Friday, January 29, 2010

Twenty Questions For Your Spouse

If you were to notice a theme from all of my recent posts, I think it would be 'to live a life of purpose'. That is my goal, if you will, for 2010. I am tired of going through the motions and feeling lukewarm in all that I do as a wife, mother, house parent, friend etc. I want to be real and authentic in my relationships, especially in my marriage, even if that makes me more vulnerable. Boss and I experienced first hand last year the devastation that can be caused by simply going through the motions with your spouse, instead of being real with your thoughts, your heart, and your words towards each other. More importantly, we have committed to making this year different!

For Christmas, Boss gave me the Love Dare Daily Devotional. The idea is to read one devotion each day that is geared towards making you a better Christian spouse, and we are going through it together. In the back of the book it had a little quiz entitled Twenty Questions For Your Spouse. The rules were to go on a date with your spouse, somewhere quiet, and go through the questions together without anger, resentment, or judgment. Ten questions were personal/individual and ten questions were related to your marriage. So, last week Boss and I went to dinner and then we went to a book store, grabbed a coffee (tea for me), and found two chairs in a corner where we could talk. While the ten questions pertaining to our marriage are too personal to share the answers to, I wanted to record here each of our answers to the personal questions. I love the idea that one day my children will read back through this blog, and they will be able to see what Boss and I were like in our early years of marriage.

Ten Personal Questions:

1) What is your greatest hope or dream?

B - For all in our family to get to Heaven.

K - To be blessed with a large, close knit family, and to have the energy and funds required to raise them. To have a real love story with my husband. To raise Godly children. To see God weaving a story in the life of my family and to use that story to inspire others and lead them to Christ. (As you can see, I am much more wordy than Boss!)

2) What do you enjoy the most about your life right now?

B - Being a husband, daddy, and my job. (he loves being the boss)

K - My family and friends. The fact that we are in a job that allows us to be financially secure, without having to sacrifice time together as a family just to chase a dollar. I feel like all of our prayer requests and hopes from the last six years have been answered, and we have been given a blank canvas to do with as we please. I pray that we will make wise and godly decisions.

3) What do you enjoy the least about your life right now?

B - Feeling like we live in a fishbowl in our home. When you live on a campus, as we do, life can often feel that way. We have been blessed with AWESOME neighbors/coworkers, so we do not feel that way overall, but it can be draining to constantly have the teenagers watching and listening to all that we do. It makes it hard to have a bad day, because you feel like you always have to be 'on'.

K - I do not feel like we are where we should be spiritually as a couple or as a family. I do not feel like we have been purposeful in raising our children up to this point. The good news is that all of that can be changed!

4) What would your dream job be if you could do absolutely anything and get paid for it?

B - A professional golfer on the PGA tour.

K - A professional writer. To get paid to write about my love for Jesus, my family, and all things home. To use the words I write to change a little piece of the world.

5) What are some things you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?

B - To save for retirement travel, to go golfing in Scotland and Ireland, and to go on a mission trip to another country.

K - To sponsor a child or give to a charity on a regular basis. To visit all 50 states. To own a camper.

6) What three things would you like to do before the next year passes?

B - Pay off our 12 passenger van, go on a vacation, and break 80 on my golf swing.

K - Lose 25 pounds (not counting baby weight) and feel healthier. Have daily quiet time with God.

7) Who do you feel the most safe being with and why?

B - My wife because she unconditionally loves me.

K - My family because I can be myself (the good, bad, and ugly) and they keep loving me anyway.

8) If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

B - My wife.

K - While I love dining with Ben, at this point I would choose Michelle Duggar. While I do not agree with many points of their family life or feel like it is for me, she inspires me as a mother in her faith, the way she is raising her children, and the way she manages both her home and their finances.

9) When was the last time you felt filled with joy?

B - This morning when I saw Emma and Kate snuggling in bed.

K - When I saw Jack Ryan on ultrasound, and found out I was expecting a son after waiting for three years to conceive another child.

10) If you had to give away 1 million dollars, who would you give it to and why?

B - To Kendra so I could get 50%..... ha, ha.

K - To families who have lost children or who have critically ill children. To cancer research.

While I will not post the answers to the twenty questions pertaining specifically to our marriage, I did want to post the questions in case any of you wanted to do this with your spouse.

1) What three things does your spouse do that you really like?
2) What three things does your spouse do that drives you crazy?
3) What has your spouse done in the past that made you feel loved?
4) What has your spouse done that has made you feel unappreciated?
5) What are three things that you would like your spouse to work on this year?
6) What would make you feel the most loved?
7) What things in the past do you wish could be erased from ever happening in your relationship?
8) What is the next major decision you think God would want you to make as a couple?
9) What would you like for your life and your marriage to look like five years from now?
10) What words would you like to hear from your spouse more often?

I can't tell you how much this exercise has blessed our marriage in the last few weeks. Remember though, the goal is to be an encouragement to one another and to open the lines of communication. NOT to cause arguments, be defensive, or to put each other down. Happy almost month of LOVE friends!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The View From Here

My absolute favorite thing about living in the country is the scenery. No tall buildings, no houses in a row that all look alike.  Just lakes, hills, and trees that change color with each season. While I will fully admit that winters in Ohio get LONG (I am usually done with the cold by mid February, yet it typically hangs on for another six weeks), this season has some of the most beautiful scenes of the year. On many occasions, everything is coated with ice and blanketed with snow. It is quite breathtaking! These are some of the photographs Boss snapped with our new camera during our last winter storm. The view from our front door is quite often amazing!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dating Daddy

(Kate, Daddy, and Emma on their very first Date Night)

This new year has brought with it a new sense of  'parenting with purpose' for Boss and I. We are currently knee deep in character training with Emma (see previous post!), behavior/right from wrong training with Kate, and are expecting our third child in the next eight weeks. Having soon to be three children in completely different phases of growing up, thus requiring different skills and needs from us as parents, has taught us that we have got to be parents with a purpose. If we do not have goals or a vision of how we want our family to be, and if we do not commit that vision to God, then our parenting is in vain.

One of the ways we can make sure that we are parents with a purpose is by spending quality time with our children. If I thought I was busy with toddlers, I was wrong! Parenting school aged children is a whole new ball game. If I would let us, we would be in the car all day, every day, driving from activity to activity. There is so much that my children want to see, learn about, and explore, that if I was not purposeful in selecting which activities we participated in, our home school would quickly go by the way side and would become van school. We have learned quickly that we must be careful with our time!

I get to spend all day, every day, with the girls, and while Boss is around our home more than most dads, he decided that this would be a good year to starting 'dating' our daughters. Every once in awhile, he wants to take them out (either individually or together), so that they can have some quality father/daughter time. In the midst of the crazy schedules that we keep, he wants to make sure that our girls know that he always has time for them. While we both know it will not be cool forever, the girls were both beside themselves with excitement to go on their very first date with daddy!

Boss got the three of them tickets to a Wizard of Oz play being performed in our community. The girls wore matching fancy dresses (and insisted on daddy wearing a tie!), they did their hair in Dorothy braids, and they got to choose the restaurant they would eat at before the play (they chose Bob Evans. surprise, surprise). While Boss said he did not get to eat because he spent the whole meal time at the potty with Kate (there's just something about those restaurant bathrooms that fascinates her), the girls had so much fun and came home adoring their daddy more than ever. While Emma is getting more into the boy thing, Kate said she wanted to date her daddy forever.

Thank you Boss, for being a wonderful dad, and for being my partner in the hardest job we ever could have imagined!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rewind, Please

Since this new year has started, I have come to fully believe that parenting is hard work. Not that I did not think it was hard before, but it has simply reached a whole new level of hard, if you know what I mean. In a matter of weeks, we have gone from toddler and pre-school behavior training (you know, like don't stick that crayon up your nose, it is not nice to bite, use your inside voice, don't ever run with scissors, that kind of thing), to character training.

It's funny, really, how this came about. A few short weeks ago, at the end of last year, Boss and I were praising ourselves for a job well done. Emma was a model child who was thriving in our home school, Kate was fully potty trained and sleeping through the night, no more diaper bags or sippies were needed on outings, there were minimal fits, and life was great! We knew we would head back in to all of that come March with Jack Ryan's arrival, but for the time being we had it made. This parenting stuff was easy and we had it down pat. And then one night last week all of that changed.

I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and Emma was sitting on the counter watching me. The rest of the house was in bed, so it was just the two of us. She told me she had a secret that she wanted to tell me. Let's just say I was not prepared. Her top secret secret was that she now thought all boys were cute. Not just as in cute as her friends, but cute as in they made her giggle (her words!). Cute like they made her blush. I choked on my toothpaste and quickly spit it out. Excuse me? Rewind, please. This is my baby who was telling me this. My two years out of diapers baby. My still needs mommy to wipe her bottom and tuck her in after a bad dream baby. And here we were having our first real conversation about the opposite sex? When did this happen? But have no fear, I played it cool. Until she shared the next part of her secret.

She told me that once she had even thought a married man was cute and that she and her friends could not stop giggling when they saw him. What??!! Someone rewind this tape and give me my baby back! I was not ready for this! We ended that night by talking about how it is okay to think people are cute, that if they are married that means they belong to somebody, that she is only five and it is her job to simply play and have fun and be a kid. I have no idea if I said the right things, but I do know I had trouble sleeping that night.

Where had these thoughts come from? We are not the kind of family that has talked about dating in front of her (not even the big girls do that and she is never alone with them), she has never had play dates without me there, she is home schooled, so I know most of what she is surrounded by each day, we don't watch Hannah Montanna, or iCarly, or shows like that (not because they are necessarily bad, but because I do not think they are age appropriate for a five year old), and yet, somehow, I had found myself discussing boys and married men with my little girl. Whew.

And the week got worse from there. Since then we have discussed how people look different and how she thinks some people look weird, how she wants to be pretty because she likes pretty people, how she thinks boy/girl dancing (she saw this on a commercial) looks romantic, and how she wonders how God can be good all of the time. Such heavy topics to be discussing with my five year old. I certainly was not prepared for this new phase of life, and I find myself answering new questions every day.

I do not write this for you to judge my child or my parenting. My more experienced mama friends tell me this exploration of her thoughts is normal. She is simply learning what it means to have her own opinions and how to deal with all of the thoughts that she has. We have been talking a lot lately about asking God to create in us a kind and pure heart. But my mama heart has been heavy. Rewind time, please. I was not ready to enter this stage with my baby. I needed more time with her as a toddler! She is growing up too fast, and suddenly my answers matter. This character training is hard stuff. My answers, and how I deal with things, are no longer only shaping her behavior, they are helping to shape her heart. A weighty task, indeed.

I had to laugh at an article I read earlier today. It was about 'Raising Dorks'. The author was conveying the point that you can always fast forward childhood, but you can never rewind it. He was talking about keeping our children, children, for as long as we possibly can. If that means protecting them from television shows, the Internet, friends, etc....if it means raising what the world considers 'dorks', then is it not worth it? Interesting thoughts.

Boss and I thought we were doing that. We have sheltered our children quite a bit, yet somehow, sin and doubt still managed to enter the heart of my child at a very young age. As much as I want to rewind time and go straight back to the simple, exhausting, silly, Wiggles days, I can't. We have entered a new phase and my little girl is growing up. In the blink of an eye our conversations changed. Character training has officially begun. I will admit I am scared. You only get one shot at this journey called parenting. But I am ready. I am more ready than ever to commit my children and their hearts to Christ, to the God who created them. I am more ready than ever to cherish each phase, for I just experienced first hand that they change in the blink of an eye. I am more ready than ever to make my home a safe, God-honoring place that will encourage my children in their walks. Because this I have learned, you cannot rewind time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

33 Reasons For 33 Years

Yesterday we celebrated my husband turning 33 years young.Our family has had a mini vacation since last Thursday evening, so we have enjoyed some much needed family time! On Friday, the girls spent the night with my parents so Boss and I were able to go on a date. On Saturday, Emma and Kate (with the help of my mom!) threw Boss a mini surprise party, and that night we had friends over for a dinner party and to play games. Yesterday we drove to Boss' parent;s house for a sleepover, and his mom spoiled him with all of his favorite foods. Boss, you are loved! Happy Birthday!

In honor of 33 years, the top 33 reasons why I love and am thankful for my husband:

1. He makes yummy chili, toad in a holes, and chocolate chip pancakes.
2. He watches Lifetime and Hallmark movies with me and is not afraid to admit it.
3. He does the laundry and he folds it. Always has.
4. Most mornings he still gets up with Kate so that I can sleep.
5. He ROCKS at doing finances and keeps our family out of debt and well prepared for the future.
6. He rubs my feet every night while I am pregnant.
7. He tells funny jokes. He is like butter when he gets on a roll. (That is one of his favorites)
8. He has started taking our little girls on dates.
9. He listens to my dreams.
10. He listens to my worries and fears and does not judge me.
11. He is always the first to apologize when we argue.
12. He puts up with all of the traditions that I enforce upon our little family.
13. He still opens my car door when we go on dates.
14. He puts up with my insane fear of elevators and takes the stairs with me every single time.
15. He looks cute in hoodie sweatshirts.
16. He loves my family and encourages all of our relationships.
17. He still likes sleeping next to me, even though I snore.
18. He supports my obsession with taking baths, and has never complained about our water bill.
19. He is the best dad. Seriously.
20. He has cute ankles. It's true.
21. He works hard and pays all of our bills. Good thing! I know nothing about finances.
22. He has always given me the gift of staying home with our kids.
23. He has given me three of the most beautiful children in the world!
24. He comes home for lunch when he can.
25. He enjoys working with troubled youth and has a vision for the future.
26. He enjoysspending time with and taking our family on trips. To him, family comes first.
27. We share the same parenting views and have the same goals for our children.
28. He still calls his mom most every week.
29. He has sought wise council when it has been needed in our marriage.
30. He is still committed to our marriage, through good times and bad.
31. He does not cuss or say inappropriate things, but watches his tongue.
32. He supports me in my goals for my life.
33. He still tells me I am beautiful every single day, even though I know my looks have changed considerably since our wedding day.

Happy Birthday, Boss. I love you to moons on sticks and back again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year


To finish out the holiday season and year 2009, my brother and his wife were able to come to town. Lots of family time! We ate yummy food, exchanged Christmas gifts, went bowling, played cards, and just enjoyed being together. Everyone came to our house for New Years Eve. We had a dinner of appetizers, played games, and had our traditional New Years Eve Ice Cream Sundaes. Emma remembered that we did this last year, so that means her long term memory is officially in gear. I told Boss that means we have to step up our parenting game now that she will remember what we do and how we respond. The pressure is on! At midnight, we blew poppers and toasted with sparkling punch. Kate crashed at about eight pm, but Emma said New Years Eve was her most favorite holiday ever. Silly girl. Our family has much to look forward to in 2010, and we are ready to see what the Lord has in store for us!

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!" Psalm 121:2