Marital Madness

By all accounts we shouldn’t have made it.

He was divorced.  I was 20, freaking 20.  I had baggage and a toddler.  He was a Virginian (no, not virgin, lol) who didn’t know the correct term for a sweet carbonated beverage.  It’s POP, people.  We got married in a little court house ceremony in just under two months of meeting.

Yeah, it’s kind of nuts.

But ten and a half years later we are still here. 22780297_10159486090470427_6193062110503901663_n

This morning as I was drinking my motor oil-esque coffee I read a slide show about celebs speaking out about divorce.  Aside from the glitz, money and fame they are people too.  Common themes emerged- comparing divorce to a death and also this sense that they found marriage didn’t meet their needs like they had anticipated.

I’m not trying to be callous here.  Of course we all get married with the hope of getting some very real needs met.  But along the way the trials of life will bring out the best and (more likely) the worst in people.  Being inherently selfish creatures, when we get hurt we tend to go into self-protection mode. kategorisiz3-1 Over time, if forgiveness isn’t happening, we harden our hearts and start to see our s.o. as the source of the problems in our life.  At a certain point we think it’d be best to cut our losses and move on and be happier.

But still, divorce is like a death.


I believe it all goes back to the fact that we are created in the image of God.  God is a covenant-making God.  He is a covenant-keeping God.  He designed marriage (yes, it was HIS idea) to be a reflection of this covenant he made to his people.

He could have washed us all away in the flood and scrapped the whole mess.

He could have viewed Adam and Eve as failed prototypes and scrapped the “human experiment”.

He could have looked away and left us to fend for ourselves as we thumbed our collective noses at him.

But he didn’t.

See, a covenant is more than a contract.  It’s a promise.

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”

2 Timothy 2:13

Since we are created by a God and for a God that completely embodies true love we yearn for this love all our lives.  We yearn for a covenant keeping love that will never abandon us, even when we are less than lovable.

No human being could possibly meet or fulfill that deep soul need for that kind of love at the level that we need.

So many expectations are dashed, many marriages end… as we are all on this quest, whether we realize it or not.

The 5th Chapter in Ephesians addresses how spouses are supposed to love and serve one another because marriage is really an illustration (or is supposed to be!) of the covenant between Christ and his Church.  That’s why marriage is so very important.  A marriage is more then a contract, it’s a covenant.

I know my husband’s weaknesses and frailties and shortcomings.  But you’ll never hear me badmouthing him when my girlfriends start in on their husbands.  I feel pretty confident in saying we will never get divorced.  If things happen, we’ll work through it.  Just like we always have.  Divorce is not an option.

Because while of course marriage is for companionship, laughter, joy, intimacy and baby-making, memories…all wonderful things, but it is also for representing a working model of grace and forgiveness.  Your spouse is, in essence, a fellow fallen human being that needs a savior just as much as you do.  They aren’t always going to meet your needs.  Sometimes you’re going to get irritated and have to grit your teeth to keep from saying mean things.  Sometimes you’ll roll your eyes.  Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re giving more than getting.  Sometimes you may not talk for two days.

There are no magic formulas or guarantees but I’ve found that seeking Christ together has led to a strong and healthy marriage.  It’s enabled both of us to extend grace and forgiveness as needed.  Very practically, it’s been a source of joy and strength.

Every night, he reaches his hand for mine under the covers.  We pray together.  We are two humans that are far from perfect (certainly, no glitz or glam here, people) but we are on this journey together.  Having been joined together in a beautiful model of the eternal covenant God made to us.  That supercedes whatever might come against us.

Marriages aren’t supposed to end.  Love is supposed to endure.  And that is why divorce is always a sad thing and likened to a death…even if it’s dressed up in fondant and a trip to Vegas.

Regardless of your marital status you can have this great love that your heart longs for.  If you are single, you can prepare yourself to be a better future spouse.  If your marriage is struggling, it can get better as you consistently get your needs met, your “bucket” filled, and are able to love your spouse supernaturally.

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”  Song of Solomon 8:6

That love is only found in the covenant making God and his son, Jesus Christ.





A Quiet Sort of Romance

I quit my job at Starbucks so I could be home full time.  Gabe is still struggling daily with TSW.  Half the time we have to carry him around.  There is loads of laundry to be washed daily.  Lots of skin to be vacuumed.  And of course he just needs a lot of care and attention.

We are 2 months in to this journey and it has been a huge drain on us- in every way.  My husband said at one point, “we are just going to have to give each other extra grace right now.”  As sleep deprivation piled up and emotions ran high we have gotten in to petty arguments and snapped at each other…. but more than that we have loved and supported each other through this.

Our 10 year anniversary is this Friday and it will likely pass without much fanfare.  We wanted to go on a trip together and I was hoping for some anniversary “bling”…. but that was back before TSW took over our lives.

That’s mostly ok with us.  We’ve never really done things conventionally anyways.

The real gift is ten years of happy marriage to the man I love.  You get married hoping that that person will love you and stand with you through the good and tough times.  You get married so that you have a partner in life, that you never have to face the difficult things alone.  You get married hoping to create a family and a lifetime of memories.

I’ve found that in my marriage and that is enough.  A quiet sort of romance.  An enduring love.  Ten years in and I still enjoy his company.  He’s still amused at my antics.  I still don’t want to let go when we hug.

Our first Easter as a Family, 9 years ago

When I met Tim I was 20 and a single mom to a toddler.  I had been dating without much luck.  When I met Tim, I knew from the first date, that he was “the one”.

The INFJ in me loved his humility and lack of pretense.  That first date I saw the true him.  He was authentic, honest and kind.  He is truly honest to a fault.  He is just a good person.  He didn’t hesitate to take on a step son.  When we went through a difficult custody battle two years into our marriage he sold his beloved truck (that he had just finished paying off!) so we could hire a good lawyer.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” James 1:17

I know Tim is just that to me; a good and perfect gift.  17951693_10158638684060074_7487367056105280349_n

Honey, I love you and I am so blessed to be your wife.  Through good times and bad, there isn’t anyone else I would have by my side.

I know things will get better but until then, I am just happy to have you by my side.

I love you so.


There is this middle-aged couple I really like that I talk to at work.  They first visited Caribou and now I see them frequently at Starbucks.  The are so cute together.  He brings her lunch and eats with her on her break.  I saw her leaving (she also works at Target) with a bouquet.  I asked how long they’ve been together (you know, expecting something like ’25 years!’) she said less than two.

That isn’t the first time I’ve asked (yes, I’m nosey, ok?!) a lovey-dovey, middle-aged couple how long they’ve been together, hoping that they are still that in love after decades- and been disappointed.  No, there isn’t anything wrong with a 2nd chance at love.  I’m happy for those couples, I am.  But we all know there is something so special about a couple that has been faithful over the course of decades and is still deeply in love.

I remember praying and seeking a couple years ago and the one word I got from God, over and over again, was just to be faithful.  I wanted a ministry.  I wanted to kick down some demonic doors.  I wanted the miraculous.

God wants all that too.  But do you know what is more important than zeal?  Perseverance.  What is more important that extraordinary miracles?  The every day miracle of being steadfast and faithful- not only to God but to the people he has called us to love.  The hearts that have been entrusted to our care.

I think God cares far more about the way we love the people close to us, than anything big and extravagant we could do for him on the public stage.

In a world where the divorce rate is 40-50%, we are called to be faithful.  When 1/3 of children are being raised by a single mother, God wants us to invest in our families.

God wants us to do big things.  But not to the neglect of the little things.  Our most important ministry is to our own family.

In a world where divorce is almost celebrated and affairs are glorified in secular entertainment- let’s stand out as the exception.  Let’s be steadfastly faithful.

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The Good Fight

Conflicts happen in relationship, it is just a fact.  Two people, two personalities, two sets of opinions, two sets of ‘buttons’ (!!!)… conflict is inevitable.  And if you say you never fight, well that isn’t necessarily healthy either.  Problems/conflicts arise and need to be dealt with, specifically in the most important relationship; between husband and wife.  iStock_000011553872Small

It helps to understand your personality style and what makes you tick.  Sounds silly, but what is your place in the birth order in your family of origin?  Oldest children tend to be independent, A-type personality, directive (read: bossy).  Middle children tend to be the easy going, peacekeeper type.  Youngest children are often affectionate and charming but self-centered.  Only children are mature, calm, but may have trouble relating to others.  This is not set in stone!  But really, usually most people do tend to take on traits based on their birth order.

My husband and I are both middle children so we both tend to be more easy going and avoid conflict.  Fights still happen though, because of course, we are human.

And then; what makes you tick?  For most couple- it is finances.  For us, it is definitely stress from our kids.  It helps immensely to identify the source of strife and get on the same page.  Get on a budget with your spouse.  Or take time to decompress after a stressful time (like putting the kids to bed!) so you don’t take your stress out on your spouse.

Don’t let anger get the better of you in the heat of the moment.  Have certain boundaries that you will not cross, no matter what.  Such as- absolutely NO name calling.  No bashing.  No re-hashing past failures.  No “you always or you never” statements.  No screaming.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1  That goes for men too.  Love builds up, it never tears down.  You only lose ground when you throw mud.  Attack the problem, not your spouse.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1  It doesn’t have to escalate.  Keep your tone gentle and respectful.  If the other person feels like you are actually listening and valuing what they say, any anger will quickly dissipate.  Men need to feel respected, women need to feel loved.  If I get ‘snappy’ with my husband and will quickly swallow my pride and apologize.  Same if he is harsh towards me.  It happens.  Life can be stressful and overwhelming.  But if you swallow your pride and make things right there is so much reward in that.  A marriage built on humility and love is going to be wonderful and fulfilling.

Ideally the objective of a fight is coming to an understanding, an agreement, resolving an issue; then being stronger and more unified than before.  A good fight should be constructive.  A bad fight is destructive.

And for goodness sakes don’t let it get nasty in front of your kids.  They don’t need to see that.  It is so incredibly damaging.  It is totally fine and even helpful for them to see you acting like mature adults and handling a disagreement calmly and rationally.  They learn how to act from watching you.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8  Love makes it work and makes life worth living.  Love covers, not exposes.

I know this verse is very well known, but it is completely and radically life changing when applied in the context of marriage…. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres….LOVE-love-36983825-1680-1050 Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

Talking Codependencey

I’ll start with some backstory ya’ll. (I’m a Minnesotan but ya’ll is really catchy, dontcha think?)

I first became aware of codependency through my sister who was really involved with a 12 step program.  She told me I might want to look into it.  I did and was basically shocked that it was painfully descriptive of me.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and how I can practically grow to become a healthier person. unwrapping-codependency_newlife

I grew up with loving parents but there were major issues too.  Generational alcoholism wreaked major havoc.  There was periods of major dysfunction.  Hurtful things were said and done.  It was tough.  Basically if you grow up in a family with chemical dependency issues, mental health problems, abuse, etc. you WILL have codependent traits to some extent.

In my case I see it rearing it’s head in many ways.  It is sheer agony to say ‘no’.  We’re talking wracked with guilt and self-doubt and then feeling like I am letting someone down.  I get borderline panic attacks when I need to confront someone.  Example: years ago my then little boy was playing at McDonalds.  A far larger boy was acting like a bully, just wailing on kids for no reason.  His mom sat nearby, completely ignoring the situation.  I had to confront this kid.  I was literally sweating and shaky when I told him to cut it out.

You see, if early on, normal confrontations were met with explosive anger it ‘conditions’ you to avoid confrontation because it feels terrifying and unsafe.

So it might affect someone with codependency in that you cannot/will not address a major issue in a relationship.  You’ll either ignore it to the detriment of the relationship of just let that relationship go.  Because confrontation could mean an angry outburst, rejection, retribution… and you want to avoid that at all costs because it is so painful.

Codependents are also pretty notorious for taking on someone else’s problems while neglecting their own.  Case in point- spending hours on the phone with someone trying to help them with their drama.  And then loosing sleep over it and feeling hurt when they don’t take your heartfelt advice (and then want to cry on your shoulder about their same ole drama next month and on and on…).

This situation gets even trickier when you are trying to make a relationship work with someone with their own issues.  Someone who won’t accept your setting healthy boundaries.  Someone that is quick to get hurtful and vindictive if you aren’t bending over backwards for them.

Talk about navigating murky waters!  I personally had to all but cut a family member out of my life because that person would not respect or accept my setting up some boundaries.  It was tough but ultimately I realized that my feelings and time were important too.

Sometimes you just don’t have any idea how problematic this behavior is until you see healthy behavior.  My husband is just a very normal and stable person.  Like: textbook normal.  Like: 0% crazy.  Yes, normal does exist and I am married to him.  He cares about people but he doesn’t ‘own’ their drama.  People come at him with drama and he’ll shrug and say, “they’ll get over it.”  He doesn’t lose any sleep or act nutty.  He can be assertive without being a jerk about it.

The ‘biggie’ here is learning boundaries.  What they look like (some people honestly just don’t know) and how to enforce them.  People with codependency issues are at a huge risk of ending up in abusive (mentally and/or physically) relationships.  You can see how it can create major problems if you don’t value yourself enough to demand being treated right, or just don’t know how.

We need basic, healthy boundaries to navigate life.  Sadly, there are people out there that will try to use and abuse and we need to be able to stand up for ourselves.  From dealing with aggressive sales people to full-on abusive, manipulative relationships.  We need to be strong to deal with people who would bully us and try to bulldoze through those boundaries.

If we go along with something out of a sense of guilt or obligation we are not being authentic to ourselves.  Not only that, but resentment simmers and grows.  When an simple and polite ‘no’ would have saved us from so much turmoil.

It used to be just thought of as a product of being in relationship with an alcoholic.  Now it is recognized that a lot of these wounds originate in childhood trauma and then get played out in adulthood.  People with issues attract other people with issues.  If not dealt with, they raise kids with issues.

Childhood trauma actually physically changes your brain.  Just like a broken arm- if it isn’t properly treated and healed it never heals right.  The pain and dysfunction remain.  People can be crippled in their emotions just as much (if not more!) than they can be in their physical body.

Change is so hard.  Healing is painful.  But what is the alternative?  My motivation is my kids.  I don’t want to keep perpetuating dysfunction.  And man if you have issues, kids will bring them out!  It is the ultimate stress test of mental and emotional health.

And to the final issue- really the major driver behind all codependent behavior- shame.  Shame is feeling like there is something fundamentally wrong with you.  That who you are isn’t acceptable, let alone loveable.  It drives eating disorders, abuse (on both ends), substance abuse, suicide, and on and on.  Self-rejection is the most painful and crippling and difficult to overcome.  If you can’t love yourself your heart is too crippled to fully love anyone else or experience love.

This is the core issue.  If the belief in your own lack of worth is planted somehow early on in life, it really takes a lifetime to overcome.

I really don’t believe there is enough love and acceptance in this world to heal a wounded soul.  It takes divine love.

I’m still very much on my journey.  I would still describe myself as someone who regularly struggles with depression, low self-esteem; all that fun stuff 😉 But I have hope.  I know healing is a journey.  I know when I get my own issues sorted out, I want, more than anything; to help other people.  Isn’t that really the point of it all anyways? a4d70636041d97f9d61addd98c86f4e4_500

Beth Moore said in one of her books, “I think most people would choose a meaningful life with pain over an easy one.”

I believe that with all my heart- that you can see meaning and beauty resulting from even the ugliest and most painful struggles.

Rant of the Day

I saw something on social media that made me angry and sad for womankind, a snapshot encapsulating so much of what is wrong with society today.  A man had taken a picture of a woman (sleeping) next to him that had started her period.  “That sh*t is gross!”  And had the gall to upload it to social media.  Un-freakin-believable.  The disrespect and sense of entitlement involved is what is disgusting.

Woman- we have so much more to lose than men when sex becomes casual and recreational.  No strings attached!  Um, no.  Is that woman feeling liberated right about now?  Is she happy with how that situation ended up?  I think not.

There is no such thing as casual sex.  Birth control fails, often.  And who has to go (usually alone) to the abortion ‘doctor’?  The woman.  Or who gets stuck raising a child with a ‘father’ who’s main concern is dodging child support payments? the woman.  Who gets labeled as a slut for same behavior that is seen as an accomplishment for a man?  You guessed it.

God designed his plan for sex and marriage to protect women.  God’s plan is for a woman to find a good man that is going to marry her, stay committed, treat her well, help her raise the kids, and of course treat her with respect, love and dignity.

The sexual revolution has robbed women of so much.  I believe what most women want is that kind of love that lasts a lifetime.  But what they are settling for is so much less. 

Women- your value is so high that a man should marry you before he gets to enjoy that most intimate act with you.  Casual sex cheapens it and turns it from an act of love and trust to a dangerous recreational pastime that looses all it’s specialness.

In the United States there were 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections in 2010. (source-Wikipedia)  And because of the anatomy of sex women are more vulnerable to contracting infections that men.

So birth control isn’t a surefire way to prevent S.T.D.’s or pregnancy… even with condoms available in virtually every drug or convenience store, 1 in 3 women have had an abortion.

So you play the game (everyone else is doing it, especially the sexy&cool actors on t.v.!) and end up with infections, unplanned pregnancies, a broken heart, and possibly even publicly humiliated.  Liberated?  No thanks.

Look at Kanye West and Amber Rose.  He publicly stated, “I had to take like 30 showers” after breaking up with her.  Really?  How is that ok?  It goes to show, again, that the so called liberating of women has in reality stripped them of honor and dignity (along with their clothes!).

Women- we have a valid need for the love of a man.  And God has provided a way for that need to be met in the most healthy (physically, emotionally, spiritually) way in marriage.

This is not helping the cause!

Hold out.  Don’t settle.  Culture has been lying to us and it is time we started fighting back.  Don’t waste your time on a guy that isn’t interested in commitment.  Have high standards.  I believe when women start valuing themselves highly and setting the bar high, men will respond.

God’s design for womanhood-

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25

Affair-Proofing a Marriage

My husband and I were talking about the latest christian sex scandal *sigh* again Josh Duggar is the news.  If you haven’t heard, a (gag me) popular site that links up people seeking other cheaters; Ashley Madison, had a huge data breach.  Tons of private info was leaked online.  Josh Duggar was one of literal millions seeking affairs.

It’s a very public display of moral failure.  Especially since Josh had been espousing family values with the Family Research Council.  The biggest failure isn’t to his public image, the Duggar brand, his career- it is to his wife, Anna, who is now dealing with the pain of betrayal and the humiliation on a national stage.

Tim and I prayed for them.  We don’t judge Josh because while what he did was incredibly wrong- we all have that potential inside of us.

I think there were two things that ‘allowed’ this to happen.  First- Josh has been in the public eye since his teen years and has probably felt pressure to keep up a good christian front for the sake of his family.  So when he started dealing with pornography addiction he kept it quiet instead of seeking help before it turned into adultery.  I also think that Satan targeted this family in a big way because they have such a huge platform for their Christianity.  In Josh’s own words, he had allowed the enemy to build a fortress of immorality in his mind.

We need to be willing to ask for help even at the sake of our ‘image’.  So often a moral failure seems to come ‘out of nowhere’.  In reality, Satan has been chipping away at that person’s defenses for years under the cover of their ‘good christian’ front and it was a carefully orchestrated fall.

The Bible says that our enemy is cunning and that he sets snares and pits in our path.

The best way to avoid falling into one is to have a degree of transparency and accountability in your life.  A close friend, Pastor, prayer partner, or best of all- your spouse.

Tim and I have really opened up communication about our areas of stuggle this past year.  And we are closer and stronger than ever.

We all struggle.  You are not a freak.  But God doesn’t care so much about your ‘front’ as he does what is going on in your mind and heart.  “You desire truth in the innermost being” Psalm 51:6

There needs to be a daily coming before God and his Word.  We need to be honest with ourselves.  There are some temptations that we can’t avoid but there are many that we can.  Don’t overestimate your own strength “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Cor. 10:12

What the enemy means as a ways to bring you down, God is allowing as a test.  If HE is allowing the test he has given you the means to overcome it.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

Another biggie is appreciating your spouse and not taking them for granted.  Making it a practice to focus on their good qualities and being thankful for them is huge in strengthening your heart against temptation.

Marriage is such a gift.  God even used it to illustrate Christ and the church.  If you are married then God has given you this person to experience physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy with.  Make sure all those important needs are being met according to each other’s needs.

Allowing God to direct your steps is huge too.  God is not going to lead you into disaster.  Many end up there after ignoring many warnings signs along the way.

As Josh is finding out, in his words, “You get to choose your actions, but you don’t get to choose your consequences.”

That is why it is not unwise to consider carefully what would happen if you cheated.  Who it would affect and how.  I have three kids and I want them to grow up in the very best environment- with parents that love Jesus and each other.  More importantly, I love my husband and I really think I would rather die than betray him like that.  And most importantly I have a God that loves me and is for me that I do not want to let down.

The amazing thing about the Gospel though- is that there is hope and redemption beyond the pain.  We’re praying God keeps them through this and they come through humbled but strengthened.  God can take our heep of ashes and make a crown of beauty.  He’s just amazing like that.  wedding-all