Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Crumbling Marriage

Sitting in a coffee shop next to them, I couldn’t help but overhear chunks of their conversation. He married, she not. He talked about how she holds grudges, how she gets frustrated when he gets coffee or lunch with co-workers, how she is not herself now that she is pregnant. All these things he should not be discussing with anyone other than his wife.

I’ve said it before, words matter. The words you say today are your actions tomorrow and I see divorce in this man’s future. I’m not normally this negative or fatalistic, but this is where the breakdown in marriage begins. When we confide in someone other than our spouse, when we continue to choose our own needs and wants over theirs, we start the “slow fade” as Casting Crowns so eloquently penned. No one makes one, big choice to end their marriage. It starts as a subconscious chipping away at our thoughts. Angry thoughts become careless words followed by actions. And then we don’t even know how we got there.

Let me be clear – when you talk negatively about your spouse to someone other than them, you begin to crumble the foundation of your marriage. Your words, put into the air, have a life of their own and the damage done may be irreversible.

I don’t know those people sitting next to me, but if I did I would speak into their lives. I would urge them to part ways, strongly advise the husband to return to his wife. To stand guard, to take back those words, redeem them. To remember why they got married, not for their own selfish interests, but for something bigger than themselves.

Love Gifts

Valentine’s Day was few days ago and as I perused Facebook, I saw many posts by people whom I love and respect that fly in the face of traditional and superficial Valentine’s gifts. These posts focused on the sacrificial giving of one person to another as husband and wife and how giving the gift of each other and caring for children was truly what love meant to them. I agree with this assessment, but as someone who enjoys receiving gifts (yes, it is one of my love languages), I challenge that maybe giving and/or receiving gifts can be important. The key is in the motivation and receiving of the gift.


I’m doing an in-depth Bible study on the book of Matthew and in my arm-chair review of this gospel, I found no recorded instance of Jesus giving a gift. (Just to be clear, I’m not counting the gifts of time, provision, or care / healing.) What I do see recorded is Jesus RECEIVING gifts. The first gifts that come to mind are those that Jesus received as a child from the wise men – gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). These gifts were priceless and in their given form, could not be used for day-to-day purposes. The other gift was from the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus head as he reclined at the table days before his death (Matthew 26:7-13). Again, perfume was not something that could be used in a practical sense for daily needs, it was a luxury. These two examples show that the giver of the gifts understands who Jesus is and presented the gifts to him as a way to honor him. They chose those gifts based on what he means to them.


I believe that people who give Valentine’s Day gifts, if they give with pure motives, do the very same thing. They are looking for a small token to show their love for the other person based on who that person is. Do they get it right every time? No. Is their gift supposed to make up for months or years of neglect or indifference? No, better not. But for those of us who enjoy gifts, they are great reminders and celebrations of love and honor. Are they the be-all, end-all? No. Do I respect and love my husband for the daily sacrifices he makes in caring for our children, taking out the trash, and other menial, irritating tasks? Of course. I’m grateful for the man he is and the daily servant-leadership he shows our family.


For those of you who treat these small celebrations such as Valentine’s Day like “just another day”, more power to you; but that’s not for me. I enjoy these little reminders of love we built and stand on everyday. 
What do you think? Are Valentine’s Day gifts a waste of money or meaningful to you?

Growing Old

To Jerry – on the occasion of our 14th wedding anniversary – 6/7/11.

We’ve been together a long time he and I. We started this journey talking about such serious things…too serious for two 19 year olds. Talk of serious commitment – “No returns” I said. “No exchanges” he said. Somehow we both knew early on that this was for real. We talked on the phone for hours; jewelry was given in the early weeks, there were lots of road trips to see each other if only for a day.

When he proposed he said he wanted to grow old with me. It sounds cliché, but I knew that was what I wanted from that very moment. We both had no idea what that meant…

I started my first and second and third jobs. He finished school and worked full time. We bought a house. We went on vacations. But one day we realized something was missing – Kayla Joy, Zachary John, and Abigail Anne. We are now in the middle of parenthood and the time is flying by. Sometimes we marvel at where we have been and wondered how we thought our lives were complete without these little people in our lives. Life is not always easy, but our commitment to each other has never changed – “No refunds, no exchanges.”

There are little things that begin to explain this mystery between us – the miracle of this bond. Reminders along the way are ever there like these lyrics from one of my favorite artists Sara Groves – Twice as Good. (http://www.saragroves.com/lyrics/firefliesandsongs/twice-as-good/)

I know we’re growing older
can you imagine what that will bring
it’s all a mystery to me now
but this one thing
will be half as hard, and twice as good

I can’t imagine what this growing older will be. I’m content to be in this moment – his hand holding mine. This life we’ve built together is the life I’ve always wanted – he – the perfect man for me.

I love you, Jerry.

Unbalanced

That is the best word to describe my life right now and it is darn painful. The stress of learning this new position at work – attempting to find the rhythm and balance between work and home, the different schedule, understanding the authority and commitment to my two lives – it is excruciating.

When I’m at work, it’s like I don’t have any other life. I guess that is how my mind chooses to compartmentalize it. I focus on the needs of my team – I’m always thinking to myself – am I serving them the best way possible? Am I ensuring that someday they will be independent and I’m there to run interference only? That is definitely the goal. The everyday annoyances get in my way – email that doesn’t quit, meetings for hours and hours, nitpicking and infighting – or maybe just misunderstandings. I feel joy at their successes, I feel pain when they fail. It is as if they are my children away from home (although they are not child-like in anyway). I care for them and want them to be independent and confident.

Home is always a mix of schedules that don’t seem to fall where they should, overtired children, overflowing baskets of laundry and counter tops full of dishes. (Did I mention perpetual crumbs on the floor?) The changes are taking a toll – Jerry is tired and at his wits end at the end of the day (I felt that way almost everyday I spent at home with the kids also). He has taken on more than his share of the work and he does not complain – almost to the point that I can feel his pain without him even telling me. I break down, we clear the air. I recommit to my side of the work at whatever cost to keep the balance that we need.

It reminds me of another favorite song (and you thought I had veered away from my song theme, eh?) Sara Groves again – “When it Was Over” from the “Add to the Beauty” CD. In this song it is a hidden line buried in a verse that touches me to the core – “There is a hope that whispers a vow, a promise to stay while we’re working it out.” I’m so grateful that Jerry whispered that vow – that he has promised to stay while I’m working this out. I would never have expected anything less, but I needed that confirmation in the middle of my breakdown.

But isn’t that how life is anyway? We are always trying to work things out – our lives are always a piece of artwork in progress. We don’t really understand what the medium is we are using or what the colors are, but maybe we get a glimpse of that pure love or purpose that God has given us in the hug of a friend, the sincerity of a compliment, the discussion of the spiritual realm.

The song’s main chorus – “Love wash over a multitude of things, make us whole” reminds us that only love can make us whole. We get a glimpse of that in the love of family, friends, and our spouses. Someday that wholeness – that perfect love of God will be truly known to us. In the meantime, we remain unbalanced and live our days working it out with the promise of that vow – that he is always with us.

Devotion

I had a hard time naming this post only because the word devotion seems a bit too cheesy for me, but I can’t describe it any other way. I marvel at Jerry’s love for me and how he so often anticipates what I need to hear or what needs to be done. It is as if we have found out how to be in sync – in a perfectly, devoted way.

Right before we left the hospital with Zachary, we were enjoying a quiet time when he was sleeping. Jerry looked at me and he said, “you should be proud.” I knew exactly what he meant. All those months of praying and asking God to give me a natural birth, the work of actually experiencing it and all that pushing! I starting crying. How I needed someone to say that to me, how I longed to shout from the rooftops, “I DID IT!!” But I knew that was not what I was supposed to do. I’ve tried so hard to be humble and thankful that God would choose me to be a mother again and I knew that was what I should focus on. But to have those words said out loud for me – what a wonderful gift.

So I want to be proud, but I won’t. Instead, I’m thankful that a faithful, gracious God heard my cry for help and blessed me with the desire of my heart.