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16 Years? We Have Arrived! (Not really!)

10346373_10154428523370187_2136238812045424257_nWell, well, well. Congratulations to Mr. Dixon and me. We are “celebrating” 16 years of marriage today. If by celebrating, I mean working,making and eating dinner, and taking care of life. Apparently that’s how 16 years is done. Don’t worry though. We will mark this occasion with child free wanderings at 16 years and one day. That’s just the way it’s done around here. 

If you’ve read about our marriage, or heard about our marriage here, there, or elsewhere, you may be fooled into believing that we have a perfect marriage. This is so far from the truth that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. A wonderful marriage, yes, perfect, ha! Ha! And another HA for good measure. 

No one survives 16 years of marriage without a few roadblocks, pitfalls, and forks in the road. Oh, we have had issues. Ironically, those issues have given us the marriage we have today, right this minute. It’s like I told a friend lately, you don’t show up to the gym and get in shape. You not only have to show up, you have to work out. You have to put effort into what you are doing. Without the resistance of weights, you’ll leave the gym in the same condition in which you arrived at the gym. It’s a lot less work, but you’re already paying for the membership, you may as well put some effort into your workouts and improve yourself. 

So, much like showing up at the gym, having a great marriage is not just getting married. There is some work involved and if you just show up and expect to get the same results as someone showing up and working for it, you are going to be disappointed. In our marriage, our strength has been built by the resistance we have faced. Resistance from him, from me, from us, and from every day issues that come up. I’ll tell you the truth, there are days when I wake up and he just irritates the living daylights out of me. I can choose to react based on my feelings, or I can breathe deep and show grace. Feelings are not facts. When I choose to show grace, I grow stronger and so do we. (just don’t ask how often I am actually able to put that into practice, mmmmmkay?) 

So, yeah, of course we have problems. We have disagreements and arguments. I don’t talk about these, except with a few friends. There is no profit in me blasting him on Facebook or here on my blog. I would end up with the proverbial egg on my face anyway, because somehow I am usually in the wrong. (That’s my gift to you today, Mr. Dixon! Admission of wrong doing. You’re welcome. (he’s not reading this. I know it)) Anyway, it’s just wrong. No one wants to read my negativity and I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression about him, me, or us as a couple! 

So, today is our anniversary and marriage is wonderful. I really, truly love the guy. I love who he is and I do love him more each and every day. This love and marriage thing is an amazing journey, really. I don’t know what I was thinking the day I married him, but I know I’m beyond grateful today for the past 16 years and the next 25! 

How long have you been married? Can you sum up your marriage in 5 words? I sure can not! 

I show up for marriage and put the effort in…. now I should work on that showing up and working out at the gym thing. 

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Five Mistakes I’ve made in Marriage

My most popular posts, by and large have been on the topic of marriage, followed closely by finances/ saving money. This is a bit ironic, since these two topics are near and dear to my heart. I am passionate about my marriage, your marriage and the marriages of people I barely or don’t know. I don’t have marriage figured out. I am far from the perfect wife. One, because the perfect wife doesn’t exist. Two, because I’m selfish, and self centered and I want what I want and I want what I want yesterday. Not in a few minutes, dear. 🙂 I am also pretty excited about finances and saving money. Maybe since these are the most widely read topics on my blog, that passion is coming through my words? 

I don’t know why God uses me for marriage or finances. I’m stumbling through these things just like anyone else. In fact, when it comes to marriage, I have screwed up just about every day. Sometimes I know I’ve screwed up. Other times it takes people hitting me with a 2 X 4 (ouch) to wake me up. 

Here are 5 mistakes I’ve made in marriage. 5 mistakes I’ve repeated in marriage and 5 mistakes I hope to never make again. Just to be clear, that’s 5 mistakes total, not 15. Ahem, I haven’t made quite that many. 😉

  1. Expecting my husband to fill my every need. This is a pretty tall order. I have a lot of needs. Some of these expectations are known, but sometimes I want him to know what it is and fill it, because we are in love and people in love don’t have to be told what to do. They just know!!! Right? Yeah, I’ve learned, not so much. He’s human. I’m human and when we’re humans together, we mess things up. My husband is a man, not a God, but at times I’ve treated him as if he has failed because he hasn’t met my every need. Newsflash to me: he can’t. It’s just not possible. 
  2. Being too proud to apologize. Proud. Stubborn. Same thing in this case. I act like having to apologize for a misstep will paralyze me. What? Me? Admit to a mistake? Eh, eh, eh. Yeah. I’ll be honest with you. For years, I would drag my feet. I would mope. I would hope that my mistake would just be swept under the rug. Now, my husband is the forgive and forget type guy. He would forgive and forget sans apology, but last month, yes last month, for the first time ever I sincerely apologized to him. I knew I had screwed up. I knew I made a mistake. I found him, looked into his eyes and I apologized. When I asked for forgiveness, he said “of course”. He’s obviously a better human than me. The bonus is… it didn’t kill me. I LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT. I’m waiting for the shirt. I survived Apology 2014. Yes?
  3. My way or the highway. I’m pretty smart, so naturally I know how to do stuff better than my husband. Load the dishwasher, do laundry, discipline the children, pay the bills. I know it all! That attitude actually hasn’t served me well over the years. I’ve discredited my husband’s honor as a husband, a man, AND a dad. He felt like he was stupid a lot of the time, because I didn’t give any thought to his ideas or his way of doing things, but when I started listening to him, I realized “hey, um, wow! This guy is pretty smart. (he married me after all) Maybe I should listen to him more.” I’ve learned that a lot of times his ideas are much better than mine. 
  4. Not tonight, dear. 😉 I bought into the lie that once we were married, I never had to put out… unless I felt like it. Well, dude! I just never felt like it. I was tired, I had a headache, people have been touching me all day!!! If there was an excuse I could use it. But here’s the thing… I do things for people all the time that I don’t technically feel like doing. I do dishes when I don’t feel like doing them, because they need to be done. I help the kids with their homework when I don’t feel like it. So many things,but I neglected my husband and the things he needed, because I figured he was an adult, he could do those things himself. UGH. Really? So I stopped saying no. Hear me out, sometimes there is a good reason for saying no, but just because I can? That’s not a good enough reason in my  book. He’s not a dictator or an abuser, so I feel good about not saying no to him. I have found that even if I’m not in the mood when we start, I am when we get going. 😀
  5. I can do it myself. I’m pretty independent. I have learned how to do most things myself and I bristle at the thought of letting anyone help me. Even if I didn’t quite know how to do something, I would stumble through it. I think I have screwed up a few things this way. Over the years I have learned that it’s okay to accept help, and it’s okay to ask for help. I have learned that he likes it when I come to him for assistance with anything. It makes him feel good to be needed. It also lightens the load for me, because I have someone helping me! Win, win, and win. 

So, do you want to admit to your mistakes? I went first. It’s your turn. 

Edited to add: I’m really not as big of a jerk as I make myself sound. I promise! This is an accumulation of mistakes I have made over 16 years, so I think I get some grace in that regard. If my husband was speaking of me, he would never think these horrible things, much less say them. I tend to be harder on myself than anyone else is going to be. 

Shut Up. Just Shut Up

The day after my brother died, I spent the day with my parents. Relatives had gathered at their house, presumably to show their support in the midst of grief. It was so normal, and it wasn’t. We gathered, we talked, we told jokes. No one ever really said or even talked about why we were there. My brother’s death was the elephant in the room. There was a point that I lost it on the inside. I wanted to stand in that crowded room and scream “SHUT UP! Just SHUT UP! This is not normal, this is not okay. Please, please shut up.”

I didn’t do it. Not because I didn’t feel like it, but because it just didn’t seem like the trait of a normal person. Even in my grief, I wanted to appear normal.

Today was another one of those days. I didn’t feel normal on the inside. I was feeling grief, but everyone around me was carrying on as we always have. The kids were laughing and joking and telling me about their day. My husband was making incredibly small talk. All the while, there was an elephant with us. He was around us, there was barely any room to move around him. Every once in a while he would crawl in my lap, lay on my chest and I could. not. breathe.

Even though most people knew he was there, no one wanted to talk about him. Once again I wanted to scream at everyone to shut up. And I can’t. It’s not normal and it’s not right.

Damn elephant. Go away. 😦 Everyone else, please shut up. I don’t feel like playing normal.

Sunday Morning Confession

I don’t have the time or energy to beat around the bush, so I will start with the confession:

I haven’t been to a church service in quite a while. 

I’ve been to CHURCH. I’ve read my bible. I’ve prayed to God. I’ve heard sermons on line. I give thanks every day and I try to live more and more like Jesus with every breath that I take. I just haven’t actually stepped foot into the sanctuary and heard the sermon from my pastor, at my church.

It started when my kids were sick and we obviously couldn’t go. Then my brother passed away and I couldn’t make myself go. The day I specifically remember, I was on the verge of a breakdown and wanted to break down here, with my family, not there with my extended family. Then we were out of town. Then when I came back, I just wanted to relax, in the comfort of my home, with my husband.

Now, here we are today, and I don’t really have a perfectly good reason NOT to go (well, unless you count being up too late, praying for a friend that is in Hawaii and was evacuated due to the tsunami warning… and then the heartburn that made me so sick), but honestly I am not sure we are going to. I don’t even know why. I am not disenchanted with the church, nothing happened to make me not want to go. I love my church and I love my church family. I love that the pastor preaches from the bible, but is able to open my eyes and makes everything make sense. I also love being surrounded by people who live, love and believe the way I do.

So, if I take another day off, is it bad? Hmmm, I know some of you who will say yes, and some of you who will say no. I also know some people who will say “If you have to ask the question, you already know the answer”. And, yah, I actually wholeheartedly agree. 🙂

Some people take time off of church for sports games, work and vacation. Is it really any different if I want to take time off of church for nothing?

Now that it’s out there, I hope you will pray for me about it, rather than tell me how horribly wrong I am. And now that it’s out there, chances are I’m going to end up showing up at church. It always seems to happen. Once I blog a “confession”, such as my I hate pregnancy post, I feel better about it. I have actually felt better about my pregnancy since I hit publish.

So, perhaps, I will hit publish here, and you will see me back in church. 🙂

I’m Not Ashamed (or am I?)

It is no secret that I am a believer in God and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that Christ walked the earth and that He died for you and me. I believe that He lives today and I believe He speaks to me, through His word, His followers, and in my heart. Most people I associate with know this, even if we don’t agree or believe the same thing.

It might surprise some people to know that I was not raised in the church. My faith came after my marriage (we even requested that the minister who married us NOT pray during our wedding). (and God joined us together anyway. Yikes!) My faith has only strengthened and felt real in the past few years. We started attending the church we attend nine years ago. Even with regular attendance, I still struggled because other believers spoke about how God talked to them. I couldn’t understand why He wasn’t talking to me or how I could get Him to speak to me.

Then it happened. I started hearing his voice. I started to feel His presence. I began to feel truly led by Him. What’s more is I started to truly follow Him. I let Him lead me where He was calling me to go. He never forced me to follow or obey, I did it by my own choosing.

This is something I am not very forthcoming with. The truth. If someone says “why did you do that?” or “wow! How could you?”, I kind of, sort of skirt the real reason. I can come up with a lot of glib excuses. It hurts just to admit that.

Why though? When it is pretty much common knowledge what I believe, why would I not just say “I feel that this is what God wants me to do?”.

Um, because I don’t want to appear crazy. It’s one thing to say I believe, but to actually BELIEVE that the “invisible man in the sky” (said in a sarcastic tone, as I have heard it) talks to me or tells me what to do? Yeah, that makes me look a bit insane. The last thing I want people to think is that I have lost my marbles. Many times what God leads me to do makes sense in His kingdom, but is off the beaten path on Earth. As different as I want to be, I don’t want to be any different! I want to hold my belief close to my heart, never sharing it and never publicly professing it, because I don’t want people to think I am weird.

I typically don’t share these things with believers OR non-believers. So it’s not that I just don’t want to share with people who don’t share my beliefs and don’t understand, I don’t want to even share with people who share my beliefs and SHOULD understand. There have been times I have discovered that even believers hold a worldly view about certain things and raise an eyebrow at you if you attribute something in your life to God or your faith in Him.

I have ONE person I feel safe sharing these stories with. ONE. Really, I should be sharing these stories with everyone, whether I feel safe or not. I have learned that faith is not safe and nothing worthwhile happens as long as we remain “safe”.

I have been feeling strongly convicted in this area of my belief over the past few weeks. God has been saying to me “why aren’t you sharing MY story?”. He is holding my hand and saying “you have nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what anyone else thinks”. I hate to make promises and not follow through, but with God by my side, it’s time to start sharing these stories. Am I prepared to be called an idiot? No. Do I want people to raise their eyebrows at me and think I am crazy? Of course not. In faith, I will do it regardless of the risk or how unsafe I feel.

Stay tuned. Until then….

Luke 9:26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

And the song that plays in my head a lot:

I’m not Ashamed – Newsboys