Disconnect Breeds Discontent

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 1 Comments A+ a-

We’re going on seven weeks of Jon being on-call.  SEVEN WEEKS.  In the eleven years Jon has worked for the state, we have never dealt with such a lengthy on-call schedule.  This has been hard.  Harder than the time he worked 78 hours in one week, harder than the fires that ravaged our state

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On-call requires Jon to be within 20 minutes of his office, which means that I go to many things alone.  If there’s a fatal car accident on any state highway, Jon is the foremen that responds to conduct an investigation, to shut down the road, and assist the first responders in any way.  It means being at the beck and call of the state, at any time of day or night.  We have received calls at midnight, at 2:00am, at 4:00am, ten minutes before we have to be somewhere, or even on our way to church. 

It means that I’m ON twenty-four hours, seven days a week, and the partner that I’m used to sharing the parenting load with is missing.  It means I attend weddings, birthdays, family gatherings, church, bible studies, and parties alone.  It means I rarely get to see my best friend, let alone have any deep, meaningful connection with him.  It means that I’m without a break or time to myself.

It means that I start to believe the lie that I can do this on my own, that perhaps I don’t really need Jon after all and maybe I can even do a better job without him.

This one caught me by surprise.

In our twelve years of marriage, I have always been strong in the face of difficult working circumstances.  “We’re in this together,” I told Jon as he got ready for a twelve-hour snow shift, a toddler hanging on my knee and an infant against my shoulder.  “We’ve got this,” I promised him.

But this time, it was different…

In the little time we DID have together, when he was between snow shifts, answering calls, and sleeping, I wasn’t able to have down time and really connect with him.  I didn’t have a little one who needed to nurse, thus forcing me to stop and connect with Jon.  This time, I was racing around like a crazy person, trying to get the Littles to school or a play date, I was preparing for birthday parties or Christmas, I was too busy to stop.  And instead of being grateful for Jon and the hard work he was putting in, I started nitpicking.

He threw his socks on the floor again… He’s undermining the punishment I’d given a Little… He hasn’t noticed that I cut my hair or have lost a couple of pounds… He hasn’t thanked me for running the house while he’s been absent…  He didn’t do A, B, or C the way I wanted it done… Has he even noticed that we got the closets organized? 

In turn, he responded the only way one can respond in the face of not being able to do anything right, he returned the favor. It became a vicious cycle of complaining and whispering unkind words to each other through clenched teeth.  It meant assuring an upset Little who overheard one of our fights that “No, Mommy and Daddy aren’t getting divorced.  We’re just fighting, married people fight.  Marriage is hard work, my Love, and Mommy and Daddy aren’t always going to agree.  You know how you fight with your brother and sisters because they annoy you, well, Mommy and Daddy annoy each other.  But don’t worry, we’re ok!”

Except that we weren’t and it was time to get to the root of the problem.  That night was a late night, our conversation lasted long after we were usually asleep.  We were both humbled, admitting to hurts and asking forgiveness for the hurts we’d inflicted.  We came away with a renewed decision to fight for each other and for our marriage.  We promised to make real, meaningful conversation a priority because it was in the disconnect that we found discontent.

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Social media can often be misleading.  Social media tends to show only the highlights of our life… the things we’re proud of, the very best moments of our lives.  I’ve written before about sharing the highlight reel of my life, and I’m sure, however unintentionally, that I do just that more often than not.  But let me be real for a moment, marriage is hard, hard work.  We never do it perfectly, and often mess-up more than we don’t. 

I was reminded that every morning, Jon and I have a choice.  We can choose to believe the lies that life would be easier on our own, or we can choose to love.  I’m choosing the latter.  There’s not a question in my mind that currently we’re in a valley of our marriage.  This is real life.  But the mountain top is coming, and I’ll hold on to that promise with everything I have.  And I’m especially thankful that Jon’s on-call will be over in a week.  Eight weeks is entirely too long for me to be without my best friend and partner.

Our Christmas Surprise

Thursday, January 08, 2015 2 Comments A+ a-

This was it, the year we caved and finally became a video game console family.  Let me rewind a bit…

It wasn’t that we were against video games per se, but it wasn’t high on our priority list of things we wanted in the house.  However, as Jon and I were discussing Christmas ideas for the Littles, I blurted out that perhaps we should buy them a video game system.  We just stared at each other for about ten minutes before we both started grinning widely.  It was the perfect gift, and we knew the Littles would flip out on Christmas morning.

So we did our research, we asked for opinions and feedback, and bit the bullet, purchasing our very first video game system.

We threw around a few ideas of how to wrap the gift and present it to them, and finally we decided on doing a scavenger hunt.  I had the best time coming up with and creating clues that would lead the Littles around the house, in search of their big gift.  In fact, I think I had more fun with the scavenger hunt than they did…

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The reaction was exactly what I hoped for, and they’ve absolutely loved their new toy.  Its been such a great motivator with getting ready for school, chores, homework, etc. and Jon and I often wonder why we haven’t done this sooner.  We’re also hyper-vigilant about the time they spend on there, and thankfully there’s been only a few protests when we tell them its time to turn it off.

All in all, a fun Christmas morning., and definitely one for the memory book, er, blog.

Faith Like a Child

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 5 Comments A+ a-

Jesus & Children

I often wonder how much a child comprehends and understands about salvation.  There’s so much I want my littles to really GET before they take that step to ask Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of their lives, and yet much of it won’t come until later.  As an adult who was raised in a Christian home and saved at the young age of five, I’m STILL learning…  But in spite of the head knowledge that I want them to possess, I also know we’re called to have the faith of a child.  And no amount of wisdom or knowledge can take the place of pure, unadulterated faith.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith… Ephesians 2:8

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Luke 18:17

And so it is without qualms and with celebration that I get to share Ashlynn’s salvation story.  I have had the privilege of sharing Devyn, Hudson, and Reagan’s stories, and I’m so thrilled to add the latest installment of our family’s story…

Hudson has a heart for the lost.  He desperately wants everyone to be saved and to believe in God.  It’s a character trait that I deeply admire in my son. 

About two months ago, he started sharing the gospel with Ashlynn.  Its an amazing thing to sit in your children’s room and listen to siblings talk about God, Jesus, and the cross.  I smiled as Hudson would explain how Jesus came to this earth to die on the cross for our sins.  So simple and yet, the truth.  Wise words from a seven-year-old’s perspective.  Every night that I prayed with them and tucked them into bed, I could count on Hudson asking Ashlynn if she was ready to become a Christian yet.  And every time, she shyly shook her head no.

But a mother’s heart knows when the seed has been planted and when its taken root.  The questions from Ashlynn increased as she sought answers and reconciled them in her four-year-old heart.  And it was on the second night of the new year, as I tucked the blankets around Ashlynn’s chin, that she began one of the most important conversations of her young life. 

“Mama?  I’m not a Christian yet,” she stated, matter-of-factly.  I nodded my head in agreement.  “And I need to ask Jesus to live in my heart,” she continued.

Again, I nodded.  “Are you ready, Ashlynn Rose?” I asked.  “Do you want to pray and ask Jesus to become your Savior?”  She smiled and wiggled her arm free of the blanket.  She threw it in the air, as though offering a fist pump, “Yes!”

And so there we sat, Ashlynn and I praying together, thanking God for loving her, for giving us His son, and asked Jesus to become the Lord and Savior of her life.  After our prayer, I held her close and whispered how much I loved her, how much her God loved her, and how thrilled I was at her decision.

It was in the middle of our prayer that Hudson caught on to what was happening and he called to his sisters in the other room, “Ashlynn’s becoming a Christian!  Ashlynn’s becoming a Christian!”  His excitement was palpable, and Reagan and Devyn offered their own cheers from their room down the hall.  And when I finished the bedtime routine with Hudson, it was his prayer that brought me to tears for the second time that night.

“God, thank you for Ashlynn becoming a Christian.  I pray that you and her become closer and closer.  And tell the angels to have a fun time celebrating tonight.  Amen.”  That kid… I tell ya… He has the most amazing relationship with God.  There are no pretenses, no right words; just a real, authentic, and personable relationship his Lord. 

But I digress.

Ashlynn is thrilled to be a Christian and has run to her Nana, Papa, aunties, and cousins, exclaiming, “I’m a Christian now!”  And my favorite, is when she comes up to me, squeezes my side, and looks up into my face, “I’m a Christian now, by the way.”  Its as though she’s sharing a special secret with me and the rest of the world, and I pray she’s always this excited to share her news. 

Ashlynn Rose, we are so thrilled for you and your decision to follow God.  Your earthly family celebrates with you, as does your heavenly Father and the angels.  My prayer is that as you grow, your relationship with God will deepen, that the truth and His words will take root in your life.  He loves you, so much more than your father and I could ever dream of loving.  His plans for your life are good, and I promise that you can trust Him with everything and anything.  Rest in His hands, my love.  There is no safer place for you to stay.  There’s an exciting journey ahead of you, and I can’t wait to see where He takes you.