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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Didn't Believe in Soul Mates Until I Bared My Soul

I have always said that I don't believe in a soul mate - and I still don't think a person is destined to find "The One" who will magically connect with every unspoken desire and be available, never needy, always uplifting.  No, that isn't real. 

What I am realizing is that the more vulnerable I am willing to be, the more known I feel by my husband and then the more connected.  It's such a sweet and amazing phenomenon that I've only experienced in the slightest way so far.  From the start Mr. Wonderful has been such a safe person for me - I have never felt threatened and this security allows me to open up and to be known fully.  I hope I provide the same gentle place for his soul. 

It is this baring of the souls where I find the connection that I think others describe as being soul mate.  The mating isn't instantaneous or mystical, it is unfolding and methodical but no less intoxicating for its participants.  I think this is the attribute not celebrated in the soul mate discussion - one must actively participate in the back and forth disrobing of self, risking exposure and baring the true self. 

One must also be the safe place for another.  There will be disappointments, let downs, crossed intentions and moments of weakness, even sin.  These traits lurk in all human and in accepting these of our spouse, love wins.  I always said that I didn't believe in soul mates, but now I do.  I didn't believe in soul mates until I bared my soul and found acceptance, found comfort, affection and love.

Inspired by These Articles: Why My Husband is My Soul Mate and My Husband Is Not My Soul Mate

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekend Events and Recent Reads

I'm so happy for the weekend with no big plans except relaxing and attempting to carve the seven pumpkins currently by my fireplace.  I'm going to nest a bit at home, eat out with Mr. Wonderful and enjoy church with our people.  Then we'll get ready to start the week all over!

Don't forget to post your child's wisest words with Campbell's! Just click below.

Here are some other fun things I read this week -

For Hair Fashion and Fun - Kate @ The Small Things is Retiring

The New Message for Moms - so true!  It's what I write about here, too.

Surgeon General Warning for Step Families!

Why Being Married the Second Time is Better

This is a sponsored post - thank you for supporting our little/big family!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stepping in the Mess

A person will never truly know the person they marry or their children until those vows are taken, the honeymoon ends and routine life starts.  All those things you know about your new family through the dating and courtship process are amplified when living together.

Not only do you promise to love your new man for the rest of his days, but his children, too...and those children have great power within your new home.  Their mood can affect the tone of the family, their schedules must be honored, their space and preferences are already established. 

When there are problems with his children, I'm not exactly sure where to fit in, how to assist.  Their bio mother is still active in their life and she has more history and authority than I do.  For me, I find it most helpful, at least for now, to support my Mr. Wonderful in his parenting.  I can be a safe place to express disappointment and fear.  I can be a trusted sounding board for his thoughts.

Still, it feels like an uncertain place - a new dynamic which I've never experienced before.  Sometimes things seem to be clicking along just as sweetly as possible and then something changes.  I sense it, but I can't say what caused the change nor can I fix it.  It would be easy to allow distance and resentment erode the connections we've created in our blended family, but I'm fighting that!

As a step-parent, it is easy to think that I am an outsider in the relationships between my bonus daughters and my husband.  I are not an add-on.  I have always been part of God's plan for their lives.  It's one of the ways He makes something good out of what seems bad.  We are truly serving on the front lines!

Did you have a step parent who played a positive role in your upbringing and adulthood?  Are you step-parenting today?  I would love to hear how others are doing in this role.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

From a Complete Mess (with lots of stress) to a Content Miss (with room to bless!)

It all seemed to come to a head one July day when I received a call that my 3-month-old was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance, having what seemed to be a seizure. My husband had left the month prior, along with his paycheck and health benefits. I was working a limited 15 hours per week as a newly singled mama with three children age 0, 2 and 3 years.

Things were bad. I was concerned about my smallest prince in the ambulance ahead, but at the same time I was wondering, “Was it really necessary to call an ambulance?”

My tiny baby did have a seizure, but he recovered to be just fine (thank you, Lord) and my marriage did fail. But the tools learned in that season are priceless ones that keep working to this day.

I entered a new season of life as a single mother. I was able to increase my work hours and thereby increase my income, but still remained part time for the sake of my young children. On my limited income, I learned four keys for budgeting:

1. Eliminate All But the Necessary

The cable was cut off. The home phone gone and only a limited cell plan put in place.
We didn’t participate in extra-curricular activities (soccer, gymnastics) and I made no commitments to anything that would incur a monthly bill. None.  I even canceled trash pickup and obtained permission to take our bags to a nearby church dumpster. I was brutal in eliminating bills.

2. Maximize What You Have

We made good use of our internet service and PBS for entertainment. We purged and sold items of value. The cash for an unused vehicle was more useful than the vehicle in storage. I adjusted my payroll withholding to make the most of each monthly check.
I paid all our bills at the first of the month: Tithe, Mortgage, Power, Water, Phone, Insurance. Then I lived on what was left. Often that meant not going places in order to save gas and stretching meals in creative ways.

3. Get Real and Get Savvy

I had to be realistic about myself in this season. I wasn’t one who could spend $40 on a manicure or a night out with the girlfriends. Instead, I learned all the “Kid’s Nights” to the local restaurants and it was a real treat for our little family of four to venture out every now and then. 
I asked for help at our church with AWANA fees and accepted help at Christmastime when it was offered. This was humbling, but I recognized God taking care of us in these practical acts of kindness. 
I learned that we could have fun and live well with much less than I once thought. Yes, my definition of living well shifted, but it was a relief to not compete to measure up in the ways I once thought were important.

4. Give A Little, Live A Lot

You may notice Tithe was at the top of my expense list. It wasn’t always so, but I believe it is essential to demonstrate trust with more than words and so I committed once again to tithing. I have never regretted that decision. 
I also become aware of so much we didn’t need and donated much to our local Habitat For Humanity Rehome store. The children all learned to love sharing and passing to others the things we no longer needed.
Our gifts were small, but I hope to instill the joy of giving in my little ones. We all treasure experiences more than our stuff these days.

In order to make our life work on a small budget, I was forced to account for every dollar in the door. It became a priority for me to not only exist but to begin saving.

As the children grew and entered into the public school system, our childcare costs ticked slowly downward and I was able to expand our budget to include small vacations and a gifts fund. When we wanted to spend on something extra, I knew right away whether it would be smart.

The second great lesson was that saying “yes” to one thing always meant saying “no” to something else. Knowing my limitations forced me to be clear about my priorities and taught me deep joy and pride in making it alone.

I’m so thankful the leanest days are behind me, yet I am daily grateful for the treasures found in the hardship.

Originally posted on Money Saving Mom (10/22/13).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weekend Fun

My mother is here to visit and it's our first time to have a houseguest now that we are living as a blended family.  It's sure to be loud and messy and fun.  I'm hoping to visit the pumpkin patch and the Smoky Mountains.  I'm probably hoping for too much!  But we'll enjoy each other and soak up the grandmothering.  We sure miss her!

Our families likes to watch movies - and lately I just haven't been all that impressed!  So we are looking forward to November when there are some anticipated releases: Catching Fire

At the end of the month, Monsters U will be released on DVD.  I'm the only one in the family who hasn't seen it yet.  I can't wait!

I love the weekend, but this one isn't going to feel like much downtime.  The children are on "Fall Break."  We get a four-day weekend.  We never had fall break when I was in school, did you?

Be sure to take note of the 'wise' things your child says and share with Campbells!

The tooth fairy has been to our house THREE times this week!  It's crazy!  My oldest boy is growing too fast and the high school girls are busy and gone so very much.  Time is just zooming by! 

Do you have any fun weekend plans?

This guy is such a cutie and seems so big right now.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Family Matters

I think it is common to imagine our grown-up family will be like our family of origin.  Or perhaps you dream it will be everything your original family was not.  For me, it was natural to assume life would continue in much the way it began: only I would trade the role of daughter and sister for that of wife and mother.  It all seemed so smooth and seamless.

And I set off on that path, or so I thought.  I checked off the squares for graduating college, getting engaged, married, etc.  The husband-wife relationship was more challenging than I expected.  I was disappointed and hurt, but remained committed and convinced that ours would be a
happy story.  Then infertility and miscarriages stole the last remnants of my idealized plan

The Lord eventually blessed me with three of the sweetest miracles and our family seemed to fit the ideal.  I sent a Christmas card each year with photos to prove just how 'perfect' we were.  But the reality was so different.  The family I portrayed was not the family I had and that façade cannot be maintained forever.  The betrayal and failure of my marriage was the end of all I once believed my family would be.

I was a single mother.  And I learned there were gifts in what I thought would be the end of me.  This style of family suited me more than I expected and I found true contentment.  Yet I still had ideas of what I dreamed for my family.

So now I'm in a new season of blended family-hood.  Thankfully, I didn't have many expectations which has limited any potential for disappointment.  There are seven very distinct personalities with different histories ways of relating that are working to mesh in one home.  Often I'm not sure whether the teenage girl retreating to her room is just a need to be alone or a statement of how she feels about me.  I can't tell if the whiny acting out of a little boy is due to tiredness or a cry for attention.  I question whether I'm giving too much attention to my husband at the expense of my children or if I'm encroaching on the relationship he has with his daughters.  It's a very different family experience from what I've known and from what I expected. 

But here is what I know:
  • We are creating memories that will become treasures (it started during our courtship).
  • Each of us being stretched to more patient, less selfish and learn to live with others.
  • It's okay to have different relationships with different people, even within a family.
  • We all enjoy the touchpoints in our week when we connect: dinnertime and Sunday worship are my faves.
  • We all love Disney movies and vintage sci fi.
  • Laughter is so contagious!
  • We can make our spaces work for us - even if one bedroom doesn't have a door and we have to bring extra chairs to the table.
  • Home is a place where your heart feels safe, not an address.
Is your family today anything like what your family of origin?  Is it what you thought you would have?  Can you see the beauty in its imperfection?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Elisabeth Klein

When you are experiencing a difficult marriage or going through a divorce, it is a very isolating experience.  But please know you are not alone.  One person I've met* on the journey is Elisabeth Klein.  Elisabeth was married for just under nineteen years and it was a difficult relationship from the start.  As a believer, active in church and sometimes on staff, she experienced the challenges of seeking to be a godly wife while dealing with addiction and abuse in her spouse.  The marriage ended just over a year ago and Elisabeth has shared her experience in the book Unraveling: Holding on to Your Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage

This day, October 15, 2013, would have been her twentieth anniversary.  Elisabeth freely shared from the questions I asked her.  I hope her story brings comfort to anyone feeling alone today.

Could you  provide a brief summary of your experience in ministry and then how your church dealt with the difficulties in your marriage, your feelings about their handling of the divorce and their releasing you - what did that mean in your opinion?
My ex-husband and I attended one church for the entirety of our marriage.  I was on staff twice, and held various leadership positions, even starting and leading the women’s ministry for ten years.  I kept our marriage problems largely to myself, which was one of my biggest regrets.  

When I shared some initial concerns early in our marriage with some church people, though I received some very good advice, I also received advice that should be given to wives in struggling marriages, not to wives in abusive or addiction-fraught marriages.  Taking this advice continued our downward cycle for about a dozen years.

However, how our reconciliation attempt was handled was nothing short of a miracle.  We had a team of literally ten people around us, praying for us, encouraging us, supporting us, giving us counsel.  It was the best possible situation for where we were at the time, and I will never forget or be able to repay the people who poured their lives into ours during that crazy-hard stretch.

Do you feel your faith and the evangelical church dynamic impacted your ability to navigate the difficult marriage and divorce process?

Yes, but in some odd and contradictory ways.  I stayed for so long for a million reasons, but one was that I felt I absolutely could not leave without some kind of spiritual loss that would impact me for the rest of my life.  I was terrified to end my marriage.  Also, given the advice I was given early on perpetuated some faulty thinking on my part, and so I didn’t even consider that abuse was a part of the picture until much too late.  However, on the other hand, towards the end, I felt that I basically had this small community walking me gently toward the end of my marriage, though none of us knew it was going to end that way at the time.  It was really a beautiful thing that I think most people who aren’t involved in the intimacy of  a church would never have been able to experience.

Can you describe the sense of isolation that you faced in projecting a seemingly 'together' marriage while dealing with hidden turmoil?  

I blame myself for keeping things in as long as I did.  As I mentioned, I was leading the women’s ministry.  I felt I had to be an example to the other women of my church, and my marriage was not one for anyone to emulate so I kept it hidden.  Also, to be really honest, I loved everything about my life except my marriage, and to expose the truth meant – in my mind – that I would lose everything else that I loved. 

Keeping everything in for so long was exhausting and it took its toll on me physically.  By the time we began the reconciliation attempt, I was on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication, I was having heart palpitations, eye twitches, migraines, and trouble sleeping.  I was a mess, basically!  I think that goes with anything stressful that you keep in…it will come out one way or another.  Either you work it through in healthy ways or it will leak out, hurting yourself and those around you, which it did.

How did you find courage to confront and admit the reality and were you able to discern safe people?

It all started because I went to a new counselor specifically to work on my anger issues.  I told her, “Hey, this is my life.  This is my hard marriage.  My circumstances are not going to change.  So I need you to help me not be so angry all the time.  I don’t want my kids looking back on their childhood and just remembering me as an angry woman.”  That’s when I realized there was abuse that I had been reacting to all along, and that’s when I went to my church for my final plea for help.  So I basically found the courage because I was desperate to change something in me that I finally became sick of living with – my anger.

I prayed for safe people to come around me, and they did.  On that team of ten – half of whom I barely knew when we started – I respected and trusted every single one of them.  I had been so burned up to that point.  I think, honestly, God just knew I couldn’t take that happening, so he lovingly hand-picked our support team.

How has facing your difficult marriage and experiencing divorce encouraged you to be more real in everyday living?

You can hide living in a bad marriage.  No one ever really has to know.  But you can’t really hide that your husband isn’t coming to church anymore or has moved out or that you’re looking for a new place to live, you know?  My circumstances forced me to say, “This is my life now. You may not agree with it…heck, I don’t really even agree with it…but this is me, for better or worse.”  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done to start telling people how much of a mess I had actually been all those years, but I have never felt more free in my life.  Having nothing to hide is one of the best feelings in the world.  Now I just say what I’m thinking and I kind of don’t care as much anymore if people agree with me or not.  That’s not my business if someone doesn’t like me.

Are you surprised by the support or lack of it in the church and from family, friends as you journey this path?

I’ve had some people trash me online who don’t know me.  Those I can let go pretty easily.  They don’t know me and that’s much more about their issues than mine.  But I have a few people in my life who have made it clear they disapprove of me (even though I wasn’t the divorce-initiator).  That has been one of the largest heartbreaks through this whole thing: truly feeling like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, following God, following wise counsel, and then to still have people disapprove.  I still ruminate on that every once in a while.

But overall, oh my word, my friends and family have blown me away with their steadfast support.  My real friends floated up to the surface through this and they have stood by me through it all.  One even said that I could mess up everything and she wasn’t going anywhere.  That’s love.

Do you find old patterns of thought challenging to overcome? 

Absolutely.  I can get an email or text from my ex-husband and it can still sometimes send me into a tailspin and I go back to feeling like I did twenty, ten, even three years ago.  That’s going to take some time.  But even just last night, I got an email that was pretty ridiculous, and because I happened to be in a really great mood, I just wrote back two sentences, deleted it, and determined that I wasn’t going to let that steal my joy.  That was a huge victory for me.

How will you equip your children to face disappointing realities in their own life?

My sweet kids have seen more than most teenagers have seen, which breaks my heart.  They’ve seen the police at our house.  They know about addiction.  And I’ve talked to them super clearly about abuse in relationships and the different kinds, and what to do if you think you’re being abused, and how to treat other people.  So, as sad as all that is, they are pretty darn equipped with some important things that I didn’t even know until the past five years.  Plus, as I say to them every time they leave their house, “Who guards your coming and going?” (from Psalm 121) and they reply, “Jesus.”  They know some really good things now that they wouldn’t have otherwise, so I have to take comfort in that.

As you approach your former wedding anniversary, describe your perspective now versus the day you took your vows.  

The day I took my vows, I was terrified.  There was a part of me that knew we shouldn’t be getting married, but I pushed passed that.  I had no idea what I was signing on for, because certain behaviors didn’t emerge until after the wedding.  Now, as what would’ve been my twenty year anniversary is today, I just feel compassion for that young, scared girl.  She was looking for security and someone to love her and someone to love.  She wanted a lifelong partner and family.  And she wasn’t trusting God to provide her with what she was dreaming about.  It makes me sad for that naïve version of me.  And yet, I stand here now, on the other side of things.  And I am grateful for what I’ve been through.  I grew so much.  I’ve changed so much.  I don’t take things for granted like I did when I was younger.  My faith is stronger and more real.  And now, even though it does scare me to think I may be alone for the rest of my life, I now intend not to settle for security sake.  If I’m going to remarry, it needs to be a big love that can withstand our humanness. 

How is this year different from year one? year ten?  the final year you were married?  the first date to pass following the divorce?  Do you sense growth?  change of perspective?  

Year one, we really were in the honeymoon phase; it was as if all our problems and arguing dissipated.  For about nine months.  Then it was just hard for most of the rest of the time.  

Year ten, I was coming out denial and seeing some things that were really scary.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the tools to deal with any of it, so I just kept the cycle going.

Our final married years were horrible.  The abuse and addictions were at their peak.  I was miserable and physically and emotionally exhausted.  I need to add, this entire marriage was no walk in the park for my husband either.  I was very difficult to be married to as well.

Our divorce date was bittersweet.  I still couldn’t believe this was happening and yet there was a relief that I almost didn’t know what to do with.

My one-year date post-divorce was just  a regular day, though I did get a massage.  :)  

Everything in my life has changed since my marriage has ended.  There is peace in my home.  I don’t know the last time I yelled at someone.  I am not hiding anymore.  I am figuring out who I really am.  I am still messing up and hurting other people, but there’s grace for that.  I’ve found a new church that feels like home.  And I’m free.  Not just free of my marriage, but free deep down.  It’s kind of amazing to feel that way after all those years of pain.

*Note: Elisabeth and I have only *met* online, but I would embrace her as a friend if real life every brings us together.

Elisabeth Klein is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, speaks several times a month to women's groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers' Guild. During her time at Christ Community Church’s Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois she began and led their women's ministry for ten years prior to moving to the city’s Orchard Community Church. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at or  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at if interested in joining.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Idea of Great Weekend

My weekends usually include a mix of downtime, errands, cleaning, exercising and socializing.  It's true that as a working mom, much of the grunt work of managing a home gets saved for the weekend when I have more extended periods of time for getting into a project. So, I relish the idea of a whole weekend, free to do exactly as I choose while magical fairies perform those must-do tasks that usually require my attention.

So, without breaking the bank and assuming I'm staying in the area, this is my idea of a great weekend:

Friday: (After Work) Pampering and a night out - I would love to go for a massage or hair style then dress up for an evening out with Mr. Wonderful.  We could have a gourmet dinner and see a show or just wander downtown.

Saturday: Sleeping In and a slow, relaxed morning.  Sometimes this actually happens.  I love it
when we have no schedule and get to meander through our morning routine.

Getting away to the mountains - The mountains are my happy place, so getting away for a drive or hike is the perfect way to spend a few hours.

Cuddly night in - I can't think of anything better than a simple meal at home and downtime with my family.  I love hearing Mr. Wonderful play his music, reading with the children, laughing with the bonus girls, just general calm togetherness.

Sunday: Morning run and worship - I feel great when I exercise before the day gets started and going to church is our standard tradition. 

Lunch with friends - getting together with others makes life more full and fun.

Shopping excursion - even just wandering the mall is fun to me!

Gathering at home - again, returning to our home to connect and prepare for the upcoming week is my idea of a great time.  I'm so glad I love spending time with my family.

I really wish it worked this way!  Even though I can't have that glorious schedule every weekend, I still look forward to the time to focus on home and family.  This weekend I'll be doing some shopping with my bonus girl, I'm so honored she asked!  I've got the regular house-chores plus painting a hallway and working to organize in our chaotic basement.  I'm getting together with a friend and her little girl (along with my little girlie).  Church will be great and then we'll probably crash at home before starting the week all over. 

What are your weekend plans?  What does your idea of a great weekend include?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mine, Yours, Ours - What?

My children have called my guy Mr. K---- for so long that the name didn't change when we actually married.  I've let them know they can just refer to him as K---- or even Coach (he coaches High School Soccer).  We've tossed around other names like Pop (he calls his own Dad Pop) but so far Mr. K---- it remains.  Sometimes, one of my three will slip and call him Daddy, but they always correct themselves.

I hope the label softens with time.  We have only been married for two months.

My husband has two daughters in high school.  Because I am Missy, I request people never use the Ms. (Ms. Missy is too much Misery to me).  So I've always been, "Dad's girlfriend, Missy."  Now I am "My stepmom, Missy."  I still regret the title of Stepmom, but it seems to be the easiest way the girls have of quickly defining my role to their friends. 

We do refer to the children as "Our children" and do not designate when we talk about them to others.  You're right, most people never need to know the exact nature of the relationship.  We have all five children the vast majority of the time, and yet the age differences create natural lines.  Often we refer the "the children" (my three, age 5, 7, 9) or "the girls" (his two, age 14, 16).  When I talk to others about my family and children, I am talking about all five: I cook dinners for all, shop for all, run schedules for all, etc. 

We are definitely still adjusting to living as a blended family.  There are so many individuals and emotions to consider and sometimes it's just overwhelming!  But keep reminding yourself that it is worth it!  One things that encourages me is to talk with adult children of blended families and hear the important impact the "Steps" had on their lives.  Two friends in particular had/have sweet, positive role models and influences: one from a Step Dad, one from a Step Mom...and the relationships weren't always smooth. This helps me know the end result is worth the confusion and work now.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Moody Monday

Mr. Wonderful is starting a new job today - I'm excited for him and praying that all goes well. We both woke up feeling more rested than not and ready to face this Monday.

Sweet Faith lost a big front tooth over the weekend!  It totally changes the way she looks and she was so excited!  We had a big Sunday lunch and I thought I would share what a typical mealtime looks at our table. 

It's fun to have a big gathering and I can tell each of us likes the anchor of a family dinner each evening.  We're a late-eating-bunch and often after dinner it's time for the little ones to get ready for bed and the older girls work on homework. 

I'm still working out meal choices that everyone enjoys - this meal was brisket, baked potatoes and green beans with rolls.  It will yield brisket sandwiches, too!

I hope you had a great weekend and a fantastic week planned ahead.  My main quandary is how to get the children to be responsible for getting themselves ready and out the door.  I don't want to do the 10 minute countdown any longer.  Once they are done with breakfast, I would like them to go ahead and brush teeth, put on shoes and be ready at the door when it's time to go.  Any ideas?  What are your morning challenges? 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rich Reads

Recently discovered in my browsing:

Great article about Bottom Lines and seeking a Healthy Relationship.  MUST READ!

Why Loving a Narcissist is a Bad Idea by Big Little Wolf

The Relationship Between Sensitive People and Narcissists in Psychology Today - Holy cow, I saw myself in this one!

Are you talking to your sons?  Your daughters?  It's important to know how porn affects their brain.  I wish it wasn't necessary, but we cannot avoid this topic.

And be sure to share Wise Words from you Children here or here! Campbell's wants to hear what your child has to say.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"I Love You"

My former husband said, "I love you" all the time, even after the divorce.  His words did not match his actions and so the words had little value.  I've recently remarried and a similar dynamic was true in his first marriage.  His former wife articulated love, but did not live it.  So, while saying "I love you" is necessary and important in our relationship, demonstrating it or providing more detail is much more meaningful.  I'm looking for ways to do that, everyday.

Mr. Wonderful tells me he loves me when he makes me the sweetest coffee in the morning.  I hear his love when he calls me after dropping his girls off at school, just to chat and connect.  I feel loved when he takes care of the dishes or insists I sit down instead of folding another load of laundry (knowing he'll tackle it instead).  I am most confident of his love when he ends his day by wrapping his long arms around me and we fall asleep together - seriously, he does this every night.  Touch is one of my primary love languages. 

Words are his primary love language, so I say the words often.  I also try to find unexpected ways to use words.  Before we married, Mr. Wonderful never bothered to put the roll of T.P. on the actual dispenser, but I've noticed since I moved in that he takes that extra step.  I really appreciate it!  So when I saw the roll was getting low...I put a note on the next roll:

On a morning I knew he would be awake before me, I left a lipstick message on his mirror. 
Do you think he got the message about the way I feel?

I send text messages.  I speak words.  I make his favorite cookies and I brag on him whenever I can.  I want to communicate my love for my own husband in ways he can 'hear.'  I don't ever want him to wonder how I feel.  I want to be his 'sure thing.'
How do you tell those you love how much you care?  What is something intentional you can do this weekend?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Off They Go

My daughter has this pillow on her bed - she picked it out herself.
Thursday evenings mean that my three little ones head out to spend time with their dad.  We tidy up their spaces and the house feels so much less lively without their activity and noise.  I always feel more alone when they are gone, even with my bonus family closeby.  I'm so thankful they are together.  It is one of my fondest thoughts to know they are experiencing their childhood together.  Whether here or there, they will have each other.

I miss them when they are gone and sometimes I feel guilty for the deep breath and break in responsibility that I get when they go.  I've learned to let go so much more, to trust their little selves to Hands greater than mine.  It hasn't always been easy and still isn't, and I always look forward to their return. 

So tonight I'm catching up on some housework.  I'm spending time with my Honey.  I'm exercising and might even color my hair.  I'm letting them enjoy time away and getting ready for when they arrive back home with all their noise and mess.  It's a crazy life, but it's our life. 

Do you share parenting time with a former spouse?  How do you spend those hours?  What would you do with an evening of no responsibility?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Little Girl Dreams

I often wonder how the dreams
of my own little girl will turn out.
We all do it. As little girls we dream about our life as a woman.  I would be a wife and mother, my home would be cozy and often filled with guests.  My husband would be thoughtful and engaging, respected in the community and ever-so-handsome.  And it would be perfect.  It really would.  I mean, as long as I followed the rules and made good choices all would be well. 

And so began my performance.  My need to control the outcome was great because I perceived it as a reflection of my own worthiness.  But all my striving could not produce the desired dream.

I crafted a life that I thought would fulfill my dream: a handsome man with prestigious ambitions, a comfortable home which I could fill with pretty things and well-behaved children.  And it looked good for a while.  But the whole time, I knew it was an illusion.  I knew the handsome man battled demons and our relationship was weak.  I knew the façade we presented to others didn't hold up when were alone.  The hope for children was met with the despair of miscarriages and infertility.  The desire for a loving marriage turned into disappointment and the feeling I would never be enough: not interesting enough, not pretty enough, not sexy enough, not good enough. 

I truly did believe my little girl dreams were just that, dreams from another time.  I accepted so much less than I had hoped for because the dream no longer seemed possible.  I shriveled and didn't let people get close enough to see my disappointment.  I withered and forgot what it was like to dream.

But one day,  I could no longer keep up the show. The actions of my then-husband brought others into our marriage and it was necessary to bring light into the darkness of our home.  I cannot describe the devastation of betrayal, the consequences of living in isolation and how admitting the dream was gone evoked enormous loss.  On that day, I knew my story would never be what I once dreamed. 

Everything had changed.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Walk With Me

From our time dating and even more today, I notice that my husband really enjoys when we do life in parallel.  He appreciates my presence, even when I'm not actively involved.  It can be a challenge because there is always a task that could be done and it's tempting to feel like the time is wasted.  But I see a notable change when I make time to simple be with the one I love. 

He likes it when I sit while he practices music.

We often exercise 'together' on Saturday mornings: Him with a running buddy and me on my own at a much slower pace - but we ride together, cross paths and end together.

He enjoys the camaraderie of watching sports together.

When we do errands together, it feels like less of a chore.

Being together, even when it seems unnecessary has provided many moments of laughter, bonding, opportunities to share, discuss and explore.

Obviously, it isn't always possible.  Yet I can tell it makes a difference in our connectedness when I make the effort to be with him.  Women tend do bond by feeling together, talking, processing.  Men bond through participation.  Deep, emotional conversations aren't part of my average day, and that's not what connects my man to me.  Intentionally being together in the big and small things connects us in very practical ways and provides to space for the more touchy-feeling conversations to happen.

Each day I do my best to allow time for just Mr. Wonderful.  Often it's after the little children are in bed and the teenagers have retreated to their rooms to do whatever it is that teenagers do homework.  Usually, the kitchen still needs to be cleaned and there is always a basket of laundry begging to be folded.  But I intentionally set those things aside, at least for a time, and just sit with my man.  Sometimes I rub his head or feet, we usually watch a silly show, game or repeat movie.  I choose to sit on the couch with him although the recliner is usually my preference.  I just want him to know that he is important.  He is my priority and and I value our relationship. 

What do you do to connect with those you love?  Is it hard to avoid the feeling that you're moving in the same circles but at opposite directions.  What makes you feel valued and do those in your life know that?