Posted in Marriage

My Joshua

IF:Gathering

When I walked into my friend’s house a few days ago, I knew I was in for something good.

I had attended the IF Gathering 2014 in a small town 2 hours from home.  This year I would get to enjoy snippets of the IF Gathering 2015 in my friend’s living room, gathered together with about 10 other amazing, godly women.

I didn’t even know the theme of the Gathering, I just knew it would be good. So when the DVD started and I found out the theme was Joshua, I just sat there and smiled.

I smiled because I could see another glimpse of what God was up to in me – this theme has been running through our lives over and over for years, and especially the last 3 years. Every time it comes up it’s time to take another step into the Jordan, not seeing how the water will part, just trusting we’ll make it through to the other side… somehow… in God’s will.

I think I already had an idea of this next step to take… but I’ll get to that in another post…

It’s funny, when God plunks down His will in the middle of your life, and leaves the choice up to you.

It’s like coming to a wall, right in front of you, and you can go either one way or the other, but you can’t continue going forward – not in the direction you were heading.

Because you are never the same person after God presents His will to you.

No matter what choice you make, whether yes or no, you will go either one way or the other, but never be on the same path again.

You will always know that either you followed God or you didn’t. And either one can change you forever. You will never be the same. Going forward on the path you were following is impossible.

And so it was with My Joshua. I met him in a chiropractor’s office in 1997. He was a patient, I was a receptionist. His personality would consume the entire office space as soon as he walked in the front door, I would keep the office running smoothly in the background. He would have every single person laughing and connecting in a matter of minutes, I spent quality one-on-one time with the patients as I led them down to their treatment rooms. We had such different gifts and abilities, and we used them to minister to those around us in different ways, neither more important than the other.

I checked his file soon after meeting him.

HHmm… just a few months younger than me…. this could work.

Except I look younger than my actual age, and he kept inviting me to the youth group he was pastoring at the time. I kept telling him I’d let my YOUNGER brother know about the group.

Then I went off to Bible college for a few months, thinking I would never return. I had these grand plans of missionary work and being a jungle bush-woman. Marriage and children were NOT on my radar.

I returned home for the Christmas break. I never went back to school. There was such a tug on my heart to stay. My mission field was here first, with my family and friends.

I needed to find a church I could plug into (I had grown up in the church, wandered away for many years, and my own faith developed while working for the chiropractor – a man who served on the international mission field for 45 years, practising his chiropractic methods for free on whoever needed them). I remembered My Joshua (just Josh at the time). We started attending his church.

Within a few months my YOUNGER brother was part of the youth group, My Joshua (still just Josh) now knew my correct age, and I was volunteering as a leader with the group.

Then came the wall.

I had prayed that if God ever had marriage in mind for me, I would only be attracted to that person, I was done with the  emotional roller coasters and mind games of dating. The more I got to know My Joshua, the more life was changing for me.

I had a choice to make. I could go in one direction or the other. I could follow the plans I had for myself and go to the mission field. Or I could stay and most likely marry My Joshua (I knew he would still have his own choices to make once God presented him with the wall that was Anna).

I struggled and prayed and pleaded with God to show me His will. Now I realize He already had. Now it was my choice. If I chose marriage, Josh was the man.

I chose marriage, and left the missionary work in God’s hands, knowing He may or may not give that to me also, hoping He would. josh seemed to have a pretty big heart for it as well.

We started dating soon after, we were engaged not even 3 months after our first date, we were married not even 3 months after our engagement.

What a whirlwind romance!

But when you know, you know, and we knew.

My Joshua has lived up to his namesake in the Bible many times over. He has listened to God and marched around many strongholds and brought them down in God’s timing and God’s power. He has served leaders well and led others well. He has met with God in the desert time and time again, and done his best to follow whatever it is that God says to him there, no matter how ridiculous it may sound to everyone else (including me, maybe even especially me).

My Joshua has seen the promised land and brought back reports of its amazing bounty to others who longed to live in that kind of a land. He has offered to lead them there. Giants don’t distract him. He is a fighter through and through. I love to watch him fight for the things God lays on his heart.  (Especially when it’s me and the boys he’s fighting for!)

My Joshua also has a Caleb in his life, someone else who has seen the promised land and brought back reports of its bounty to us, whispers of what heaven must be like. This Caleb is our son, who was stillborn in May 2003. I will write more about that soon…

And My Joshua’s life verse is Joshua 1:9 –

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

I’ll get to that word GO in an upcoming post. I’d love to keep unpacking the IF Gathering 2015 with you over the coming days…

For now, even though the Gathering was just starting, I knew that God would be speaking to my heart about marriage to My Joshua and about going into the promised land. Over the last few months God had shown us a vision and direction for Reaching the North, and I knew it was most likely time to take another big step of faith.

I also knew that for me the step might just be from within.

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Posted in Marriage

Happy Father’s Day to the Father of My Children

Football Boys Wrestle Josh

I’m posting this one for you today, Joshua, because I have a special one coming for my Daddy tomorrow…

I know your heart, Josh, your father’s heart…

You long to be a good father to our boys…

You’ve been discovering what exactly this means over the last 13 years…

Skimming through these articles shows me a few things about being a good father…

What the Bible Says About Being a Father

Be a Good Father

The Awesome Dad Cheat Sheet

Or this one might be speaking more of your language…

5 Lessons Rugby Taught Me About Fatherhood

But I don’t need to read any more articles to know what I’ve always known…

Ever since before Josiah entered the world…

You would be a really good father.

I was not wrong, Joshua.

You care for us with all you’ve got, you put us first whenever possible, you work less so you are present more, you try so hard to do the right thing, you provide more than enough for all our needs (and many of our wants as well), you dare to dream big dreams, you cheer us on and build us up and give us roots and give us wings.

You are outrageously spontaneous and wild and crazy and free.

You are fun and fun-loving.

You love to make us laugh.

You hold us when we hurt – if we let you.

You value tradition.

You love to try new things.

You fix things that are broken.

You protect us.

You give us freedom to discover who we are.

You love to rap and dance and play guitar.

You invite all kinds of amazing people into our home.

You open the world to us, and show us there’s no place like home.

You sit in silence when we need it, and you chat with us about life when we need that.

You listen.

You learn.

Always more learning when you’re a father….

Thanks for putting in the time, the effort, the creativity, the prayer, and the love needed to be the father you are today.

We will love you more tomorrow, and the next day and the next.

Just as we know you will do the same for us.

Happy Father’s Day Joshua.

Hope you like your presents tomorrow!

Posted in Marriage

Riding the Waves

Feels like it’s been a while.

Feels like I have so much to share and no idea where to start.

What a week, what a month, what a year!

I’ve been waiting for a time of quiet so I can think and write it all down.

But even when there is no audible noise, there is soul-noise.

Yesterday it seems I may have found a place, a time of rest.

Because this morning it is a little quieter in my head, my heart.

Can I share?

This year has been one major event/change/transition after another.

Don’t we all have years like that?

Sometimes the big things are not good things.

This year they have been good things – thank God.

Because of course there will be times that are the opposite.

But not right now.

This year there was Meeting Oliver, Graduation, Turning 40, and Publishing My First Book.

But I don’t think I’ve mentioned much about church planting or the Northern Ontario focus or the Dominican focus.

Not to mention I am watching my boys grow up more and more every day. It’s a whole new phase with one of them in youth group and the other finishing up primary education soon enough.

And my husband will soon join me in entering another decade of life – he will also turn 40 next month. We really are growing old together.

Then there is IF – something new and beautiful and filling me up daily.

I find myself leaning into this song more and more every day…

I remember finding this saying at my mum’s house a few years back – I keep it in my wallet..

I can trust the waves, for I know the One who made the ocean.

Ya, exactly.

Lots of waves, not big horrible waves of destruction…

But waves that knock me over, flip me upside down, spin me around and around, and make me search for which way is up.

My husband tried out surfing in Mexico when I was five months pregnant with our first son.

We were much crazier then, in different ways, and didn’t mind hopping on a plane with 5 days notice and travelling across the world to catch a few days of adventure – with a baby coming we knew life would be spinning us around in many ways.

I remember sitting on a beach near Los Cabos, with a woman I barely knew, trying to spot Josh and this woman’s boyfriend on the horizon.

They had this crazy idea to try surfing.

Josh with his long wild hair and his fearlessness.

Me with big baby belly, red kerchief on my head, sprawled on the blanket on white sand.

Anna Mexico

They told us at the surf shop where we rented the boards that it was dangerous to go out on the waves that day.

Some of the walls of water were 12 feet high they said.

But still Josh went out, having never surfed before.

Josh Surf

Back then I revelled in his craziness instead of trying to tame it (oh my, why do I even try to tame this in him?).

I remember scanning the horizon, not seeing the soon-to-be-father that I’d been married to for not even two years.

I stood up and searched some more.

Trusted.

I knew he was there somewhere, that God had him, that he would saunter back up the beach to me with that smirk on his face.

And he did, but not for a while, and not without a fascinating tale of adventure to tell.

He’d been knocked off his board, tossed into the waves, spun around and upside down, couldn’t tell which way was up.

Good thing he had tied off the board to his ankle.

Good thing he had something to pull him rightside up, to show him the way to swim.

Ya, good thing!

And I looked at him and knew I loved the craziness in him.

Always have.

Josh Mexico

And here we are, almost 15 years later, and I still love that in him.

But I’ve started riding the waves with him more and more.

I’m not sitting on the beach anymore.

Not wrapped up in a cozy blanket, watching life happen – now out on the waves alongside him.

And it’s spinning me around and upside down, and some days the waves seem way too big to be trying to navigate.

So instead I let them wash over me, and I pull on the rope that shows me the way up, and I come up for air, and get ready for the next wave.

Knowing that the seas do calm, the waves do still, and it will get easier to catch my breath – eventually.

Really, though, I wouldn’t want to miss the ride – waves and all.

What crazy changes this year is bringing so far…

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood

Losing Light and Gaining Perspective

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

Hebrews 12:1

We ventured out into dusk. The sun was slipping behind the horizon and the moon was yet to make its appearance in the night sky. We had just enjoyed a warm meal together and now it fuelled our efforts to snowshoe on the trail of snow and ice. Our friend’s cottage faded into the distance as we skimmed over the Muskoka landscape before us.

It would be a quick trek on the trail tonight. We were losing light fast, but the pinks and oranges of the sky had beckoned us through the big bay window in the living room. And we raced to answer.

Now we raced against the darkness. Each of us trekking at our own pace through the now-murky night. The youngest of us needed extra help to gear up and even then we didn’t know how long the broken gear would hold. Yet still he wanted to venture out with us. Another had raced ahead, leaving poles and warm gear behind, anxious to get on the trail and grab all he could from the moments of light we had left. The biggest and tallest and strongest of us equipped all the others before starting on his race. His steps always sure and steady, his pace only slowing to help others, he gave us confidence to see the race to the finish. Then were was me, always bringing up the rear, making sure everyone else was running the race well ahead of me, never wanting to leave anyone behind, loving the view of watching others as they ran.

Through the darkening sky we raced against the blackness.  The beautiful colours that only moments before had beckoned us out of the comfortable cottage, now gone from our view.

The youngest lost a snowshoe long ago, now carrying it in his arms along with his two poles, excited by the humorous story he had to share with friends back home. This smallest of runners loves to find his own pace and enjoy the moments of his race.  He grabs what he can from his surroundings, finds the beauty in what he sees, and invites others to enjoy the treasures of life with him.  He shows me a whole new world if only I stop to listen and watch with him.  The other was far ahead, still in sight, stopping now and then to point out a new discovery or wait for those of us who lagged behind. It has always been hard to keep up with this runner. He is fast, he is fearless and he is full of life. I love him this way.  Once in a while I find the courage to run side by side with him in his race.  The biggest and tallest and strongest was in front of me now, turning back at times to give me a smile or wait for me to catch up to the team.  As long as I know this runner is still in the race, this gives me energy and patience and perseverance like nothing I’ve ever known as I put one foot in front of the other on the trail ahead.  And then there’s me, taking it all in, enjoying the view from the back, knowing that one day, soon enough, the youngest runners will out-pace me by far.

We come to a small fork in the trail. The cottage is back in sight and the trail provides two paths to the front door. I notice that the youngest members of the team turn off one way, and the oldest members turn off the other. So it should be. We each have our own races to run, our own paths to take, all leading to the same place eventually.

No matter that the trek was quick that day, or that we raced against darkness, or that we each raced is such different ways – what mattered to me most was that we set out in the first place, that we answered the call to enjoy the beauty of the trail before us, that we finished strong, and that we gathered together again when the race was done.

Posted in Marriage

Are We Waiting on God, or Is He Waiting on Us?

My husband says it feels like we’re waiting.

But I’m starting to wonder if it’s that God is waiting on us.

We’ve been watching Him line things up and put things into position.

He’s given us fresh vision and pointed us on a clear path.

In life and in ministry.

We have been waiting for this for (it feels like) forever.

We’ve gotten used to the waiting, and comfortable in the waiting.

But it feels like things are flip-flopped around, like crazy change is happening, and now Someone is waiting on us.

Time and again – for the past THREE years – he’s been playing this verse on repeat in our lives:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Yep, it’s a good one, eh?

It also happens to be my husband’s life verse.

When God keeps throwing your life verse at you, in amazing ways, at just the right times, over and over and over again, you know something’s coming, right?

We’ve had this sense of Him at work for a while.

Like on the hard days, when nothing made sense, and we couldn’t see past the next few minutes, He was simply asking us to… wait.

It was really hard to learn to wait.

This verse helped:

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Some days we just walked, sauntered even, through the confusion and the fog. Some days we didn’t run at all, and we felt very weary and faint.

We learned to grab hold of the good, to live in the moments that filled our days with such blessings – if only we let them, if only we recognized them, if only we learned to see things through His eyes.

And I don’t want to leave out my life verse either. Because for a time He was throwing this one at us from every direction as well:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

My favourite hymn is Seek Ye First.

It’s the only one I can play on the piano by memory – a version I created myself so that I can play it anywhere, anytime.

One song, just one song that has echoed in my soul for as long as I can remember.

Other songs have come and gone, but this one has always remained.

And we did learn to ask, to seek, and to knock.

Even when we didn’t get the answer we hoped for in the asking, or when things weren’t much clearer after the seeking, or when doors seemed to remain closed after the knocking.

It’s all about timing – His timing.

And we continued to wait.

Somewhere in the waiting, in the watching for mountains to move and seas to part, we learned that the greatest mountains need to be moved in us, and the biggest seas need to be parted in our hearts.

God is waiting on us.

He is asking us, seeking after us, knocking on the door of our hearts…

Josh and I got married under a stained glass window – can you see it in the background?

 
wedding pic

It’s Jesus knocking on a door with no handle…

I didn’t get it until someone explained it to me…

How Jesus will never force His way into anyone’s life, into anyone’s heart…

He simply knocks, and it’s up to them how they answer…

The door can only be opened from the other side…

He simply stands and waits for the answer.

And that’s how it feels to me just now – like God is waiting on us.

We have done our asking, our seeking, and our knocking – now it’s time to be strong and courageous, knowing that we don’t have to be afraid or discouraged when things look a little crazy, because He is with us always.

After all the waiting, now I’m looking forward to running this next lap of the race with you, Joshua.

 

 

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood

Food is Not My Friend… I Keep Telling Myself This…

As I’m starting to journey on this year of Crazy Change – it seemed like food was a good place to start.  It’s in my life at least a few times every day.  I can’t possibly live without it. It is a confusing mess most of the time for me.  Everyone says something different about it. How can there be so many different opinions/studies/mindsets on one topic? Is there no universal truth?

Doesn’t seem so.

I started reading through the book Made to Crave by Lisa Terkeurst (the “For Young Women” version I picked up by accident!) and grabbed a couple of wisdom nuggets from her.

One line that stood out for me was “Remember: we were made to consume food; obsession with food (whether that means too much or too little) was never supposed to consume us.” (p. 51)

Well, no doubt about it, most days food definitely consumes me. I don’t know what to eat, what is real food, what foods does my body react negatively to… and now this whole new dimension of constantly asking myself, Why am I eating this particular thing at this particular moment?

I can track some things back my whole life that I can remember – the way my stomache bloats to look like I’m 5 months pregnant at times. I thought this was normal, just a part of eating – I’m learning it’s not supposed to be this way. And then trying to determine why it bloats.  And the feelings of fatigue, the fog that fills my head and makes it hard to grab a clear thought some days, the irritability, the insomnia – all these negative issues in my life can mostly be linked back to food.

Food is not my friend.

Not currently anyways.

But I’m learning to make it my friend, to make it something positive in my life, to bring it into balance with the rest of the “stuff” that fills my days.

A big eye-opener for me was very recently, when I realized that food has literally become my friend. The thing I reach for when I’m lonely, sad, feeling down, bored – you name it. This was a hard realization – that I’d let something other than God or another person come to mean so much to me, and become the thing I rely on regularly.

Because just yesterday I realized it hasn’t even been a good friend. It fills my days with stomache pains and constant cravings for more (especially the chocolate aspect of the relationship!) and lack of sleep and anxiety and fatigue… on and on.

I am also skimming through books like How to De-Stress Your Life and a couple of other food books like the Flat Belly Diet (this is supposed to help with getting rid of the bloating that I suffer from on a daily basis – not get my stomache back to where it was pre-3 Sklar boys and 2 c-sections!) This book is actually teaching me to love my belly, squishy stretch marks and all. My belly housed my three most precious gifts from God (besides my Joshua). And I wouldn’t change it for the world – uh uh – no way.

Back to the subject at hand… these books I’m skimming say the same thing… and I like when books say the same thing… means I’m getting somewhere…

We should fill our lives with GOOD friends. Friends that will encourage us, make us feel happy, gently bring us back into line when we need it, fill our hearts with gladness for their presence, etc. etc.

I’m pretty sure catering to my every whim, never setting any boundaries, making me feel sick, keeping me awake at night, and lowering my self-esteem are NOT on the list of what makes a good friend.

And yet I’ve let this “friend” in to all these areas of my life – areas I don’t let many people into. The hidden parts, the secret parts, the parts of me that need filling.

Sometimes it’s just so scary to let people in, to be that vulnerable, to let them see the ugly parts, the sometimes dark parts, the hurting parts.

But you know what?

I need it. I need them. To see. Me.

Friends.

Good friends.

And I am blessed with  few.

And a wonderful mother and sister to boot.

And there are a few special women in my life who hold such dear places in my heart – some for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. I am supremely blessed by them… yes, absolutely.

My best friend tells me daily how much he loves me and how beautiful I am.  Inside and out.

After all we’ve been through, him seeing the ugliest parts, darkest parts, most hurting parts – he STILL wants to be my best friend.

Jeepers, doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

And my mother and sister have loved me all my life, walked with me through EVERYTHING, been there for me at all the highs and lows (if not in person, then in thought and prayer).

My daddy and my brother are two of my biggest fans – I know this for sure.

I also have two little best friends in my sons – one came up to me yesterday and said You look like you need a hug. You always need hugs.  Then he came right up to me, just a couple of inches shorter than me now, and hugged me and told me he loved me and filled my heart. He does this often.  The other son has taken to dancing with me before bed – he grabs my hand in an old-fashioned gentleman style and puts his other hand around my waist, and lays his head on my shoulder (he’s not far behind his brother in being almost as tall as me!) and rocks back and forth to a silent rhythm – a rhythm we create ourselves, I suppose.  Then he grabs my face in his hands, puts his forehead against mine, looks deep into my eyes and tells me he loves me.

These men of mine – these amazing, special men of mine – they all want me to know they love me. And they all show me in different ways.

Am I even seeing this? Am I listening?  Is it sinking in at all?

I complain often about not being heard, wondering if anyone is listening to me around my house. Sometimes I think my quiet ways go unnoticed.

Maybe I’m the one who’s not paying attention, not listening, not appreciating the quiet things in my life, the gentle exclaimations of love that fill my days.

Maybe I’m too busy spending time with friends who don’t treat me very well, or thinking about those friends and how to manage them better, or being consumed by them.

These friends that are not my friends.

These foods that fill my days.

I have to let them go.  I have to step away from them. I have to fill my days with healthier things, more encouraging friends, better friends, REAL friends.

And when I think about it, my life is full of them.

I’m excited to focus on them, now that I’ve figured out at least a part of this puzzle.

Food is very confusing for me, but I’m starting to sort through it.

Now that I can see a need to separate the emotional eating from the physical eating.

These are two very different things.

Finally I can see through the fog to that truth.

It’s a good view as I continue to journey through the change – Crazy Change.

 

 

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood

Imagine


I wrote this article for the recent edition of the Link & Visitor  magazine – a publication by the Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec.

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.  – John 6:47

“You’re so beautiful.”

“I love you.”

“You are such a good mommy.”

“I’m so happy to be married to you.”

These are words from my husband’s mouth – he’s been saying them to me over and over these almost thirteen years we’ve been together.  My heart used to block them, believing these words couldn’t be true about me.  One day as my husband spoke wonderful words to me, as my heart began to choose to turn away from the good being offered, I heard Him ask.

Why do you turn away from My words?  I have put them in Joshua’s mouth so he will speak them to you, My bride, My love.  I cannot hold you with human arms or speak to you with a human voice, but I have given you someone who can.  Hear his words, for they are My words.  Open your ears to all My words.  I’ve given them to many of my people to speak into your life.  Believe them.  I know no lies.  Anna, these words are true, that is how I see you.  Live in that truth.

So I try, when my Joshua speaks wonderful words to me, when others speak words of encouragement and love, I try to really hear them and live in them and thank God for the gift of them.  Thank Him for the words from beyond.  Imagine a place where we only hear those kinds of words, an everlasting whisper in our ears of goodness and love and beauty… this is just a glimpse.

My older son has this laughter that bursts forth out of nowhere on occasion.  It can happen anywhere, but it usually happens at the dinner table, as we’re all gathered together and telling stories of our days.  The days when we’re all getting along and peace reigns among us and we’re not rushing off this way or that.  It starts with a giggle, on the surface of himself.  We all join in on the chuckle.  Then it spreads in Josiah, deep down into his being, until every cell must be full with it – this all-consuming laughter.  He usually ends up on the floor, rolling through the moment, unable to sit on his chair or contain the joy for one more second.  Pretty soon we’re all laughing and he’s given us a round of smiles. I think back to my childhood and remember laughing this way with my sister.  More gifts from beyond.  Imagine a place where there is no more sadness… this is just a glimpse.

My younger son has these big blue eyes that sparkle even when no light from this world shines on them.  I know the light that makes his eyes sparkle comes from another place, another world beyond this one.  There’s heaven-light in Elijah’s eyes, and once in a while I get completely lost in them.  That particular shade of blue must be made with a pinch of God’s love, a sprinkle of God’s grace and a dash of God’s mercy.  My dear friend has green eyes with the same sparkle – so beautiful.  Imagine a place where the colours of the rainbow pale in comparison… this is just a glimpse.

My memory runs through the scenes of my life, and pauses on the truly special moments.  Moments when all is right, when life feels utterly rich, when all I can feel is all that is good.  With family, friends, alone, at home, at the lake, in church – every scene is different.  Imagine a place where there is no lack, in anyone or in anything – we live in perfect harmony, all the time… this is just a glimpse.

These glimpses of mine keep me going on the hard days and fill me to overflowing on the good days.  They remind me of what is coming in the life eternal.  This is God’s promise to me, of a life with him, if I only believe… this is just a glimpse.  Imagine.

How to Catch Your Glimpses of the Life Eternal

Jot down your

  • Best childhood memory
  • Favourite colour
  • Most delicious recipe
  • Best friend’s name
  • Most treasured gift received
  • Favourite outdoor scene

Keep a list going of all the good in your life, times it by a million, and you still won’t be close!  But it’s good to imagine, isn’t it?

Posted in Marriage

Marriage – How Do You Handle Change?

This is an excerpt from my The Family Forum newsletter that I published in September 2010.  It’s an interview-style article written by friends of mine – Todd and Heather Anderson.  Thought I’d share it with you…

HE SAYS…  I’ve been using Colgate toothpaste for as long as I can remember.  When we got married, Heather was a Crest girl… we bought two separate tubes of toothpaste, until I finally converted her.  There are some things that just   shouldn’t change.  But then there are some that should.  You can run from change or you can welcome it with open arms… or you can argue with it, philosophize with it, analyze it, and think deep thoughts about it as I tend to do.  One of the most important things I’ve  found  in  dealing  with change as a couple, is the need to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes.  You need to see with their eyes and hear with their ears.  This is the first step towards clear communication, a shield against the unpleasant aspects of change.  Change disrupts expectations and generally reveals the character qualities of the people in the midst of it.  My goal as a husband is to do whatever it takes to keep communication strong through times of change and uncertainty – to express humility as we are confronted by decisions that signal change for the family.         

– Todd Anderson

SHE SAYS…  Todd and I have been married for 3½ years.  Four cities, 2 degrees, 5 rental places, 2 jobs and 2 kids later, here we are and definitely no strangers to change.  We love change.  We welcome it.  At least I do.  Without it I think I would get bored.  And maybe a little too comfortable.  Sometimes it’s good to throw a curve ball… or get one thrown at you.  Because when your circumstances change, you change and you get a chance to tackle something new as a couple.  All the changes we’ve been through together have only made our marriage stronger.  How do  we deal with change?  We remember the CONSTANT.  We know that God is constant and circumstances are in His control.  We don’t fear change as much when we attribute that change to a greater power, knowing that God is teaching us, guiding us and refining us throughout it.  We also remember that we are constant.  No matter where we go, or what we are doing, we know that we are doing it together.  We tackle change as a team.   Together, we celebrate change – bring it on!   

 – Heather Anderson

Relationship Challenge: 

Change it up!  For one week, keep track of the recreational time that you and your spouse spend doing separate things.  The next week, spend that same amount of time (or more!) doing things together. 

Here’s a fun idea for a date during your second week:  gather up all your loose change (you can start saving in anticipation beforehand) and then go blow it all doing something you wouldn’t normally do – like playing arcade games, or buying slurpees from the convenience store. 

 Marriage Prayer: 

Father God, We know that you are unchanging and good.  We know that you are in control of all circumstances.  We often feel uncertain in times of change, but we are thankful that peace can be found in you.  Thank you that you are not done with us, but that you continue to change our hearts to look more like your Son Jesus Christ.  Help us to accept the changes that you bring and to glorify you through them.  In His Name, Amen.

 

Posted in Marriage

Marriage – Dealing With Crisis

Enjoy this excerpt from the March issue of The Family Forum newsletter

Crisis is a part of life, and a part of marriage.  Sadness, strife, or stress can enter our days and leave us winded for a long time.  Unexpected and unwelcome events can occur and leave us scrambling to survive minute by minute.  I’m sure we can all relate somehow to crisis in our lives and in our marriages.

Josh and I experienced out fair share of crisis in our years together, but we also know others who experienced much more than we have.  No one life and no one marriage will look   exactly like another.  We are all unique and our marriages are unique.

We lived through job loss, stillbirth, serious illness in our children, many moves, deaths in the family and much confusion.  Your crisis situations may look similar to ours, but you will have your own unique experiences.

Only the two of you have your unique set of circumstances.  No other marriage can have the same set.  You know each other’s loss, hardship, grief, sadness and stress in a special way because you share experiences, because you share a life, because you are one.

Pull together through the hard times instead of drifting apart.  Find your strength in each other instead of carrying the weight alone.  Communicate with the person who may just know you better than you know yourself.  Seek counselling if you need it.

During our times of crisis, Josh and I handled our situations differently.  Sometimes I needed to be alone, but I made sure to reconnect after that time, even if it meant lots of tears as we got the hurt out.  Josh is great at    making me laugh and sometimes I needed that laughter during the hard times.  Sometimes it was a hug or a prayer.

Expressing our needs to one another and accepting each other for who we are is key in dealing with crisis.  Even though we don’t always understand each other’s emotions, we try to validate them.

Though we may never understand the reasons behind the crisis in our lives, we can trust God to be with us through the crisis.  He waits for you to turn to Him, and He can handle yelling as well as praise.  Lean on Him the most – as individuals and as a  couple – as you deal with crisis in your life and in your marriage.

Relationship Challenge: 

Take an inventory of your years together.  Have you experienced crisis that you never fully dealt with?  Is there any lingering sadness, strife or stress in your relationships that you haven’t talked through with your spouse?  Open the lines of communication and share the burden of crisis.  If you need much help, counsellors are available at your church, in your community or even online to walk you through the healing and restoration needed.

Marriage Prayer: 

Lord, You know our hurts.  You know every second of every day of every year of our lives and our marriage.  Help us to communicate openly with one another without causing more hurt, but rather to bring healing.  If the hurt is too much or if we need help to deal with our crisis, please show us who You have for us to walk us through this time.  May we draw always closer to You and each other in the hard times that come.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood

The Gift of Time Part 2

Click here to read The Gift of Time Part 1

I wake up realizing this – just as God freely offers me His gift of time, so I must freely offer this time to others as He asks.

I line up the medicine bottles and I get ready to dole out the antibiotics:

  • One pill, three times a day for Elijah’s bronchitis and ear infection.  Started Monday morning after waking up Josh to take him to the clinic for 7am.  Continue for 10 days.
  • One pill, three times a day for Josiah’s strep throat.  Started Tuesday morning after waking up Josh to take him to the clinic for 7am.  Continue for 10 days.
  • One pill, once a day for Josh’s sinusitis.  Started after he spent the afternoon at the clinic on Friday, his day off.  Continue for 10 days.  Nasonex and Advil Cold and Sinus to also ease his suffering.  Ibuprofen to numb the pain of his broken thumb.  Cast on for 10 days.  Removed yesterday after waiting at the hospital for 3 hours.  Still sore but much better.  How did he break his thumb?  That’s a whole other post but let’s just say there was a toboggan involved.  One of Josh’s mottos:  Go hard or go home.

My men all medicated and one step closer to renewed health, I put the pill bottles away until the time comes for the next dose.

Elijah is home from school 3 days.  Josiah is home from school 2 days.  Josh continues to work as much as he can and keeps up well at the church and at home, as usual.  He is amazing that way.  He continues his building me up, his helping around the house, his weekend cooking, his loving the boys, his hospital visits, his putting together a team of people for a missions trip to Dominican Republic at the end of April.  (I think I’m going this year – my very first missions trip!)

Josh is great with the gift of time.  The gift is well-received by Josh.  He rests in it, easily slows down to share it with others, makes sure he shares a good dollop of it with us, his family, and he speeds up in it when there is much to do for the kingdom.  He knows what time is all about and how to use the gift wisely.

I’m never very sure how to handle the gift of time.  I don’t always receive it well and I don’t always give it well.  I learn from my husband and my sons.

My boys’ time is spent in play, in discovering, in learning, in rest, in so much activity I can hardly keep up most days.  They love to spend their time with family and friends.  They ask for more time with us – more undivided time, more quality time.

I long to know at the end of each day that I gave them the gift of undivided time, quality time, just me and them and time.

I take on too much to fill up time instead of letting time fill up me.

My perfectionism requires more time than I need to give to some areas of my life.

But I am grateful, once again, so grateful to have God’s gift of time.  Time that allows me to care for these three men of mine when they’re all down for the count at the same time.

These precious days they’re home, stepping in the days that fill my world, I let them change what my time looks like.  The computer sits lonely for long periods of time.  The kitchen is disastrous for the time in between required cooking or baking.  The TV is allowed more time when sick boys are around, but I make sure to share at least a little of that time with them, laughing at their shows with them and wrapping up in blankets with them.  Books share time with us – I read to my younger son for !even an hour at a time! and we exchange amused glances and giggle over the story we hold in front of us.

There were days spent with just one young man, or both, this past week of sickness time.  The days looked so different, depending on who was in the house. 

My youngest man required more alone time, more quiet play time, more “chill” time.  We read together, watched TV together, sorted Lego, discussed school, blogged and wrote an email to Grandma together. 

The older younger man required much attention, conversation and activity.  We shot Nerf darts at paper airplanes, discussed christianity, listened to music and made banana cake with green icing together.  (Josh later took the cake to his young adults group after we enjoyed a yummy piece.)  We grew together, rested together, played together and served together.

I tried to enjoy, no, I DID enjoy the time with my young men this week.  Truly this was a gift, despite the sickness that forced it.  They are back to school today and I wish them both health and happiness as they live in the time they have today. 

Later we’ll pick up the boys from school and drive a few hours to Grandma’s house to share the gift of time with her.

This week was a time of letting go, leaving my agendas and schedules and busyness for another time, learning more of the “good” time-fillers and recognizing more of the “bad” time-fillers.  I’d like to stay away from those and my tendencies to catch onto those when I see an empty span of time ahead of me.

May I receive the gift of time You give me and be a good steward of this gift in my life.  May I share Your gift of time as You ask me to and let go of my ideas for filling the time.  Fill Your gift with more of You and less of me.  Share Your gift with others, through me, every day.