Sunday, February 28, 2010

Changing it Up

On a lighter note for the end of the month!

This year when Feb. hit Jake asked me what I was thinking for Valentine's Day. I don't tend to remember any dates and therefore had forgotten about Valentine's Day. So I had no suggestions.

Jake suggested that since he has planned romantic things for V-Day ever since we have been together, that perhaps this year I plan something for him. Hmmm.....Normally I would say "No way! Valentine's Day is for the ladies! We neeeeeed romance. It's like the air we breathe."

However, this was not a normal year I guess and so I agreed. I named it "Man Day" in my head. I cooked a dinner that Jake told me he wanted, I bought him a gift, baked a chocolate chip cookie cake, and did anything else he suggested we do.....wink!

You know what? It was fun! I actually really enjoyed doing a Valentine's Day just for him and not expecting anything for myself. It was good for me because I forget guys need romance too. I guess for them it's not quite the same...but it's doing stuff that pays attention to them and shows them they are special. I'm glad I said yes to the "Man Day" this year.

Jake suggested we switch off every year planning Valentine's Day from now on....I told him that the current 8 years him to 1 year me ratio was probably more realistic!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Babies, Art, and Hard Drives Possessed by Satan

I don't really know what the theme of this blog is. I guess it's "life sucks sometimes and even when it does we're still supposed to trust in God."

I turned 27 yesterday. It was a hard birthday. Another pregnancy test was negative and yesterday of all days my hard drive, who is indwelt by satan himself, decided to crash. I lost a good amount of files (I know my fault for not backing them up) and now we have to spend our tax return on a new computer instead of putting it towards our car loan (which I was really excited about). On top of that art has been frustrating for the last...well for a while. I feel like 27 punched me in the face.

So really I've been dealing a lot lately with this concept of life according to God's plan and not my own. Why is His plan always so much harder? As some of you know and some don't, Jake and I have been hoping to get pregnant for about a year now. We are obviously having some problems with that...and it's pretty hard. I finally understand how my single friends feel when they talk about wanting to get married but being so upset and frustrated that it's not happening. I never really got how that felt before. Wow, it sucks. I totally understand now. Some things you really just can't control. And no matter how much you want to get married, or get pregnant, or something else like that...it's really up to God, and not you. You have the choice to get bitter and angry at God and the world, or trust that there is a plan and a right timing for everything in your life.

I feel this way about art and hard drives too. Money is really not controllable and as much as I want it to be. Things happen...hard drives crash. And money you thought you had is now gone. Art is similar in that it's something that I feel like God has clearly told me to do, but I have zero control over art selling or galleries accepting work. It's freaking not easy. I have a constant everyday battle with myself and God...and He keeps telling me to paint. Ok....so why don't I sell more paintings? Why am I failing to get into galleries? This also comes back to God's plan and not my own. God's timing and not my timing. If He tells me to paint, I guess I should. If He tells me to trust Him, I guess I should. I really don't do well with this. (I am not advocating acting unwisely...if we could not pay bills I would be out the door getting a "real job.")

In the book "The Shack" by William P. Young, there is a quote that is helping me to understand this concept of letting everything in my life go according to God's plan and not my own. I hope it encourages any of you out there who sometimes feel like life is not going according to plan and are seeking to find peace with that. This is God talking to the main character whose daughter was murdered:

"The real underlying flaw in your life, Mackenzie, is that you don' think that I am good. If you knew I was good and that everything - the means, the ends, and all the processes of individual lives - is all covered by my goodness, then while you might not always understand what I am doing, you would trust me. But you don't.

'I don't?', asked Mack, but really it was not a question. It was a statement of fact and he knew it. The others seemed to know it too and the table remained silent.

Sarayu (the holy spirit) spoke. 'Mackenzie, you cannot produce trust just like you cannot 'do' humility. It either is or is not. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me."

If you're married or not...God loves you. If you have kids or not....God loves you. If your job is going well or you have no clue what to do...God loves you. I'm going to try and take that to heart this week myself.

Melissa

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

You Have Been My Friend

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.”

E. B. White- Charlotte, "Charlotte's Web"

Friendship is vital to my life. It's vital to keeping a marriage healthy and strong. Good friends are the ones that know you, the ones you really let in. They take the time to ask how you are and they really listen to the answer. Good friends help when help is needed. They cry with you. They get really excited when good things happen to you. They know you and love you exactly as you are while consistently helping you to become a better person.

Outside friendships are so valuable to marriages. Girlfriends and "Man friends" can really enrich a relationship by giving spouses constructive space from one another and providing outlets for communication and support. When Jake and I dated, I ditched my girlfriends. I was immature and inexperienced and I learned my lesson. Now I find that my girlfriends often provide a listening ear, wisdom, and experience needed to keep my marriage in one piece. Jake needs his "man time" as well. I see more video games and sports than talking, but he tells me it's an important bonding time that helps guys connect and support each other. Jake and I often find the friendship of an older couple is also invaluable. They have more life experience and it's comforting to hear someone say, "Yeah, we've been there and this is how we worked it out." I feel people of my age forget that wisdom is something to be revered. I have learned that the friendship or mentoring of an older, wiser person helps me to make better decisions and be a better person and wife.

Some people think a woman and a man cannot be close friends. I disagree. I think women and men can have healthy friendships and still love and remain faithful to their spouses. I feel it takes a very deep level of honesty with one's spouse and one's self....and respect for one's marriage. If at any time your spouse feels uncomfortable, perhaps take a step back from the opposite sex friendship. Or if you at any time find yourself being attracted to your friend or confiding in them rather than in your spouse, it would be a good idea to admit these feelings to your spouse and take a step back from the friendship. Any one else have thoughts on this?

A good marriage relationship tool is to understand how to be a good friend and how to maintain friendships. Pursuing healthy and supportive friendships in our lives helps us to be balanced, understood, loved, and in turn teaches us how to support, accept, listen to, help, and understand others.

I encourage everyone to evaluate the people in their lives at some point. We can all get caught up with being busy and keeping in touch with everyone. I have found that it's good for me to understand that life changes and people change. Every once in a while I think about the people in my life and ask myself if I am being a good friend to them, if they are being a good friend to me, or is life's changes allowing us to drift apart? Sometimes I realize I have been letting my friends down and I need to work harder at making time for them. Sometimes I need to have a talk with a friend that I feel has hurt me. Sometimes I have to acknowledge that a friendship has run it's course and that it's ok to let that relationship go for now. It's helped me have more time for my friends and deeper relationships than if I was trying to be everything to everyone.

I am so grateful for the friends I have in my life. I know that I can turn to them and that they will turn to me. It is such a comfort when life's crap gets to me, to have a listening ear and someone to hug. It's wonderful to get to know so many great and unique and funny and fantastic people. Thank Ya'll!

*More baby blogs to come...I just needed a breather from thinking about it!
Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.