Tag Archives: relationships

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

Relationship Advice #8

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“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34

Our wedding day

Our wedding day

Rachel and Jake,

Another year has passed since I last wrote to you about relationships.  If you need a refresher, you can look here and here to see some of my other entries about love and what it takes to make a relationship work.  Now I’m not saying I have all the answers, because I don’t.  Marriage is work and it is hard, hard work.  But with that being said, it’s also the best kind of work.  It stretches you and helps you to grow and see yourself as a part of something that is working for a common good.  It’s a beautiful thing, really.  Anyway, my hope is that by the time you are old enough to read this blog you will have a nice collection of advice from your dear old mom to consider when navigating through the dating world and eventually settling down into marriage–then the real fun begins! Each year I hope to give you one more tip to add to  your Rolodex of relationship advice (not sure what a Rolodex is? It’ll probably be non-existent by the time you can read this, but as your mother I find it most appropriate to talk about the things from yesteryear anyway 😉 )

tim and jake

Let’s talk a little bit about presence.

Ok, ok, I’m sorry, but we’re going to talk a lotta bit about presence, because it is very, very important in any stage of any relationship.

So little!

When you, Rachel, were born, your Dad and I had no idea what the every day expectation of having a newborn was going to consist of.  We knew that we would feed you and change you and hopefully get to rest when you did, but we did not know what our new little family of three was going to look like and how those dynamics of our family would be shaped.  It’s something that you just can’t experience or fully prepare for until it happens! We had lots of conversations about what we thought it would be like, but looking in from an outsider’s perspective before something happens is always different from when you are 100% in the trenches living it day in and day out. By the time Jake was born, we had a better picture of what our expectations were–but again, you can never really be prepared until you are living it.  So once Jake was born, things were shifted and moved around in ways that we could not have foreseen, but it just worked for us.

Rachel and Daddy

Rachel, my sweet little dear, I have a confession to make to you right now.  From the time you were born until the time you were about one week old, I did not change a single diaper.  Your Dad changed every. single. one. until you were nearly a week old.  Every single one.  Every single time.  I still get blown away when I think about that.  There I was on the couch after a tough delivery that left me in pain to move any ol’ which way I tried, and there was your Dad (never having changed a diaper before you, by the way), taking it upon himself to change your diaper no matter what time of day or night without giving so much as an inkling that he felt it should or even could be any other way.  Luckily, when Jake was born my recovery was much easier so luckily for us both, I was able to help out much more the second time around.

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Before you were born, I thought it was only a mother’s instinct that would cause her to wake up because her newborn baby was stirring in the bassinet beside her, ready to be fed.  And yet, each time either of you woke up at night, guess who was the one to get out of bed and bring you to me before I even had a chance to sit up? Yes, it was your Dad.  From the very beginning of our parenting experience he has been there for us with an enthusiasm and outlook that can only come from love in it’s most pure form.  He’s there because he loves us and he wants to be there.  It really is as simple as that.

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There isn’t a job that he won’t do. He has never handed either of you off to me because he doesn’t want to change a diaper, and he doesn’t ask me what I’m making you for lunch. If he’s playing with you and your diaper needs changed, he changes it! If he notices that it’s time for lunch, guess what? He makes it! And likewise, I do the same.  It’s truly a wonderful thing.  In your Dad’s and my mind–there are no “woman” or “man” jobs, there are only “parent” jobs.  And for those jobs, either one–mom or dad– will work.  Our expectation is that whoever is able to do it, does it. At the end of the day, we clean up the toys together, we put the dishes away and prepare things for the next day.  Oh yeah, your school lunches? Those aren’t always packed by me either–your Dad can cut sandwiches into sailboats better than I can!

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The best part, is that these are things we didn’t even talk about ahead of time.  These examples (and there are many more to go along with them!) are just some of the ways that your Dad has been there for us without ever even giving it a second thought.  Not keeping score, not throwing it all on one person, but really choosing over and over again to be there for us in every way possible.

So…without further adieu, here’s relationship tip #8.

Tip #8: Be with someone whose second nature is to be physically, spiritually and emotionally present in your relationship.

Choose someone who not only wants to be there in those ways–but someone who really does not see any other way of conducting themselves in your relationship without those things.  Begging for support in any of those areas can be totally draining to both sides.  Choose someone who will meet your expectations in each of those areas.  If your expectations are not met, it can lead to resentment and hard feelings–both of which can be toxic to any relationship.  In the entire picture of your life, your relationship should be equally balanced between two people who are willing to sacrifice and give in order to make it work.  BOTH people need to be present in order for those sacrifices to be made and valued.

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In closing, here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if you and your spouse are really and truly present in your relationship.

– Do I offer help with every day tasks without keeping score? Do I see what needs to be done and do it, or do I wait because it’s not my “job”? Do I value my partner enough to go outside of my comfort zone in order to help my partner feel supported?

– Do I know the spiritual concerns of my partner? What can I do to help my partner along in their spiritual journey? What do they feel called towards? How can I help them reach their calling?

– What is troubling my partner today? What is my partner proud of themselves for doing recently? What is my partner’s emotional climate like? Why? What can I do to help support my partner’s feelings and emotions?

Don’t worry–you got this! And if you don’t, your partner will be there to help you pick up the slack! 🙂 Right?

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With all that said, I love you both very much. More than you could ever know.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxo

PS. Let’s just take a minute and cheers to your Dad! He truly is one of the best one’s out there…Cheers to you, Tim! We wouldn’t be who or where we are today without you! Happy Anniversary! Here’s to a hundred, and a thousand more.

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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rachel

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.

jake

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Romans 8:1

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

Love always,

Mommy

xoxoxo

Relationship Advice #7

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Rachel and Jake,

Last year I wrote to you about what I felt to be some pretty important relationship advice.  I plan to continue to do that each year on your father’s and my anniversary as a way to share with you some things that I have learned about what it takes and what it means to grow in love.  I am not an expert, just a Mama trying to share my thoughts on what can make a marriage work in today’s “what have you done for me, lately” world.  Maybe by the time you are older the world won’t be so “me focused.” …I hope that is the case!

So, without further adieu, here is your #7 relationship tip from your dear old Mom.

#7.) Remember Who you were made for.  

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

rachelandjakeIt’s hard to really articulate this piece of advice, because it’s something that needs to be more of a “belief” or a way of thinking rather than something I could just tell you so that you’d remember to apply it to your life.  Society today (and I’d imagine it would be even more so in the next coming years) tends to objectify both women and men.  Some people can look at women and men as an object or as something that should please them (ex. “She shouldn’t wear that type of bathing suit when she looks like that.”  or “Wow, I want to date him–he makes a lot of money!” ).

My advice to you–You are not an object or something to be used in order to please another person.  You are not disposable and should never be treated as such in a relationship.  You belong to God, and He loves you unconditionally just the way you are.  He knows your struggles and your strengths and will always be there for you when you need Him.

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This is similar to the way your relationship should be with your spouse.  When you get married, the vows you take bind you to your spouse for an eternity.  It is not just an earthly commitment that is a convenient tax break or until something better comes along.  When you say “I do” you are saying that you promise to love that person for an eternity.  Yes, you might have some cool looking “bling” on your finger because of it, but your rings are simply an outward symbol for the seal on your heart binding you to your spouse.  Although you are married, it is important that you both recognize that even though you love each other more than any other person on this earth, your greatest love is waiting for you in heaven.  Your spouse should be someone who recognizes that this life is not all there is in store for you.  You and your spouse should be  a team that works together so that you can both reach your highest potential while you are here on earth.  That sounds like a big job–and when looking at it as a whole picture, it can sound pretty overwhelming– so here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help see if your spouse is helping you reach your full potential.

1.) What is the big picture of our relationship? Where are we headed? Do we work together towards a common goal that we both feel called towards?  If not, what can we do to change that?

2.) Do we encourage each others thoughts, dreams and desires? Do we value the life path that our spouse has chosen?

3.) Are we communicating effectively to get our thoughts and feelings across in a respectful yet direct way?

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If you answer no to one or all of these questions, then one or both of you may end up feeling defeated or not valued in your relationship.  When one person is unhappy, it can change the dynamics of your relationship and your life.  Work hard to make each other happy in a way that lifts your partner up to be the best they can be.  Be careful that you do not objectify each other in a “what have you done for me lately” kind of way or think that the other person is there specifically to please you, you are worth more than that.  Remember–life is not just about you, it’s about Him!

rachel

When your dad and I were married (7 years ago today!) we both had common goals for where we wanted to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. We knew we wanted to be married for a few years before we had children and we hoped and prayed that we would be blessed as parents one day.  We knew we wanted to retire early and live out our golden years on the beautiful beaches of North Carolina.  Our beliefs are similar, our goals are similar and our overall outlook on life is similar.  I’m not saying it can’t be done without these things, I’m just saying that life will be smoother for you if these things align.

I love you both very much.  More than you could ever know.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxo