Three Things Thursday: Back to School Edition

I’m tired. Exhausted, actually. Who knew 3 days of work (2 and 1/2 actually) could be so draining? (I’d type those last two words in all caps for further emphasis, but the truth is, I’m so tired I don’t even have the energy to yell.) This going to work business is for the birds.

But here I am. Typing my Three Things Thursday. Because you know what? I made some “New (School) Year Resolutions,” one of which is “write more, at least once a week” And I’m no quitter!

At least not after the first week.

So, to my list. Since today was just the second day of school, it seemed fitting to make this edition about back to school. It’s just going to have to be fast, because I already fell asleep once while typing this, resulting in a massive paragraph of zzzs in the middle of a sentence. (See what I did there?)
(It was actually a bunch of os, but zzzs are much more fitting.)

3 Reasons I like heading back to school*

1. Getting to be in the same school as my girl. How fun is that? (Plus, it makes my Momma’s heart break just a little less each day when I have to send her off to the big bad world.) I can check in on her at lunch, wink at her in the halls, and send her our family’s secret “I love you” signal during assemblies.  But most importantly, we can dress up in matching clothes together. Because that is obviously what really matters:

IMG_3372This adorable first grader was nervous on the way out the door for her first day. She paused at the door, shook her arms to loosen up, and said to no one in particular, “This day is gonna be FUN! I can FEEL it! I can feel it in my BONES!” Love her to bits.

2. Getting to see super-fun co-workers. Like, say, THIS girl who makes me laugh every day:

IMG_3379By the way, please notice the ridiculously awesome desks that my job-share partner (another super fun co-worker who is not pictured) and I painted to make into WHITE BOARDS. (<— I suddenly have the energy to yell. It’s THAT exciting.) DESKS? That are also WHITE BOARDS? Why yes, we did. They’re the greatest. I love them. We are genius. Who needs pinterest when you have US??? Next up? A WHITE BOARD DOOR. For very important messages to students as they enter. Just like a drive-up coffee shop. (This genius idea courtesy of yet another super-fun co-worker/Christmas Lights Decorator Extraordinaire.) (Also, just to be clear, there are many more super-fun co-workers I love seeing – or miss from my former school – but didn’t mention.)

3. Students. Former ones with big smiles coming back to say hello and give big hugs. New ones who are eager to learn, be a “grown up third grader,” and say over-the-top cute things like, “I feel blessed that I have not just ONE great teacher, but TWO great teachers.” Yes, I know she may be totally kissing up in the hopes I will award her the special privilege of sharpening pencils, but just whatever. MELT!

*Disclaimer about these 3 reasons I like heading back to school. While they are all good and wonderful and nice, we all know the real reason I love going back to school. I’m quite convinced it’s the reason most teachers go into teaching in the first place. No, not shaping young minds or being a positive influence for future generations that will one day lead our great nation. The real reason was best described by my enthusiastic – if not dramatic – young daughter who, in the excitement of talking about heading back to school and showing her dad everything we had purchased after a day of shopping prep, threw herself backwards onto the couch, arms spread out to her sides, huge grin on her face, sighed and said, “Ahhhhh….. I just LOVE school supplies!”
Ah, yes. There it is, folks. Walking into stores like Storables and Office Depot or in the back-to-school section of Target is the reason I got into this job. We teachers love a new pack of multi-colored flare pens or white board markers like fruit flies love my vinegar traps. We just can’t help ourselves. And don’t even get me started on the aisles of colored and many-shaped post-its. It gets me giddy just thinking about it.

 

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Great Expectations

Last week at a friend’s bridal shower, I had the awesome opportunity to share what I’ve learned about marriage. I haven’t been married all that long, but I have been married long enough to learn a thing or two. And I’m learning that when God teaches me something, it is a blessing to me each and every time I get to honor the Teacher by sharing it with others. So, I thought in addition to sharing that night, I would post it here to share with the rest of you.

Besides that, when I want to remember lessons God has shown me, I write them here as my reminder and re-read them later – revisiting this altar of stones. It’s a way of reminding myself of a personal and loving God who is continually molding and shaping me, refining me to be a bearer of His image. And it’s a way holding myself accountable to what God has already taught me. So… lessons on marriage? Um, yeah… that’s one I need to visit often…

Great Expectations
Lessons I’ve Learned about Marriage

So… 11 more days! You’re almost there. I bet you have been dreaming about this day and the days and years to follow. It is a wonderful time. A time to plan and to look forward with excitement! All of us here are so excited for you, too. It’s a time of great expectations.

I have to be honest, when Michele called me and asked me to pray about doing the devotional for tonight, I was hesitant. I told her that yes, I would pray, but that no, I wasn’t sure this was something I could do. Then I got off the phone and cried. This year marks just 9 years for Matt and I… I am certainly not the most experienced wife here. We’ve had lots of ups and downs and have made plenty of mistakes through them… I’m certainly not the wisest wife here, either. And you deserve the best. I almost said no, because I felt inadequate, like I couldn’t fulfill expectations for a marriage devotional. I thought others would have expectations of me that I couldn’t possibly fulfill. I had expectations of myself that were impossibly high.

Thankfully, I calmed down from my panicked cry and was reminded that this time here isn’t about me and what I can do or say about marriage. It’s about what God has already said, and what He has taught me in my short time of being married that I can share with you. I almost missed out on the blessing of sharing the things I’ve learned because I had misplaced and impossible expectations.

Here’s the thing… I’ve learned marriage is a lot like that. No, it’s not about lowering expectations. It’s about putting expectations in the right place. God gave me an incredible gift when he gave me Matt. We’ve had some great times in 9 years, and we’ve had some tough times too. For me, some of the hardest times were not about the actual circumstance we were facing, but about the expectations I had that were not met.

It’s not that I needed to lower my expectations for Matt, it’s that I was looking to him instead of to God to fulfill all my needs or to make me happy or feel secure. And while there were plenty of times he did those things, I was placing a God-sized burden on human-sized shoulders. I had placed Matt on so high a pedestal that my dependence on him began to surpass my dependence on God. Heartache and failure – for both of us – were inevitable. Psalm 118:8-9 says this:It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

You have a great prince in your life. Just like I do. But if I could share just one piece of advice with a new bride, it would be this: Don’t ever let that prince take the place of the King.

The King of Kings, who knows you best and loves you even more than your fiance does, more than you can imagine, has given you an incredible prince to spend your life with. And while your new husband isn’t and won’t be perfect, he is the perfect gift for you because he is from your Heavenly Father, who knows you so well. This is a gift you get to unwrap each day as you wake up next to the man God picked out just for you and spend your days getting to know the gift and the Gift Giver even more.

Marriage is wonderful. And hard and beautiful and crazy and exhausting and confusing and exhilarating and a million other things. But God is steady. A solid rock. He never fails. He always keeps his promises. We can expect that and never be disappointed. And He has given us His Word full of promises He will fulfill in our lives and marriages. All you need to do is to first love the Lord your God, and then love others, your husband included. As you obey those commandments and unwrap this gift of your prince, here are 6 of God’s promises, Great expectations you can be sure of…

  1. Expect to be blessed when you serve your husband with a humble heart. When Matt and I were first married, people told us, “Always remember, love is a verb.” A verb is an action word. That means you can show your love for your husband by serving him. Think of ways to bless him. Iron his favorite shirt. Make him his favorite meal. Leave him a sweet note on the mirror when you head off to work first. Or get up a little earlier to send him off with a good breakfast. Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” When you bless your spouse, you will be blessed in return.
  2. Expect to have fun when you maintain a joyful heart in Christ. Fun can come in big ways, like when you plan a surprise outing doing something you know he loves. Or it can come in small ways, in the daily grind, by keeping your heart joyful, especially when you don’t feel like it. These are the times where it’s a lot harder to have fun. You might feel a little less joyful and a little more irritated over dishes in the sink when the dishwasher is empty, or when a pair of white socks continually end up in the dark laundry divider in the middle, no matter how many times you’ve told him “white on the right.” (Not that that’s ever happened in our house.) But allowing your heart to be irritated over things that are minimal will only eat away at your joy and his, and will eventually lead to bitterness. I’ve done this. It snowballed to the point where I’d be irritated for how he put pillows on the bed after making it, rather than being thankful that he made the bed. Maintain a joyful heart in the Lord. Think of these times as opportunities to be a humble servant, and as reminders of things to be thankful for. Dirty dishes means you’ve had plenty of food to eat. (I haven’t figured out what white socks in the wrong laundry divider means yet, but instead of getting mad about it, I had Ari hold the bag open so I could take a picture and send it to him with a joke about the kids switching his socks over again. His response was perfect and caused us to laugh, “I’m such a moron.”) Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Keep your heart light and find ways to laugh with each other, especially when you make silly mistakes. It will make your relationship fun, and it will draw you closer together. Sometimes when I mess up, I make Matt a cup of coffee and bring it to him in a mug that says “I love my wife.” (Just in case he needs the reminder.) We already know you make a mean cup of coffee. Now all you need is the mug…
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  3. Expect your friendship to grow as you make time to communicate. Don’t expect your husband will be able to read your mind (because after 9 years of marriage, I’m more convinced than ever that men cannot do that). Instead, share with him your thoughts: your gratitude, your concerns, your dreams, your frustrations. Be his confidant and closest friend, and let him be yours. For this is your beloved and this is your friend.” —Song of Solomon 5:16. And James 1:19 “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Friends listen to each other. Take the time to really listen to him. Learn what he likes, what makes him feel loved, what empties him and what fills him up. As you seek to know him more, use that knowledge to find more ways to bless him.
  4. Expect your love for each other to grow the more grace you give. Marriage provides lots of opportunities to forgive and show grace. It can be hard to let go of hurtful things that are said or done, especially if they happen more than once. You may be tempted to bring up past mistakes and hold on to repeated mistakes when they happen yet again. Remind yourself of these verses. Proverbs 19:11, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” When you argue or have wronged each other, instead of expecting your spouse to be the first to apologize, soften your heart towards him. Pray that your heart will be softened. Be humble and quick to forgive, and forgive as many times as is required. Know that showing grace will increase your love for each other. In Luke 7, Jesus teaches Simon about forgiveness. Remember the woman who lived a life full of sin that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair? She then poured perfume on his feet and kissed them over and over. Jesus pointed out that Simon’s reaction to seeing Jesus was much different. He did nothing but greet him. She had been forgiven more, and therefore loved more. In verse 47, Jesus says this, I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Forgive BIG. And know that not only will you be blessed because you are obeying your King, but expect that the more you forgive your husband, the more his love for you will grow.
    As a side note, my mom has said as long as I can remember, “Love isn’t always a feeling, but it’s always a choice.” There may be a time or two where Matt has told me he loves me and my response through gritted teeth was, “I’m choosing to love you too.” It’s easy to love when things are great and when others are lovely. Choose to show love in the hard moments. In the times when you don’t feel the love flowing, look at your husband and remember he is the perfect gift for you from the One who knows you best. Love him as Christ loves him, and forgive BIG, as Christ forgives. And in case you need a little help with that, (maybe when you’re just really not feelin’ the love), pour yourself a cup of coffee, read your mug, and breathe
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  5. Expect your relationship to be strengthened as you honor and pray for your husband. Proverbs 31:10-12 says this, A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.” Pay attention to all the good in your husband: his faithfulness, his steadiness, his servant’s heart, his hard work. Honor him for those things. Tell him and show him how much you appreciate and respect him for his leadership in your home. Pray for him in his role in your home, in his role at work and in other areas. Honor him in how you speak to him and about him. I love how Ephesians 4:29 reads from The Message Bible, Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” When you do that, Proverbs says your husband will trust you without reserve, and your relationship will be strengthened because of it.

You’ll notice each of these expectations isn’t about something your spouse should do or will do. They are about you. And they’re about God’s promises. They are about you being obedient to Christ, and God’s blessing being poured out in your marriage because of your obedience. Your spouse will see this and be blessed. Others will see, too. And you will point all of them right to Jesus by your words and actions. So the last expectation is this: #6 Above all, expect to glorify God as you continue to seek Him in your marriage. Because that is exactly what you will be doing when He maintains his rightful place as Lord of your life… when you first love the Lord your God – your King, and when you love, honor, and cherish the gift he has given you in your spouse.

Outsmarted by a 2 year old

Some of you may have already read on Facebook how Jacob outsmarted me tonight at dinner. I had to post it on here as well, because this is where I collect the stories I want to remember. So I’m really posting this for me. And for those of you that missed it…read on!

Posted Wednesday night, 1/23/13, approximately 7 PM:

Here’s the deal. I simply do NOT understand a boy who covers his face so I don’t see the boogers he’s eating, joyfully eats dirt, and has ‘discussed’ the possibility of finding out what poo is like… but will NOT EAT the meal I make for him. This time, it was a meal he’s eaten a hundred times before. He won’t eat it, because he claims it “looks different” than usual. Complete-massively-hysterical-two-year-old-tantrum over the way the meal LOOKS. And JUST ATE A BOOGER.

Seriously, people. Help me understand.

P.S. We have had serious discussions about the dangers in trying poo. I think he’s finally over it.

Posted Wednesday night, 1/23/13, approximately 1 hour later:

In reference to Jacob not eating his dinner (see last post), I tried games. Reverse psychology. Bribery. Trickery. Punishment. I’ve now resorted to manipulation. I “called” the beautiful and talented Julianne Seely, who said that yes, she definitely thought Jacob should eat his food, and she would be so proud of him if he did. (Thanks, Julianne, for being so supportive.) Jacob smiled. “She DID?” I nodded.

The little bugger pulled out a calculator and “called Julianne” as well. “Hi Julianne. I AM NOT eating my dinner, because it is GROSS. K. Bye.” Then he looked at me and said, “Mommy, Julianne said it’s ok. She doesn’t like gross food either. And she is still proud of me.”

Mom: 0, Jacob: 1

4 of 40 – Rescued Link

Day 4 of 40 topic: Friends and Faith.

I didn’t include “friends” on my original plan for 40 days of Family, Faith, and Funnies. But I’m adding it. It’s my game, so I get to make the rules. Here is why I’m adding it… because you need to read this blog written by a friend of ours. Yes, I said need. If you are a parent, it’s a must. And if you’re not, read it anyway.

And so, that is my “blog” today. A link to his blog. Is that cheating to count that as a post for today? I say no, and like I said, it’s my game, so… 🙂 Now go ahead. Click this link and read his story: Rescued by Hope. You’ll be glad you did.

Ponderings

It’s been a week. Lots on my mind. Most of my thoughts are still swirling around, not ready to form into words or be elaborated on, so this post is full of randomness… a list of just the beginnings of some of these thoughts – the serious, humorous, and disgusting. Consider yourself warned.

1. First and foremost: LIFE IS SHORT… Live slowly. Love deeply. Laugh often…  THIS is my new summer “to-do” list.

2. The more people you care about that enter Heaven, the further away and closer it can seem… all at the same time.

3. When Jacob says, “Mom, can you do me a favor?” don’t say ‘no’ immediately. The next words out of his mouth might be, “I need a hug.” Melt.

4. When Jacob says, “Mom, can you do me a favor?” don’t say ‘yes’ immediately. The next words out of his mouth might be, “I just went poopoo.”

5. It is not helpful, just very frustrating, to discuss problems if you do not also consider solutions.

6. It’s important to teach song lyrics carefully. Otherwise, you may end up with your daughter singing loudly, “Deck the halls of jowls of Holly…”

7. Don’t leave the song-lyric-correcting to the husband. He will only find the new words humorous and make it worse by saying, “It’s not ‘Deck the halls OF jowls of Holly,’ it’s ‘Deck the halls WITH jowls of Holly.'” Lovely. You are oh-so-helpful, my dear husband.

8. If you love someone enough to consider them family, tell them. Here are a few of mine:

  • Pete and Judy. Matt is beginning to think I would replace him with the both of you because every time I come home after seeing one of you, I say, “I know I’ve said it before, but I just love Pete and Judy.” And so I’ve decided to adopt you as aunt and uncle. This is also perfect because I adore your girls so much, and that would make them my cousins. I’ve always loved my cousins and could use a few more. The only problem is, since Judy wants to also adopt my dad as her uncle, our familial relationship has just gotten very complicated because my dad would now be my great uncle as well. And it will get even more confusing as the little ones grow up, because I’m fairly certain – based on their latest display of affection – that Jacob and Eisley are already in love, and I’ve got my eyes on Caleb for Annalise. This could get tricky.
  • Rachel. In the absence of my sisters nearby, you have been a very worthy replacement. I know I can speak my mind and can be myself, and the same goes for my kids. No judgement, no worries, no competition. I am so blessed by you and thankful we reconnected to experience mommy-hood together.
  • Renee. While you really are actually family of some kind (sister-in-law-in-law?) you have truly filled a void for our kids who miss their aunties so very much. Thank you for being an auntie to them and a sister to me, and for loving all of us as we are.

9. Last and least, but still on my mind ALL THE TIME, the disgusting…

I am obsessed. Witnessing a fly lay eggs in my recently cooked pork tenderloin fajitas has caused me to examine food ridiculously closely and Google things I never really wanted to know. Although I am relieved to learn that fly eggs can not hatch in your stomach, I am less than thrilled to know that the FDA allows eggs and maggots to exist in uncomfortable quantities of tomato products. And really, even just one little egg or maggot is an uncomfortable quantity in my food. Am I right? (If you didn’t already know the story, here is the summary: Made massive batch of fajitas while kids played outside with back door open. Left food on burner on “warm” while we sat down to eat. Got up from table to stir fajitas and scrape leftovers into container. Noticed slow moving fly. Noticed chunk of garlic. Remembered I didn’t chop garlic into fajitas. Realized garlic was actually fly eggs. Slow fly was not being cooked, but was just a little too busy to move. Decided to never again leave food uncovered, never again leave door open, and never again eat at a buffet or anywhere where food sits out. Except that all 3 have happened in the last week.