10 yrs down, eternity to go 

June 17 is the day we celebrate being in holy matrimony with one another. It seems crazy, how on earth have we been married for 10 yrs? I have literally spent 1/2 my life with him (dating since I was 16). I have been thinking a lot about what these 10 yrs have shown me about marriage and have been talking with the Lord about what it means in regards to the design He created for man and woman to have with one another. Here are the top 10 things that I have learned, yes my friends, painfully at times, but things that I know are vital to holy matrimony.

1. Triune Marriage

-there should never be anyone else in your marriage, no girlfriends, friends, parents, support group member. E.V.E.R. The only other entity that has the authority to be there is the Lord. When we started our journey as newlyweds, neither of us pursued a relationship with God. We didn’t submit to His list of “to dos” and we sure as heck didn’t invite Him into our marriage. Our first year of marriage was a rollercoaster. We barely made it out with scars, heated tempers, both vying for the #1 spot left our home in the battle of of wills. When we both found the Lord, realized that He had to be the firm foundation we based our marriage on, things began to chang. Tempers found a way to cool, selfless love was practiced, being on a team became our goal. We learned in the really difficult times that we had a gracious father that wanted us to succeed, to have the marriage He envisioned for us. To this day, we hands down give the success of our marriage to God, knowing that without Him we would still be two very stubborn, selfish and untamable people, quite potentially not together. Our marriage includes: God and the two of us=triune marriage

2. Power of Prayer

-every seen your spouse struggle? Struggle with work, personal matter, sin, clarity, etc? I am shocked if you say no. I use to step back and just give him space when he was struggling, thinking that was the solution. It wasn’t until I learned and truly understood how I have the unique power to intercede (pray) for my spouse, that I changed my reaction to his stress. Richard’s salvation came after months and months of going into my prayer area in our home daily, sometimes every chance I could sneak away. I prayed for him when it seemed it would never happen, when he would reject the newfound hope I had found in Christ, when we would have a disagreement, when he was laying next to me with little desire to have a higher authority in his life. Many tears were shed over that man. Today when I see him struggle, he becomes my priority. I carry him on my heart, I plead with the Lord to intervene. But one thing I have learned is I need to tell him when I am doing, I don’t think all the time, but yes, there are times he needs to know his spouse sees him and cares. I will text him or let him know I didn’t forget to pray for that situation he asked me to stand with him in prayer over. My challenge to you: Pray everyday for your spouse. Find a time that you know you can devote to remembering to pray, something that you do everyday (when you shower, brush your teeth, during naptime, at the end of the day)

3. Intimacy

-buckle down, I am going to get real with you as I get over myself…

Intimacy is so insanely critical to a healthy marriage. I was raised in a very strict Christian background, intimacy was not talked about and I am quite certain if they could have removed Song of Songs from every church bible they would have. I was taught all the negatives of intimacy (fornication, prostition, polygamy in the bible) but was never taught about the good Intimacy. The very thing that hello, God designed our bodies and minds to experience. We started our family very soon after our marriage. Looking back I see why God performed a miracle and gave us Cayden, making room for his sisters throughout the years. But it was rough stuff. There was no God honoring intimacy that took place before Cayden came. We were two sinners, allowing past and current sin in our lives. Then you bring on a baby that makes intimacy an even bigger challenge and you have a recipe for disaster. I will never forget after baby #3 one of the mentors I have been blessed with told me after I experienced frustration in myself and lacking any drive, how important it was to remember that what brought on baby #3, was and still is what needed to be active in our marriage regardless how I felt. My husband needed to know that he still mattered after a baby. Did it mean there were days I had to get over myself and put my husband before me, yes.   I truly believe the first place the enemy attacks marriage begins in the bedroom.  If he can divide man and woman and break their holy union then he can derail what God intended to be a beautiful gift. I also learned from another woman I dearly love and trust how important it is to instigate intimacy. That my husband needs to know I desire him as much as he desires me. So I make sure that I do exactly that and well as someone recently said after seeing my growing belly, “yup, you guys are doing well” (wink) it has impacted our marriage in the most wonderful way. Have we had dry seasons, hard seasons, absolutely, but we found ways, fought to stay united as one.  One last piece, to my sister who is feeling flushed in the face with frustration over this, please know it took me years to figure out what God honoring intimacy was, my part in the equation.  Some of you might say, “well he never asks anymore”.  My husband came to me one time during a dry season and said “there are only so many times I can be rejected by you” goodness I wanted to crawl in a hole and retreat, but he was right.  I had to get over myself and let him know I needed him and not wait around for him to do all the work.  I will say that when I asked Holy Spirit (again the importance of prayer) into this area of being a wife, something dramatically changed. My heart, my vision, my perception of my part in intimacy aligned with the Lords.

4. Be careful what you say

-you know those nasty fights, snide comments, the item thrown at your spouse (yeah those), the angry text, the silent treatment…yeah…they suck. They take the ground out from under you and in return leave you with a looming need of validation. So what happens?!? So many times we run to our girlfriends, moms, or anyone we know who is willing to hear about our difficult spouse. Do you realize how damaging that is? When you go and share current issues, ones that have no resolve and are laced with one sided stuff, we give over authority to someone else to be in our marriage. We can never take back our words, we can paint an unfair picture of our spouse and then all of a sudden those people we let in see our spouse differently. My job is to honor my husband, not bring him down. I have learned this the hard way, I ran to my girlfriends over each squabble and time I felt hurt. It back fired. I actively make the choice to bite my tongue and never squander Richard’s reputation over a personal matter that no one could ever fully understand unless they were personally standing next to me. Besides, going back to #1and #2, I can run straight to God in prayer over the matter and it never fails, He changes me somehow in a situation I only saw Richards faults.

5. Hierarchy

-my life is governed by a hierarchy. God first, husband second, children third, everything else after. So many times I have read or hear about first hand this struggle in marriage: husband vs. kids. I have even heard other husbands admit that they know they come after the kids in their wife’s hierarchy. I know marriages struggling right now, some in the current child rearing phase and some empty nesters that are just co-existing. One thing Richard and I established early on after being saved was that the kids would have to come after one another. It has not been easy to always have this mentality, but it is something we don’t want to see 18 yrs down the road when our last is moving out, leaving us with a feeling of not knowing one another. Our kids have learned mom and dad time is critical, they see us have a date each morning as we stand in the kitchen during breakfast, to not interrupt our time or every evening knowing they have to be in bed at 8 pm because it is mommy and daddy time. I will never forget during one of my pregnancies when I was having issues, Richard telling me, “I will always choose you first if it comes to your safety over the baby”…”I can’t have another you, you are it”. It stung when he said it, but after I thought about it, I totally understood what he was saying. Your spouse must come before your kids. Your kids need to see a solid healthy relationship.

6. The magic words

-please, thank you, and I am sorry. Those phrases we can choke over at times or worse not feel the need to say. My husband is super good at saying these, me…not so much. I usually slink away in shame when I know I am wrong. I can get so consumed with survival that when he helps me out, my mentality can be “well, yeah you better, you wanted a big family too”. I can undo all that he has done to ensure I am home raising my kids by not honoring him as the other vital person in the equation. Did he make the bed? Thank you. Did he not read your mind about putting his underwear in the hamper and not 1 ft from the hamper? Please, can you pick up… Did you snap in a moment of weakness and say something you regretted? I am sorry

7. Best friend

-why did you say yes? Why was he the one to make you say “I am yours forever”? My guess you had a friendship before marriage. He was the first one to hear your exciting news, the one you shared your hurts, the one you entrusted your vulnerability too, he was who you wanted to run to at the end of the day. Is he still all that? There was a time I put a friendship before my husband, I allowed this person to define me and not my husband. It caused some big issues. When my husband removed the blinders, I saw I put someone before him. I am now so careful with that. I make sure he is my best friend. I lay it all out there for him. You know what? It has provided so much freedom for me. He can speak truth in hard situations, he knows how to approach me when things are crazy because he knows exactly what I am going through since I told him, he can in return pray and encourage me in ways a girlfriend can’t because he sees and hears ALL the nitty gritty. Vice a versa for him too. I know at the end of each day I am his person and he knows he is mine, you can’ trade that comfort for anything.

8. Endeavors

-you know when they get that crazy idea or new passion they want to pursue? Or have that hobby that brings them so much life? If they come to you, excited about something, how you respond matters. I remember hearing a woman speak on marriage and she said, you need to make sure you are your husband’s #1 cheerleader, because if you aren’t, someone else can sneak into that role. There have been more times then 1 that the last thing I want to hear about his how to tan a hide or skin a bird. But those wise words spoken by a happily married woman have stuck with me. I want to be his person. I need him to be mine. Relationship, successful ones are balanced. They are 50/50. I listen to him about what type of bugs to eat away flesh on a skull and he gets to hear about the newest trend in long distance running or the baby’s nursery decor.

9. Old verses new

when we married, I didn’t realize how bad the battle I entered into would be, the battle I am talking about is: who would be Richard’s #1 woman. I will never forget getting chewed on for Richard waking up and changing a poopy diaper. How dare I let him to that? I was then informed that it wasn’t a man’s job to do that, his job was to work and mine was to run the house and do all the child rearing on my own. Being a young impressionable wife and mother, I almost caved. Thankfully I trusted my instinct. I looked at my husband who wanted to be hands on and I let him and yes at times asked him to. To this day, that man is so involved in the daily activities and needs a large family has that I am thankful I encouraged him to be more. My kids and I have benefited from this. There are going to be times you are told to do things a certain way, cook a meal, fold a shirt or something that comes from the woman who raised him. Ladies remember he picked you and trusted you to care for him, he also chose to leave his mother and father and be in union with you. The more you learn about him on your own and don’t rely on the old ways, the more you become unique and valuable to him

10. A single choice

-in my broken example of marriage that was modeled to me by the dissolution of my parents marriage I became very jaded on marriage. Marriage to me was something that when the going got hard I had it in my head that it was time to bail. Why? Because it happened before my eyes, leaving 3 girls to be left with a hole in their hearts unable to fully trust another man. My poor husband inherited a broken wife, he had to unjustly earn his place into an area I refused to surrender. In Large part to him, I learned to trust again. But it again came down to a choice, daily, at times minute by minute. I had to wake each morning and say “I choose you”. I choose you in: in the bad days, in the good times, in the sleepless nights, in the life long sickness of a child, in career ups and downs, over my friends, over the kids, over family, in the times you desperately need to be one with me and I don’t feel I have anymore to give in the day, when I make dinner, when I need affirmation, when I plan my daily duties…each day I am tasked with one single choice, who will I choose?

10 yrs have come and gone, I can’t believe that God was so gracious to give me the desires of my heart and created such a wonderful partner to do life with!  Happy Anniversary my love, blessed to be your wife!  Now on to eternity 

My village

I am going to get real with you…

Anyone else struggle to make their village?!?

I am pretty sure I have shared my past experience of not being the type of girl, young adult or now woman who has naturally fit in groups of women…
Women are emotional, messy, and dynamic all at the same time, because multitasking is what we do best, am I right?

This is and has been something that I have felt shame for or at times felt completely and utterly alone. I have been told that I am intense, too serious, hard to read or have an intimidating exterior. I have fought those labels, felt crushed and am still trying to not let those wounding words leave cuts that can’t be healed.

Why am I sharing this?

I recently was blessed by an intimidate baby shower thrown by two of my friends that went above and beyond to let me know that I am loved and that I am someone worth investing in.

There was this one time I heard another woman share that her circle of friends were not going to throw a baby shower for a woman within their circle because it was her 4th baby and she didn’t need to have a shower. That stayed with me. It made me believe that there is some sort of cap for baby shower etiquette and if your family design abuts societal norms then don’t be thinking your new little baby is worth being honored…

Richard and I talked one night and I told him that I didn’t expect anyone to take the role on to shower our family with this 5th baby. I was honestly really ok with it. When I passed the 1st trimester I started grabbing a package of diapers or nursing pads or anything I see that is a smart choice to purchase at the time. Being a family that is well over the recommended carbon foot print and being a one income family, I wanted to help ease the stress new babies always bring. I swear the tiniest, most vulnerable member of the family is the most expensive!

My very sweet friend who has 4 babies herself came to me and told me her plans. I almost cried, here was a friend that wanted to love on me and celebrate our newest addition.

 Along with another dear friend who is sadly moving from our small island, they worked as a team and prepared an afternoon that mirrored my heart, tastes and yes even a selfish want.

I loved how practical the decor was!  

Leave it to my two friends who are stay at home mommies and are always trying to be resourceful. I am going to treasure the hand made head bands that each of my girlfriends made for baby girl!

After I spent the afternoon surrounded by genuine real women I couldn’t help but feel so blessed to have finally found my village. My village isn’t comprised of just peers or being with the same religious beliefs either, which I really really love. It has taken time…31 yrs to be exact to find my sisters.  Some of us breastfeed, some don’t.  Some have multiple kids, some don’t, some cloth diaper and some don’t.  Some have super strong opinions on how to raise kids and some are just learning as they go, everyone of these ladies is special because they aren’t pretending to be someone else, they are being themselves.  It has taken me having to learn to hold back my stronger traits and wait and pray for ladies that won’t run the other direction from me. I have in these last few years been surrounded by women who encourage me, challenge me, see some good in me somehow and most of all actively choose to be in my life.  I wish I had pictures of all of you who came!  We had too much fun chatting 😉

To my village, to my sisters, thank you. Thank you for carving time in your busy lives to allow me to be a part of your stories and thank you for being who you are! I treasure you all so much more then I know I can say or at times show. Thank you for coming and assuring my overly sensitive hormone driven heart and telling me that this new little life coming is worth celebrating.

I love love love my new carrier (even if my face didn’t say it!  I was holding back tears from your kindness) -you ladies are the best

“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?  Th fruit of his womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth.  Oh how blessed are you parents, with your quivers FULL of children!” ~Psalm 137:3-4

Boo is 2

Somebody just asked us at church how old Ya’el is, when we responded, they said “there’s no way!”

I have to admit these two years with Ya’el Ariel Ruth, aka Boo, have gone by so fast. She earned the nickname Boo, thanks to those little piggy tails accompanied with her dark brown hair and eyes, many people told us she looked just like Boo from Monsters Inc.

I struggle, maybe because I am yet again growing another human inside my body and my brain keeps telling me that I need to make room for an infant and I am unable to accept the fact that Ya’el is now a toddler. I look at Ya’el and tell myself all the time “but she is still such a baby”. I didn’t feel that way when I was gearing up for a newborn with her siblings, I didn’t struggle with accepting the much missed yet can’t wait for it to end baby phase. I have never been one to want to wrap up my kids in tiny little bubbles and not let them grow. I want them to leave the nest, equipped, confident and self assure they can grow up. But this time, this time has been different.

A friend recently told me that I might be struggling because in our hearts we had finally said our final fair wells to anymore children. We really did say goodbye.  We moved on, held a newborn Ya’el and felt complete, felt the need to move out of this newborn phase.  For those of you who read my blogs and followed our story personally, I know…we have said our final fair wells 3x now…but

God and His plans…

I have held Ya’el longer when she has slept in my arms, I have relinquished my consistent rules that I refused to break on her other siblings, I have caught myself just staring at her. She draws you in if you aren’t careful. You could sit forever and watch her little piggy tails bouncy as she hops from one place to the next, while humming whatever song is on her heart. I know this to be true because when I go places with her and succumb to her free spirit, I get the pleasure of steeling glances of others who can’t help but smile as they watch this little one drink in life.

We recently switched the rooms in our home (something that if you are close to us, you have experienced we get restless with room assignments and furniture placing). Ezzy moved into the room with her sisters and Cayden moved into the old playroom. We expected some resistance from the parties involved, yet we have been pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I learned on the recent trip with Ezzy, that when Ya’el doesn’t want to sleep or is fussing, she climbs into bed with Ezzy. After seeing a very tired Ezzy one morning, I was informed that Ya’el had woken with the early morning sun and climbed in bed with Ezzy and wanted to name off all the body parts she knows or every family members name.

Ya’el woke up one day this last week and decided to not be a baby anymore. She will joyfully tell you that she is 2 and struggles to get two little fingers to stand up by themselves. Ya’el will talk to you in a sentence format, but the trick is having one of her trusted translators close by. Ya’el also has decided that she is ready to potty train and since Friday, has told us 75% of the time when she needs to go potty!!!! Leave it to the #4 to do things on her own.

Every morning, the first thing that comes out of her mouth is “cerwerl”, cereal, she climbs up in her seat and let’s her blood sugar slowly return to normal as she sits in silence away from the rest of the family still trying to wake up. Within just a few minutes you will see her little legs swing from the bench and she might even say hi to someone as they walk by. Once the bowl is empty she climbs down and starts the adventures on her jammed packed list. It use to really drive me nuts that she is an early riser, even more so now that sleep is so precious to me. Thankfully I have an ever present, hands on husband that attends to the needs of our early risers. Now I find myself chuckle when I hear the fast rhythmic shuffling of her feet scurry across the floors as I am nestled in my bed, knowing that she has woken up and can’t wait to start her day.

Ya’el will chase her daddy to the door and have her arms spread wide and lips ready to give a kiss when he heads to work. She needs you to say “bye” to her when she waves her beauty queen wave and says bye or she will keep repeating herself. If you want to have a snuggle party on the couch, she is your girl. After each shower she craves to be rocked back and forth as you sing “sweet baby, sweet baby Ya’el” thanks to her daddy starting that tradition. Ya’el craves to be held and will follow you around the house and say “up”, the moment you pick her up, she will wrap her arms tight around your neck or tuck them in and release a sigh of relief. As if her love cup became dangerously low, she runs to find the nearest person who will hold her tight until she has reached livable levels. I have found her in her brother and sisters arms in moments that my arms could not fill up her urgent request.

I love hearing her sweet little voice sing along to any music she hears. She has shown me time and time again that all the time she spent inside my womb, listening to worship music has had a lasting impact on her need to express herself in song.

Our days can get a little intense and sometimes, the level of patience we give to one another can wane, but I have found its in those times that Ya’el will take it upon herself to change the energy in the room. She loves to laugh, she loves to play games with you, most of the time you can actually look in her eyes and realize that she is up to something.

We have looked at baby pictures of myself, my mom has said countless times that Ya’el the spitting image of me, yet her personality is nothing like mine. She is her father to a T.

As the months have flown by since finding out that Ya’el would no longer be the baby of the family I have found myself wondering how she will feel about not being the baby to everyone. I have worried it might wreck her. She has never been labeled an easy going child, in fact when I have to run errands with her I never know what to expect. Unlike her siblings that I could read and determine the outcome, going and doing things with Ya’el is like rolling dice.

When Ya’el turned one we missed out on doing a party for her. We were traveling for Ezzy’s big surgery last year and returned with two sick kids. By the time our family was healthy, weeks had gone on and we never did a party for her. To be honest, the response from her parents was “it’s not like she knows what she missed”. Thankfully this year we were able to do a small party with family and her surrgate parents Joel and Kalli. I am beyond thankful she has people outside her mom and dad that she knows loves her dearly. I have spent many Sunday’s watching her leave our arms and run straight into theirs.

My heart has found peace in just this last week as I have watched her become so proud of the new things she is learning to say and do. I have also loved seeing she wants to be a big girl and no longer wants to be identified as a baby. Daniel tiger has been instrumental in preparing her for being a big sister. I know that her special spot in her daddy’s heart will be a place she finds comfort in as she learns to share her momma. I know that she is going to love having her older siblings home this summer and go on fun adventures and be seen as a big kid. I know that when the time comes for her to get her love cup filled up and recharge she will understand there is a little baby that needs it too. I know that the love she freely gives has brought more joy to us then we could have hoped in the short 2 years of her life. I know that God created her to fill a spot only she can in our family, I am ever grateful she is ours.

Happy birthday Boo