Tag Archives: faith

Relationship Advice #10

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“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Our wedding day

Wow! Can it possibly be true that 10 years has flown by in the blink of an eye?! Your Dad and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary today and we are proud to say that we have grown closer together in those last ten years than we ever thought possible.  It is true what they say–a good marriage is a labor of love!

Every year I write to you a little bit about what I have learned over the past year.  My hope is that by the time you are venturing into your own marriage you will have 30+ years of marriage tips/tricks and advice to help you navigate the waters.  When I think back on each year as they go by, I try to determine any over-arching themes, any areas that have stretched my thoughts or times that I have felt myself grow as a person.  Then I use what I have and try to convey some sort of (hopefully) helpful advice to you.  Also, if you look back on each year, it would be a pretty safe to say that the pieces of advice that I give are areas that I am currently or have intensely struggled with.  That is why they “stick out” to me as being important or recurring themes.  I am not perfect.  Marriages are not perfect.   They are a team effort that require a lot of give and take along the way.  If you look at each post as a “snapshot” of my year, I also hope that you’ll see little pieces of my heart and who I am/was during that time.

Sidenote: I just felt completely overwhelmed and compelled to tell you how much I love being your mom.  I am blessed to have you both in my life and I consider it the honor of a lifetime to be a part of yours.  ❤

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Here are links to previous years posts:

Years 1-6: (Year 1-5 were the “carefree” pre-children years, although they of course weren’t totally carefree…I just didn’t give much thought to the motherly advice I wanted to give yet.  Year 6 is when things got real and I had to start a blog so I could tell you all the things!), Year 7Year 8 and Year 9

This year’s relationship advice is a bit of a personal one and is something I believe we all may struggle with to a certain extent.

Relationship Advice #10: “For richer or for poorer” refers to  BOTH of those seasons of life and everything in between. Otherwise known as: Your “things” do not define you.

Hard times are bound to happen.  A lost job could turn your financial situation upside-down overnight.  A newly purchased car can become totaled within a week of purchase.  Bills can pile up, unexpected medical bills can nearly put you in near financial ruin.  Your health can deteriorate, a family member can pass away unexpectedly.  Life is good in the good times….but guess what– life is good in the hard times too.

This past year has been a tough one for us financially.  We struggled to see the good around us when it seemed like time and time again we just kept getting knocked down.  It was a difficult time, to say the least.

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“Team work makes the dream work.”

After sulking for a tiny bit, your Dad and I developed a plan.  We cut down our expenses, we nearly eliminated all of our personal disposable spending, we were creative with our grocery shopping (you’d be shocked at how many variations of spaghetti we have had in the past year! But at around $2.50/meal it truly can’t be beat!) and we prioritized every. single. thing. that we bought and constantly asked “Do I really need this?” before buying something new.  I’m talking down to questioning whether or not we really needed a new bottle of ketchup one time at the grocery store.  Things were really that tight.

Stress can ruin a lot of things for people.  Stress can either make or break a person. Financial stress is one of the biggest issues that can plague a relationship.  Spend time being intentional about how you handle the stress in your life.  Being intentional about handling the stress in my life is what made all the difference for us. We worked together, made decisions together and were determined to come out on top. We knew that nothing could be gained by trying to fix it alone and we knew that we could rely on each other no matter what came our way.  Find a partner who values your “team” and who knows that “team work makes the dream work.”

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Since I was questioning every single expense down to the bottle of ketchup, it goes without saying that items like new shoes, clothes, camera gear, etc. were completely and understandably put on the back burner.  You might have looked at our bank account and thought “Gee, these people sure don’t have a lot.” I’d be the first to tell you that you were completely and utterly wrong.

I found myself becoming increasingly aware of people around me.  I noticed my husband working harder than ever to support our family.  I saw my children (you!) laughing and smiling and learning and growing each day.  I began to see that God was placing certain people into my life for different reasons.  Some people had great messages and always seemed to say and do the right thing at the right time.  Sometimes it gave me chills, sometimes it brought tears to my eyes and sometimes it made me exhale in relief.  For example, the bible verse listed at the top of this post is a verse someone had shared with me after I had an exceptionally hard day.  I know with all of my being that that person was meant to share that scripture verse with me that day.  That was a time that I knew God was there.  I knew He was stretching me.  I knew He was growing me as a person and refining me to see the big picture in life.  I know he was trying to help me see what really mattered….and what didn’t.  I was reminded in that moment that God works all things together for good.  All things.  Even when we don’t understand it.

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After a time of not really thinking about buying “things” for myself, I started to notice that I stopped thinking about them (mostly, at least).  I recognized that “things” are just objects…some are helpful, some are not.  Some are just there.  They don’t define who we are.  Our personalities, who we are as people and the values that we have can define us as people.  What are we doing to make this world a better place? It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, something simple will do just as well.

I started to realize that life wasn’t about your job or how much money you had.  Your job title did not determine who you are.  Your job is fleeting.  Life is fleeting.  The only thing that lasts is love.  When we die, we can’t take any of our stuff with us.  We can, however,  leave the world a better place than how we found it.  We can realize that we are more than the clothes we wear or the things we have (or don’t have!).  Love is the only true wealth any of us can ever have.  The ripples left from a loving relationship can affect generations.  It truly is a beautiful opportunity we’ve been given to make the world a better place simply by loving others.

Helpful Tip: Be careful when justifying your purchases with phrases like “Well I work hard, so I deserve this.” A lot of people work hard.  A lot of people “deserve” those things too.  But for one reason or another, they may not be able to have it.  Keep that in mind, always.  Nothing in life is guaranteed or “deserved.”  Be thankful for everything.  Life is a gift.

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“I wish you bad luck- again, from time to time- so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life. And understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.”- Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts during a commencement speech for his son’s ninth grade graduation.

Some questions to consider to help you determine where the desires of your heart truly lie:

-Do I place more emphasis on wanting to acquire material items instead of what I can do to help make the world a better place?

-Do I notice the “things” people have and constantly compare what I have to what they have?

-Do I know without a doubt that although sometimes life is hard, God uses all things to work together for good?

-Am I capable of seeing myself, my partner and the people around me for who they are as people and not “what” they are?

So, my sweet ones, when you take your wedding vows and you say “For richer or for poorer,” know that that means during BOTH of those times and any time in between as well.  Use the hard times learn more about yourself and grow in your relationship with God and your spouse.  Realize that life isn’t just about you and sometimes the chips are going to be down.  Who are you going to be when the chips are down? Maybe you’ll decide you want to be that person when the chips are up again too.  I hope so.

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I love you, I love you, I love you.  To the moon and back! A thousand times! Forever and ever.

Love always,

Mommy

2016: Patience and Trust

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2016–Wow! What a year! In some ways it’s hard to believe that an entire year has gone by,  but in other ways it seems like this year might have just been the longest year of my life. 2016 was a great year for our family, but at the same time it was also a very tough year for us emotionally, mentally and spiritually for various reasons.  Your Dad and I tried to keep things in perspective when times got tough, and worked hard to rely on each other even when we felt pulled towards the opposite.

It’s easy to feel helpless when it seems like one thing after another keeps happening to bring you down–like things pile up and you just don’t know how to stop it. Everyone’s been there, every one goes through a season like this in their lives.  Don’t ever think that bad things or tough times only ever fall on you–it happens to everyone.  The way you react to those times says a lot more about your character than how you act when things are smooth sailing.

When it seems like things are getting too hard, take a look around and realize that life is good.  The kids are healthy and happy.  Our home is peaceful and steady.  We have food, clothing and good friends.  In the whole scheme of life, we have it pretty good.  Even if life is hard right now, I know that it won’t be like this forever.  Yes, even through the hard times, life is still good.  God is still good and faithful, even in time when it seems like He’s not.  Please know that, like *really* know that.

This past year was an exercise in trust for our family.  Life isn’t always butterflies and rainbows, little ones.  But it is *always* good and we are always here for a purpose.  Thanks for always keeping things in perspective for us.  For 2017 we are holding on to the hope that the future brings goodness and happiness for our family, our community, our country and our world.  IMG_3849

Happy New Year, my sweet babes! I love you to the moon and back!

Love always,

Mom

P.S. I hope you enjoy looking back on some of my favorite photos from this year.  If it seems like many of them are from the summer, it’s because they are.  Summer is my jam.

 

2015: A Year to Remember

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Dear Rachel and Jake,

Wow! 2015 was an awesome year for our family! Here’s a look back on some (ok, ok, A LOT) of our most memorable moments.  It seems like this year just flew right by us! I guess that’s what happens when you are busy having fun! 🙂

 

I am so thankful for the gift of motherhood itself, but most of all, I am especially thankful for the little ones who call me “Mom.” Life is good.  2016, we are ready for you!

I love you to the moon and back.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxo

A Weekend to Remember

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Rachelweekend2-7Rachel,

The weekend before your fourth birthday was a fun one! We celebrated your birthday with a party at Monkey Joes! You loved bouncing around on the different bounce houses, as long as they did not include a slide! You said that you felt like the slides were just a little bit too high for you and that you would just rather jump than slide.  Go right ahead, little girlie, jump until your heart’s content!

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We had pizza and cake and icecream and tons of fun with all of your friends and family that came to celebrate with you!

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The next day we traveled to the American Girl store where, after much deliberation, you picked out your first doll, Jessie.  We had lunch at the cafe together where they even had a special seat for Jessie so she could join us for lunch too! Later in the day, we visited the Disney store where you were given an extra special gift from Mickey Mouse himself–what a treat! You enjoyed your special message from Mickey and have worn your pin with pride almost every day since then.

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We had so much fun celebrating YOU and your birthday together. We are so thankful for the day you were born–since then our lives have never been the same! 🙂 We love you so very much!

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I love you to the moon and back.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxo

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Happy Easter 2015

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Happy Easter, my little sweeties! What a fun day we had filled with candy, Easter baskets, songs and a wonderful message shared later in the day by my sweet girl about how Jesus makes us “clean” again (Thank you, Miss Dani!)

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It is because of the sacrifice Jesus made by dying on the cross for us that we have reason to celebrate today.  Always know that Easter is not just about the candy and eggs, but that it signifies a promise fulfilled and a love so strong that it was willing to go to any length to sacrifice for you.

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Some people put much emphasis on telling others that they love them…a spouse, a friend, a child; but Easter reminds us that real love is more than just words.  Real love requires action and sacrifice.  Jesus dying on the cross is the perfect example of the ultimate sacrifice to display the ultimate love.  I challenge you, my little ones who will one day grow into adults, to show the world your love not just in words alone, but also through your actions. The choices that you make and the sacrifices you endure will show the world (and yourself) where the intention of your heart lies.  Love the ones who are the most difficult to love, reach out to those who need your help the most, sacrifice your time being of service to others.  Volunteer your time, your energy and your heart.  Do what you can to make the world a better and more loving place.  By choosing to live a life of actionable love, you will get to know the Father’s love for you (and all of us) in ways you would never have known before.

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Romans 8:1

I love you to the moon and back. Forever and always.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxoxo

I love you so…

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Rachel,

After story time one evening, I carried you over to your bed and we talked about your day and laughed while I tickled you in such a way that you could barely catch your breath.  “I love you so much!” I told you before leaving your room; it’s always the last thing I want you to hear from me before you close your little eyes and drift off to sleep for the night.

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“I love you so peanut butter and jelly!” you said in a fit of giggles as I kissed you goodnight and tucked you in to bed.  In your silliness and sweetness I couldn’t help but feel a lump catch in my throat because I knew what you meant.  I knew that was your way of telling me that you loved me as much as one of your favorite things in this world–peanut butter and jelly! It was your way of saying “I love you to the moon and back!” and your way of saying “I love you so much!” Only it was more meaningful than any of those because you put your feelings in to your own words.  I was reminded in that moment that you are growing up so quickly and it seemed like just yesterday that you were six months old and learning how to crawl and now here you are joking with me and telling me that you love me, more than just an “I love you too!” Time is flying by, little one…

In all the silliness, I know there was great truth behind what you were saying.  You made the word “love” make sense in your own special way, in an endearingly sweet way that only a three year old can.  Trust me, if your Daddy ever told me he loved me “so beer,” I would not be sharing the same sentiment about it.  🙂

I love your spunk! Here you are trying your absolute best to wink at me! :)

I love your spunk! Here you are trying your absolute best to wink at me! 🙂

“I love you so (insert favorite thing here)!” has become a sort of common expression in our house these days.  If we have pizza for dinner, you can bet someone will say “I really love pizza.  Rachel, I love you so pizza!” or if we are watching Frozen (for the 40,000th time) that day, it’s “I love you so Frozen!”

Our first secret code. How exciting and terribly sweet that it relates to love and spreading happiness to those around us.

After all, I love you so Rachel and Jake!

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Love always,

Mommy

xoxo

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My sweet babies,

Let’s talk a little bit about purpose.  Everyone wonder’s about it at some point in their life. “What am I here for?” “What is my calling?” “How can I find happiness in my own life?” At times you might feel that your purpose in life is not totally clear, or you might feel that your purpose in life and what you are actually doing in life do not coincide with each other.  I’m here to tell you, my sweet ones, that the answer to this question is not a simple one.

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What I do know, my dear ones, is that this life is not all that there is in store for us.  I do know that there is more.  There is more waiting for us when we get to heaven.  There’s this trend I’ve noticed in my own life, and I’m curious to see if you notice it in yours someday too.  What I have noticed is that through almost every stage of my life (and it’s not like I’m old and gray, I’m still in my twenties after all! The tail end of them, but I’m still in them!) I have always felt like there should be more.  I’ve always thought “Well, if only I could have this or see this or do this then I’ll never want anything else! I’ll be totally happy!” That’s not to say that I’ve never felt contentment–I have! Just not 100% of the time in all aspects of my life.  It’s human nature to want more, to desire more, to push yourself to do more.  I’m convinced that the reason for that feeling….get ready for it….is because this world is not our home!

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Just because we live in this world, that does not make it our home.  Be careful that you do not find your identity in things that belong in this world, but find your identity in the One who created you for eternity.  It can be so easy to get caught up in the material things of this world–an expensive watch, a nice car, a fancy handbag, a new expensive house–these are all things that popular culture tells us are measures of success!  These items though, really will not leave you feeling satisfied, many times they will leave you feeling like you want more.  When you realize that your life’s purpose does not have to do with material wealth or prosperity, you can begin to live as a changed and focused person.  Try thinking about it this way–much like a dolphin could never feel totally satisfied living in captivity because it was meant to swim freely in the ocean, or a bird could never reach it’s full potential if it never was able to fly; you will never feel totally satisfied in this life because, like the bird with the clipped wings or the dolphin held in captivity, you were made for so much more.

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Invest your time wisely.  Do not focus all of your energies on things that are only important to your earthly lives.  Your life on earth is just temporary, a fleeting moment in the entire scheme of our lives, and once you know that and really believe that, it can drastically change your values and what you hold most important in your life.   Know that just because you take the time to develop a prayer life or a closeness with God, that does not mean you will be without suffering or sadness.  If you ever find yourself wondering why there is pain or suffering in this world…remember, this is not the end of the story! This life is not, it can not, be the end of the journey for us.  We are called for so much more!   Don’t worry about “having it all” on earth in terms of material items.  Work hard, do your best, and know that there is more to life than what you see here in this world.  There has to be.

Now, sit back and enjoy the inspiration behind this blog post.  I hope YouTube is still around when you are old enough to read this in 16ish years.  This song is “Thrive” by the Casting Crowns.

I’ll love you forever, to the moon and back.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxoxo