Looking Back

imageThis week marks 6 months that my family has been living in Manhattan…

6 months that will go down in history as some of the most challenging and exciting months of my entire life!

-Since moving to to the city, I went from living in a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs, to a one bedroom apartment in the middle of the insanity that is New York City!

And while our living space is 1/3 of the size that it used to be,  our rent and grocery budget has easily doubled!

-We got rid of both cars, and nearly all our possessions – even down to our dog, grade school yearbooks and christmas tree – and are now limited to keeping the little we still possess to one tiny coat closet off the living room.

-We have transitioned from my husband working what would have been considered a flexible schedule, to that of a grueling ‘6 day a week, every week’ schedule, thus teaching me to navigate life and parenting without him always around.

-I also have found a super-human physical strength in myself that I never knew existed, being that I am now one of the many Manhattan Mommies that can carry my 2 year old, sitting in her stroller, with the diaper bag filled with enough snacks to keep an entire eskimo family fed through the winter, up and down up to 20 flights of subway stairs!Take that, Jillian Michaels!

And the look of astonishment on tourists faces, always serves as the perfect reminder that even I, didn’t know something like that was physically possible! Until I moved to NYC, that is…

image-I am also proud to say that I have memorized all the Upper East Side and Upper West Side streets!

…And can now make perfect sense of the subway map!

-I have learned how to use the subway, bus, Metro North, New Jersey Transit, and PATH train. That’s 5 methods of transportation, covering 2 states in 6 months!

…and occasionally you can even find me giving a tourist or two some PHENOMENAL directions! 😉

– Not to mention, I can now walk wicked fast, even for a girl with short legs!

Since moving to New York City, I can barely recognize the person I used to be!

Growing up I was paralyzed by perfection.

In elementary school, I spent PE class hiding in the bathroom while the rest of my class played kickball, for fear that I would let my team down. I can remember sitting at my desk, endlessly ripping sheet after sheet of paper out of my notebook, so that I could start over when my handwriting wasn’t neat enough.

I also falsely believed my outer beauty was directly correlated with perfectly curled hair, flawless nails that coordinated with my outfit, and high heels.  And that the best way I could adequately show my love for my family, was by making every meal homemade and slaving in the kitchen for hours.

Since moving to New York however, I’ve had to let go of the expectations I unknowingly, seemed to have placed on myself over the years…

For one, my kitchen is tiny, and any meal I make is sure to set off the fire alarm!

And even on my best days, my curled hair wont be flawless by the time I take the 3 trains it takes to get to my desired location!

Not to mention, heels are entirely out of the question!

Growing up I also was surprisingly dependent.

I would definitely still categorize myself as independent, but until moving here, I never realized how dependent I was on the men in my life.

Throughout my childhood, my Dad was always there when I needed him; voluntarily calling the mechanic for me when my car broke down in college -and if we are honest, probably paying for it!  My husband than took over the reigns once we got married, and I relied on him to do everything from calling for takeout, putting gas in my car, taking out the trash and going with me to every one of my daughter’s doctors appointments.

In our new lives however, with my husbands new schedule and responsibilites, I have spent the better part of our time here, braving New York City alone.

Learning how to navigate life with a toddler without a car, how to get my laundry done without a washer and dryer, and learn how to get my groceries up ‘the stairs of death’ without dislocating my back or having my toddler lock me out of the apartment!

It literally felt like someone dropped me and my daughter ‘Hunger Games style’ from a Hovercraft into some foreign land- a place where the languages are different, the people are meaner, and literally everything is a trillion times more difficult!

My Dad called a couple months ago and laughed at my newfound life “ Krista, you realize as a child you struggled to order your own food at a restaurant? And now look at you! You are jetsetting around New York City!”

My 16 year old brother put it a little less kindly when he blatantly called me out, “No really… how are you surviving?”

By the grace of God, my friend, by the grace of God… 😉

In the last 6 months, I have been stretched farther than I thought could ever be possible-

and yet, I have to say, I am empowered!

I feel privileged to know that I COULD BE stretched that far, and even more honored that HE WOULD stretch me that far!

And although all my earthly possessions fit in a mere 650 square feet-

my heart is unexplainably full!

In Matthew 19:27-30 Peter asks Jesus

“See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you… everyone who has left houses, or brothers and sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold…”

Just like in this verse, I feel like I have sacrificed it all!  Often times even questioning God the same way Peter did; inquiring if there could possibly be anything left…

And yet, like I said, there is no denying that my heart is unexplainably full just like He promised!

And I can assure you its not just because NYSYNC reunited! Although, that definitely doesn’t hurt… 😉

In John 10:10 the Lord goes on to outline His purpose as wanting to ‘give us a rich and satisfying life’

We like the sound of that don’t we? “Rich and satisfying…”

Our thoughts jump to winning the lottery; buying a penthouse suite complete with a chefs kitchen, and floor to ceiling windows overlooking Central Park, with a doorman named Alfred, that greets you with a “Good morning m’ Lady!” and who regularly insists on bringing up my groceries, refusing a tip!

Or maybe that’s just me… 

And yet after poring over this verse for the last couple days – knowing that my heart is full, but tossing around whether I consider my life to be the rich and satisfying life the Lord talks about – I realized that if we were to talk about ‘rich and satisfying’ as it pertains to food, the meaning would change almost entirely!

A rich and satisfying meal doesn’t always mean you have endless amounts of food – or even the highest quality food for that matter – a rich and satisfying meal is one that leaves us full, with no need for even a bite more! Complete fulfillment.

There are times where we are ravenous, and it takes much more to keep us satisfied, but even then it doesn’t take grass-fed filet mignon seared to perfection by Chef Curtis Stone to do the trick! The simplest beans can satisfy even the emptiest of bellies.

Other times its a small taste of the richest velvety cheesecake, that is just enough pure bliss to hold us over to the next oppertunity to indulge.

As I look back on the last 6 months, there have indeed been moments – small bites – of pure bliss in my new life in Manhattan, and times where I have ate my fill of the greatest experiences…

And then there have been days where I have ate my fair share of beans – day in and day out – until I was blue in the face!

Even then, I have never been less than satisfied!

Haha, Ok, that’s a horrible analogy… But the point is, my heart is full, and I am in need of nothing more.

Do I have wants? Bet your bottom dollar, I do! But my greatest needs are covered, which leads me to believe that I indeed DO have a rich and satisfying life! Or at the very least, am headed in the right direction of obtaining one…

imageLooking back on my time in NYC, causes me to feel overwhelmed to the point of tears; remembering all the sacrifices that had to be made, all the fears that had to be worked through in the middle of the night, and the excuses that had to be put aside.

The conscious decision I had to make, to stop hiding in the bathroom when there was adventure to be had, and to tear down the walls that I had barricaded myself against for so long in the name of ‘what was within my comfort zone’ !

To be willing to fail miserably, venture out alone and get beautifully lost in the process!

It’s only been 6 months, but I can barely recognize the person I used to be!

And the truth is, I think that’s exactly what the Lord intended! 🙂

Krista Signature

***Thanks for listening to me reminisce, and for being an encouragement just by reading! Thanks to those of you who have rooted for me, laughed with me, cried with me, and for those who have bravely shared their own amazing journeys with me along the way!

I truly value each and every one of you!

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Though Much is Taken, Much Abides

imageLet’s see if you can relate to the week I just had-

My family has had an ongoing cash reward for whoever finds the missing sippy cup, that was filled with milk, and got misplaced 3 weeks ago…

and this week we found it!

Although I wouldn’t categorize what we found as looking like ‘milk’ anymore – or tasting like milk for that matter – by the look of my daughter’s face when she took a swig! – Praise Jesus.

I also got in my first ‘NYC style argument’ with my husband, and am now fully aware of the problems it poses; because when you are exceedingly annoyed with nearly everyone in existence, and you live in a 650 sq ft apartment in Manhattan, and your daughter is sleeping in your one and only bedroom, and your husband is watching sports in the living room…

the only place left to retreat is the bathroom….

and the only place to sit in the bathroom, is the toilet!

Definitely not my most glamorous exit-in-a-fit-of-rage-to-prove-my-point scenario!

But I probably deserved it since my newfound New York attitude had me out of character and spitting off attitude that had me groveling endlessly the next day.

Then my sunglasses broke!

And my daughter woke up an hour early every. single. day.

Screaming!

I also got so lost in Central Park that even google maps couldn’t pinpoint the trail that I was on, and I broke my dining room table chair when I sat down to eat dinner  (which I don’t have to tell you is upsetting for more reason than one!)

And after a long night of having nightmares of mice. ..specifically mice getting their back legs stuck in the sticky traps I layed out and dragging their bodies still attached to the traps, by their front paws, squealing as they make their way towards my bedroom… The next morning, I sit down groggy and disoriented, my morning cup of coffee in one hand, and flipping through the latest Martha Stewart magazine with the other.

I pore over her promising tips on which grain will help lure your “ideal bird” to come eat of the $40 bird house you have in your spacious back yard that you had landscaped to look like a Japanese Garden. And continue reading, to consider her recipe for ‘Pork with Pears and Parsnips’ that she vows will make all your dinner party guests swoon…

Really Martha?

I don’t even know what a Parsnip is.

And I secretly kind of want to punch you in your face!

So after a long week of being taunted by Martha, trapped in the bathroom, and pleading endlessly with my daughter to STEP. AWAY. FROM. THE. MILK CUP!!!!!  Naturally, the only thing that would suffice in reversing the trauma of this past week – other than therapy, of course – would be to dim the lights, and take a candle lit, lavender scented bubble bath where finally, I can be alone with my thoughts!

Oh to dream…

because our bathtub is broke!

Sigh. Only in New York City….

I doubt it’s any surprise to all of you who have been reading these past few months- but since starting this blog and writing out my thoughts each week, I have truly realized how despicably human I am! It seems like every week I am in desperate need of an attitude adjustment – a ‘Come to Jesus Moment’ if you will!

So after a week like that, I did what I thought would put me in my place, and I opened up my bible.

I read about Noah, and how out of obedience to God he built an ark…

I read about Abraham, and how even after he reached the land God had promised him, that ‘he was like a foreigner, living in tents’ -and I laughed, because boy can I ever relate to that now that I live in NYC!

But believe it or not, it was once I closed my bible and instead, got on Facebook, that the Lord truly spoke to my discontent and weary heart!

And I can thank my friend Christina for that!

Christina and I have been friends for a little over 3 years. And in the short time that I have known her, she has been the picture of  immeasurable strength and courage! A true example of what it looks like to possess true happiness;  the kind that isn’t dependent on outside forces.

Christina is a dear friend to me, and yet I have only met her face to face twice.

It’s complicated, but I think Christina’s words to me best describe our friendship:

I know we’ve hardly ever met, but something about you and your husband is special to me, I don’t know how to describe it. Sometimes people are put in our lives at just the right time.

You and Ricky reminded me what it was to be young and in love, and inspired me with your posts, just when I needed a boost. So it always seemed like a friendship.

In our mere 3 year Facebook friendship, she was one of the very first people to ‘like’ our ultrasound picture the day we announced that we were expecting a baby. And still to this day, I can remember the heartfelt message she sent the day we brought our precious little baby girl home with us from the hospital – no doubt reminiscing herself, of the day when she did the same with each of her own children.

Even when my husband and I humorously bickered back and forth, or posted borderline cruel pictures of each other on Facebook, she seemed to instantly get our sense of humor and was always sure to intergect her playfulness and wisdom – which of course, always pointed towards me being right!

She was always so genuinely happy for us, and I couldn’t understand it. I almost felt unworthy of the overwhelming kindness she never failed to flood us with!

Still to this day, she is one of the only strong friendships I’ve had on Facebook, with someone I’ve nearly never got to spend time with in person!

But like Christina said, “Sometimes people are put in our lives just at the right time.”

That was proven, when throughout my father in-law’s battle with cancer her constant presence was there; leaving encouraging messages of high hopes and support, and offering an understanding few others could give…

because she too, was in the fight of her life!

We watched as she battled stage four breast cancer, and as the fiery red curls that had once cascaded down her back, fell out…

But she was never anything less than captivatingly!

We read her vulnerable posts expressing the immense physical pain she was under…

But she stayed courageously hopeful!

There were times when she was candid, and raw; vocally standing up to the cancer that kept knocking her down…

But her graciousness and compassion never wavered!

There were small victories, where we all rooted enthusiastically for her from the sidelines,

And there was heartbreaking lows, that had us in tears on the other end of the computer screen.

imageAfter an extensive battle, it was decided that all treatment would stop and that she would enter hospice.

Once again, she would take us all by surprise, when – the day the heartbreaking plan was announced – she changed her Facebook profile picture to one similar to this;

Life is good.

And there it remains still to this day!

Looking back on her posts, I read one from January 1, 2013

I’m feeling pretty good today, on and off,  the best I’ve been for awhile.

I got to witness some great acts of love and holiday spirit. I live for those, you know…

A good and happy day where I can type, are few and farther now, so I celebrate them.

Thank you all for the happiness and love and great visits and chats. Thanks, so many thanks.

6 days later Christina passed away.

As I almost ‘studied’ her last facebook status, I was overwhelmed with shame -imagining the magnitude of the pain she had suffered over the course of those last two years-

Her ability to describe a “good and happy day” as one where she can merely type!

Embarrassed, I thought back to the last few days of this week, where upon my husband returning home from work, I could barely muster up the words to describe my day as anything more than “difficult”

Why, because my living room floor is an endless sea of books and toys?

Or because as a stay at home mom, my lack of reasons to get out of my pajamas and put on makeup in the morning, often leaves me to question my worth?

Or the fact that I am up to my neck in errands that need to be run, behavior issues that need to be handled, and baths that need to be given – and re-given when fuchsia frosting is found, and my daughter looks like a real life ‘Pinkalicious’!  

Not to mention the looming responsibility of making a ‘homemade meal’ that by society’s standard should be prepared with love (and preferably organic with no GMO’S), and conveniently being pulled from the oven at the exact moment my husband walks through the front door- Inconvenient for me however, because this is also around the time that I’m nearly at my wits-end and about .04 of a tantrum away from having one myself!

Christina reminded me however, that no matter how real these feelings can be at times, one thing is certain- I don’t know ‘difficult’!

My heart sank, as I realized that if SHE was able to speak out of such sincere gratitude when she was facing ultimately, the greatest loss – her life! – Then what on god’s green earth was MY excuse?

This week, Christina taught me a valuable lesson that both Noah and Abraham combined couldn’t have breathed into these lifeless lungs!

I need to celebrate life!

Celebrate till my last breath the way Christina did!

Celebrate that fact that even the dingiest apartment can be made ‘homey’ with vanilla scented candles, early morning giggles under the covers, and freshly baked bread on the stove.

And that the husband I may feel like doesn’t see eye to eye with me every second of every day, is still the only man on the face of this planet that can give me butterflies!

Celebrate that even on the most tiring of days, with my daughter cuddled up in my arms, all the tantrums, timeouts, and snotty noses, melt away in the name of snuggles and bedtime stories.

imageEven when my frustration mounts, and the endless people and pandemonium of NYC gets to be too much, I can celebrate the beauty of it from across the river, allowing just enough space to fall in love with it all over again!

Christina is right,  it’s most definitely ‘a good and happy day’ !

Life is good.

And we’ve been waiting way too long to celebrate it!

Though much is taken, much abides;

And though we are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

-Alfred Tennyson, as posted by Christina’s husband throughout her battle with cancer.

Krista Signature

NYC: A Day in the Life

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I hear it all the time-

“Before I read your blog, I always thought Manhattan was so glamorous!” 

The truth is, Manhattan IS so glamorous!

… And then it isn’t.

It’s true, we walk the same streets as the rich and famous – or are lucky enough to see Tom Selleck outside our apartment window!!! <—- It happened. And for the record, I may never be the same!

We have our weekly bible studies in places like Whole Foods where you can literally watch celebrities buying their weekly granola and almond milk (Only if you are watching though -which of course you are NOT because you are wholly immersed in the Word Of God! 😉 )

We also picnic in Central Park, and kick back on our friends rooftop decks drinking sparkling water as the sun sets over the city.  Ok, that’s a total over-exaggeration, but it sounded cool! 

Even still, there is an entirely different, MUCH less glamorous – yet, completely intriguing – side to living in this city! One, some of my ‘fancier’ Manhattan friends might not want you to know about!

Like the fact that I nearly broke our tv remote last night when I chucked it at a mouse in my living room!

A mouse, that is nothing compared to the size of the RATS that I see in the subway Every. Single. Day!!

Or that I once saw a homeless man peeing into a soda can as I exited the train one morning!

Not my proudest collection of moments, that’s for sure….

But all that to say, I’ve decided to create an ongoing blog topic called “A Day In The Life” where from time to time,  I will attempt to capture the nitty gritty of what real life looks like in Manhattan, and even the abnormal way us city folk do some of the most normal things! All the things I can assure you, that us Manhattanites aren’t posting on our Facebook’s for the world to see!

This week I will show you how we do Costco!

And if you thought the method for shopping at Costco was pretty universal, well than Blimey! Tis’ wrong you’d be my dear!

Sorry, I have been watching waaaay too many Downton Abby reruns this week!

In Manhattan- the young, fabulous, and car-less, have to be a whole lot more creative when it comes to taking part in the surplus of underpriced bulk goodness that is Costco!

And while it’s not necessarily as easy as it once was, it is nevertheless, just as worth it!

So let the journey begin!

Once the hubby gets home from work, we walk a block with the little one in one hand, and our Costco reusable bags in the other!

image … and then another block and a half!
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Then we wait at the bus stop, and I sneak a couple quick pics of this sweet little girl, who by the looks of it is the only person excited to ride the bus tonight! (What’s not pictured however, is that I look like a mule; carrying all the snacks, diapers, and toys needed to KEEP that smile on her face!)image

Then we ride the bus;  and I whisper promises of gooey turkey provolone sandwiches and hot dogs the size of newborn babies to my daughter and husband, to keep them both sitting nice and acting well-behaved during our 20 minute ride!
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Once we get off the bus, it’s another 2 blocks…

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Until we finally reach our destination!!!

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Then we shop just as you would.

But when we come across Double Stuf Oreos, a moment like that in Manhattan, literally demands you stop everything you are doing and break out in an interpretive dance to symbolize your gratitude to the Nabisco Gods for all the double chocalety goodness that they have so graciously bestowed upon you!

Because in Manhattan, those cookies – which my husband would argue are essential to living a happy and fulfilling life – are quite the luxury around here at nearly $6 a package at our local grocery store!

So after living a tragic six months without even a single Double Stuf Oreo, this is one extremely happy man!

What I refuse to tell you though, is how many boxes we bought…

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And you know it’s been a job well done, when your cart is filled to the top, nearly $300 has been spent, and that cute little toddler from yester-year has turned into unrecognizable arm flailing, head spinning demon in the laundry detergent aisle!

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And after you’ve checked out, this is where those handy dandy reusable bags come in!

Because while living in NYC means you have nearly everything at your fingertips, I have learned that customer service isn’t one of them- so pack up yo’ own bags Busta’!

And if you want some of those shipment boxes that Costco is so known for packing your purchases in, then its your responsibility to sift through a mountain of leftover boxes that are in the corner waiting to be recycled, and do it yourself!

Oh suburbia, how I miss thee….
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Upon leaving Costco, there are cars lined up outside waiting to take us ‘city peeps’ back to our apartment! They help you load up the car, and drive you home for a flat rate.  Awesomeness!

As for my husband, this is about the time he started not being super enthusiastic about me following him around with a camera.  Like he has a new-found street cred to uphold or something? Whatev’s…

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Then we head home!

And yes, my daughter is sitting in the car without a carseat! GASP!

I know my mother is probably having a heart attack right now, but know matter how truly alarming it is, this is how we do it in Manhattan!

On an entirely different note, how cute is that finger sucking action?

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And while your method for bringing home groceries probably consists of that handy little devil that allows you to – at the push of a button – open up your garage (aka the HOUSE you have for your CAR that is equivalent to the size of my entire apartment for a family of 3!!!)

If I sound jealous, it’s because I am…

Our method however is a little different; my husband unloads the car on the street and pays the driver, while my job is to unlock the two doors leading into our building and use the heavier items to keep the doors open so that he can bring the rest of the stuff in.

…. All while pleading with my 2 year old in an attempt to prevent her from breaking every bone in her body while trying to climb “The Stairs of Death”….
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(Case in Point: The Stairs of Death)

Once everything is in the building, it’s the hubby’s job to bring each each item up [The Stairs of Death!] and into our apartment.

And – as you can see in this picture – to question why we bought so much stuff in the first place!

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The final step is to find a home for all these lovely little treasures, which in 650 sq ft can pose as quite a challenge! A challenge I am always up for! Because these groceries would cost $200 more if we bought the exact same items at the grocery store down the street!

That my friends, is an Urban Hallelujah!
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Now quick!  Grab your keys and take a drive to Costco!

And when you catch a glimpse of Double stuf oreos, think of us-
better yet, pray for us- because like I said, we still have mice!

And as you tuck your kiddos into bed and close your eyes to recite heartfelt prayers thanking The Lord for Great Aunt Bertha, and cousin Jimmy…

Make a quick addition and thank God also for your car, garage, pantry, Costco employees who smile as they box up your banana nut muffins…

and for the absence of the stairs of death in your life!

And once you’ve settle in for the night and turn the tv on to watch the latest ‘America’s Got Talent’ LIVE at Radio City Music Hall, observe how the opening shot sweeps over the city capturing the bright lights and glamour of Manhattan

and smile to yourself-

because you know the truth! 😉

Krista Signature

Lessons Learned from a Beautifully Imperfect Marriage

image Crowds of our closest friends and family roared with excitement as we pushed open the door and stepped out onto streets of Downtown Portland! Gwen Stefani’s ‘Sweet Escape’ played out in the open air as we made our way down the steps, where a Volkswagen convertible waited for us -the backseat filled with beautifully adorned presents.
Just Married.

photoAfter last hugs and well wishes, we waved until everyone lining the streets behind us had faded into the distance. I let out a deep sigh of relief and grabbed the hand of my new husband. A perfect end, to a perfect day!

At the stoplight, a flood of panic ensues! He looks at me, You grabbed my bag right? The one with all my clothes?  I have no idea what he is talking about. WE HAVE TO GO BACK THEN! He persists. I instantly burst into tears at the thought! He turns the car around and I literally scream out to him, YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN MY EXIT!!!  I plead with him to turn the car around, imagining the embarrassment of going back to face our guests just to casually grab a bag, when we had just previously exited so dramatically- so perfectly!

He turns to see tears streaming down my face, his eyes soften when they make contact with mine. This is not how you envision your first moments together as husband and wife.

He ends up giving in to my demand and leaves his bag behind -And our wedding night is instead, spent searching for a gas station in an attempt to find toothpaste!

But I was happy-

because at least everything looked perfect from the outside!

Isn’t that how marriage so often is? We are content so long as we look perfect.

So long as our family doesn’t suspect anything has gone awry, and so long as our Facebook profile represents what a picturesque family should look like to all of our friends.

Though our tear stained faces, and nightly yelling matches may prove otherwise!

After celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary last night, I got to thinking about the most significant lessons I have learned over the last few years. And believe I am in no way saying that I know it all  in our mere 6 years, or that the lessons I share are ones that we have mastered. ‘I speak from scars and not theory…’

Lesson #1:  Practice Fighting

My husband and I were doing premarital counseling with a couple just months before they were to get married, when on the topic of ‘conflict resolution’ they brought up the fact that they don’t often get in arguments and even when they do, it’s always about something petty.

The couple then described their last disagreement which was about whether Sweet Potatoes were the same as Yams. We laughed with them as they described how the conversation actually got heated! They couldn’t agree, and it resulted in the both of them getting frustrated with each other!

Those of you who have been married for even a month, know that married couple have no problem finding MUCH more to fight about then just spuds! But I have found for my husband and I,  it’s not what we fight about or even how often, it’s how we fight that is most important!

If my husband and I have a differing opinion on who should take out the trash, and every time its brought up I shut down and he leaves the house in a fit of rage, then how do you expect we will handle a different – more serious – conflict?

In our case, we resorted back to what we knew – to the unhealthy fighting habits we had put into place from the beginning! And because of that, our lack of communication skills nearly threatened to end our marriage before it had truly even started!

I don’t care what you are fighting about potatoes, pa-ta-toes,  or who’s choice in carpet matches better with the curtains; Practice fighting each fight as if its a BIG one, because the truth is, one day it will be!

Life can bring deaths in the family, children, surmounting bills, and debilitating illnesses -all of which make effective communication more difficult. But if you allow yourselves to struggle in the beginning – doing your best to make a habit of good communication and problem solving in the small areas – when difficult circumstances arrive in the future, you will have already worked out most of the kinks that will help you walk through the most daunting disagreements a little more effortlessly!

heartLesson#2: Say Nothing Negative to your Spouse

Two years into our marriage, my husband and I were at a crossroads; He had hurt me, and I had forgotten how to love him. We didn’t have children yet, and were considering our options of walking away from it all and getting a divorce.

We wanted it to work, it just didn’t seem likely that it would.

It was around that time, that we picked up the book “Love Dare” from the movie Fireproof  (that I’ll admit, had me falling asleep due to incredibly horendous acting. No offense Kirk, my heart still skips a beat for you on ‘Growing Pains’)

The reason I bought the book though, was because it was a devotional that each day gave you an assignment on how to better love your spouse – which is exactly what I was struggling to do at the time!

The first assignment:  For the next day resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all.  If temptation arises, choose to not say anything.

I kid you not, it took me 9 whole days to sucessfully complete this assignment!!!!

For the life of me, I could not stop making biting remarks towards my husband!

“Don’t say anything negative….Don’t say anything negative…” I would think to myself, and then I’d nag at him about the dirty dishes in the sink.

“Don’t say anything negative…” and then I would bring up his past and why we were in our predicament in the first place!

Either way – whether justified or nit picky – the book clearly said “Say nothing negative to your spouse” -and I even more clearly, sucked at it! I could only wonder how long the rest of the book was going to take me!

But the truth is, once I got past the first assignment, I was surprised to find that the rest of the book – and the journey to learning to love my husband – got a whole lot easier!

Choosing simply, to not to cut each other down, laid the foundation to help us build our marriage back up!

In the book “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” they discuss a study conducted by Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington. ‘Gottman and his team of researchers have been studying marriages for more than twenty years, identifying which ones will improve and which ones will deteriorate. They are now even able to predict their results with an astounding 95 percent accuracy rate!! ‘

He says it’s all about how the couple can handle conflict within their marriage. And he goes on to discuss ‘the four ways of interacting that will sabotage you attempts to resolve conflict constructively’

The #1 way to sabotage your marriage: criticizing your spouse!

Saying negative things to your spouse is proven in this study to be a gateway for the other things that can creep in and destroy your marriage! (You can read more on that here)

Lesson #3: Admit Defeat

This might not mean what you initially think it means.

Admitting defeat to me, means finding someone you trust and being honest about what you and your husband are going through. Let go of the perfect image you are trying to uphold and reveal your true dishelved selves.

This lesson proved to be one of the most helpful steps we took in our marriage – I only wish, I would have done it on purpose!

I doubt I would have, if it wasn’t for a family friend who came up to me after church one night and asked how Ricky and I were doing, and when without thinking, I responded with a desperate plea for prayer. I can remember regretting my vulnerability almost immediately! Yet because of that vulnerability, God was able to use her as a pivotal piece to getting my marriage back on track!

She met me regularly for breakfast over the course of that year; relating to my heartache, walking with me through my uncertainty, and telling me of the miraculous ways that God had saved her marriage 15 years prior!

In Psalm 145:4-6 It illustrates this perfectly

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.

I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.  

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.

Find someone who can speak up when God seems silent, and remind you of all the extraordinary ways He has provided for them in their lives and in their marriages!

Someone who’s story gives you the hope to hang in there just a little longer – to give it your all until there is nothing left- so that we too, can proclaim His greatness when he transforms our most fragile relationships one day!

But in order to do so, we have to step away from the facade that we have been living behind, and admit we can’t do this on our own.

Lesson #4: Meet At The Cross

I had the privilege of hearing a Pastor by the name of Wayne Codeiro speak just last year in Orlando, Florida.  And what he would say in a room of thousands of other pastor’s and their wives would be a game changer for me and my marriage!

He spoke of a prenuptial agreement he made with his wife before they got married:

After asking her what she would do in a handful of different scenarios that could occur over the course of their lives, his wife always responded,  “I will follow you”

“What if it gets really tough?” he pressed

“I will still follow you!” she replied with no hesitation.

“We’re going to get lost you know…”

Confused, she asked what he meant.

“We are going to get lost, and there will be be times where you or I might drift… but will you make me a promise?”

She nodded.

“When we get lost and we can’t see the light of day -when we can’t find each other- would you promise that you would meet me back at cross?

He pauses, tears whelling in his eyes as he outloud recalls the conversation he had with his wife 38 years ago,

“And if I stray, will you wait for me?

I pledge that I will come back.

And if I get there before you, I promise I will wait for you.

Just meet me at the cross.”

The truth is, we stand with our spouse before God on our wedding day- dressed to the nines, giddy and clammy-handed, anxiously awaiting our future together- and yet along the way we do get lost, and our future together may no longer seem identifiable.

But I pray in that moment, each of us could stand together in the presence of the same God -badly bruised and broken maybe– but willing!

Expect to lose sight of one another,

but promise even then that you will meet at the cross.

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