think I may have found a solution.  It involves a somewhat lengthy drive and of course, a good deal of money but, like I said, it's now or never and I need to at least try.  If there is any hope for my daughters to ever develop as well trained and versatile dancers, I have to have a better knowledge of what's out there in terms of instruction.  Making the effort to arrange time in my schedule and funds in my budget to make this happen, even for just a little while, is something I feel I really need to do.  
I would not normally write about (let alone publish) my thoughts on this except that I feel I need the accountability of knowing that if I don't follow through I will look like a dork (opps...too late :) ).  I need someway way of formally instating that when it comes to taking dance class, I mean business.  So, here it is: my manifesto,
I WILL DANCE AGAIN.
Hold me to it. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Love Run Dry

I am determined to get back on track here.  My stint away from these blog posts can be likened to a teenager- rebellious and desperate for freedom - yet once out on her own miserably in need of some grounding.  So may I be so bold as to say this blog keeps me grounded?  It's far too easy for me to loose myself in the cacophony of thoughts that pour through my mind daily.  Though I sometimes regret my commitment to a weekly blog post, I need this little ounce of order amidst such chaos.  And here is where I find it, despite the pain of articulation.

Today I share with you a bit of my deepest parts.  I am thankful for the seemingly spontaneous reflection that took place in me upon remembering a recent post on my very bet friend's blog. What was meant to be a brief comment quickly turned into a lengthy description of self-realization.  So I will simply cut and paste. Here is what she wrote:

"Yes, there is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and from within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: "You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests." It certainly is not easy to hear that voice in a world filled with voices that shout: "You are no good, you are ugly, you are worthless; you are despicable, you are nobody - unless you can demonstrate the opposite." These negative voices are so loud and so persistent that it is easy to believe them. That's the great trap. It is the trap of self-rejection." Henri Nowen, Life of the Beloved

I'm reading The Bean Trees right now by Barbara Kingsolver. The main character spends much of the book loving a battered child into wellness. Attempting to care for her in a way that says you are worthwhile and that the past doesn't define you. And yet the world attempts to rob this child and her lover of the ability to fight and to continue thriving in love.

Have you ever witnessed someone changed by love?

There is evidence that love changes people. Changes their hearts, their bodies, their brain chemistry.

I know God's love has changed me. He loves me into living differently. I don't mean as much in my behaviors but in how I see myself and the world.

I hate that this world robs people of love and more that it robs them of the ability to receive love. It is a nasty, horrible thing. I cling to the hope that love can triumph, trumping the very walls that defend against it.
Love well, friends.


And here is what I wrote:

For the past several years my love has become little more than a reduction of what I know I am called to do and be both to God and the people around me.  I have been somewhat aware of this sad truth for a while now but have spent little time actually thinking about it.  Its dominance over my entire out look on and approach to life has come so far that I hardly noticed myself shut down and tune out as I briefly skimmed over this post for the first time.  I immediately heard myself saying 'there is no room for this in your life now'.  And indeed, I have made little room in my life lately for the kid of love that changes me, that moves me. And thus, I am stuck - stuck in a loveless life that is proving to be more miserable by the day - the only variable being how many or how few distractions there are present to keep my from the full awareness of this sad state.
For me, love has always needed to be about more than just a fleeting emotion, more that just a tingling feel-good sensation that no matter how deeply felt is always subject - to some degree - to circumstance.  Even when I first began to date Brian and grew to love him, my love was much more about a process than a state of being.  I have always been very skeptical about where my emotions lead.
Yet, I have known a love to much greater than the frivolity of my feelings - one that is more than just determination and commitment to faithfulness in a covenant relationship.  I have known a love that cleans out my deepest wounds and slowly mends me back to health - a love that compels me to move in ways I would not otherwise move - a love that brings true life, change and growth.
But I have lost that love.
This morning in my journal (a makeshift one on notebook paper because, really, when was the last time I saw my journal?), before pondering any of this, I wrote:
 'Something inside me feels lost and this void is making me fear loss all the more'.
If perfect love drives out fear than the absence of love causes is to grow. And so there I was (and still am) - buried in the rubble of my fear and lovelessness - not knowing where to turn.
Thankfully I live in the age of Biblegateway.com or else my neglect of my own personal Bible would surely be my detriment.  I clicked onto my only known source of help in times of such desperation and I was led straight here:
'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.'
I have been wandering around in the yard waste of dead branches spoken of in the preceding passages in John 15.  I have had no distinguishable want for this kind of love in my heart of late.  The irony is that  more than ever I find myself wanting to MOVE, to change, to grow, to fear NOT yet I continue to reject the one and only true catalyst.  Christ's unfailing LOVE.
In the past few weeks I have been stuck to the core by news of tragedy, unfavorable circumstance and persistent ill health.  I bear wounds both new and reopened.  I need Love - but not just any love - the abiding Love of Christ.  I need to move.  Just last night as I was running in my neighborhood, a neighborhood I once only dreamed of living in,  I felt a desperate desire to move.  What I translated as a desire to literally live in a different location was really a deep longing to MOVE and be moved in a way that only this lacking love can perpetuate.  Thanks for helping me see what I have been so blinded to.

Until next time......

Monday, August 16, 2010

Entropy

Today was our first day of homeschooling.  It went surprisingly well.  Despite a crazy last few weeks filled with family death, traveling, illness and no shortage of business drama, I must say things came together quite well.  In fact, everything seems to be put together quite nicely right now.  On top of a fantastic start to our school year I managed to complete all my normal Monday chores - I even had the kids help.  The house id clean and in order and I am feelin' pretty good.

If it weren't for those darn loose threads........

I know too well that by tomorrow the seams will be beginning to bulge, clutter will begin its perpetual mount in the house, dust will again settle on everything.  In two days I will feel little to no control over the spiraling chaos of life and by the end of the week I will be a complete mess.  Then I have a day or two to pull myself back together and start the whole cycle over again.

Gotta love thermodynamics.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tuesday Musings - In the Wake of Death.....

.......there is a richness to life.

Last Saturday, I learned that my dear Grandma had passed away.  We knew the time was coming but we were unsure how soon.  Having been somewhat prepared for her departure, I was not totally shattered by the sad news.  But, regardless of prior knowledge, there is inevitable sadness in death.

I stepped outside to talk to my mom on the phone away from the cacophonous Jedi adventure that was taking place inside the house and I took the baby with me to make sure she did not become a victim of light saber cross fire.   As I sat on the porch trying to keep my precious little rascal of a girl entertained enough to prevent her from darting into the street, playing piggy with her toes and peek-a-boo with her belly, I was overcome my the depths of my affection for her and for all my kids.  It was as if the deep sorrow I felt for the loss of my grandma carved an even deeper space in my innermost parts that was immediately flooded my the immeasurable and limitless love that continuously breeds inside a mothers soul.   The news of death also seemed to bring about a sense of gratefulness for life exposing the meaninglessness of my many petty concerns and causing them to fade into faint memories. I was left with a truer, purer versions of myself, if only for a moment.  My grief was juxtaposed by sweet joy my sorrow by gratitude and my loss by fullness.  It was a strange but incredibly rich few fleeting moments in which I seemed to experience the full spectrum of human emotion at the same time.

In celebration of the richness of life and a life well lived by my sweet Grandma Betty, I share some photos of her wonderful life.

Fun, vintage baby pics
Do you see Halle here? I do.
With her brothers
Doll
I would wear this dress!
Love birds.
Skating partners
More clothes I would wear
Baby Sharon
Rocking the bikini
My mom rocked the big wedding hat
Baby Erica
No comments on the chub (mine), please.  Thank you.
Mother's Day 2004
Fun with baby Hayden
Surprise 80th birthday party (a little out of order)
Very out of order but still worthy