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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Greatest Fear of Remarriage: Re-Failure


I have a friend who went through a divorce around the same time as me.  We encouraged each other during the single mom years and shared a kindred spirit through the ups and downs that motherhood brings.  Almost a year ago, she reconnected with a high school friend whom had never married.  They began dating and my heart was thrilled when they got married last Thanksgiving.  I could feel her joy and security and I celebrated with her at this new chapter in life.

Less than three months later, she arrived home to find her new husband had packed and moved out, leaving only a note.

Another friend had been divorced had lived alone with her daughter for many years.  She developed a friendship with a widower who had a daughter of similar age and they began to spend a lot of time together.  Their friendship naturally developed into love and the wedding was a celebration for both of the families.

Two years later, the daughters were at extreme odds with one another and the strife drove a wedge between the parents.  They parted ways and regretted their attempt at creating a new family.

Both of these women are strong, capable, wise and loving.  They make choices based on reality and on what they feel the Lord wants.  They considered their children, they loved the men.  They were hopeful and joyful about the opportunity to have a new family.  Their dreams were dashed and their hearts were broken.  Again.

I do believe this is the greatest fear of remarriage - failure, again. The "Again" part makes it so much intense because it would underscore the fact that there has already been a perceived failure.  Taking another risk, is just too much for some to try.

The failed marriages are more common and they seem to get most of the attention.  But there are other women I know who have love, joy and deep satisfaction in marriages that were not their first.  The difference?  It's not that they are more mature or that they married people so much better.  The difference is within her own self: she is wiser, she was discerning when selecting a mate, she considered the cost because she knows the price.


I know a woman who married for the third time and they were best friends and companions for more than thirty years.  Her third husband adopted this woman's son and worked hard to provide for them.  He cared for her at home as she battled cancer and was by her side as she passed from this life to the next.  This was worth the risk.

I have a friend who married for the second time in her twenties, and this husband was loving and kind throughout their years together.  She found acceptance, healing and faithfulness and was cherished until he passed away in their older age.  This was worth the risk.

I would venture to say that every woman who marries for a second (or third, etc,) time enters with some fear and full knowledge of what can go wrong.  We have experienced firsthand how the hope of forever can become a shackle of bondage.  We know that the one who promised to guard our heart can break it.  We have participated in the wreckage that wounds to the core.  We are not innocent.

I have now been remarried for almost two years.  I remember our first fight and the fear rising that perhaps we couldn't make it.  Already there have been times we have both been moving so fast in too many directions and the effort to reconnect just felt like too much to ask.  We have seen our children struggle to make sense of the blending of two families.  I remember the dread of my first fender bender and the horror of my second one!  I hated knowing that my shortcomings affected others.  I struggled to make the house my home.

So when the thought of another failed marriage creeps to the front of my mind, I refuse to believe its lie.  I know that I will chose my husband and he will choose me.  We have the Lord on our side and a healthy support system in place.  I will say "I'm sorry," and I will forgive.  I will rest knowing that God is for me (Psalm 56:9).  He really is!  God used the human tragedy of divorce in my own life to draw me closer to Himself and to reveal His faithful character.  His sovereign will is worked out even in the daily imperfect decisions that we make.

I have another friend.  Her first marriage ended in betrayal and divorce.  She has doggedly determined that she will never remarry.  However, she dates one man regularly and they have combined households.  In attempting to protect her heart, she has become unguarded in her character (if you are reading from a perspective of Bible-based morals).  I understand how this happens, she believes she is protecting herself and her children but she has placed herself in a position without protection legally or spiritually.  The very thing that she thinks would make her vulnerable (marriage) would be what provides what her heart most desperately desires.

What do you observe regarding remarriage?  Have you seen successful second or third marriages?  Does fear paralyze you from risking again?  What might encourage you to try?

Friday, March 20, 2015

To Improve Your Child's Writing, Help Him Begin a Journal!

Journaling isn't only for grown ups.  I believe the best way to encourage good writing, is to encourage reading that stimulates.  Exposing children to quality texts that honor the language rules allows them to learn without realizing they are getting a lesson.

But, at some point in time, pen (pencil) literally gets put to paper and your child will have to express his or her thoughts in writing.  It can feel intimidating, but exciting.  My son has been an avid reader for several years.  He articulates himself well verbally and I love complimenting him on his vocabulary.  He did alright in the lower elementary grades on copy-work, but there was a noticeable decline in his skill level (and grades) when the upper elementary classes asked for writing work.

He needed practice in basic grammar, sentence structure and fully expressing an idea.  The amount of time he had to work in class with the teacher was just enough to get him started and to "complete" his homework on his own.  However, no one was editing and helping him to improve.  He needed more practice.

So, I asked him to journal with me each day.  We began with writing just three sentences each day, and he had to do it before his "homework" was considered complete.  Sometimes I gave him a topic (weather, holiday, family, etc.) and other times I let him write about what he wanted.

Working together, I was able to walk him through the process of re-reading to be sure his sentences were complete and that ideas were fully expressed.  I think he began to value my feedback and trust me to improve his writing.  Once he mastered the grammatical issues, I encouraged better writing in general.  For example, I asked him to use a different subject in each sentence.  I required at least one compound sentence.

Know what?  His grade improved but more importantly, his writing improved.  He now takes time to think before he writes and he is more confident expressing himself.  We no longer journal everyday, but the practice still part of our skill tool box.  I hope to continue and perhaps one day he'll take up the task on his own!

How do you encourage writing?  Do you have any creative ways to help your child express him or herself?  When should I start the same with my younger children?

5 Ways Your Kids Can Start Now

4 Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing

Boxed Cards- Buy 2 Get 1 Free!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hi, From Spring Break Central!

Sometimes I think too long about what to post and so it just never happens.  I have too many 'starts' in my drafts folder for the blog, but I can't seem to wrap anything up to completion.  Oh well.

We are enjoying our spring break ... well, the children are enjoying it.  Mr. Wonderful and I are working, as normal, but the schedule is more relaxed without school and extra curricular activities.  As a bonus, we've had lovely weather and all of us have enjoyed time outdoors.  Even the puppies seem to have spring fever!

Later this week, our older girls are headed for a get away with their mother and our little ones will be with their dad.  That leaves me alone with my husband for the first time in quite a while - how romantic!

Are you welcoming spring?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Missy's Year 41 Life List - My Nitty Gritty Goals

I mentioned that the first of the year is a great time for me to mentally reset and ponder goals, hopes for the New Year.  But, I don't usually really get started until my birthday, which rolls around in February.  Now February was a short month and I'm just now ready to share my goals.  Some I've started working towards, others are still just hopeful ideals that I can attempt to put into practice:

Health & Personal
Exercise: walk, jog, run or hike 1,000 miles total in 2015 (126.3 so far)
    - Strength Training 2x per week
    - Stretching & Balance 1 per week
    - Continue Squats 5 x per week (5 days a week)
    - Develop Habit of Ab exercises

Meals - Learn 4 new, healthy family meals.

Running - work on speed, get one mile in less than 8 minutes (my best time this year has been 8:25)

Lose 10 Pounds - 5 by April 30, 5 more by June 15 (This will be tough!)

Home
Establish garden on front walk.
Grow grass on front hill.
Install a back splash in the kitchen.
New sofa and rug in living room.
Purge - Remove something from the home every day in April.
Line kitchen cabinets and drawers.
Switch washer and dryer so that they function more ergonomically.
Bonus: Get quote of cost of new counters, paint living room/dining room/entry. (This is a long shot)

Church
Serve regularly somewhere - Wednesdays?
Begin Wednesday night attendance in summer, youth group involvement.
Participate in children's musical and summer camps
Tithe
Host an event at home - ladies? small group? youth? etc?
Take pastor & wife to lunch

Travel
Vacation to HHI (this is scheduled)
Summer College Girls Trip (this is in discussion)
Plan an Overnight Surprise for Keith
Set date for children to visit Grandparents for a week
Visit Springfield family myself, side trip to KC to visit the grandparents
Bonus: Save $200 per month toward a 2016 Disney Trip for my kiddos (long shot, but I'm hopeful!)

My goals feel a little over-reaching, but having them "out there" helps me with staying on track.  How are you doing with your personal goals?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Journaling for Growth

As a little girl, I was fascinated by the spiral bound notebooks that my mother kept with her Bible.  Each day I remember the stack of Bible, notebook and coffee as one of my first morning remembrances.  It was on the kitchen table, the coffee table or sometimes already removed to the counter where it would stay until the next morning.  Honestly, I don't think she wrote daily, but the notebook was always available, always nearby, a constant in our home.

To me, part of being a grown up was keeping a journal and so I began my own journaling practice as a teenager.  I expected to make a diary that documented by days, but what I found was a place to process the parts of life that weren't easy to share.  My journal became the safe place to ask myself challenging questions, to explore risky possibilities and to speak the scary or wonderful truths that I explore at different seasons in life.

Keeping a journal allows me to express and explore thoughts that may be too tender to speak in real life - yet.  The handwritten page is often the first place that I allow myself to speak what is in my heart.  Sometimes the thought is proven untrue, but needed to be heard (if only by my self).  Other times the writing gives life to the seed of thought and my understanding grows.  Always I am more self aware and self affirming by reading back over the things I've written before.  It's amazing to see patterns emerge.  It's scary to have when the same fears or struggles remain page after page, journal after journal.  It's amazing when I recognize growth and maturity.

This documentation of my own life, the great and the small moments has become a treasure to me.

 Yes, I hope that one day my children will read some, but they may not.  The real value has been in allowing myself to process feelings and ideas.  To give worth to the words within by writing on paper.  To give space to myself for expression.

For me, journaling is both a discipline and a hobby.  It's not something that I require of myself, but that fuels my soul and provides a historical framework for my evolving self.

What ways do you document your days?  Do you keep a journal? a diary? a calendar of days?  What fuels your soul from within?

Related Links:
The Art of Keeping a Journal @ The Art of Simple

A New Beginning @ Far From Flawless (I love a new journal!)

Your Own Greatest Resource @ Far From Flawless





Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Forced Slow-Down

The first snowfall
 Just a few minutes ago I received the notification on my phone that our schools are cancelled tomorrow.  It has now been two weeks since our five children have attended school!  I don't remember ever being out this long, even when growing up in the much-more-wintry upper Midwest.

At first it is fun and novel.  However, our particular storms brought sheets of ice which limited our level of outdoor fun.  So we stayed active indoors where we were grateful to maintain our power and internet service.  When at last we attempted to head out on Sunday, our car wound up in our woods.  The sight of us climbing, slipping, sliding and grasping back up the hill in our Sunday finest could have made us a finalist in America's Funniest Home Videos.

Things started to thaw a bit at the beginning of the week, and then we received several inches of
I don't even want to talk about it.
snow. My youngest child had a birthday on Wednesday and I hadn't been able to get out for gifts, so I thought I would sneak out late Tuesday afternoon before the sun went down to grab a new movie and game at Walmart.   I didn't make it a mile up our road before I lost control on the ice and ended up in the ditch, too!  I was just sick to my stomach to call Mr. Wonderful and tell him what happened.  Two cars in two ditches within three days.

On Wednesday, we received five more inches of snow.

The mail has been delayed.

Our garbage hasn't been picked up in two weeks.

We missed the last high school musical of our daughter's senior year.

A birthday party, basketball awards and a daddy-daughter event have been delayed.

We haven't been able to go to church, boy scouts or gymnastics.

Obviously, things haven't been normal around our place for a while.

I keep telling my husband that "We're never having a normal day again!"  It feels like the "Groundhog Day" movie and by the middle of this week, I was struggling to maintain my normally optimistic attitude.

Extra care on the waffles because we have extra time on our hands.
The thing I love about a typical snow day is that it creates mandatory togetherness and abandoning our standard busy schedule.  We have open hours to bake, create, play, read and explore outdoors.  We did all these things and enjoyed it fully.  The children have genuinely behaved so well and gotten along for the most part.  They joined forces to create townships made of Lincoln Logs and other sculptures of Legos.  Even the youngest eagerly anticipated our readings from the "Little House" series which was my go-to method of distraction when we just needed some calm.

 

Each of these moments I have loved and I believe the winter snows of 2015 will be folklore in our family's history.  But I am very much craving normal.  I am desperate for sunshine.  I miss the freedom of coming and going and the predictability of routine.  I'm taking a deep breath, I'm looking ahead to a forecast of a warmer, albeit damp, week.

Spring is a crazy-making busy time of year for us all.  I know I will long for a day of no schedule and I will crave a moment to slow down.  Our vehicles will be repaired and the pantry will be restocked.  I would never choose to be this unproductive for two weeks, but I will treasure the memories (and madness) and trust that the sun will blaze once more.  Instead of being all together with cozy covers and carefree days, we will rush individually from one demand to the next.

The ice and snow will thaw and this moment that seems frozen will melt into reality that is speeding by too quickly.

Has your life been altered by things you can't control?  Is anyone else enjoying/enduring and endless snow day?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"The Rush Hour of Life" - On Being Forty

That's me now, spending my day at the office.
Recently, I've read about the, "Rush hour of life,” when career and child-rearing peaks collide.  Most people in this age category are still reasonably young, but many things are on the decline: health, fertility, those travel plans you were certain would happen by now or the certainty of a bank account that hasn't quite accumulated the anticipated goal.

Most days I'm grateful for the chance to live and arrive at this place, but I don't love everything about being forty.  I do not like the way my skin heals more slowly and my feet are angry that I've been wearing heels for more than twenty years.  I don't love my wider waist or more bountiful bottom.  I find I have less tolerance for complainers and dismiss those who aren't willing to work hard for what they want.  

There are things I know about myself now that I consider to be the greatest gifts of middle age:
  • Managing my sleep is the best way to ready for whatever life presents.  It's the best way to serve my family because only when adequately sleeping can I manage the surprise challenges each day presents.  Eight hours of continuous sleep is one of life's great pleasures.
  • Everyone facing a new opportunity is winging it and only by moving forward will I gain confidence.  
  • When someone is extremely charming, I am not dazzled.  I am cautious.  
  • My mother taught me so much more than I realized about practical, daily living - thank you!
  • Peer pressure never really ends, but it's so much easier to stand alone and find the ones who like me just the way I am.  
  • Family really is the best.
  • Soul mates are made over time by investing in a relationship daily (and nightly!).
  • When I don't know what to wear, choose something black.  Add red lipstick.
  • Laughter is the quickest way to heal friction in a relationship, but taking time to work through the deeper issues is worth it. 
  • Taking care of myself makes it possible to care for others well.  
  • Good health doesn't happen on accident and I am the only one responsible for this body.  I wish this wasn't true, but it helps me to realize steps needed to feel well.
  • Kindness covers a multitude of wrongs.
That's me 40+ years ago ...
I wish the chunky thighs were still cute!
There are still so many things I want to accomplish in life and there is a growing sense of the need to get going if it's going to happen!  Dreams are wonderful and inspiring, but they become disappointments without a plan of action.

I think "Rush Hour" is a term that rightly describes the way I feel most days.  With children at home from grade 1 through 12, with the duties and responsibilities they bring, plus working, managing a home and building a marriage...well, somedays I feel there just isn't enough time.  But I don't want to rush through this season.  So many treasures are found in the moments ticking by everyday.


Birthdays always make me ponder the state of my life, much like the New Year but with even more personal introspection.   Happy birthday to me and may you enjoy a great day, too!