My Husbands Words Hurt

imagesHe said I always push him away.

That. Those five words have caused marriages to crumble. That small phrase is a seed that, when full-grown, causes a chasm in a marriage. When he said those words to me, it was as if I had been doused with ice-cold water.

To me, that phrase was a warning light.  Not a yellow light but a flashing red light. “Fix this now!”, it screamed.  I prayed and I cried.

I asked God not to let me be that person.  The person who wants all the affection and love my husband has to offer me but refuses touches and stolen moments when those touches and moments stop me from the task I am in the middle of. The person who is always ready to fulfill my wifely duties but bats away all other affectionate offerings. I did not know that my husband received that as refusals.  Until then, I did not classify my actions as refusals.  To me, he was trying to get me to slow down and hinder me from completing my task to which, his linear minded wife, would get intensely upset about.  I didn’t know that he received my look of ‘dude, why are you slowing me down?! You see I’m in the middle of something!’ as refusal of his affections.

How could I have been so dumb!

I had already been praying and asking God to help me with Jazmine.  She is so in need of physical touch. A hug, a tickle, a kiss, rest my head on hers, hand hold, all of that numerous times a day.  That is not my love language but it is hers and I struggled with filling her cup everyday. After hearing my husbands words on top of what I was already aware of with Jazmine, I wilted.

Something had to change.  I had to change but I was at a loss on how.  How to change into something that was so innately foreign to me and how to sustain it.  My strength would fail at the second perceived interruption to my task and the third time I heard, “Mommy you never kiss me!”, when I know I kissed that girl at least twice in the past hour. I needed God to do something permanent in me. I didn’t want to lose my family.  I didn’t want seeds of infidelity to begin to grow in my husband because he was looking for his affections to be reciprocated. I didn’t want my daughter to have to look past me for a mother figure who filled her need for physical touch. I knew what I didn’t want but I didn’t know how to prevent it from happening.

God speaks. God speaks, but I will tell you, rarely is it when I am unmoving. I was putting something away in my daughters’ room when God answered my specific prayer about responding to those cries of affection from my family.  It is hard to pen what He said but the gist of it was ‘to remember this is important too’.  When my husband or daughter seek me for affection, I need to remember that this meaning them and their need, is important too.  Their need takes precedent over my current task.  Their need is just as important as what I am trying to do for the house.  Their need does mean that I stop what I am doing to give them that touch, smile, hug, or moment they need to continue their day. Their need does not make my task unimportant, but, the task can wait a few moments. Fullfilling their need does not take any significant amount to time but it is of great significance to them.

I needed God to give me this mental shift. I could not have decided on and executed it lovingly with any type of sustainability without Him.

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Dear Pastor’s Wife: You Don’t Have to Carry the Church

imgres-3After some serious grooming by my parents, sometime in the 8th grade, I discovered I am wired for order. I like systems. I like processes.

Fast forward to the present, that looks like a person who jumps in to help when something goes awry.  At least that is how it presents in me. However, I am sure 99.9% that that trait is brought on by the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside of me. So, when I attend a home party or any event of which I know the person(s) putting it on, if something goes wrong or help is needed to keep things moving, I volunteer.

My husband is taking a respite from the pulpit for a few weeks. This past Sunday was his second week of absence.  I too was absent last week but returned this week because Jazmine was praise dancing.  We arrived early as is custom when the girls are to dance. But everything was wrong! The deacons had not arrived yet.  The Music Minister was not there and I wasn’t even sure if he would be there. The guest preacher was early. The office he asked to use was locked and no one had a key. There were more non-members who were there to see the girls dance instead of regular church members.  Of course all the non-members were early and there were just a couple of our members there at that time.  I was so embarrassed.  As soon as the guest musician arrived, I asked her if she was ready.  She looked at me confused. She didn’t know she was to lead Praise and Worship. She thought she was only doing one song before the preacher preached. I had no idea what was going on! I was trying to put out what I perceived as fires because nothing looked like it did every other Sunday.

The Minister of Music arrived and, of course, I had blundered big time. The guest musician and the Minister of Music had already talked and things were fine. The deacons came and opened the office for the guest preacher to use. More members, although not nearly the normal amount, arrived. Everything was fine. I was the one who was a mess!

I was walking around hugging every member who showed, trying to chat them up. What I was really doing was non-verbally thanking them for attending. You would have thought I was hosting a party instead of coming in the House of God to hear His Word! It wasn’t until the very end of service that I realized my blunder.

God’s house doesn’t need me in order for it to run. I don’t have to carry the church in my husband’s absence. I could have come in and sat down. I didn’t have to go check on anything. I normally don’t check on anything because that isn’t my lane.  Why was I putting on a show? Why was I being the dog and pony act, facilitating and trying to make people feel welcome? Making people feel welcomed isn’t an act. It’s a state of being. I know that is my normal demeanor but this past Sunday, I carried it out as a way of saying thank you for bearing with us today, much like a hostess at a restaurant says to patrons after having to wait longer than normal for a table. It was wrong.  I was wrong.

Never again. My arms weren’t created to hold up a branch of Zion. My shoulders weren’t built for that weight, so I will not carry it anymore. Dear Pastor’s wife, free yourself.

Mommy Who Is Scared Of Chore Enforcement

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First of all, I understand.

You are not alone.

Let me relay my story.  I hope you take comfort.

My daughter Jazmine is 8 years old. If you are new to this blog, for the first 7 years of Jazmine’s life, we lived with my mother-in-law.  Life was very different then.  I had a lot of “help”; most of which was an easy fix to a current situation. During this past 11 months of living under our own roof, I’ve had to grow A LOT! Jazmine had to grow a lot. It could not and did not happen all at once. Discipline is an area where I’ve had stunted growth. I am not talking about behavioral discipline. I am talking about enforcing chores and household responsibilities.

Jazmine has chores, meaning I’ve assigned them and she knows what things she is responsible for doing.  She also knows how to complete each task to Mommy’s specifications. However, I have not done a consistent job of enforcing those responsibilities. She knows she is to vacuum after dinner but, often enough, because I dismayed at having to address her non-verbal unpleasantness at being told to complete the chore, I would not say a word but let it go.  Other times, it’s not that I didn’t feel like enforcing but that a greater need arose. Namely, Baby Grace needed and eye kept on her while I finish something in another part of the house. Jazmine can not yet vacuum and watch a toddler so, I nixed the vacuum for babysitting.

My husband and I just got back from having some time away.  Now that we are back home, and our weekly routine gears up again tomorrow, I have had time to reflect. I can not be that worn out anymore. I can not stay up late after our girls are in bed to clean, fold, and wash. My husband does not need to stay up after working to straighten up.

The Bible is clear. It says, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).  Although that verse is referring to the Israelites teaching their children to carefully obey God’s commands, you will notice that the children are with their parents. The children are with them in the house, on the road, at bedtime, and in the morning. I’ve not had Jazmine by my side while doing most of the things needed to run a household. I’ve let her entertain herself while I completed my chores. I’ve done her and myself a disservice.

I was afraid to enforce before because of what it would cost me. Time.

It’s like teaching her to tie her shoes all over again.  When she was 5, I had to add an extra 5-10 minutes to the get-out-of-the-house routine to allow her time to work at tying her shoes. It was worth it but oh so labor intensive. Until today, I’ve shied away from enforcing chores because I did not want that labor intensive work day-in and day-out for the next few weeks (months) on end while raising a toddler whom, I swear to beans, has hit the terrible twos at 14 months of age!

But the Bible says, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17) I can take comfort in that, as much hard work that will go into this next stretch of mothering, delight is awaiting me on the other end.

So, fellow scared Mommies, let us journey on together shall we?

Disclaimer:  My decision not to act was selfish and unloving. My desire for perfection (regarding cleanliness) in my home effectively killed much-needed instruction from me to my child. I am armed with laminated and posted chore charts (one of which is pictured above) and a determination to make household responsibilities just as important as school. I will enforce the chores she knows how to do.  Whatever task I am about to do in our home that is new to her, my Jazmine will be by my side.  I will be teaching and she will be observing and learning. We will be conversing. I will not expect perfection when she first attempts task nor when it’s her 50th attempt. I will, however, expect improvement. 

Homeschool Jealousies

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In the culture of homeschooling, there is no “right” way to do it.  It is all based on what is needed, wanted, and works for your family.  As  long as you meet the requirements of education set forth by your state, you can get there as creatively as you please. That is a beautiful part of homeschooling.

On of the subsets within the culture is not pretty, biblically or otherwise. Homeschool jealousies. Homeschool jealousies can arise in almost any aspect of homeschooling. curriculum used, activities attended, activities completed, co-op group choices, child development, etc. etc. I have found myself wrapped up in homeschool jealousies at one time or another. It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, and it wars on your family.  God prepared me for this most recent bout.

Kelly is a very dear friend of mine and I’ve had the privilege of watching her children grow up. When her eldest was in elementary school, she had a very best friend.  They were in the same class and all the same activities.  Kelly stayed home so the very best friend was often over after school.  One day while I was there after a school day ended, the girls were doing their homework.  Kelly told me that the very best friend was very behind in her education.  I sat down to work with the her to try to assess where the disconnect was and offer encouragement. The very best friend was SEVERELY behind. Not because she wasn’t capable or didn’t want to learn.  She was behind because she needed more help in getting the lessons. I recognized it in how she tried to get the right answer just so she could be seen as keeping up even though she had no understanding. Kelly talked to the mother of the very best friend about this and the mother said she and Kelly’s daughter were the same and her child could keep up just fine without any additional support.  This did not address the issue and years later, it is not better.

My Jazmine has a very best friend. They are the same in many ways and participate in many of the same activities.  However, in this case, my Jazmine, though not behind, is on par (if not slightly advanced) in her second grade education. My Jazmine’s very best friend however, is advanced. Most recently, and this is often a occurance in homeschooling, her very best friend moved up in grade level. At my first hearing this from my Jazmine, I was taken aback. My initial Mommy reaction (thought in my head not said out of my mouth) was, ‘how is she moved up? You both are the same? She can’t out learn you!’ Immediately, in my mind, I was trying to decipher ways my Jazmine could keep up. After all, she’s not incapable.  Perhaps she could be challenged more? Perhaps she could benefit from an increased workload? Perhaps I could move her curriculum up a grade level too? Perhaps we could add more educational activities/opportunities to allow her to further flourish? Perhaps…perhaps I could get a dag-on grip!

I could have smacked myself.  I IMMEDIATELY remembered the mother of the very best friend. I sounded just_like_her! NO FREAKING WAY! Children can remain friends regardless of educational prowess. Activities may change but, especially in homeschooling families, as long as parents make the effort for the child to be with their friends, that friendship can flourish! My Jazmine’s very best friend will remain her very best friend because all parents involved are committed to that happening!  All parents involved in this situation are actual adults, not children pretending to be adults.

So to my Jazmine’s very best friend, fly baby fly! achieve! We support you!

To my Jazmine, your Mommy is not going to move hell and high water to keep up with ANYBODY! You move and grow at your own pace and your father and I will be here to support you always!  Fly and soar sweetheart!  We remain proud of you!

The Quickie Queen

Physical intimacy is an important aspect of marriage. (Hmm.  That sentence wasn’t powerful enough.  Let me try again.)  Physical intimacy is vital to a healthy marriage. (There I think that was better.)

When my husband and I were to be married, we had pre-marital counseling.  During those 6 sessions, our Pastor said in most marriages, husbands are the sexual aggressors, but in some marriages, the wives are.  I was stunned to hear that.

I knew me.  I knew I was not getting married to be celibate by ANY means.  Being the good Christian girl that I was, my husband was going to get ALL of this woman as soon as we said I do. I was prepared for all the sexual struggles (he wants it all the time) I’d heard married women talk about and just knew it wasn’t going to be in my  marriage.  I was ready to be ready at ALL times.

It is not always lack of desire that prevents physical intimacy in an otherwise healthy marriage.  Life and its burdens can get in the way. Anxieties, deadlines, and sheer exhaustion can prevent the best efforts. Both husband and wife can try MANY workarounds, strategies, and time set aside to circumvent the negative repercussions of a lack of physical intimacy. Sometimes they work.  Sometimes they don’t.  It all depends on finding out what works for that couple. Trial and error is GREAT when it works but depressing when it fails.

Prayer to protect physical intimacy is important.  Ask God about it. Tell him what you desire and share that with your husband.  Watch God work it out.  He created sex to be with you and your husband. He will make it happen.

There is something to be mindful about when you do pray about physical intimacy.  Do not sabotage your effective prayers with your presets.  The Bible says ask and you shall receive, but be warned not to sabotage the receiving process. God will work in that important area of your marriage.  Start by having him work with you. My story is that while I asked, I remain the same. I responded the same way to my husband when he made an efforts.  That is self sabotage. His gentle touches, impromptu hugs, requests to have me sit near him for a bit (even while I was in the middle of making dinner) are all signs that he desires me. It may take ALL day for the bedroom to take place but he gives clues ALL day that it is on his mind too.

I have sabotaged myself. I was never one for the build-up to the end; not for common everyday practice.  That mess was cool when the only children we had lived with their mothers but now that we have two cock-blocking terrorists (yes, they are blessings and we love them but they do NOTHING to enhance the bedroom), I am in hit-it-and-quit-it mode, ALL the time. No chill. I have become the Quickie Queen.

My work around was to be “ready” at a moments notice. What should have been a temporary fix had become my preset to the point where all I looked for is “right now”.  My preset became to brush off all forms of telling physical contact because it wouldn’t produce immediate results.  Why? Because we could build up all day and one phone call (church, children, or job related) would change the evening.  All the build up for blue clit (female version of blue balls). The emotional build up would be there, the physical touches would be there, the anticipation high and then, nothing. Like a romance novel that ends with nothing but a goodbye wave.

To protect myself from the let down, I would say things like, “Don’t start anything you can’t finish,” and similar phrases to convey that I was not satisfied but desired to be. Talk about poor word choice.  That did nothing to build up my husband. That did nothing to bolster our bedroom. I sabotaged my desires.

While praying for God to move, I still spoke and responded the same way. While in the process of receiving my request, which was evidenced by his touches, words, and nearness, I sabotaged the receiving process by being unresponsive/negatively responding to what was offered. My fear of the possibility of something interfering with our bedroom became a brick wall that prevented me from receiving anything.

Once that realization came crashing down on me, I am now eager to respond to all promise offerings my husband gives me. Why? Because the phone calls weren’t his fault.  I wasn’t the only one disappointed. However, instead of working through that shared emotion together, I shut me and my blue clit off. Shutting off inhibits receiving of any kind.

If you want to receive from the Lord, don’t shut off and don’t sabotage.

Happy Humping!

The Priesthood: Modern Day Levite

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Years ago, a friend of ours, stopped us on our way out of the church parking lot.  We were previously discussing my husband’s increasing role at our place of worship. I said something like “I am a slouch because I don’t do much of anything compared to him.” It was then, our friend said, “I believe in Levitical families.” She went on to explain that it’s usually never one person of the household who is called to serve.  Both husband, wife, and even children, are all called to serve God in one capacity or another. At the time, I heard her but now I really understand the weight of that statement.

My husband is a preacher.  He is the Pastor at the church we attend.  He is a bi-vocational Pastor at that, meaning he has a full-time job and he Pastor’s a church.  Pastoring is not limited to preaching on Sunday.  It is all-encompassing.

My husband works 40 hours a week in his profession plus a few hours every evening at home. He spends roughly 20 hours a week, and that is an observers estimate, on church business (paperwork, communication, etc) plus the time it takes to meditate and prepare a sermon. He is ALWAYS forward thinking and planning for months and years ahead. That is his calling. God called Him to pastor.

As his wife and as far as our family goes, we live a Levitical life.  We have a Levitical schedule.  Saturday and Sunday brunches are non-existent for us. Saturday evening time with friends? No way man. Sunday night dates? No. The get up and go lifestyle? Not here. I often look at other families and think how wonderful it is for them to be able to go grocery shopping together. I usually end up going after the girls are in the bed.

This is not a complaint.  It is a reflection. I see Facebook posts about the fantastic Sundays people have and the wonderful Saturday evenings they experience. I look longingly on those post but remember our calling is different. Corporate worship is not optional for us.  My family can’t live stream service while we relax on the couch eating pancakes. My husband can’t live stream from home.  Convenience is not the calling.

Our whole family is involved. We all have to be up and ready Sunday morning which means Saturday evening is treated like a school night.  Our home operates on a quieter level, which is no easy task, when my husband is working on his sermon. There are many other things that run differently in our Levitical home that are both common to other Levitical families and unique to our blended Levitical family.

The calling is high.

Something About Forgiveness

Forgiveness…freeing relief.

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Forgive them even if they are not sorry

It was a hard weekend.  We had a full house. Our Bella is a few weeks shy of being adult. We also have two teenage boys, our seven-year old, and our infant. We had a lot of life in just a few days.

Our almost grown daughter is EXACTLY like her mother except even more so. In all the ways I can not stand Tanya, Bella is her twin. It was hard interacting with someone who’s character rubs me all the wrong way.  I excise those with similar character traits from my life but I cannot excise Bella. I wanted to.  I, truth be told, even tried to, but it was not the right thing to do. I couldn’t do it.

How to deal. How to deal…

I didn’t realize just how stressed I was until they, Bella, Anthony, and Scott, left. As soon as they left, I felt a heavy weight. I felt horrible. I felt so far away from God. I longed for fellowship with Him once more but couldn’t figure out what was blocking it. So, to try to fix things, I started confessing everything.  I thought maybe I had hardened my heart to being obedient in some of my other relationships so I began telling God that I would do whatever He wanted me to. I would call and initiate talks, whatever He wanted, I would be obedient to.  I wanted to be right with Him and I was desperate to do whatever He asks of me. After confessing things that I wasn’t even sure I was wrong for, nothing happened.  I still felt far from Him.  I thought I must have gotten something wrong.

I did.  I did get something wrong.

 

But it wasn’t what I thought it was. It wasn’t unconfessed deeds I had unknowingly committed. It wasn’t being hard-hearted. My sin, what was blocking me from being in fellowship with God was unforgiveness.

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I had harbored EVERYTHING said or done by Bella, Anthony, Scott, and Tanya that was out-and-out wrong or rubbed me the wrong way.  I did not realize the weight unforgiveness carries. Immediately, I started forgiving.  I told God I forgave each person.  I went line item by line item of just plain wrongs, offenses, and perceived offensives, that I received from each person in the past five days. I said, “God, I forgive so-and-so for this specific offense. I hated that this was done towards me but I forgive them.” Heartfelt, total, complete forgiveness.

I was riding in the car at the time, my husband driving, my girls in the back seat. I’d closed my eyes and prayed, forgiving for a few miles. The peace! The sweet sweet peace! The washing refreshing of right fellowship with God. No more unseen but severely felt barrier between me and my Master. Bella, Anthony, Scott, or Tanya, I could see any one of them now and treat them with a clean slate. No mental playback. No harboring hurts.

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I AM FREE!

 

 

Betwix And Between

I am in full swing celebration mode about moving. I have mentally planned how to systematically move all of our things to our new home. I completed the first three phases of the move. They were very small phases but very important ones to me.

I have had some things housed at my parents home for thirteen years!  I could not wait to move them out of there and I finally have!

In the midst of that excitement, I noticed that my husband wasn’t as enthused.  I know this man wanted this move so that is not the issue.  Bella graduates in a few days and I know he thinks of that. He has a sermon to prepare and that is constantly on his mind. We have a very busy weekend full of obligations (most very fun obligations) and no time to move the way we wanted initially. We have decided on a soft move; moving things over very slowly especially since our new home is maybe three minutes from the Ark. It should take us about a week. A slow move is still a move and in my mind, every day something has to be devoted to moving.

I was sharing my systematic moving plans with my husband. He was not pleased. After talks, he said he feels bad that I am moving our things and he can not help me. So now, I am stuck between what I want to do and what I think I should do.  I think I should defer to his feelings but I want to move.  I am the one usually around the house every day.  He is often gone so my longing to leave is a bit different from his. I don’t want to be in this house more than I have to be.  I want to be moved into my home ASAP.  I am moving with a baby and a 7 yr old in tow so you know I am serious!

I think we’ve come to a happy compromise. We said we can go look at and purchase some furniture. That is not the same as moving BUT it is just as productive. Plus, its shopping! I’ll take it!

Marital Advice, Newly Acquired

I have a pet peeve.  If I give you a task that is important to me, do not pass that task off to someone else. 

Pisses me off to no end when people do that! 

This evening, I had a few things I wanted to straighten up and it would go faster if I wasn’t wearing baby Grace. My husband was relaxing on the couch. I went to hand her off to him. She was quiet and having, what I call, happy pleasant moments. She had a full belly and a clean butt so she would be fine for at least 15 minutes. As I went to hand my husband our daughter, a family member came over to us. My husband said that I should give the baby to that family member. 

I. Was. PISSED! And thrown off. I was taken completely off guard by his response. Any other time the baby is having pleasant moments or even when she is crying, he comes to take her for a few moments. I totally expected him to jump at the chance for a longer period of time with her. I did NOT want to hear, “hand her to so-and-so.” 

Praise God, the family member said it was up to me what I wanted to do. I said, emphatically, that I wanted the baby go to to her father. The family member kissed the baby and walked away. My husband kept the baby until she needed to nurse again.

I had a chip on my shoulder for the remainder of the evening. What just transpired has happened before but I felt obligated to hand off my baby even though it went against everything in me. I almost handed her off again this evening. I am salty with myself for even thinking that I didn’t have a choice in the matter and that I didn’t speak up first. 

I was also angry with my husband for even suggesting that I hand her off. He is her father! I was giving him our daughter not the to be passed up on.  I held on to that anger for the rest of the night. I kept thinking how I was going to bring it to his attention. I played scenarios over and over in my head. It consumed my evening. 
Then it occurred to me. As far as my husband is concerned, the matter is over and done with. He wouldn’t even know what I was taking about if I brought it up to him. In his mind, he took the baby and that was that. End of story. 

I need to let that be the end of the story too. 

When Help Hurts

One major knowledge nugget I learned from Jazmine to baby Grace, is that not all “help” is beneficial. 

New moms are often told to take all the help they can get. That peice of advice seeps in and becomes a way of thinking that lasts far past the newborn/infant stage. When you physically can’t, accept the help. However, there are many times in this motherhood journey where we have to figure it out. 

I remember thinking there was no way I could clean the house with a 4 month old Jazmine because she needed me so much. I reached out asking for family to watch her for a few hours so I could clean. It was then that, I truly believe, the Holy Spirit said, “clean the house with her.” Now, had I been baby wearing in the house, this would have been a no brainier but I wasn’t then and I was so used to how I had done things before Jazmine, adjusting didn’t even cross my brain. I am grateful no one came to my rescue. I am grateful I had to think through and accept that my cleaning day would forever be altered. What used to take me two hours to clean the entire house, is now broken up over several days. The days of the house being all fresh clean at one time is over. 

Tanya later admitted to my husband that when Bella was a baby, her mother did everything for her except nurse her. She bathed her, dressed her, walked with her, you name it. Then Scott came along.  Tanya was holding him and it was nightime and he was screaming. She asked her mother to take him for just a few minutes. See, motherhood had gotten rough there. Her mother later told my husband that the Holy Spirit told her “not to touch him.” Why? Because how would she ever learn? Motherhood was easy the first time around. She got all the attention but had to do minimal work. With Scott, she learned. With Bella, she didn’t. Tanya has often said and both Bella and Scott have repeated, that if Scott came first, there would have been no Bella. I think she means if Scott was born first and she had to do for Scott the first time  around, she would not have gotten pregnant again. 

I told my mother just yesterday that my Jazmine isn’t where I wanted her to be at 7yrs old in relation to her behavior while shopping. I find myself having to say don’t do, you know better, stop it etc way too much for my liking. But the truth is, I did it to myself. She didn’t shadow me at the stores. She wasn’t with me when I went shopping as often as I went and many times, a family member was with me to keep her occupied so I could think. I did us both a disservice. Children learn by observing and spending time with you. That is how they learn to imitate us. I chose and easy path because it was presented to be helpful and I justified my decision. I regret that now and there isn’t an errand that my children don’t go on with me anymore. 

Do I get time away by myself? Not yet but I will. Do I accept help? Yes. Yes I do but when it’s needed, not when it’s easy. I don’t need help holding the baby while I’m teaching Jazmine. I don’t need help packing a diaper bag. Those are things you have to learn how to do and get on with life.

Not all help offered or sought is beneficial in the long run. I am enjoying learning more lessons this time around.