Friday, August 9, 2013

All of the Things

There's something I need to let you in on about me. Most of you know this already, and really, if you've ever been around me for more than, oh, I don't know, five minutes you could have easily figured it out.
I'm a little competitive. And by a little, I mean Monica Gellar competitive. So, A LOT.
I really am much better than I used to be but I like to play the genetics card when I'm trying to explain it. My mother's side of the family (which consists of about 1800 people, by the way) is the most competitive group you could ever meet. My mom is at the top of that list. The woman hates to lose and I definitely got that from her.

But I don't just mean typical competitions like sports or games...

You can't open that jar? Give it.

You can't put that kid's toy together? Give it.

Having trouble untangling some cord/necklace/string of lights? Hand it over.

What's that? You don't think I can eat nine cupcakes? Watch me.


When my mom was growing up, the first year that the local little league started letting girls play hard ball she was the first in line to sign up. I really believe that the reason I grew up getting so angry at boys thinking they were better at things just because they weren't a girl is because my mom instilled that in me at a very young age. I bring this up because I also feel like it's the thing that has contributed to my deep-seated inability to accept anything simply because it's the consensus. My competitive side has produced a personality trait that almost refuses something the second everyone starts getting excited about it or agreeing on it. Any time something is popular or has any type of hype around it, I immediately want nothing to do with it. Just ask my friends how long it took me to get an iPhone.

Call it being rebellious or skeptical if you want, I just like to feel like I'm making my own decisions on what I think about things. And the more everyone is telling me how awesome something is, or how horrible it is, or how wrong or how right or how hilarious or how stupid...the more I want to disagree with them until I discover for myself that I don't.

All of this is my really long way of explaining to you how much I can't stand to hear people talk about marriage (or having children, but that's another post for another day) in a cynical way. Especially to the newly or about to be newly married. All of the stereotypical things people say about marriage can make it seem pretty bleak and seriously makes me wonder why the people who say these things are married at all.

When Bobby and I were about to get married, I had no fairy tale expectations of marriage. I knew it wasn't going to be like TV or the movies (even though we all wish it could be), but at the same time I would get really offended when I started hearing all of the "Just wait" scenarios. I know you know what I mean. And if you're having a baby, you REALLY know what I mean.
Mainly this makes me mad because I feel like your marriage is exactly what you make it. If you don't want your marriage to end up like [insert names here], as long as you put forth the effort and energy, it won't. And that's the problem. These people have accepted that marriage will inevitably make you miserable and there's nothing you can do about it. They were told this is what happens after so many years and then...they believed it. And the cycle continues.

This all brings me to my next point which is what I originally wanted to write about today. I know you're thinking, "Seriously?? You've been rambling on forever and you're just now getting to the point??" Well, my critical friend, the reason I rambled on about being competitive and hating ideas that seem to be widely accepted is because before I get to my point I really wanted you to understand how much I love being married and how this next part is in no way indicative of my being cynical or negative toward marriage. I truly believe that marriage is the ultimate team sport and well worth the effort.

BUT.

Where there is one extreme that says the day you get married is the day your life is over, I believe there is also another extreme. This side says if your marriage doesn't look like it walked off of 50's television then there's something wrong with it. In the church especially, we have created an entire industry around telling people how to have happy marriages. Books, conferences, classes, podcasts, DVDs...you name it, we have it in regards to marriage and what a godly one should look like. The internet has only intensified the call to make your marriage better. I can't tell you how many pins I come across on Pinterest that are all about things to improve your marriage. I'm not saying this is wrong at all, I think it can be very helpful and even contribute to saving marriages.

I have, however, noticed a bit of a ripple effect. I feel like there's a mentality being created that says if we dare admit the shortcomings in our marriages, then we will be criticized for our perceived lack of commitment to our spouse. If we dare talk about how we don't always sit down and have calm, thoughtful discussions as opposed to arguments...if we have the gall to mention that we haven't had a date night in longer than we can remember...if, by some mental slip, we happen to blurt out that the romance isn't at the level it was when we were dating...well, get ready for the look. Disapproving pity mixed with self-assurance is how I tend to think of it. I don't know about you, but I don't want to feel like I can't be honest and real. I'm not talking about angrily venting your frustrations with your spouse on Facebook either. But I don't feel like we're doing the ones coming up behind us any favors by pretending like it isn't work. 

I will never forget talking to one of my best friends almost a year after she got married. I remember so vividly her saying, "I'm mad at all of my married friends. No one told me it was this hard. Why didn't anyone tell me how much work marriage is?"

So here I am, as a woman totally in love with her husband, without cynicism, yet with total honesty, telling you, young, not-yet or newly married person...

MARRIAGE IS HARD.

If you want it to last forever, anyway, it is hard.

It is NOT ALWAYS hard, lots of times it's down right fun, but it has its fair share of rough patches. It takes extreme self-sacrifice, pride-swallowing, and tongue-biting. It takes more introspection and self-examination than just about anything else you will experience in life. It takes effort. Like I said, this is all if you want it to last...if not then apathy is the quickest way to head for a downward spiral.

Life DOES get in the way sometimes and occasionally it will feel like it's too much work. Your preconceived ideas of what a good marriage is will tell you that if you really loved each other then it wouldn't be so difficult. But can I please tell you that's a lie? It's a lie that has woven its way into our society through the entertainment industry and feels like truth...but it's a lie. Just look at the divorce rate in this country if you want proof. The truth is that anything that's worth something takes work. Sure, every once in a blue moon two people find each other and they go through their whole marriage with almost zero conflict, but just because yours doesn't look that way doesn't mean it's not meant to be.

For example, Bobby and I are both pretty strong personalities, it's who we are. Does it mean we have more things to work out within ourselves to resolve conflict than two people who are more mild-mannered? Yes. Does it mean we don't have a love story to match anything Hollywood could come up with? I don't think so. I love our story and I love that it isn't perfect. I love that it involves bickering and chores and diaper changing and bills that have to be paid.  I love that we've experienced tragedy together and are currently clawing our way out of it, stronger than ever. I love that as much as he can make me angrier than any other person in my life, he can just as easily make me weak in the knees with an unexpected kiss.

And that's all I'm trying to say here. It's ALL of the things that make a marriage good, not just the obviously good things. Because the good things are fun and we need them for the joy and laughter and memories to tell our grandkids...they're the life force that help us hang in there, that remind us of the love that started this crazy mess to begin with. But the bad things make us stronger and prove we can make it. The difficult times make it real.

So don't call your husband out on social media, but don't feel like you have to be the model couple to be relevant. We're all just imperfect people in love with other imperfect people, trying to become a little less imperfect. Marriage can be work, but it is the most worthy of investments.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crappy Friday...Not So Crappy Weekend

Friday was pretty much one for the record books. If this particular record book is one that documents days that produce the highest amounts of hellishness, that is.
The five year old didn't sleep. At all. From 1:30 a.m. on, anyway. When it was time to get him ready for school, I discovered he was running a low grade fever. A few hours later I am attacked by what can only be described as invisible gut-squishing hands. There really aren't words to describe how painful it was. Well, there are...but they're more graphic than I'm comfortable with using at the moment. So while he and I are laid up in my bed looking and feeling like death, the chipper three year old is running around the house like he just won the lottery, ate ten pounds of sugar, and did some crack. He is basically ransacking the house and I'm letting him because, well, death.

Then I had to do the bills, y'all.
And Joshua peed in my bed right before I got in it.
Like I said, hellishness.

Saturday was better. Joshua still hadn't recovered, but then I remembered that sometimes with the CEASE therapy they can develop a fever. So I got some Ferrum Phos. in him (Homeopathy FTW!) and stuck him in an Epsom salt bath and within an hour or so the fever was finally gone. Now it's Sunday and he is eating and acting more like his regular self, which I love. That boy has the sweetest smile, so seeing him sickly and sad is pretty heart breaking, even if it is something minor.

This weekend overall was pretty laid back. I mean, once I got passed the whole thinking I was dying part of Friday. We kept the boys occupied and alive and just hung around the house. I had a month or so where I was busy and gone a lot so it has been awesome to just be at home with all of my boys. Plus, Bobby smoked some chicken for me today and good food always makes everything seem better.

One of Joshua's therapists had some really encouraging words for me last week so I am going into this week with extra faith and expectation. Buddy is coming to visit, and next weekend the Man and I are getting our first date night in a very long time. Lots to look forward to in the next few days! Beginning with coffee in the morning!

I'm not the only one who gets excited about that, right?


"But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:21-23 AMP

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Turning Almost Thirty

Birthdays are interesting. Even in childhood they can be bittersweet. Mine is in July, so as a kid I never got to have the classroom party with everyone at school. My zodiac sign is Cancer which means literally nothing to me except that it introduced me to paranoia at an early age because I thought it meant I would get cancer as an adult. Other than those things, though, birthdays as a kid are pretty awesome. Lots of sugar, presents, and friends. As an adult it's sort of different. There is typically a lot less fanfare and slightly less sugar. 

I don't freak out about getting older because I usually already feel about 15 years older in my mind and body than I am. And because Bobby is ten years older than me, so I can always look at him and think, "Well, I'm not THAT old." But 29 has a strange feel to it. I've decided it's not even an age, it's simply "Almost thirty." Almost thirty and nearly an adult. I look at people under 25 and call them 'kids' now. Teenagers are babies. Anything below that is practically an infant.

Of course, to be fair to Almost Thirty, I might not feel the same way if I was still single. If it weren't for marriage, and children, and autism, I'm sure I would view this birthday differently. I might be panicking about how old I'm getting because my perception of life would probably be very different than it is now. There are certain things that speed up the aging process--mentally, emotionally, and physically...and there is just no avoiding it. 

I don't view this as a bad thing.

I've been married for the majority of my twenties so my experience with that decade is not exactly typical. It's probably the reason I'm not so attached to them. I think it's common for people who get married young to eventually resent the loss of what our society considers your time to be free and experience the world. The truth for me is the complete opposite of that. Marriage has taught me so much about life and relationships...how you react to people and situations, what battles are worth fighting, and what battles shouldn't even be battles. What real intimacy is, what real compromise is...just how much feeling like you're part of a team makes a difference. And I completely understand now how so many marriages in this country end in divorce. If you aren't teachable, if you can't let down your pride, if you view your own needs/wants as more important than your spouse's...it just isn't going to work. 

I'm not saying you can't learn similar lessons to these if you aren't married. I'm just saying that for me, I could never look back on the last (nearly) seven years and wish I was still single and "free", or even that I had waited longer to get married. 

I'm completely fine with Bobby being the defining moment of my twenties and I can't imagine stepping into my thirties without him.

And if marriage is about sacrifice, having children is about sacrifice on top of sacrifice, drizzled with sacrifice dressing, rolled up in a sacrifice wrap. (Sorry, it's lunch time.) But there is no greater reward, no bigger blessing, no better life coach than parenthood. My boys have softened me and very simply made me a better person.

Nothing prepares you for becoming a mom; there is no book, no amount of information or anecdotes that is going to make you feel completely capable the first time that baby is placed in your arms. But in my mind, there is no circumstance life can throw me where I don't feel like motherhood has prepared me to take it on. If I can be a semi-successful mom (by the sheer grace of Jesus only), then I feel like I can handle pretty much anything else.

*Autism hears this and bulldozes its way through*

I've talked before about how I refuse to celebrate autism in the terrifying way this country is trying to make me. Autism is NOT a blessing in disguise, it is NOT how God made Joshua different and special, it IS an intruder that is holding my little boy hostage, period. 

But...

I have figured out a little something about embracing the journey and gleaning what you can from it, no matter how horrible it is. I'm going to allow my faith to be proven and let patience have its perfect work. I'm going to exhibit persistence in faith. I am going to fight the good fight and finish the race. Because if there is one thing autism has awakened in me, it's the will to fight until the end, no matter what anyone around you says or thinks. These will not be wasted years spiritually, and what the enemy has stolen will be repaid with interest.

My twenties have been full of ups, downs, and everything in between and I have one more year to add to them. I am so grateful for this life I have been blessed with and I can't wait to watch the rest unfold. 

Here's to taking it all in and making it count.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Evangelist to Unreached Peoples


I've posted some of Brad and Jennifer's newsletters before and after reading this one, I had to share it as well. I am so blessed to know these people and so grateful to the Lord for His favor and grace over them as they continue to do His work. Please read about this precious family and add them to your prayer lists.

Oh. And baby number seven turned out to be a girl, after all :)



http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=156a856758d84f32e315ab4e3&id=60c4cec03a&e=de9c29f9b6

Friday, June 28, 2013

Let's Play Catch Up...

Blog? What's that?

I have a problem with letting things get away from me. And the longer I let it go, the harder it is to pick it back up. Currently it's this blog and the gym. The latter I'm not so sad about letting go, because well, it's the gym. This blog, however, is a pretty important outlet for me emotionally and I somehow seem to forget that.

Since I last wrote a lot of things have been going on. We started a new therapy with Joshua called CEASE and have already started seeing some results. He is becoming more and more verbal...new sounds and a few words here and there. He is almost fully potty-trained. He is basically amazing and I'm so proud of him. I know we are close to a breakthrough and I am so ready.

Caleb turned three. He is probably the only child ever whose parents feel like he should be older than he is. When his birthdays come around, they feel late. Like he turned three six months ago. I haven't figured out what that means yet. I have figured out that he is the funniest three year old there ever was. Must be genetics.

I've mentioned Jodi over at Life and Oh-La-Dee-Dah a couple of times, but I've never told the whole story. Jodi and I were introduced via Facebook by a mutual friend (a million thanks to the one and only, Promise Lyn) just over two years ago. We are two months apart in age, we both married the same year, we both have two boys, and both of our oldest boys (also two months apart) are diagnosed with autism. Both are also considered non-verbal, or pre-verbal, as I prefer. Neither of us are graced with great social skills which is why I think it is sort of a miracle that we met the way we did. Meeting through a computer screen is much less stressful than meeting in person and you don't necessarily have to commit right away. I also feel like there is less of a chance of giving someone a bad first impression. So we embarked on the getting-to-know-you journey with less anxiety and therefore opened up pretty quickly. At any point one of us could have decided to simply not respond, but thankfully neither of us did. The Facebook messages became more frequent, then they turned into text messages every few days, which turned into text messages almost every day in some form. Sometimes we just shared laughs and the lighter side of life, others we vented about the really tough days, and still others we rejoiced together over our boys' victories. We discovered we were almost the same person in many ways, and I felt like my prayers for someone who understood what I was going through had been answered. I have amazing close friends and family who are the highest level of supportive, but there is a different type of understanding that comes with walking the same path. Sure, we were across the country from each other, but our day-to-day life experiences were drawing us together like old friends. Oh, wait...did I forget to mention the thing about being thousands of miles away?

I'm in Texas, she's in California. Which is why for two years we never met face to face. Until, finally, last week I managed to make it out to the west coast. The trip there was a much better experience than the trip home, but that's a different story for a different day. In a way I feel like our friendship flowed effortlessly into "real life"; she was exactly who I knew and expected her to be. No weird surprises to speak of. Except that she's much shorter than I thought, but that's not really her fault. She can have a pass on that one.

But in another way I feel like texting every day for five years couldn't have prepared me for what I discovered on this trip. This girl is going to be in my life for a very long time. If you've lived for a while then you know how hard it is to find friends who aren't just for a season, but for life. Even in this day and age it's still difficult for me to believe I could meet someone on the internet of all places and have that type of connection with them. But God is really great about doing things outside of our box to see if we will get on board. And I could not be more grateful that we both got on board for this. Apparently, not everyone online is a psycho with bags of hair in their closet (Fifty points for naming that movie reference).

Thanks, Jodi, for not ignoring this chance for friendship and for being such an awesome hostess when I came to visit. I mean, except for that bit where you waited until I left to break out the Oreos, but I can overlook that I guess. Seriously, I can't imagine how lonely this contending for my faith process would be if I didn't have you right beside me, reminding me not to settle. One of these days, our boys will be whole and healed and we'll have a book to write.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Never Too Late


I know this is a cheap way to get in a blog post but I had to put this here. It is my biggest mental hurdle when it comes to this journey called recovery.




http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/window-never-closes/

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Grass Story

This post is late because I meant to post it for Bobby's birthday. He turned thirty-old and I thought instead of posting some mushy gushy stuff about how much I love him and can't believe I got him and blah blah blah (y'all know all that by now anyway), that I would post one of his favorite stories to tell about me. He thinks it's hilarious and for some reason thinks he needs to share it with everyone. Plus, I start feeling like my blog is too serious all of the time and if you know me as a person you know that in real life I am actually pretty obsessed with laughing and humor in general. Some of you know this story already so you can just like, go read another blog or something. Try jodiink.com because she's awesome.

Now for the infamous grass story:

When we moved into this house the backyard had some issues with the grass. You could see toward the back by the fence where they had simply quit laying sod and portions of the yard were a completely different type of grass like they had spread seed and laid squares in random spots. So being the perfectionist that Bobby is, he set about getting some sod to fill out the yard. If you are unfamiliar with how sod looks it is basically little squares of already grown grass stacked in a big square on a pallet.
Like this:

kingsodinc.com



We ordered two pallets from a familiar landscaping company and were told that they would be dropping the grass off on one day and laying it another day. This part of the story is kinda fuzzy in my mommy-memory because I definitely remember attempting to help Bobby lay squares of grass in the back yard so I think we must have eventually got more and did the work ourselves. But I digress. At some point I pulled up to the house after picking Joshua up one afternoon and discovered our grass pallets had been delivered.  Now this is where the explanation for my later behavior comes into play.  To (sort of) illustrate I have drawn a sketch of our front yard to reenact what was perpetrated.  Yes, it's in crayon.
  
First of all, ignore the third tree because after I drew this I walked past the front door and realized that we actually only have two. Secondly, I would like you to examine this fine drawing and assess in your mind where you might place two pallets of grass if you were a real life landscaper. 

I have now altered the drawing to show you where this grass was actually left.

The gentle, pink question marks represent the many areas of our yard that would have been acceptable options. The aggressive, red, treasure map style "X"'s are where it was actually left (it wasn't like finding treasure at all though). If you can't tell it is on the curb where someone might leave, Oh, I don't know, trash.

I immediately called Bobby to explain to him what happened...that these grass people had left our product out on the curb like it was there for the taking. It was supposed to rain that night, what if it fell into the street?  What if some unruly neighborhood youths walked by and knocked it over because they thought it was weird and uncool that someone had two piles of grass randomly sitting on the curb? What if a distracted, texting driver veered onto the sidewalk and ran it over? And most likely of all...What if someone came by and stole it because it looked like we didn't want it? I mean, after all, it was on the side of the road!  (In hindsight I can look back and see all of these questions may have been an overreaction, but the whole thing did seem like a total lack of common sense.  I mean, in my defense.) 

Much to my surprise Bobby was not at all bothered by this like I was.  I expected him to agree and call the guys who delivered it and tell them they needed to move it.  Instead he assured me that it was fine, no one was going to steal our grass, and not to worry about it.

The next morning I get up to take Joshua to school and as I walk out to the car what do I see?  Not two pallets of grass where they were left on the side of the road, but only one and a half pallets of grass.  That's right!  Someone had actually stolen half of one of our pallets!

I told that man this would happen but he didn't listen and now what?  We weren't paying for it.  After all, they never should have left it there to begin with!  So, as I pulled away from the house I called Bobby and told him what I saw, which seemed to confuse him since he had been so sure no one would want to take our grass the night before.  He said he would call them and let me know what they said.  I dropped Joshua off, headed home, and as I pulled back into the driveway...y'all aren't going to believe this...the rest of the pallet that had been stolen from was now completely gone.  I'm not even joking.  Bobby had never called me back to tell me what the landscapers had told him so at this point I was livid.  Not only had I warned him this would happen if the grass was left on the curb, but now that it was being taken from our house right in broad daylight, he wasn't even concerned enough about it to follow through on a phone call.  I called him back and the conversation that followed went something like this:

Bobby:  Hello?
Me:  The rest of that pallet is gone!  
Bobby:  What?!
Me:  I told you this was going to happen!
Bobby:  Sarah, why are you letting them steal our grass?!
Me: (confused)  What?!?  What do you mean why am I letting them steal it?  
Bobby:  Sarah, you cannot let them come and take any more of that grass!!
Me:  (pissed)  Bobby, it's not my fault you thought it would be fine on the curb.  How am I going to stop anyone from taking anything?
Bobby:  Sarah, go get my gun and stand out in the yard and guard those pallets!  If someone comes up you do not let them take any more grass!!  
(laughter)
Me:  Well, I'm glad you think this is funny.  We are not paying for this.  It's their fault.  I TOLD YOU...
(more laughter...from more than one person)
Pause...
Me:  What is going on?  
Bobby:  (laughing hysterically)  Baby, the landscapers are the ones coming by and taking the grass.  They needed more for a job around the corner so they just came and got some of ours.  No one is stealing our grass.

And that's also when I realized he had me on speakerphone for all of the guys in his office to hear.  To this day whenever I am at a work function of his this story comes up.  Honestly though, when the grass was disappearing what other explanation could I have come up with?  I'm not a landscaper for goodness' sake, I don't know their policies for all of the willy-nilly comings and goings of their grass pallets.  It's not like they left a note or anything.

"Hey, don't trip out.  We'll bring back the rest later.  Sincerely, Local Landscapers"

I'm just saying a note would have been nice.  They owed me after dropping it off on the curb like we don't live in a neighborhood with an H.O.A.  

The moral of the story?  If you love your husband, you let him laugh at your crazy-person behavior and eventually learn to laugh at it with him.  

Happy (late) Birthday, Baby :)  XOXO