S E V E N

Marriage, Love, challenges, relationship, friendship, Jesus, prayer

There’s no “7 Year Itch” here! On the 13th of August, Sam and I celebrated S E V E N years of marriage! It’s so crazy…I feel like just yesterday, I was walking down the aisle, anxiously and joyously waiting to hear, “Sam, you may now kiss your BRIDE!” How I LOVE being his bride!

Man, how time flies! (I guess that’s my theme as of late, ha). While, I won’t sit here and pretend that our marriage has been that of fairy tales, it has been a fun, crazy, exciting, scary, learning and growing kind of roller coaster ride. We laugh together, we cry together, we argue, bicker, get angry, get loud, frustrated, aggravated, etc., BUT at the end of the day, we resolve our issues and continue enjoying each other and pushing each other to be better and do better.

The last few years, Sam and I have gone on little weekend trips for our anniversary, and they have been so needed, especially after having kids. They have helped us regroup and refresh our friendship and relationship. This year, we had a “staycation” and it was seriously some of the most fun we’ve had together this year! On one of our dates, I asked him what he feels he’s learned in these last seven years and vice-versa. Here’s the biggest things I’ve learned:

Don’t let your guard down

So often now, we hear of pastors, worship leaders and in general, people in ministry, separating and getting divorced. Some cases are because of moral failures, others are because they just couldn’t get along or “had nothing more in common,” they could no longer work through their issues. That really, truly breaks my heart! I sit here and read story after story about these broken marriages and wonder: HOW? WHY? WHEN AND WHERE DID IT GO WRONG? WHAT COULD’VE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY?

I’m not judging their decision to end their marriage, rather, I pray for my own. I pray for God to always strengthen me as a person and as a wife. I pray that God would give me wisdom and show me how to love Sam in every season.

As individuals, we must always be willing to learn, grow and change. We cannot stay the same, because we then become complacent. Complacency can lead to lowering your guard! It’s dangerous to lower our guard as Christians AND in our marriage.

” Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch… What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” Mark 13:33-34;36

Ya’ll the devil be creepin’! He’s waiting for our guard to be down, so he can attack! And if we’re asleep, we won’t even see it coming! He sneak attacks us like a coward and throws a party when we’re defeated. Then, he keeps throwing punches, until we either: give up OR fight back!

I think the brokenness happens when we no longer have the strength to fight back. We throw in the towel and can no longer see a way out because we’re blinded by the devil’s veil of deceit, defeat and discouragement.

But God intended marriage to be a mirror of Him and us. He’s the bridegroom, we are the bride and he wants our marriages to be successful, full of love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, joy, grace… The same is to be said even if you aren’t married.

We CANNOT for one second think that we’ve got it covered, because the second we do, that’s when the devil strikes. In my marriage to Sam, I CANNOT sit here twiddling my thumbs, arms folded, bask in my own glory and think that I’m the most awesome wife in the world! (sometimes I am though) haha just kidding… But seriously, we must always be willing to LEARN AND GROW TOGETHER. Make time for each other and always talk about any issues we may have with one another. <–(this I’ve learned the hard way)

Talk to each other

This seems like a no brainer! However, early on in our marriage, my biggest issue was communication! Any time Sam would say something that would hurt my feelings, aggravate me or just didn’t sit right with me, I’d hold it in. Not immediately letting him know that something bothered me, allowed time for those things to simmer and get blown way out of proportion.

My thoughts would feed into the littlest things he’d do or say and eventually, on a random day when all was going well, I’d explode in anger at him. It’d leave him standing there bewildered and wondering if it was something he just said. It wouldn’t go over very well, and we’d be in hour long (or longer) arguments. That’s no fun!

For  a while, in the beginning of our marriage, I kept on in that cycle and eventually it made him take the same approach. He started bottling up his anger towards me, because he thought if he told me any little thing, I couldn’t handle it. He would rather try to brush it off and ignore his feelings, than have to deal with my irrational responses.

This issue really was one of the bigger issues that if we still dealt with to this day, may have made for a different kind of blog post! Thankfully, we have learned how to communicate better! I’m not saying that I still don’t keep things in sometimes, but 95% of the time, I immediately let him know that something he did/said/didn’t say bothered me. We work through the issue and ask each other how we can be/get better with whatever it was.

Communication is a serious thing! If we’re not in constant communication, and not even just on what’s bothering us, but even on what’s going well with us, how can our marriage thrive? We are ALWAYS in the know about the happenings of our lives outside of each other. We trust each other, lean on each other and feed off of each other’s thoughts. Our spouses should be the person we trust the most and tell everything to! I DO NOT believe in keeping secrets from each other, nothing good comes from that, in my opinion.  Otherwise that leaves room for entrusting things in others, leading to…well nothing good.

I could seriously go on and on about things I’ve learned in these short 7 years. We are still young and still have so many more years to learn and grow! Make time for each other, be each other’s best friend, enjoy every moment together in every season, push each other (lovingly of course) to be better and do better! Don’t be afraid to seek wise counsel if you are going through rough times. Don’t give up! Push through, because your marriage is intended to be something beautiful, even through the trials!

NOT TODAY

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Life is an oxymoron. It’s rough, tough, crazy, wild, sad, lonely, discouraging. At the same time, it’s easy, fun, chill, happy, full of love, family, friends and laughter, encouraging and hopeful.

However, lately I have been feeling discouraged.  I hate discouragement!

I know that success doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, it takes hard work and it takes perseverance. The perseverance is the part that gets me.

I wrote a post not too long ago entitled “Don’t Be Cheap,” and while the particular example I spoke on was about fitness, it also applies to other areas of my life as well. Over the last few years, I’ve started out on a couple of ventures, only to give up half-way through, out of discouragement and feeling like I wasn’t any good at it; so why keep going?

Regardless of what it is, Sam was and always is in my corner. He told me recently that I keep starting things but never get anywhere with them. He didn’t say it in a mean or discouraging way, rather he wanted to encourage me to really stick to one and go after it. I gave a million excuses as to why I dropped it and moved on to another subject.  That was maybe two or three months ago, yet it has been replaying in my head.

For much of my life, I’ve struggled with insecurity.  Over the years, the insecurities have morphed and changed from one thing to another, and lately I’m insecure in my talents and abilities. One of them is, I fear that I’m not good enough in my writing and that’s why I hardly get any readers, and the book that I’m working on, won’t get picked up because it’ll suck…with thoughts and feelings like that, it’s easy to feel discouraged, right?

Oh, but then, I remember that there is a liar and he goes by the name of devil. The father of lies, and he’s been whispering in my ear telling me all these things. You’ll never be a good writer. Your blog sucks. Your book will suck. No one will read it, etc., etc. But no, not today Satan! NOT TODAY!

When we don’t give our worries/fears/anxieties to the Lord, it leaves room for the devil to stick his nose in our life and release feelings of insecurity, fear and doubt. He loves discouraging us and stopping us from reaching our full potential in whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish.

BUT, God wants us to be successful! He wants to see us flourish and go after our goals. He wants us to use our talents, our voices, our abilities to go out and do whatever it is we have set out to do. Sometimes we will fail, but we get back up and try again. Fail and try again. Fail and try again. Fail and try something new. Fail and change our approach. Fail and then finally succeed. Sometimes we succeed after the first try. The point is no matter how many times we fail or how long the journey takes, we will succeed.

I cannot allow the devil to have any wiggle room, and Jesus tells us that DAILY we must give Him ALL of our worries. I don’t do it daily and that’s when I feel the most discouraged, on the days when my hope and my trust hasn’t been put in the Lord.

So, I guess, what I’m trying to get at is that life truly is like a rollercoaster. BUT when we set our focus on allowing God to take full control, putting our faith and trust that He wants and knows what’s best for us, we will be more encouraged than discouraged to persevere. Honestly, there are always going to be people that are better at what we do than us, but we can’t let that stop us. I can’t let that stop me, because there is always room and time to grow and get better.

My friend, or anyone who is reading this, be encouraged. Persevere and trust that God’s got your back! He’ll always see us through as we keep pressing on, but if we give up we’ll never get anywhere and we’ll always have a cloud of discouragement over our heads.

“Tell the devil NO, NOT TODAY!”

Time

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For the next 18 years, we will have first days of schools; and I can’t wait to capture that smile every time, yes even when she goes off to her first day of college! She just started in Pre-K 3, and although she’s only going three days a week, there’s so much excitement in that little girl, with the big heart, big smile and out of this world personality! I absolutely love her enthusiasm for learning; she started asking about school when she was only two years old, seriously! It reminds me of the excitement I felt every year for my first days of school.

I vividly remember waking up super early, getting dressed and sitting on the couch, waiting for my mom to wake up and bring me to school.  She has that same excitement, maybe even a little more and I love it!

She just finished her first week and today started her second week.  Already, she has made friends and talks my ears off with how much fun she had at school! I want to remember these conversations. I want to engrain them forever in my mind to replay over and over. I want to remember the sound of her voice as she tells me everything she’s learned, because time doesn’t stop.

Sometimes, I wish I had the super power to stop it, rewind and replay these tender moments with not just Ava, but with all four of us! Oh, if only I could! I feel like just yesterday, Sam and I were bringing home these two little tiny humans, and just like that, they’re growing into fierce, bubbly, sweet and sometimes sour girls!

Our days go by so fast, some days are tougher and rougher than others, and there are days when I let the frustrations of the day get the best of me. While they’re throwing a tantrum, sometimes I boil up and yell in anger…and I forget that my girls are still little.  They’re still learning and growing. They’re still discovering their emotions, and I need to be there for them. I need to help them work through THEIR frustrations, and not get frustrated at them.

Some days I want to give myself a high five, because I calmly corrected them and successfully disciplined them without being angry. Other days I do it all wrong! However, in those times, I quickly feel conviction and bring myself back down to Earth. I remember:

“…You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 

My daughters are watching me, observing me, hearing me and copying the things I say and do. I want to set the right example for them and love them tenderly and reflect Jesus on them. They are young, and so are Sam and I in our parenting. We are all growing and learning together and I want to make the most out of the time that we have. Time is fleeting, and they’ll never be this little again. I don’t want to take anymore moments for granted and soak in the things they do and who they are!

My prayer is that we will be the parents that they need us to be. That we would show them how to walk with the Lord and how to love not just each other, but everyone else around them.

I pray that while Ava is in school, she is a light and is showing love to her classmates and my prayer will be the same for Addi when her time comes. As kids, we learn and are molded into the adults we are, by watching our parents and I don’t want to let them down. I know at times I will, because we’re not perfect, however, I’m trying my darn hardest!

Every day, my prayer is: “Jesus, be my portion!” I can only be successful if He is the source of my strength and the focus of my heart and life! I can only be the mother my girls need if He is my number ONE. With that said, I feel so blessed He chose me and has entrusted ME to raise these two beauties! So I want to do it right, and enjoy each and every moment!

The hood called parent

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetThere’s a fine line as parents, that we teeter when it comes to giving our kids the things we wish we had as children. At least, my husband and I have that struggle. Growing up, my parents worked hard just to provide the basic things for my siblings and I, and while we weren’t on government assistance like my husband and his siblings, it was still a struggle for my parents to make sure a meal wasn’t missed.

I still remember the different places we lived, starting when I was five years old, and back then in my innocence, I didn’t know that we were “poor” in US standards. You don’t know you’re “poor” until you’re old enough to understand why you need a job and how money works… at least not back when we were kids. I think kids today know way too much, way too young but that’s a story for another day!

While I wished to have all the Barbie’s and the accessories that come along with them, my parents would simply say, “maybe one day, but not today.” My parents were stern and strict parents, however, I know that they really did wish to give my siblings and me certain things that we’d ask for; be it for our birthdays or holidays, and there were times that we would get one special wish list item and it’d light up our year!

I remember one year my mom told us that we could start a savings jar for a trip to Disney one day, and for years we’d put any and all spare change into that jar. However, every time it filled up, something needed fixing and there went that dream. We’d start over and over and over. In the meantime, we’d go on weekend trips to the beach and that made us so happy, it still does lol. I love the beach and I hold lots of great memories of vacations there as a kid! (I just wish Sam loved it as much as me and we’d be there more than just 2 days a year! lol)

Finally, when I was 15 years old, my parents surprised me with a trip to Disney World (at this point my brother had gone off to the Navy), so it was a special birthday trip for me. I know how much hard work and saving up my parents had to do to take me and for that I am so thankful!

Fast forward  13 years and my husband and I have taken our girls to Disney World since they were infants. We will be there in a month from now and I just can’t help but think that they won’t feel the same excitement that I felt when they’re 15 years old… or maybe they will, who knows? time will tell…When what felt like my whole life, that was one of the things I wanted the most… of course what so many kids dream of, meeting those two cute big-eared mice!

That’s our struggle, we want them to know and appreciate what hard work looks like and that they are blessed to have the life they have. The fact that they won’t know the struggle we knew; I am so thankful for that! I’m thankful that they will not grow up in a house with financial struggle, not very many people get to see that or know that. I’m thankful that God blesses us day after day, year after year and I know that we are only where we are by His grace, love and mercy over us!

My prayer is that we teach our girls to be thankful for everything. To not be spoiled, though I want to spoil them. I put into practice telling them “no” already when they ask for things. I tell them that they can’t always get what they want, but will always have what they need…even at their little ages of 3 and 1. I don’t want to give them everything just because we can spare the extra expense, it’s a struggle, but important.

One of the things that God constantly reminds me of is being a good steward. A good steward financially, spiritually, physically and a good steward of the two most precious little lives He’s entrusted us with! Oh, they are my heart and even through the ups and downs of parenting, I know that God’s purpose and plan for their lives is something out of this world! I know that they will be world changers and a light. They’re forces to be reckoned with and He’s given us the task to make sure that they’re led through the right path.

I’m constantly praying for God to give me the wisdom and knowledge to be the mother  that they need me to be and I don’t want to let Him down and I don’t want to let them down. I know that at times I will, however, through God and with God we can move mountains!

Daily, I pray for Him to be my portion, to give me patience, to give me wisdom in disciplining them, in teaching them and loving them. Parenting isn’t easy, it isn’t always fun, but in teaching them we also learn and grow along with them. Hopefully, that line becomes easier to balance as we continue in the journey of parenthood!