The Hard Fought Battle for Contentment [The Mudroom]

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He stared at my back in the queen size bed we share. The inches between us loomed like a brick wall lined with barbed wire. I sobbed. He sighed. He must have felt as helpless as I did.

I suffered under a border blockade which prohibited the entry of petrol, propane, and essential goods in a country I never planned to live in. We faced winter with fewer than four hours of electricity to heat our home each day. It seemed I was at the mercy of an evolving government, the paper-thin houses, and my freezer-burned spirit. I was furious with my cozy Stateside friends who didn’t understand and my husband who couldn’t fix it.

In the morning, as I stood shivering, waiting for the shower to heat up, negative thoughts creeped in and claimed territory in my mind. I wished desperately for the rage to run right down the drain with the hot water. At the time, I wouldn’t have admitted that I was angry at God. I would have said I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I played the victim well because I believed I was absolutely powerless.

We had endured the hardships of an international move followed by natural disaster and economic crisis, but our marriage had now been threatened. Each night, we went to bed with cold hands and struggled to turn up the heat between life-long lovers wrapped up in ice cold sheets. Our intimacy had been killed by the chaos and cold that made up our days. The negative thoughts came around again to tell me what I already knew: I had lost all control.

Continue reading on The Mudroom…

 

linking up:

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Shouldering the Weight of God-Sized Dreams

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: SKY

We had been carried by cable car 8,000 feet above the city we’ve spent a year and a half falling in love with.   Removed from the startling sounds of city life, we stood in awe of the beauty of our home abroad.

I chased my children around, avoiding falls down the side of a mountain because I’m a good mom like that. I watched my husband from afar as he gazed across the Valley. I sensed what he was up to. He was praying, strategizing how to reach this country with the gospel.

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Up in the clouds, he was dreaming bigger-than-blue-sky dreams. The God who made the peak we stood on made his heart just big enough to hold them. But the thing about God-sized dreams is they can get rather heavy.

I peer across the Valley, and I see smog and earthquake damage, countless people carrying tremendous burdens. I am overwhelmed at the task ahead and shake my head at these far-fetched plans. It can’t be done.

I remember that Jesus asked His followers to evangelize the whole world. They stood looking into heaven, waiting for Christ’s return when two angels rebuked them to get to work on this impossible task (Acts 1:10-11).

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I can stand here, holding my husband’s hand, admiring his God-sized dream and waiting for the Lord to come relieve the weight of its burden. Or I can keep the pace of feet chasing the impossible, shouldering the weight of the burden as we inch closer to completion.

Living the Golden Rule is simple on this one because, being one with my husband, this dream occupies my heart, too. On my end, there is so much fear and insecurity that threatens the success of these dreams. My heart is so frail, and I think it might burst from the burden of this work. I surrender it to the only One who proved on the Cross his ability to carry it. There’s a peace that this is the best way to help.

I rally my kids and sneak a second next to my man whose brow remains furrowed. I squeeze him around the waist and thank God for the super-size dream we share. We take in the magnitude of it all until my toddler gets that look in his eye. He’s about to stray from the protected path and plummet down this mountain. Better stop staring and get back to my job.

*No children were harmed in the making of this dream.

Do you and your husband have God-sized dreams?
What is your role in seeing them through?

Talk to me in the comment section!

linking up: Coffee for Your Heart , Tell His Story

A “Thank You” That Means Something

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: THANKS

The Didi at the coffee shop giggles and mocks me when I thank her for my caramel latte. The taxi driver shrugs his shoulders when I hop out of his taxi with a cheerful Dhanyavaad and the handful of bills he required. Even my neighbors visibly signal their dislike for my habit of voicing gratitude. After all, aren’t neighbors supposed to look after each other?

Saying “thank you” for every little tiny thing is largely an aspect of American culture. Many times A few times, I have laughed at myself for thanking the officer who so generously gave me a speeding ticket.

In my excessive expressing of gratitude, however, the phrase has lost its meaning. I thank my husband for passing the milk, but so rarely do I say “Thank you for paying the electricity bill” (which is no small feat here) or “Thank you for helping our daughter learn to read.”

Even less do I say, “Thank you for making time for our family, or “Thank you for your faithfulness to me.” Every day, meaningless thanks roll off my tongue but the taste of these words is new and strange.

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I think of the times I have felt overworked and under appreciated after a 12 hour shift with life-sucking toddlers. Arms around my waist and a “thank you” whispered in my ear turn me from stiff and sour to putty in his hands. I leave the work undone to melt into my husband’s side and wind down the day with too many words exchanged on a juice-splattered sofa.

Living the Golden Rule, I express gratitude for the sacrifices he makes. He is constantly balancing the pressures of work/ministry/family. I see his shoulders relax. As a man who relentlessly strives to excel in all areas, he needs reassurance that he’s the only one that thinks he’s dropping the ball.

Sure, he has responsibilities, and he is man enough to do them without a pat on the back. We are family, and appreciation goes without saying. But why should it?

Has “Thank You” lost its meaning in your marriage?
In what special way can you express gratitude to your spouse today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

My Husband Doesn’t Know Me

Day 10, Five Minute Prompt: UNKNOWN

“You don’t even know me!” I screamed at the end of my rope and the top of my lungs.

These vicious words leapt out like an uncaged beast and I immediately wanted to shove them back into their insecure source. But they were already out and wreaking their destruction.

I could see that he was already wounded. There’s so much pain in being unknown and so much grief in expressing it.

We spent every day together studying language We lived in a a fairytale dream world where we went on a date every day. But there was so much I wasn’t telling him, so much I couldn’t express. Earthquakes, essential good shortages, general loneliness, and other calamities had taken a toll on my spirit.

I wanted him to know all this somehow, but I soon realized this was an unreasonable request. Though he knows me better than anyone else, he really doesn’t know me at all.

Not in comparison to the One who knows the numbers of hairs on my head and the number of breaths I have left in my body. I am completely known and completely loved. Nothing inside of my heart scares or surprises the Deity that dwells in that space.

He gave me this man to kind-of know me.

While we should study each other in efforts of knowing, we can rest because we are already known completely. This truth empowers us to serve one another without calculating how much effort is put forth on the other side and reciprocating accordingly.
Living the Golden Rule, I recognize my desire to be known and so seek to know and serve my husband according to his needs.

I’ve heard a marriage can’t be built on secrets, and certainly I strive to maintain an open and honest relationship with my husband. However, I realize his limitations to know and understand me on the deepest levels. We won’t be setting up house on such a shaky foundation.

Feelings are fleeting. Happiness ebbs and flows. But the God that established our foundation is firm and unmoving. We can build our marriage upon it with confidence it will withstand the storms we will weather together.

All because two people are known and loved by a good Father.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27)

Is your marriage foundation set upon the Rock?
How does being known by God empower you in marriage?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

 

 

Post-It-Note Your Feelings, Please

Day 9, Five Minute Prompt: POST-IT

Chance.

At the beginning of our fund-raising phase of our missions endeavors, we met with a group of missionaries to talk marriage in the throes of ministry. We were asked to jot down questions and submit them to the leadership to be addressed during our sessions.

Though it was meant to be private who asked each question, the shade of my cheeks was giving it away.

“How can I help my husband through difficult times if he never shares anything with me?”

Concern.

We had little to show for the hours he spent on the phone and the thousands of miles we logged on our minivan visiting each potential supporter. In attempt to protect me, he had not disclosed his fears about the road we continued trucking along despite the overwhelming obstacles we maneuvered along the way.

I admired his care for me, but I felt alone in the work we were doing together. I wished he would just wear a post-it note on his head revealing his feelings.

Challenged.

We were encouraged to share more openly which is what I hoped he he would hear (I was rather in the habit of pouring out my heart). But I was challenged to love him in the silence, ministering to him in the ways I know bless him.

I was urged to trust him and follow him even when it seems I’m clutching his hand in the dark. At the same time, however, I would remain on my knees before the Lord asking Him to guide my man and make known to me how to help him on his mission.

If I expect him to submit to the Lord as he leads our family, living the Golden Rule, I must also submit to the Lord’s work in my family. I must trust that, ultimately, He is the one who leads the way and that He will direct us as we strive to do His will around the world.

Changed.

I learned to minister to my husband even when I’m left out of his world. Our marriage blossomed even in these difficult times, and, eventually, so did our financial support. I thank God for how this has changed our life and ministry on the foreign field.

Even still, the post-it would be helpful.

Do you feel left in the dark in your marriage?
How can you minister to your husband today?

Talk to me in the comment section!