Marriage is hard. It’s wonderful, but it’s hard.

April 20, 2009 Categories: Marriage | 10 Comments  

The other night, Kevin and I were having a conversation about how many couples we know who are currently going through a divorce. Nine. We personally know of nine couples who are divorcing.

Three of these couples are divorcing because the husband is an alcoholic. Two of these men profess to be Christians.

One couple is divorcing because the husband has left his wife for another woman, a woman he was having an affair with for months before his wife knew. The husband professes to be a Christian – or, at least, he used to.

One couple is divorcing because the wife has left her husband for another man. The wife professes to be a Christian.

That leaves four couples. Four couples who are divorcing because marriage is too hard, and one or both of the partners are no longer “happy.”

Listen, people. If you’re getting married so that your spouse will make you happy, you’re on the wrong track. If you’re expecting the state of being married itself to make you happy, you’re on the wrong track.

Get married because you love someone so much that you want to do anything to make them happy. Get married knowing that the warm, fuzzy feeling you get in your stomach when your person walks into the room, or smiles at you, or kisses you, will come and go. Feelings are precocious. They rise up and they disappear on a whim. Those feelings are not love.

Love is patient. Patient when your spouse has clammed up and gone quiet with worry. Patient when your spouse is prickly and irritable and short-tempered. Patient when your spouse makes a mistake that costs the family money, time, or other resources.

Love is kind. That means that you treat your spouse with the same courtesy you would give a friend or acquaintance. It is so easy to get sloppy and forget the common courtesies because we’re comfortable at home, because our spouse has to love us. That is not acceptable. Kindness is essential.

Love does not envy. Don’t envy your spouse’s successes, talents, friendships, way with people.

The list goes on. Love does not boast, is not proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily-angered.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. That means bringing up past offenses – offenses that have been forgiven – is off-limits.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects. Love protects our spouse’s feelings, reputation, time, and honor.

Love always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Love isn’t easy. I have failed in each one of those areas, and I have no doubt I will in the future. But I don’t stop striving to meet that standard. That’s what it means to love someone. That’s what it means to be married.

Happy Anniversary, Honey

March 31, 2009 Categories: Marriage | 8 Comments  

As of today, Kevin and I have been married for 14 years. Fourteen years, four children, six moves. Isn’t it amazing how your life can change in such a relatively short time?

Anyway, honey, Happy Anniversary! Here’s to 40 or 50 more. :) I love you.

Marriage Meme

February 21, 2009 Categories: Marriage , Memes & Quizzes | 4 Comments  

kevin.jpg

I saw this at Hey, Lady! Whatcha Readin’? and thought it would be fun to do a meme that isn’t just about me. If you play along, answer the questions about you and your spouse. :)

What are your middle names?
Mine is Eileen; Kevin’s is Duane

How long have you been together?
Together since October 1994; married March 31, 1995 – so coming up on 14 years.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
A few months – we met in the spring and had our first date on October 1st.

Who asked whom out?
I asked Kevin after being assured by our mutual friend Sue that he was interested. I didn’t want to wait for him to get up the nerve!

How old are each of you?
Kevin is 43; I’m 36.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
Until recently, I would have said mine, but my sister Marni moved out of the Pacific Northwest to St. Louis, and since we took two trips to Portland in 2008, we saw Kevin’s brother Bob and his wife Kathy twice in one year. Before that, we hadn’t seen them since before Jonathan was born.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Definitely financial issues.

Did you go to the same school?
Nope – we didn’t even grow up in the same area. Even if we had, Kevin’s 7 years older.

Are you from the same home town?
Oops, already answered that. I grew up in Sedro Woolley, Washington; Kevin grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon.

Who is smarter?
Depends on the topic. If you’re talking about history or literature – academic stuff – then I am. If you’re talking about practical, real-life stuff – especially when discerning people’s motives and attitudes, then he is.

Who is the most sensitive?
I am.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Our little town has two fantastic restaurants that we love: Rancho Chico’s (Mexican) and Stefanie’s Oak Street Grill.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
To Seely Lake, Montana to visit my parents the first Christmas we were together.

Who has the craziest exes?
I don’t know that either of us has exes that qualify as crazy.

Who has the worst temper?
We both have tempers, but deal with them differently.

Who does the cooking?
We both cook – I do most week-days, but Kevin often cooks breakfast and dinner on the weekends.

Who is the neat-freak?
Neither of us.

Who is more stubborn?
Kevin. Though he might disagree with that – but he’d be wrong.

Who hogs the bed?
We both do.

Who wakes up earlier?
Most days, I do – unless it’s a day when Kevin has to be at the office to do something with the computers before everyone else gets there.

Where was your first date?
At The Melting Pot in Portland, Oregon.

Who is more jealous?
Probably me, but jealousy isn’t really a big issue for either of us.

How long did it take to get serious?
One date – we were together from that point on.

Who eats more?
I do.

Who does the laundry?
Laundry is a family affair at our house – we all pitch in.

Who’s better with the computer?
He’s a techie. I’ve learned a lot from him, though.

Who drives when you are together?
Kevin – and we fight over the choice of CD. :)

If you play along, let me know!

Happy Anniversary, Honey

March 31, 2008 Categories: Marriage | 8 Comments  

In the craziness of a weekend of family togetherness, with two of my three sisters visiting – one with husband and kids, one with just her kids – I almost forgot. Thirteen years ago today, Kevin and I got married in a small ceremony in the living room of my grandmother’s new house. Thirteen years!

I love you, Kevin. Here’s to thirteen more!

Happy New Year

December 31, 2007 Categories: Blogging , Books , Faith , Holidays , Kid Stuff , Marriage , Memories , Music , Parenting , Writing | 7 Comments  

What are you doing this New Year’s Eve 2007? I am sitting on the couch with my new laptop, watching the kids jump and sing and dance along with their High School Musical game on their new Playstation 2. They are happy, especially since their daddy told them they could stay up until midnight to welcome the New Year. Without asking their mommy. He’s the crazy one – I’ll probably head in to bed, and he’ll be up. And he’s still getting over the flu. He did, however, take a long nap in a quiet house this afternoon while the kids and I were visiting at Michelle’s.

I’m also listening to the song Revival from the CD Revival in Belfast by Robin Marks. We found a new church home this year. It has been nearly two years since we left our old church home. And yet, as soon as this song comes up on my MP3 player, I am fighting back tears. This CD came out when I was worship coordinator at that church, and we did many of these songs on Sunday mornings. Hearing this song brings me right back, and I am sad again. How long until that goes away?

I remember when New Year’s Eve was an occasion to stay up late, party hard and celebrate. I must be getting older, because it is now just fine with me to stay at home with my family, and mentally reminisce about the past year and plan for the new one, while they party around me.

My heart is full tonight, and I want to get these thoughts down before they are gone in the flurry of the rest of the week.

I have many things to be grateful for as I look back on 2007.

We were able to refinance our house and get out of debt. Because of that, and in spite of the fact that Kevin still faces the possibility of unemployment this year, we are better off financially than we were last year at this time. God is good.

I wish you could see what I see right now. Josiah is laying on his back with his ankles crossed, hands under his head. He looks like he should be laying in a hammock. He’s watching his sister and brother sing and compete, and when each song ends, he jumps up and shouts, “You got an A!” (The game grades you on your performance of HSM songs.) And on my MP3 player is playing the song This is a Moment Made for Worshipping by Steven Curtis Chapman. “This is a moment made for worshipping, because this is a moment I’m alive…”

I’m grateful for a husband who believes in my writing to the point that he would buy me a brand new laptop because I need something better for my work. And a husband who bought me a second MP3 player for Christmas, because he remembered that I jokingly said in passing that I needed one for music, one for audiobooks. And he indulges my book obsession.

I’m grateful for friendship. We’ve lived in this town for 10 and a half years now, and during that time I have made many good friends. They have all been exactly what I needed at the time, but each friendship has been for a season. And now, for the first time since I was in college, I feel like I have a true best friend. God ordained that Michelle would move here for me; you’ll never convince me otherwise. Our friendship is still relatively new – although I can hardly believe we just exchanged Christmas gifts for the second time – but I have no doubt that our friendship is for a lifetime. Some things you just know.

All right, answer me this: how can I go from lovingly gazing at my children having fun and thinking about how wonderful it is to be their mother to being completely annoyed that they are interrupting my blogging? My blogging about how grateful I am? For them? (The song on my MP3 player is now Fabulous from High School Musical 2. I’m not as selfish as Sharpay, honest.)

I’m grateful for happy, healthy kids. Other than the occasional cold and flu, my kids are healthy. They are also good kids. Yes, there are days when I want to pull my hair out, but there are also days when the receptionist at the orthodontist’s office tells me how much she enjoys it when we come in, because she knows my kids are well-behaved.

I’m grateful for Natalie. My 11-year-old. Just typing those words makes me sigh. She is changing so fast, from an adorable little girl to a beautiful young lady. She is goofy, feminine, able to break a board with her foot while blushing over the cute boy at Tae Kwon Do, and – most importantly – she has a strong desire to follow Jesus.

I’m grateful for Noah. He’s 9. When Kevin gets the pictures off the camera and onto my computer, I’ll post the picture Kevin snapped while we were opening gifts Christmas Eve. Noah has always been a joy to watch open gifts – he is thrilled with each and every one. And though he loves the Playstation and his camera, the gift that got the biggest smile was Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide of the Fantastical World Around You.

I’m grateful for Jonathan. He’s 8 and his energy is astonishing at times. He is like contained electricity; he buzzes with it. I love the fact that he is now an accomplished reader, and likes to share with me what is happening in his book. It makes me laugh to see how fast he can go from picking on his sister to defending her honor. (Now, I’m listening to Long Train Running’ by The Doobie Brothers: “Without love, where would I be right now?” Yes, my musical taste is varied and odd.)

I’m grateful for Josiah. He’s 6 and still comes running up to me to say, “I know what you need, Mommy. You need a snuggle from me.” And he’s right; I do. As he has completed the familiar pages in Abeka’s Letter and Sounds this year, it has been startling to realize that this is the last time I will be leading a child through this phonics program, the last time I will watch a child experience the joy of reading for the first time. I am now the mother of four readers.

I’m grateful for parents who live close enough that we can watch football games and go to the movies together. I’m grateful that we found a church that our kids love. I’m grateful that there is a (however tentative) peace with our neighbors. I’m grateful that my kids have good friends. I am grateful that we are on our sixth year of homeschooling, and I still enjoy it and I am still convinced that it is the best path for our family. I’m grateful for weekly phone conversations with my sister Andrea, chatting online with my other sister Debra, and visits with my sister Marni while she still lives close enough. I’m grateful for quiet evenings with a book, a glass of Pinot Grigio, and dark chocolate. I’m grateful for 24, Numb3rs and Ballykissangel on DVD. I’m grateful for all the blogs on my blogroll – and some I haven’t added yet – for making me think and laugh, for giving me encouragement, and for suggesting some brilliant books.

May your New Year be filled with books that make you think, friends you can be “you” with, and days bright with joy and laughter.

Deep breath

October 24, 2007 Categories: Blogging , Books , Faith , Holidays , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff , Marriage , Parenting , Writing | 9 Comments  

My thoughts of late have gone something like this:

Articles due – need to finish Gryffindor scarves – why doesn’t Wal-mart have crowns or wands? – grocery list: can’t forget yarn to finish scarves and ingredients for dessert to bring to Tae Kwon Do party – more articles due – need to write review – haven’t written a personal blog post in ages – miss my books – ah, girls’ night – need to plan party for Mom and Dad’s 40th anniversary – oh my gosh, Josiah lost a tooth – oh yeah, Josiah’s birthday is coming up – which Harvest Party are we going to? – more articles due – forgot to call that lady about that thing – need to cancel satellite – stacks of papers to correct and file – etc. – etc. – etc.

Is it any wonder that this frantic feeling is building up and I just need to stop and take a breath? In the midst of all this busy-ness, I don’t want to just breeze past the things that really matter. Like:

~ Josiah is reading. Short-vowel words and some sight words so far, but he’s reading. Four down, zero to go. What a strange feeling – no more non-readers in the family.

~ He also lost his first tooth, and he’s turning six next week. Thank God, he is still a cuddle-bug. Lately, he has taken to jumping on my lap, wrapping his arms around my neck, and saying, “Amo, Mommy!” (Amo is “I love” in Latin.)

~ The kids and I have been doing origami every afternoon this week. We just finished the chapter on Japan in Story of the World II: The Middle Ages, and we are enjoying origami as part of that study. We also wrote haikus. These are the days I love homeschooling.

~ My parents are celebrating 40 years of marriage! I’ve watched them go through a lot of ups and downs, and they’re still together and still love each other.

~ Christmas is coming. This will be the last Christmas that Marni and Hans and their little boys, Peter and Andrew, will be with us for a while. They have sold their house and moved into an apartment and are planning to move to St. Louis in the spring. Hans will be attending Covenant Theological Seminary. Right now, they live in the Coeur d’Alene area, which means Marni is the closest sister geographically. (Andrea is in Boise; Debra is in Silverdale.) When they move, there will no longer be any siblings within a distance that takes less than a day to drive. Sob.

~ Natalie is not a little girl anymore. She is turning into a young lady – she’ll be eleven in December. Oh. my. goodness.

~ We’re in the process of… starting to… begin to get our house ready to sell. ~grin~ I’m very excited about moving into a bigger house in a different neighborhood, but… This was our first home. When we moved in, Natalie was 3 1/2, Noah was 2, Jonathan was 1, and Josiah wasn’t even being considered yet. It is bittersweet to think about moving.

~ We are slowly getting more involved with our new church. It’s the best choice we’ve found for our family, but I still feel a longing for something more. More community, less programs, more worship, more tradition, more authenticity, more loving God with all your mind as well as your heart. The kids are thrilled with Awana, and I’m glad they like it, but I have some reservations about making the studying and memorizing of God’s Word into a competition. And can anyone please tell me why children’s programs and obscene amounts of candy have to go together?

~ I have a bounty of riches when it comes to my to-read shelves. (And stacks.) The extra income from the freelance writing is so needed, but I don’t like feeling guilty whenever I sit down to read. Every once in a while, my stacks catch my eye, and such a feeling of longing comes over me – when will there be enough time? There are so many things I want to know, to understand, so many stories I want to dive in to. Sigh.

In the midst of all these thoughts, I want to thank you for sticking around. There haven’t been many comments lately, but I know people are still reading and visiting, and I appreciate
that more than you will know.

That’s what’s been going on with me. What’s going on with you?

A Honeymoon to Remember

May 2, 2007 Categories: Marriage , Writing | 11 Comments  

I wrote up our honeymoon story to submit to Common Ties and it wasn’t accepted, but turns out it fits May’s Write Away Contest theme over at Scribbit. So here it is:

The Oregon Coast, 1995

The date was set. The invitations were mailed, the cake and flowers ordered, the dress (almost) finished. It was time to plan the honeymoon.

Kevin wanted to stay at a large hotel with room service. My interest had been caught by a certain bed-and-breakfast on the Oregon Coast: Victorian décor, antiques, claw-footed tub, sleigh bed. It sounded perfect, and my aunt’s gift of two nights in the bridal suite sealed the deal. Kevin gave in, graciously, to his soon-to-be bride.

The wedding was perfect and we spent our wedding night in our new apartment, surrounded by unpacked boxes and birdseed that sprinkled the floor as we undressed. In the morning, we stopped at a carwash to remove the shaving cream remnants of “Just Married” and headed south.

The drive was breath taking. Even in gray, wet March, the Oregon Coast is beautiful. We talked and talked the miles away, relishing the fact that the weeks of planning were over and we were finally mister and missus.

We were met at the entrance to the B&B by a woman in a flowing purple caftan, with long fingernails and eyelids painted to match.

“Welcome, welcome! You must be the newlyweds,” she crooned in a husky, affected voice. I was reminded of the vocal coach in Singing in the Rain: “Round tones, dahling, round tones.” We were led into a gorgeous hallway, all dark wood and flowers. Our hostess checked us in, arranged for dinner reservations at a local spot famous for their prime rib, and floated down the hallway and up the stairs to escort us to our room.

The attic was converted into a bridal suite, and it was just as beautiful as my aunt had described. The sleigh bed was covered in pillows and a blue floral comforter. Directly over the bed, a skylight let in the sun. The bathroom was old-fashioned, but the claw-footed tub big enough for two made up for the lack of more modern amenities.

Left alone, we stood on the balcony gazing out over the ocean, arms entwined. Then I looked down.

Below us was an outdoor hot tub. It was occupied by an older couple in all their wrinkled, naked glory. At least we thought they were older; they could’ve just been stewing for a while. I made a little snorting sound, and Kevin’s eyes followed my gaze.

He laughed at my shock. “If they were going to provide naked people for us to look at, at least they could’ve been young and attractive!”

In spite of the waterlogged, prune-wrinkled sight, we decided to take full advantage of the luxurious sleigh-bed. We were on our honeymoon, after all.

We were in the middle of our conjugal bliss when I heard it – a low, buzzing sound. ‘Someone must be mowing the lawn,’ I thought. But the sound kept getting louder. And closer. I opened my eyes and looked up through the skylight into the eyes of a man! He was in an ultra-light hang-glider flying right over our room. I realized that since he was low enough for me to make out his features, he was also low enough to see what we were doing.

I shrieked and rolled off the bed, taking half the linens with me.

“What’s wrong?” Kevin asked, bewildered at the bizarre interruption.

I pointed and Kevin looked up in time to see the man complete his circle over our room. I began shaking with uncontrollable laughter. “Think he knows this room is a bridal suite? Gets his jollies spying on the newlyweds?”

We climbed back into bed – this time under the covers.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were comparatively uneventful. We were greeted at the restaurant with chilled champagne and flowers and candles. As we ate, we rehashed the happenings of the afternoon, knowing we had a story we’d remember for a long time.

After a romantic evening spent in the claw-footed tub, we drifted off to sleep in the comfortable bed, hoping the darkness would keep any peeping toms at bay.

We were awakened the next morning at 8:30 by a knock at our door.

“I’m coming in with breakfast, darlings!” Our hostess entered our room as we scrambled to make ourselves presentable. She was again wearing purple flowing robes, and she had tucked a huge purple flower into her bottle-blond chignon. She set up a small table near the balcony and loaded it with yogurt parfaits, omelets, sweet breads, and coffee. It was just like room service – without any warning.

Left to our meal, I commented on the wonderful food, but I could see that Kevin wasn’t impressed. He was too irritated at being awakened long before we were ready.

“This is our vacation! We should be able to sleep in as long as we want, and eat breakfast when we’re good and ready!”

I teased him out of his mood, and we finished breakfast and prepared to head out for the day, which was spent at the aquarium and Undersea Gardens and walking on the beach.

The next morning, we were prepared for our wake-up knock and dressed before our purple-gowned eccentric descended on us.

After we checked out, we left for a scenic drive north and back home.

That was twelve years ago, and we are still married. Every year, we leave our children with trusted friends and family and head off for a long weekend alone. At a nice hotel. We have never stayed at a bed-and-breakfast again. But we’ve also never come away from a get-away weekend with such an interesting story.

Links for Friday

I have so many links to share this week! Lots of good stuff on the web, and since we were on Spring Break, I actually had time to find some of it!

~Writing and Living is one of the first blogs I ever read, and one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own. Staci has a dry, slightly sarcastic sense of humor that I can completely relate to. Evidence: this post.

~Newsweek has a great article called We Protect Kids From Everything But Fear. I can’t remember where I saw it linked first, so I don’t know who to give credit to. But read it anyway – it’s good.

~If you, like most bloggers, have the Great American Novel inside you dying to get out – take heart. It’s never too late.

~Kev at The Bayer Family Blog posted this great article about why English is so difficult to learn.

~This editorial about the upcoming presidential election might get me in trouble, but I’m posting it anyway.

~Christianity Today has posted a slide show of some modern art pieces inspired by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

~Brant at Letters From Kamp Krusty is posting again, and had some great posts this week. Check out this one and this one.

~April is National Poetry Month, and Poetry.org will e-mail you a poem a day every day this month.

~Who wouldn’t want to be woken up by this?

~How well do you know the 50 states? Can you name all 50 in less than 10 minutes – no peeking allowed? Try it. Hat tip to Throwing Marshmallows. I missed two: Oklahoma and Delaware. I had the other 48 in about 4 minutes, and I spent the last 6 minutes driving myself crazy to figure out what I’d missed.

~For all you Losties out there, check out this incredible video of a Photoshop painting of John Locke.

Whew! I told you there were a lot!

Do you have wonderful plans for Easter weekend? I hope so. After dying Easter Eggs with the kidlings, I will be having a Girls’ Night with Michelle tonight. If her DVD player isn’t on the fritz, we’ll be watching Stranger Than Fiction. If it isn’t working, we’ll watch Much Ado About Nothing, which I own on VHS. Hey, I just remembered, Dr. Wilson from House is in that one!

Saturday, Kevin will be taking a trip to the dump to clean up the backyard, and I will clean up the house in preparation for Sunday. I’m thinking about renting the new Charlotte’s Web to watch with the kids Saturday night.

Sunday, Mom and Dad and Don and Michelle and their boys will be coming over after church for Easter dinner. No traditional ham for us – Kevin will be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and I’m making a huge potato salad. Dad’s bringing a yummy desert that has “mud pie” somewhere in the title. We’ll have an egg hunt after dinner for the kids. Lots of fun to be had all around!

I will be posting something more serious later on in honor of Good Friday. I hope your Resurrection weekend is a blessed one!

Twelve Years

March 31, 2007 Categories: Marriage | 13 Comments  

For part of our Bible study this year on a woman’s role in marriage, our leader has us compiling a list about our husbands. Each week when we come in, she asks us to write something about our husbands that we are grateful for – something in their character, something they have done for us, etc. Then when we are having one of those days where marriage is hard work, we can refer to the list and remember why we love these men so much.

Today, Kevin and I have been married twelve years. A dozen! And in honor of that, I’m posting my list.

~He values my work as a wife and mother.
~He is a good provider.
~He accepts me as I am.
~He has a great sense of humor.
~He thinks I’m worth it.
~He is protective of me.
~He gives me time for myself.
~He puts his family first financially.
~He likes to have fun with the kids.
~He chooses the right thing even when it’s hard.
~He likes to make me laugh.
~He is friendly to everyone.
~He doesn’t stay angry at me.
~He likes to talk.

Of course, by the end of the year, there will be many more items on this list. I think of new reasons every day to be so grateful for the man I was privileged to marry.

Happy Anniversary, honey. Here’s to dozens more!