Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Live Like You Were Dyin'

I have been reminded recently (once again), about the brevity of life. An email aquaintance lost her husband. He leaves behind his wife and 6 children. As I have grieved for her, I have also spent a good amount of time thanking God for the wonderful husband and companion that He has blessed me with.

As I prepare for his return each afternoon, I wonder what it would be like to know that he will never again come through the front door. As I lay in bed, I wonder what it would be like to climb the stairs at night, knowing that he would never again lay by my side. As I snuggle into his pillow each morning after he leaves, I contemplate whether I would have the courage to wash the sheets, and lose his scent. I also have thought about our relationship, and how I treat him.

Does he know how much I adore him? Does he know that I cherish each moment that we have? I'm sure there are times when I do well ~ perhaps even excel at communicating to him how deeply I love and admire him. I also know that there are too many times that I allow my circumstances and attitude to affect how I speak to him or treat him ~ and at those times I fail miserably.

Case in point: Yesterday my Beloved went to town ahead of us. His rig has some front end problems, and he needed to take it in and get it worked on. I was to follow in the van after his paycheck was ready. Our two oldest boys had been at my folks' house, and so I had to go out there to pick up Levi. Well, almost to the top of their drive, I got stuck. Not only was I stuck, but I couldn't even get out of the van, because if I took my foot off the break, the van would start to slide. So, I had a van full of children, and I couldn't do anything to help myself ~ I couldn't even get out of the van to go get Levi to rescue me! After honking the horn for him, and then sending in Logan, Levi came out and started working to get me unstuck. We (Levi) tried ashes on the snow, we tried digging ruts for traction, we tried kitty litter under the tires. Nothing worked. At this point, I was getting *extremely* frustrated. And then my phone rang. It was my Beloved. I was, to say the least, short with him. Completely, totally, un-fairly short. It certainly wasn't his fault that I was stuck, and it wasn't as if he could do anything about it. But, I still took my frustration out on him. :-( Levi ended up putting the chains on so that we could drive the last 100-200 feet to the top of the drive, and after getting back into town where I had some real reception, I called Mike back and apologized for being such a stinker to him.

I have been really convicted about my tendancy to do this type of thing. It seems as though I live my life in a reactionary way, instead of purposefully, thoughtfully living. I let myself get carried on my emotions and not only does my Beloved pay for it, my children do as well. But what kind of a legacy am I leaving? If I were to die today, what memories would fill my Beloved's mind? Would it be of a wife who loved and adored him ~ and made every effort to make sure he knew, or would it be of a wife who was *itchy every time things weren't *just so*? What would my children's memories be? If it were my Beloved who died, would I be able to rest in how I treated him, and came alongside of him, or would I be guilt-ridden because of how I tended to treat him?

I want to "live like I was dyin'", as the song goes. Not in a self-interest sort of way, but in a way that glorifies God, and in a way that cherishes those around me. Not a one of us is guaranteed the next moment, let alone tomorrow or next year, how are we living? I want to look back on my life with as few as regrets as possible. Obviously, I'm not going to live a perfect life, but I want to strive to live as pure and righteous a life as possible ~ and to be sure to make amends when I don't. I thank God that I don't have to attempt that on my own power! May our dear Lord give us each the strength to live as if each moment is our last~making those moments count for Him and those we love.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Re-thinking Housework

Yesterday I was contemplating ways in which to maintain a sense of order, without infringing too much on my Beloved's good will.

I am now 24 weeks along with this little and seem to be carrying the baby rather low. Bending over has become almost an impossibility. Which makes picking up rather difficult. Simple things that we don't normally think about. Do you know how quickly the house can look like a tornado hit if you can't pick things up off the floor? Apparently, with 3 of the children under the age of 8, the speed in which it can happen is the blink of an eye! LOL

I have been working with the children on, "If you are done with something, put it away." And am constantly reminding them to pick things up off the floor, but since we are still in training mode (more with some than others), it still gets to looking rather wild around here. Yesterday was my Beloved's day off. He spent the better part of the morning trying to get out of the driveway (major snow storm the night before), and working on thawing out the watering trough; before coming in and helping me with the house. While he did it without complaining (and without me asking), he wasn't the happiest of campers. And while I greatly appreciate his help ~ am so very thankful for his help, I do realize he shouldn't have to give it. However, here I sit, unable to bend over ~ except in an emergency. ;-)

I know that there are women who are totally incapacitated during their pregnancies, and I am grateful that I am not among them, but I do need to deal with my limitations and figure out how to still be a good keeper of my home and decent helpmeet to my Beloved. One of the ways I am doing this is by working more diligently with the children, as mentioned above. Another idea I have come up with is to get one of those long-handled "grabbers" the next time we're in town. That will allow me to pick up stuff off the floor, without having to bend over, or call for help (which even in a household of 7 children isn't always available). I also think that we need to evaluate what is most important to get done, what can slide some, what just doesn't need to be worried about. Pregnancy is just a season, and it will soon be over, and I will once again be able to bend over and pick up whatever I want!

There are different times in our lives, when we may not be able to keep up with our normal expectations, or ideals. While that does not excuse us to let everything go, we do need to re-evaulate (along with our Beloved), and do what we can. It may mean that he has to do more around the house than he usually does, it may mean that you have to hire in help for a while, or for a particular job - such as having a young woman come in and vacuum and do laundry a day or two a week. The most important thing is that we are doing what we can (though it may be little or nothing sometimes), and that our husband still feels like he has a helpmeet, and that his home is still a haven for him.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Leaving and Cleaving Pt. 2

I have continued to ponder the leaving and cleaving mentioned in Genesis. It would seem, for men, this is more of a break from the headship of their father, more so than a physical "leaving". Obviously, there were times when God called men to leave the place they were living and move (think Abram), but the norm would appear that the man stayed either with his family or near them ~ unless he is marrying into a pagan culture, and then everything went haywire. There are exceptions as well ~ Jacob, who ran from his brother and lived with Laban ~hmmm, that didn't turn out particularly well, humanly speaking, and Laban was his mother's relative, not his father's.

Please understand, I am not bashing the wife's family. I'm just trying to analyze and understand what I see to be common, through the lens of Scripture. Often I think, if the wife will not "leave and cleave", not only does it affect her husband and his family, it affects her relationship with the family she has built with her husband. I recently became aware of a situation where a family had a tradition of where they spent a part of one holiday, but the wife's parents decided they were going to do something different, and so *her* family had to do that as well, instead of their long-standing tradition. One of the children in particular was very upset, but related that, "When Grandma and Grandpa want to do something, my Mom has to do it too." She was letting her attachment to her parents over-ride her commitment and attachment to her own family. In the process upsetting the children, because their beloved tradition was disrupted, not because of an emergency or unavoidable circumstance, but because of her whim.

I realize that often a husband's family is at best unfriendly and at worst down right hostile to a daughter-in-law, and this can greatly complicate things. It is difficult to prefer to be with people who would rather they had never even met you, let alone had to accept you into the family ~ and maybe they don't really accept you. But what does it say to your Beloved if you make the effort anyway, and act in a winsome way toward them, not meeting resistance with resistance, but doing your best to win them over. I say this with regret and sorrow. I never really made that effort, and now both of my Beloved's parents are gone. I caused my Beloved heartache, my children missed out on a closer relationship with one set of their grandparents, and I missed out as well, because I wasn't mature enough to make the effort to be kind and loving to people who wouldn't return in kind. Through an uncommon set of circumstances, that did change in my Beloved's father's later years, but by then he was in poor enough health that it still wasn't a close, vibrant relationship.

There are certainly times when a husband really doesn't want to have anything to do with his family either, and while I believe that we should encourage a phone call now and then and for him to be honoring, I don't think the issue should be pushed. However, if our Beloved loves and desires to be with his family and we are rejecting them, then in reality, we are rejecting a part of him as well. Even if you don't see much to be admired, remember that this is the mother and father that raised the man you love ~ and that's something!

I encourage you to take time today and really contemplate and pray about your relationship with your family and with your in-laws. Have you truly left your family and joined yourself to your husband?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Leave and Cleave

"And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. The the man said,
"This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:22-24

I have been thinking on this a lot lately. Obviously, the text says, "a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife," but if the wife is still "holding fast" to her family, is this possible in the sense that God intends? I know that there are men out there who are very close to their parents, and will put their needs/wants ahead of their own family, but I think this is something that women struggle with to a much greater degree.

From the marriages I have observed, it seems much more likely that the wife will not forsake her own family to participate with and “belong to” her husband’s family. This often means that all holidays are spent with her family, never with his. Perhaps she outright scorns the things his parents say or advice they give. Or she ridicules the way his family does things, or refuses to adopt any of his family’s traditions.

Sometimes this happens because his parents are not friendly toward her ~ perhaps they are even hostile. But, I have seen this happen even when his parents were more than willing to welcome her with open arms and love her like a daughter.

I know that I have been guilty of some of these things at different points in our marriage, but as I mature and grow, I see how important those familial ties are. If we are going to have a multi-generational vision for our families, it doesn’t just begin with us. We have to look to the preceding generations as well. We need to show our children what it is to love, honor and embrace family that maybe we find difficult, or just plain different from ourselves.

As we draw closer to the time when our sons will be marrying, I wonder what I can do to build relationships with my future daughters-in-law. As our sons make known to us their interest in a particular girl, or come to us letting us know they are ready to begin the courting process, I want to embrace those young women and begin to build a friendship with them, to come to love them *before* they are an “official” part of our family. This is not to say that I expect them at our home for every holiday. :-) But, I want to *gain* a daughter when the time comes, not lose my son.

We are encouraging our sons to not only look at the daughter, but to observe the whole family ~ how do they interact with one another? How do they behave toward him? Are they a family that our family gets along with? Does our son get along well with them? These may not be “deal breakers”, but we believe them to be an important part of the courtship process. As those of us who are married well know, you are not just marrying your spouse, you are taking on their family as well.

Well, I’m not sure that these thoughts aren’t somewhat muddled, but I guess this is just an overview of my thoughts on this subject. I’m hoping to flesh some of this out over the next few months and be more specific on different aspects of it. Any thoughts you have, I would love to hear. Especially concerning building relationship with daughters-in-law ~ with 5 boys, I need all the help I can get!