Sunday, April 29, 2012

Afternoon at Costco

Yes, this could be a book in itself.  But since I only have a few minutes, I will keep it concise.  My husband and I will often brave the crowds at Costco or Sam's Club on Sunday afternoon with the kids.  After all, who doesn't love cheap pizza and countless aisles of everything you never needed?   Today was particularly interesting because I noticed something I had never noticed before... That everyone there is just like us.  I was literally laughing out loud in the dining area listening to all of the dads fussing at their children to stop whining, be still, eat his/her lunch, leave their brother/sister alone, share their drink, etc.  And I watched with amusement as all the mommies did exactly what I was doing.  They calmly ignored their own unhappy and noisy children in favor of the people-watching that I myself was indulging in.  I would occasionally make eye contact with another mom and she would grin, and I would grin back, as if to say, "Isn't this just infinitely better than making sandwiches at home while daddy watches tv or naps on the couch?"  It was like a secret telepathic language, I tell ya.

So we eat, and then my husband says to me "Why do we ever think this is a good idea?  They act like this every time we bring them."  To which I reply, "They act like this 100% of the time, no matter where we are...  they are 3.  This is how 3 year olds act." The thing is, for me, just a change of scenery can make it more bearable.  Plus I didn't have to cook or clean up after lunch, which is really nice on a Sunday.  Because frankly, by the time we get to church in the morning, I feel like I've worked an 8 hour day already.  So I will gratefully endure an hour or so of walking through Costco looking at garden hoses and rechargeable batteries and tools and flashlights and patio furniture and sunglasses.  In heels.  And I will happily ignore my 3 year old shouting ugly words (his favorites are booty and doody) and the sideways glances I get from shoppers with no children in their cart.  (The ones with kids of their own usually just chuckle sympathetically.)  I did have to intervene when Gracie decided to bite Hudson on the arm.  But I did it quietly with the "inside-of-the-arm pinch" that my mom used on me when I was acting up during church. Along with a very scary whisper, "We. Don't. Bite."

And now, we are home, with our new garden hose, and the children and Daddy are napping peacefully in their beds while I sit here and write about nothing, which, in reality is everything.  I would call this SUCCESS.  

Happy Sunday, friends.  Peace, love and Costco.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two Years...

Long enough to learn that we are not perfect, after all...
Long enough to see that we are going to get it wrong more than we get it right,

Long enough to know which buttons NOT to push (but not long enough to resist the urge to push them anyway)...

Long enough believe we have what it takes to beat the odds...
Long enough to realize there is no one I'd rather fight with, play with, relax with, cuddle with, work with, build a family and life with, or be in love with...

Long enough to know without a doubt there is only YOU for me...

 forever and always.

Happy anniversary (April 17) to my wonderfully simple and straightforward man... You are amazing in your quiet way.  I am truly blessed to be your wife, and to share this messy life with YOU.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Fight

I don't know about you, but I don't like conflict.  I hide, run, over-react, shut down... Sundays always bring some kind of conflict, it seems.  I guess it  is just a hectic day, from the time the alarm goes off until we go to bed, and usually it is the day that my husband and I will find ourselves at odds.  Not every week, but if it is gonna happen, it is gonna be on Sunday.  Kind of sad, too, since we spend Sunday morning at church helping to lead a marriage class. But, hey, we never claimed to know what we are doing.  That's why we use a dvd and a study guide written by someone else.

So, tonight I am hiding.  Behind the computer.  Nothing major going on here, just the tension of trying to raise kids and work and keep our sanity and our sense of humor (which seems to disappear around 5pm most days).  And I know with a simple acknowledgement, just a few words, maybe a touch, I could make it right.  But I don't want to, at least not yet.  Not because I like the tension.  I just don't want to be mature.  I want to be selfish and tell myself all the reasons I am right and he is wrong.  

Sounds pretty silly and childish, huh?

Maybe instead, I will sit here until I can see clearly what is important.  Because even now I know it probably has little to do with whatever we argued about...  This is God-designed, this conflict... this constant problem of just being so different.  Yes, marriage was designed to have conflict.  Otherwise, why would He have made us so differently??

How do you fight fair when you just want to be heard and understood by someone who just wants to be heard and understood?  When you both talk, you both shout, and no one is listening?  The simple answer is to just stop... To stop talking and just listen... to the words, yes, but more than that to the heart behind the words.  I am so bad at this.  I have good intentions, always.  But in the midst of hurt feelings and harsh words my good intentions fly away like dust.  And my only intent becomes to protect or defend myself.  In defensive mode, I am really not hearing anything other than the voice of my own fear.

Yes, this is all stemming from a very minor argument, but the principles play out in every conflict, large or small.  Sometimes I wonder if God just gives us these "opportunities" to practice the stuff we learn while leading these marriage studies.  If so, I guess I should be grateful for the hard moments.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others, 
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Perspective is really everything, isn't it?

Marriage is not easy.  (Is that an obvious statement, or what?) But it draws us closer to the One who created us male and female... And if we really strive to serve one another as unto Christ, won't the small things be just that?  Small?  And won't the motivation to love remain even when the conflict comes?  A theory worth testing...

I should be fighting to hear and understand... not to be heard and understood.  Why do I always get it backwards?

Getting it right is always a choice that requires caring for someone else more than I care for me... And trusting in the only One who never fails when failure seems to be my middle name.  To drop the self-protective defenses and just love from the center of who I am.  It sounds so easy and so pretty. But it seems to come forth only from tears and ugliness.  This whole transformation process can be pretty painful to a stubborn, prideful girl like me.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was not cautious but extravagant.  He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us.  Love like that.  
Ephesians 5:1-2

Friday, April 6, 2012

Teenagers, Tweens, and Toddlers... Oh my!

Some days I really don't like my job.  I mean, I love the people I work with, although they do tend to be a little demanding, and rarely show any appreciation.  Also they are a little on the whiny side.  They stress me out and worry me to death and almost never do what they are told.  Yep, I am a MOM.  And I wouldn't change a thing.  They are imperfect little reminders of my own sin nature.  Yes, they are imperfect.  Just like their mom.  So the things that make me the most frustrated with them are the very things that frustrate me about ME.   And trying to get to the character root of the behavior issues requires time, consistency, and patience... All areas I am sorely lacking in.  But it is their hearts I am after, not just "good" behavior.

So, when the 3 year old darling starts picking fights with me, I must discipline myself to remain calm, loving, patient, and firm....

And when the 13 year old beauty acts like a beast to her little brother, I must remind her to be kind, and that words are for building, not tearing down...

And when brothers fight and aggravate (a constant in our home), I must not allow my own anxiety level to rise with theirs...

And when the 16 year old drives away I must remember Whose he is and turn my worries into prayers instead of lectures about speed limits, school zones and crossing guards... (I actually gave the same lecture to Chandler 3 times this morning, and even followed him to the car.  He just grinned in that "Ok, Mom, I got it." way.  He seems more grown up than me somedays.)

I guess this morning, what I am thinking about is this: It is Me, Myself, and I that need the discipline... Because if I can discipline myself, then cultivating their character will come a little more naturally.  If I can choose a God-parent perspective instead of a Kari perspective then the heart issues are clearer and the less-than-perfect behavior is recognized as a mere symptom.  Maybe by the time they are grown I'll have it all figured out.  With this many kids I'll have plenty of opportunity to practice!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Update on my Facebook recovery...

Ok, so I re-activated.  Once I figured out that all I had to do to re-activate was log in, I kind of thought going cold turkey seemed a little extreme.  My dear husband mowed over the cable line on Saturday, so I went 2 whole days with NO internet or cable tv.  Now, the "no tv" meant nothing to me, because I rarely watch it.  (although I am developing a love for "Duck Dynasty".  Very incongruous with my personality but I do love those redneck millionaires.)

I was surprised at how nice it was just not to have the distraction of any of it... Facebook, email, tv, etc.  So when the cable guy showed up Monday morning, I was determined to only check email.  No blog stats, and definitely not Facebook.  Then I realized I needed some info from a person I usually only communicate with via Facebook.  And then I got a text from a friend saying "Would you PLEASE just resign our game on Words with Friends??? It is just sitting there driving me crazy and I can't do anything about it!"  And then I got a phone call from a friend my daughter babysits for (arrangements usually made via Facebook messages) who said she had to hunt down my number because she didn't have it saved, and THEN the icing on  the proverbial cake.... My dear mom let me know that my dad was disappointed that I wasn't going to be posting about the kids.  Because that is how he keeps up with us, and no girl can stand to disappoint her Daddy!!  I know.  Excuses, excuses, and more excuses.  But I did it.  I re-activated.

Here are the changes I am implementing to help me control the time spent on Facebook:

1.  I updated my email preferences so that private messages would be sent to my email as well, so that if someone needs to reach me who does not have my email/phone number, it is still possible to do it via Facebook.

2.  I am not staying logged in after I post something to see if anyone comments.  In some cases, I just turn the whole computer off so that it isn't luring me to the desk with that little green light.

3.  I am only logging into Facebook when I am truly on a "break"... Meaning, my kids don't need me, there isn't a pile of laundry screaming at me to be folded, and my husband isn't around to hang out or snuggle with.

4.  No games.  Period. (no judgement if you play them, I just think this is where my downward spiral began!)

5.  I am not mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed to see what my friends are all up to. This was a huge time waster for me.

In true addict fashion, I am telling myself I can do this, that there is no need to give it up entirely, and that my reasons are valid.  But I am still praying about whether I am walking in freedom, and exercising self-control, or if I am tiptoeing up to that line of disobedience.  I never want to be legalistic about anything.  But I do want to be in the center of God's will.  So I am praying for discernment.

I really, truly, whole-heartedly welcome your comments and thoughts, particularly about this post.  And I welcome the accountability... So if you see me hanging out on Facebook a little more than usual, you might just send me a friendly reminder of my commitment to cut back... (you Truth-loving friends of mine will have no trouble with this, and I am thankful for you!!)

So, don't be alarmed or surprised if I do the yo-yo thing with this for a while.  (I have the old song playing in my head "I don't know why I go to extremes...")  That is the problem with sharing my struggles with whomever chooses to read about them... You get to watch me try, mess it up, try again, and possibly fail... And then try to make sense of it all! Humbling, indeed.

That's all folks.  At least for today.  Stay tuned for further developments.