Tuesday, December 11, 2012
"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones." - Proverbs 12:4 (ESV)
When the Going Gets Tough....
The past few weeks have been very rough on me. B was given an amazing work opportunity that will be great for his career, but requires him to be gone Sunday - Thursday every week for 6+ weeks. That means that the running of the household has fallen on me. I have been trying to juggle kids, school, work, Christmas shopping, etc., and at times, my strength has failed me. It's been especially hard because the Triplets and I are still learning how to navigate as a family.
As much as I even hate to admit it, I had to ask B's forgiveness last week for calling him during a "crisis" and adding stress to his plate instead of turning to my Lord and having Him help me deal with it on my own. It's a fine line between wanting B to know that everything is handled at home and letting him know that he is still needed and missed.
I have often felt like a failure in the past few weeks, but today B sent me this incredible email that not only blessed my heart tremendously, but helped me refocus:
"Every time I’ve seen a picture of a king on TV or a magazine, I’ve always looked at his crown first. There’s something fascinating about it sitting on his head, covered in jewels, inlaid in gold. It shines and is a symbol of his position and place in the world. It shows his authority to lead. It garners respect from others around him and sets him apart. In effect, it makes him special and without his crown he’s just another man in the room. Without the crown, he cannot accomplish anything. But with it he can build great things, lead others, and care for a kingdom that God has given him.
You are the beautiful crown of my life, Amber. You make me special and help me accomplish what I set out to do. Without your help I couldn’t do very much. Thank you for lifting me up and supporting me. I hope I am doing the same for you. As a crown you’ll never be hidden or stepped on. Crowns are for wearing and adorning; boots are for stepping and kicking. I love you with all my heart. I’m so very thankful for you."
As a woman who was raised to be a "Proverbs 31 woman," I cannot express to you how wonderful it is to hear my husband say this to me. Not that I am a perfect wife (I am not even close), and not that we have a perfect marriage relationship, but isn't this what we're all trying to attain? For our husbands to feel supported and secure, to know that his wife is behind him no matter what. This certainly isn't a prideful thing for me, but much more of an admonishment and reminder of what my husband needs from me. May I always be able to let go of my selfish ways, my need to be reaffirmed, and my complaining and put my husband first. Not an easy task by any means, but well worth it to gain favor in the sight of my husband and God.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
When Will I Learn to Trust that my Husband Means What He Says?
I admittedly have a problem with perfection. I have spent my adult life trying to attain and keep standards that are physically impossible. Although I'd like to think that I'm getting better, these past few weeks have laid open another area of sin in my life. My obsession with perfection.
For me, this obsession with perfection centers around my desire to be the best wife and mom that I can be. Although these are noble goals, they often take my focus off the Lord and put it on earthly things. My biggest desire in marrying B was to become his help-meet in every sense of the word. I wanted to completely take over his stress and problems and frustrations, and leave him surrounded in calm and peace. I feel accomplished when I am able to get home from work, get the kids off the bus, get homework done, and dinner on the table before B comes home from work. I guess it's how I gauge myself on if I'm being a good wife or not. B has told me several times that things don't need to be perfect, and that I need to give myself some rest, but I secretly believe he is disappointed if the house is untidy in any way, if all the laundry isn't done, or if I haven't made a homemade dinner.
Well for the past two weeks, I have had a migraine headache nonstop. I have been bedridden, to the Dr. and the hospital, all with very little relief. I have been unable to keep up with the kids or the housework - it has all fallen on B, and he has done an amazing job. One night he was apologizing for not getting something done, and I told him, "I really don't care at all. You're doing the best you can. You're doing a great job." And I meant it. It occurred to me then that he probably feels the same way when he's telling me that I'm doing a great job. I have just chosen to not believe him.
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 5:32 "You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left." (ESV).
The Lord (nor my husband) seeks perfection from me. All I am asked to do is follow what I know the Lord has commanded me to do. While that certainly includes being a focused and committed wife and mother, it does not mean that my toilets have to always be clean and that the kids can't ever have their toys on the floor. More than that, I need to believe what my husband says, and trust that he is on my side working with me, and not let my own insecurities shake my faith in his word.
Friday, October 26, 2012
"When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Proverbs 16:7 ESV)
This may seem like common sense to most of you, but a divorce does not bring peace. When I was living in my first marriage, all I wanted was peace. I wanted a home that was filled with the quiet contentment of being in a family where everyone was loved and secure. While B and I are working hard to achieve this in our home, it's becoming very apparent that we are facing external enemies that are working to destroy our peace.
The above verse has been hanging in our kitchen for the past few months, and it's one that we've been clinging to, but the Lord gave us a chance to put it into practice last night.
Without going into too many details, we had parent conferences for the triplets, who are in 1st grade. During that time spent with B's ex-wife, we were lied to, lied about, and vilified. Though we haven't been married for long, I consider the triplets to be as much my children as P. I know the hurt, pain, and confusion they have experienced at the hands of their mother, but last night I was able to witness first hand the all-consuming hate that would love to destroy our attempt at a godly marriage. It's the kind of hate that you really have to experience before you can believe it exists. The kind that leaves no doubt that we are facing many enemies.
By God' grace alone, I was able to keep my mouth shut and not try to correct the wrongs being spoken about us. B was also able to focus on the task at hand, interact with the teachers, and ignore the negative. We were able to get the information we needed about the kids, their grades, and how to best help them, which is why we were there.
After a dinner filled with me spouting off about all of the wrongs dealt us (just for clarification - the children were NOT with us during this time), we went home were the first thing I saw was this verse, and I was reminded that the Lord calls for me to please HIM with my ways, no one else. He promises that if I live a life pleasing to the LORD, eventually even my enemies will have nothing negative to say about me. And even if they try, no one will believe them :)
I know we have a long road ahead of us as we raise our children. I know that I won't always be able to stay calm like I did last night. But I also know that if I keep my focus on HIM, my enemies will eventually be left speechless.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;" (2 Corinthinans 4:8 ESV)
This past weekend was hard. I mean, really hard. It seems like we're beening bombarded on all fronts. It began with my car breaking down in the rain on Friday, continued through B. and I both struggling with medical issues, and ended with hateful emails and disobedient children. To say it left us feeling overwhelmed would be an understatement.
But do you know what upset me most of all? That I didn't get to do what I wanted to do. Yes, my thoughts were that selfish.
You see, I had spent a lot of time planning two surprise dates for our weekend. On Saturday, we were supposed to drop P off at my aunt's, then head to dinner at Outback and go to a corn maze in the dark. I had even made up this cute invitation for B:
But because of the car breaking down, and P getting sick, and our other various ailments rearing their ugly heads, we didn't get to go. I knew B. felt that it was his fault, and the last thing I wanted was to make him feel guilty about it. My flesh though, wanted to throw a fit about it. I held off, but it was only because of my love for B. and my concern for his well-being. Had the situation been a little less serious, I can't honestly say that I would have been as gracious about it. I was very convicted over my selfishness and the potential problems that it could create in our future.
But as we were going to bed last night, B. reminded me that God is in the process of growing us. As I thought over the events of the weekend, I saw many areas in which God was teaching us to work together as a couple, and strengthening our bond, and I have to say, I do feel much closer to him than I did before.
The biggest lesson though was mine, and as I pondered the ways things went versus the way they could have gone, I was thankful to the Lord for challenging me and providing me a chance to grow as a wife. I only hope that the next time it will be easier for me to disregard the selfish route and put my family first without thought.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
After my divorce, I was in very intensive weekly counseling for about 6 months. Slowly, the memories of my marriage and the anxiety it produced subsided. Sometimes though, the past comes jolting back in a very real way, and it never fails to catch me off guard.
One such memory came flooding back to me this week at a doctor's appointment. One of the most devastating things that happened in my marriage took place during a time when I was extremely ill with (what ended up being) mono. I was hospitalized for a week and in-and-out of doctor's appointments for many months after. The details don't matter, except for the fact that it was my mom and sister who came to care for me from South Carolina and Washington D.C. respectively. It was a very trying time physically, but also when my family started to confront me about some of the serious issues they were seeing in my marriage. It's very hard for me to think back on that time, and I don't do so if I can at all help it.
Well, this week I had a Dr.'s appointment at the same hospital where I was admitted during that illness. When I checked into my appointment this week, the nurse went through and updated my information. My emergency contacts listed were two of my aunts....not my ex-husband as it should have been, because I knew that I couldn't count on him to come if there was an emergency. The feelings and emotions of how utterly alone I was during the time of my illness came flooding back, until I turned to see B. sitting with my daughter in the waiting room, ready to go through anything with me.
It happens sometimes when I go get P. My ex-husband still lives in our old home, and although I would never want to be back there, sometimes I am overwhelmed with sadness just remembering what I hoped our home and family would be like there, and the failure of my marriage.
Unfortunately, it happens sometimes when B. says a certain phrase that my ex-husband would say, and I have to fight back the tears or harsh comments that threaten to spill forth from me.
I guess my point is this....just because you are removed from a situation, it doesn't mean that it won't still affect you for years to come. Letting go of the hopes and dreams you had for your life is hard. Even if you were in a horrible marriage, it is still necessary to grieve the loss of it. I have had to grieve the loss of the person I was before my first marriage. Some of the thoughts these memories bring up are straight from the enemy, and I have to confront them as that. I find myself repeating the lies that I had gotten used to believing about myself, and I start to feel the guilt and failure all over again.
For those of you who have suffered through a separation or divorce, or who are suffering in a difficult marriage now, I highly suggest that you work to begin looking at yourself as God sees you. Search through Scripture to find the wonderful thoughts and promises that He has for His children. When those negative thoughts and lies creep up, replace them with the Truth from God's Word. Memories are powerful things, but the Lord who created us is more powerful. Cling to the Truth about your present and your future, and leave the lies of the past behind.
Friday, October 12, 2012
"Whenever the Bible expressly talks about the marks of an excellent woman, the stress is always on feminine virtue. The most significant women in Scripture were influential not because of their careers, but because of their character." - John MacArthur, Twelve Extraordinary Women.
As I mentioned yesterday, my desire has always been to be a wife and mother. More specifically, a stay-at-home wife and mother. Now please do not take offense if this is not your desire. This is not a post bashing women who choose to be in the workplace, but rather an encouragement for those women who desire to stay home, but can't.
Although I've always wanted to stay home, in the four years that I have been a mother, this dream of mine has never been fulfilled. For whatever reason, the Lord has never allowed for this door to be open to me. I originally went into teaching thinking that given the time off, it would be the next best thing to staying at home, and it was. However, in the past few years, even this door has been closed, and I have taken a job in the public workforce. My schedule is great for during the week, but includes a lot of Saturdays. This means a lot of missed quality family time.
From now until the end of the year, I have to work 9 weekends. Just thinking about it almost gives me a panic attack. That's 9 Saturdays where my precious children and husband will be out enjoying the Fall weather and participating in fun holiday activities without me.
In my previous marriage, this became a source of contention, and I am determined to not let that be the case in my new marriage. Before, I had to work because I was the one with the steady job and I made more money than my spouse. More importantly, I think, it was not an important goal for my ex-husband. Things could not be more different this time around. B. has a good, steady, well-paying job, and more importantly, he greatly desires for me to be home taking care of the house and the children. Unfortunately, I acquired the majority of the debt from my previous marriage, and it's going to take a little bit of time working and applying my paycheck to that in order for it to be paid off. I am fully on board with our plan, and I believe that I should work to help get it paid off, but I still like to lament about my circumstances sometimes.
I was doing just this thing the other day (with tears and all), and B. shared that he was carrying guilt about me having to work. Well, talk about guilt...the Lord greatly convicted me about my attitude. It was not lifting up my husband at all, but actually tearing him down. I resolved to stick it out, and keep any complaints to myself. I am focusing on one weekend at a time, not the 9 ahead of me, and we are figuring out how to make regular week nights family fun nights (not an easy task with elementary aged triplets and their massive amounts of homework).
What have I decided to focus on? What I can do when I am home. For me this week, that has meant sprucing up small areas of the house with fall decorations. As the quote above states, I will not be known for my job in the public sector or as a stay-at-home mom, but for my virtue. I don't want to have the character of a complainer, and more importantly, I don't want my husband to see me as a complainer. So I challenge you moms who work outside of the home: don't focus on everything you miss, but be determined to be purposeful in the time you do have in your home, and make every moment there as peaceful and as joyful as you can for yourself, your children, and your spouse. You will be remembered for it.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
But....here I am. I spent a good deal of time wondering, "How did I get here?" My life has turned out nothing like I had planned. I did everything "right." I saved myself for marriage, I went to church weekly, and followed Christ with everything in me. I led and participated in women's Bible studies. I worked in the church nursery. I was devoted. My faith and family were the number one priorities in my life. I never even considered divorce as an option for my marriage, yet, that's exactly where I found myself.
It was without a doubt the darkest period of my life. Not only was I mourning the loss of my marriage and family, but I was shunned by my church and my church "friends." I lost my home and most of my possessions. It was devastating. I was hurt, ashamed, and confused. But, God had a different plan for me.
All during my separation and divorce my mom encouraged me by saying, "You don't know how God wants to take care of you." She was right. Never could I have imagined what the Lord had in store for me. I had planned on focusing on taking care of my daughter and making the best life possible for her. In my mind, this did not include ever marrying again. But shortly after my divorce, the Lord brought an amazing man into my life. He too had gone through a painful divorce and was trying his best to parent school-age triplets. Although we tried to focus on being friends, the connection we had, and our similar Bible-based goals for our lives and our children was undeniable. After a short courtship and receiving the blessing of our families, we were married on September 14, 2012.
My one hope through everything that I've been through is that I would be able to help other women struggling with similar circumstances. As I was praying last night, and thanking the Lord for the amazing new life He's given me, He laid the name of this blog on my heart. The Second Chance Wife. For that's truly how I see myself. I've been given an amazing second chance to be the godly wife and mom that I've always dreamed of.
I invite you to follow me as I learn how to practically apply those things I'm learning, struggle and grow with us as we attempt to raise a godly blended family, and share your stories of overcoming heartache and disappointment. Most of all, I aim to serve and praise God through my new circumstances. I hope you can relate.