Friday, May 26, 2017


Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
As I scroll back through my blog, a common thread emerges. It's that compelling "I have to write then I'll feel better" theme.  Often I have passed up the urges and still survived. LOL.  However sometimes, getting the thoughts out into the atmosphere bring about a strange healing, sometimes for me, sometimes for others who may stumble across my ramblings.
I'm always learning.  Now don't get me wrong.  I don't pretend to be well versed in much anything. But the process of learning is often bettered by sharing with one another in the process. I don't like the idea of simply throwing every exciting thought out into the universe, but often others' words can serve to be a source of encouragement that can be just what is needed at the moment.  And tho I abhor the impersonal nature of social media, I have seen God use it much! 
This week we finished a beautiful vacation with my family at the ocean. We had perfection.  80 degrees and sunshine daily.
This week also brought some moments of painful revelation, the kind that kick you in the gut and leave you questioning many things including your own sanity and every decision you have ever made.  It's the kind that also amplifies one's failures. It elicits the kind of emotion that makes you feel like vomiting at any given moment. And of course it brings the endless stream of sleep robbing questions...what if's...what nows...
To preserve my last shred of sanity, I have been browsing through our beautiful vacation photos and grasping on to every small blip of encouragement I have come across. 
Like this one...
I love the carefree spirit and love I see embodied here.  It reminds my of my Bible study girls in particular...those friends who love me even when I am crazy and queen grumpy. They pray for me and hold my hand and tell me it'll be ok. I can be completely real and tell them the truth about the crappy stuff and they'll not "rat me out" or make my already fragile spirit feel unsafe. They do fun too. Our giggles are the best.
And they help me learn about resting...and waiting when I want to get my wonderwoman boots out and kick some butt.
 I love the memes and daily devotional style posts that come across facebook.  Ann Voscamp is among my favorites.  This one popped up this week at an intense moment where I wanted to curl up in a tiny ball, hide and weep.
I know it's truth.  I'm learning to lay my head there. It ain't easy...
And then there's this photo....(shout out to my hubby who carried most of the weight of a hundred pounds of shells the what seems like 5 miles back from Shell Island.)
So much of the time when my boots come out, I am finding often that resting first is a better option.  This doesn't mean that I never enter warfare or face the tough stuff head on. 
I happened to marry "Mr When I'm Not 100 % Sure What To Do, Don't Do Anything". It's another one of those God designed gifts that drives me crazy.  But that's another thought for another day.
The stuff that slammed us this week is no laughing matter.  It's hard...yucky...nightmare material.  And the reactions we express now could mess certain relationships up for the rest of time.  It's that serious. So when I've been tempted to rush in, I'm learning in some hard ways why at this moment resting and waiting is in all of our best interests.

In the process, I keep getting almost daily reminders of my worth and beauty before my father God who adores me beyond my comprehension. 
Like these wild ocean side grasses....
From far away they are plain and unappealing.  But close up, they have intricate beauty and detail.
What a place to rest.
Today the day started in tears, misunderstanding and great frustration and fear. But then God stepped in and in his typical great and amazing grace provided peace and rest.  I opened my face book to this reminder.
What a promise.
We are not required to, well actually the Bible commands us not to worry about the troubles of tomorrow. I'm real good at not obeying that particular command. But today I am choosing rest.
And you know how rest producing troubles often draw us closer to HIS heart...
With that season of rest, I am gifted time. 
Time to ponder...time to care for others via prayer and intercession.
So in my resting today, how can I pray for you?
You can comment here or message me if that's easier.
                                          The road of life is easier when walked with a friend - unknown


Thursday, May 4, 2017


I've been there a bunch lately.
In that place I call "the corner".
It's that uncomfortable state of being many of us find ourselves at periodically, some more then others.  If we're honest.

We beat our selves up there.
Crazy happens there and lots of feeling sorry for myself and comparison of others who I perceive to have reached those gargantuan places full of perfection I can never hope to attain to.
And then there's the what ifs section of the corner, the place where every idiosyncrasy of my spontaneous nature is dissected and abhorred.
What if I'd been more rigid in my education style?  Maybe my kid would read better?
What if I'd been more watchful? Maybe I'd still be mom to 4 living children instead of 3 and 1 angel.
Lots of my friends have been there too lately I am finding.
They stress and fret and stew and live really hard and sometimes very yucky day to day existences.
They wonder, as do I, about who they are.  Really are.
They wonder if they are worthy.
They wonder if they are loved.
They wonder if they are enough.
And they wonder if they can make it though one more day of pain.
I recently read a homeschool mama's book called "Teaching from Rest".
Now let me tell you, I don't get much reading time.  I enjoy reading but my current pace eliminates time for meaningful reading. But this book was short and I devoured it.  Every single line. It was what I needed at that moment.
It gave me the much needed reminder that rest is ok...and really actually needed...and that the crazy we subject ourselves to with the lists of activities and responsibilities (not to mention the beating ourself up time)  we immerse ourselves in, while tho they may be good are not always for our best.
It did not grant me a license to be lazy mind you, but to re evaluate my priorities with the Best Yes philosophy that has turned my life upside down.
This also motivated me to re investigate the truths of the Bible and how they apply to my day to day.
Here's my most recent list (since I'm all about lists...)
*We are LOVED. 
Ephesians 2:4 - 7 says "But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loves us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...
*We are VALUED.
Matthew 10:31 says Fear not, therefore; You are of more value then many sparrows.
Isaiah 43:4 says Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
*We can make it through the tough.
Isaiah 41:10 reassures us of this.."Fear not, for I am with you; Be no dismayed for I am thy God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you...
* We are ENOUGH.
2 Peter 1:3 says "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.."
and then there's this one...Ephesians 2:10 - For YOU are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works..."
How's that for value?
If you like me and many others I love, struggle with who you are, let me shout to you from my corner that YOU ARE ENOUGH!

So much has happened recently that has reinforced these truths.
I'm finding that so many of my beliefs center around my wrong thought processes and me not valuing who God created me to be.
Not that I need to take pride in wrong ways, but God talks much of our value in his word so there has to be truth to that somewhere right?!
I met someone this week, who in my mind is somewhat of a celebrity.  She bounces around in memories of my childhood.  She has also reached pinnacles of success I feel are never going to be my destiny.  (how's that for the yucky comparison monster?) My first reaction at meeting her again had me shaking in my boots.  "She'll never remember mouse I be..." But as fate would have it, God reminded me of my value. I considered running the other direction or acting like I was busy when she entered the room.  But there she came, straight into "my corner"..and she remembered ME!  and had the same recollection of memories.  I'd have missed a great conversation if I'd stayed stuck in my corner, worrying and devaluing God's handiwork.
Now, I'm not saying that her remembering me gives me value, but for me it is a reminder of who I am...I AM ENOUGH!
Casting Crowns has a song I love called Voice of Truth.  Take a minute to listen. Let the truth wash over you.
And if you are facing a "climbing out of boat onto the crashing waves" time in your space called life, take hope and remember...YOU ARE ENOUGH!

He is enough!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

What if...

The past 2 1/2 years have been filled with lots of different questions and a million different emotions. 
I had thought that by this point in the journey that my emotional process may be different and that in some miraculous way the urges to flee from the suffocating stages of grief may have diminished.
They have some what. 
Time has a way. 
Somehow though the bubble I put around myself popped this week and the crash hasn't been all that pretty. 
On lookers may miss it. 
Even those I am close to can't necessarily see my inner soul (unless of course I blatter on publicly on social media)
Only God can.
While I know this to be truth and find it comforting mostly, I also know that my broken record reminders of clinging to Him in the eye of the storm are reality.  
BUT this doesn't mean the questions stop. 
And yes, I'm writing from that place. That broken place where the tears stain the keyboard and my stomach is in knots...the place and time where I long to just wrap up in my covers and stay put..the anti social place which my normal self disdains.
Those questions are endless as are the flashbacks (hello PTSD..)
What if I'd been not so busy and would have followed her out to the pool as my gut suggested?
What if we hadn't filled the pool more full then usual?
What if I'd been more on top of water safety?
and the Whys...
Why oh why did I have to endure the many years of infertility only to lose a part of my soul just when the tiresome, exhaustion of 4 very young ones was becoming just a tad bit easier?
Why did we have to be chosen to be parents who have lost?
I have the tendency to beat my self up over my need to know the what if and the why's answers.
However the longer I walk this journey, the more I realize in deeper ways how the God of the universe has shoulders big enough to handle my pidley and sometimes angry questions.
I am also seeing the many parallels to David's up and downs.  He is known as a man after God's own heart.  How much closer to God can you get then that? To know God's heart...
Psalms is full of emotions much like mine.  
Some days were good for David and he danced in the streets.  
Others were not so good and David moaned and groaned to his creator.  Ps 119:25 says "I am laid low in the dust. Preserve my life according to your word."  Definitely some depression going on and a not so dancing in the street day.
This week this has meant that in order to keep on with life I may need to change my what ifs and whys up a bit.
What if the bigger picture is much more beautiful then I can fathom?
What if the lessons make me better?
What if the horrid grief can be a tool to reach others?

I have a list of questions for God that I'd love to sit down and discuss with Him but I wonder if when we actually get up there to that glorious city, if they'll be all that important to me?

So for now I will continue to wrestle, to keep the faith, to get out of bed, to paste on the sometimes fake smile and remember that He is big enough to handle all my what ifs.

And of course we continually remember...Facebook has been throwing memories at me left and right. This is todays...

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

That kind of friend...

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better then walking alone in the light" 
 - Helen Kellar 

I've been in one of those darker brooding times where I contemplate life and all that entails. 
As I sit looking I see a mix of joy and sadness.
But sometimes, it seems, the sadness and big world of pain seems to overshadow the good.
Why is that?  
We are surrounded by more people and conveniences then ever and yet studies show we are more lonely then ever.
In my smallish bubble view, I wonder if truly caring and genuine friendship could be part of the answer.
We are selfish.
Scratch that.
I am selfish. 
Utterly completely 100% selfish.  S-E-L-F-I-S-H. 
It sounds so ugly when you spell it out. But that's what it boils down to. 
I was busy having a full fledged, complete with the "I'm even mad at the cute little kitty" attitude,  all out pity party for my self today. 
Get it?  
I was all absorbed in what all was wrong with my little orb, my space in life.  As I sat there, grumpy as ever I remembered the gratitude sermon I've been preaching...."There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for..."  
Yeah. Uh huh. 
Maybe in some people's perfect little lives that can be possible. 
But in mine?!   
My daughter is in heaven.  (in case you haven't figured it out yet that seems to be my biggest gripe/question for God and my handle for the grumps). 
 As I sat staring, my eyes were drawn to the tiny little bouquet of zinnias on my counter. 
 Lexi picked them for me and as she handed them to me she said "I love you mom!"  That's big from a kid that has been pretty non vocal about feelings and emotions.
And twice today my son came with his hugs and the declaration "You know what my favorite time of the day is mom? This hug..." 
So I do have some pretty big things I can count as God's showers of blessing...Come on focus.

A while back I took a giant leap and joined a bible study with a bunch of women I did not know. Yes, this social bug does have a few relational qualms. These women were an answer to prayer that I started praying after reading some of Jen Hatmaker's concepts in "For the Love". 
These women have truly taught me about friendship.  
We are all different with very different struggles. 
We are different ages. Single. Married. Some jabber. Some stuff. We represent different denominational backgrounds.  **GASP**!  
But we have so very much more in common. 
We are safety for the tough stuff. 
We are comfort in the tears and oh yeah we spend time howling with laughter too. 
And eating of course.  
They have taught me how to face tough situations with strength and resolve that is rooted and grounded in biblical principals. 
In them I gain perspective.  
Walking with them, I have learned in deeper ways how to look for the purpose in the pain. 
My eyes have been made more aware and tuned in to pain in others tho I still have a longgg way to go in this. 
And you bet your buttons,  I totally get the difference their unconditional love and friendship have made in my life. 
Are we perfect? 
We aren't necessarily bosom buddies or the kind of girls that have to chat every day.
But friendship like this is rare and precious and has value, so much value and added depth for life.
So back to the pain and loneliness,..
What if, instead of spending time snarling about how we perceive someone and their actions, we spent that time obeying God's calls to our souls to be kind?  Simple kindness goes a long way...
We don't know the journey many are on.  So we are not qualified to judge their pain.
What if, instead of staying put in our "sides" and view points on the trivial stuff we made more of an effort to spend time getting to know those who may have opposite views then we do?
My current journey has been public.  You've heard me wine and complain, celebrate and bemoan.  
And with this being my daughter in heaven's birthday month, the emotions run high and exhaustion overtakes me in surprising ways.  Grief is such hard work.  But I remain challenged by others who have shown me the depth of the father's love in how they have walked with me in the most unpleasant of states.
I want to be that kind of friend.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2 years....Grieving Abby - Lessons I am learning in the process

Ahhh. Here I am once more.  
I have been contemplating this post for some time and what I would share during this grief week, our time of remembering.
Because of my private fb grief blog, some of my thoughts have already been stated. There are those however that were just waiting to be spelled out here and now.
I can hardly believe we are at the 2 year mark already.  2 years of life being completely and totally turned upside down....     

For you who are new here, here are a few links that I may refer to as I go.  You should be able to click on them and be directed to the correct spot. 
Abby's story which was viewed nearly 35,000 times and gave me a platform I never could have had other wise to share God's care of us, shares the details of our precious 3 year old's end of life which happened abruptly but in God's perfect timing on July 15, 2014.
My face book grief blog is located here.  Some days I just refer to it as my personal wining space.  LOL.  You may ask to join at any time. There I share our family's journey and some of the daily response to the effects of grief and how we continue trying to live...

Now on to the lessons grief has been teaching me.  (ha, I'm not some expert or anything) 

Lesson #1: Pain can produce positive.

Some days I have begged God to just write the lesson I need to learn in the big blue sky, so I can be done with the pain and crappy details that compose the current story of our life.  
But as I continue on the path, I am realizing that learning is not always peachy and how pain is indeed a precursor for positive change in my life. Duh.  You already knew that right?  I guess I'm just a slow learner.

"My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness"

Lesson #2: Theology can be twisted. 

I have ranted, huffed and puffed much about the things that well meaning souls have said that have been so painful in the midst of the deepest heart wrenching pain. 
 The statements that go something like this,  "There must not have been enough faith to heal her..."  and "this is God's chastisement"  and " there must be hidden sin in your life".
I wonder sometimes why we as people (Christians especially) tend to show up in other's times of pain with our pat answers,  judgement and critical spirits. While I do believe God does discipline us as his Kidos,  I also am beginning to grasp a deeper sense of the real truth that sometimes (well probably more like most of the time) pain and grief are not at all related to our misbehavior, mess-ups or failures.  Like, really. It ain't about us at all.  It's about HIM.
If we truly believe the scriptures, we see that sin entered the world right at the start and the consequences of that sin bring all the crappy stuff  (man! I use the word crappy a lot.) we know as pain, grief, sadness. 
Grief or any other crisis we may see is not the time to use the Bible as a tool for condemnation and judgement.
  Instead it is a time to watch for God's glory and beauty to be displayed in the midst of the ugly.
I love the story in John where Jesus answers questions about why the blind man was blind from birth.  Jesus's answer is simple, yet so profound. "It was NOT because of his sins or his parent's sins Jesus answered. This happened so the power of God might be displayed in him."

Lesson #3:  There is no grief time table or chart to mark off in the journey. There is no wrong way to grieve.....

Another duh. But here again, I'm amazed at all the places grief surprises me.  I had once heard said that the 2 year mark is a toughy.  I thought at the time that nothing could surpass the pain of the first weeks, months, year.  Who ever told me about this milestone was correct. At least that's how it's playing out for our family. 
 I'm amazed at the many different grief styles I have met. Some are so polished in their grief.  So put together.  Not the blubbering mess that I seem to be.  
I spent a great deal of last week on the couch.  Tears glistened at the surface at all times.  I cried openly at Costco. At church. While I was making supper.  In the process I felt a strange drawing to the corner of the attic where her tote sits.  Full to over flowing with all the pieces of her.  Her special clothes we all remember.  Her red Minnie Mouse dress, her fruit night gown, her 10 sizes to small purple swimsuit that I helped her into those few moments before she left for Heaven.  As I sat neatly folding and caressing each piece, the sobs shook my body in a way I hadn't done for so long.  Sometimes a real good cry is all it takes. Suddenly, I felt ok.  Odd though it seemed. But that's my grief.  Personal and real to me.  
And while I wish that I could follow a checklist and be done, I am learning to embrace the roar of grief instead and finding my peace in the process. 

"And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus"

Lesson #4: My pain is not the only pain our there.

Sometimes when I'm tempted to wallow I'm instead reminded to look around.    My friend Sara has been instrumental in helping me adjust my focus.  She's never judgmental but shares positivity, joy and encouraging love. She challenged me to join #100daysofhappy where we document simple blessings via a photo each day.  I have so enjoyed the effect on my spirit that I didn't stop at 100.  I am on day 108 currently.  
While I still have really down times, I feel more equipped to pop out of them quicker.  

"The joy of the Lord is my strength...."

Lesson #5:  Find your passion.

I am still learning about this one.  Sometimes I wonder which of the current experiences I live are grief related or simply facts of life and related to the age I'm at. You get my drift?
I have never been big about fundraising for any cause.  It was not my cup of tea.  But then my daughter died.  Suddenly instead of celebrating her birthdays and other milestones, we could only celebrate our memories. 
Out of that the "Remembering Abby, Light up the Night" Memorial was born.  Each year on her birthday we remember the things that made her unique.  It gives us a format to honor her memory and the impact her short life made. And I am finding joy and passion in planning,  the excitement, and all the little details. It occupies our time for several months each year. Plus each year we can pick an organization that is making a difference in the world, our world! Our recipient this year will be the same as last, Amanda the Panda Family grief center. This organization is near and dear to hearts and has been an integral part of healthy grief for our family.  (You can read all about our grief camp weekend here.)
 We had hoped to raise $100 or maybe $1,000 but God saw fit to shine his blessings on last year and we were able to raise over $10,000!  That provides grief support to 10 families for a whole year. (The Des Moines Register did a beautiful write up  about the event and our family, complete with a video in the middle! )
The tremendous out pouring of love and support is huge in driving my passion for remembering her.
Each of us respond differently to pain.  For some passion may be played out in a much quieter way but can be equally helpful in the healing process. 
For more info on this years event which will be held September 17 visit our group fb page  2016 Remembering Abby - Light up the night

Lesson #6:   Prayer Rocks!

If there is one single thing that has been so very helpful for our family, it is this:  the prayers of the saints.  
Grief is uncharted and endless. The journey is hard. 
Many times I have felt the prayers as they rise, giving strength to my weary bones.  
It has changed my perspective on it's importance and effectiveness.
So don't ever say "well I can't do anything else, so I will just pray". That "just praying" is powerful stuff.

"And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests with this in mind.  Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."


I don't know what the rest of our story looks like.  
I do know we are starting to dream again.

I don't know how the grief will continue to affect us.
I do know it will and that this life is our "new normal".

I don't know, some days,  how we will continue to survive and flourish.
I do know God will continue to hold us in the palm of his compassionate, loving hand in the process.


As the week continues, we will continue on the path grief has taken us on.  We will probably release her favorite red balloons and some chinese lanterns at some point as they will always represent her to us.  
You may see creepy "dead" photos of us holding her as she took her last breaths.  I never would've have ever thought those pics would be treasures.  They represent pain in the deepest sense but also represent her flying away where she is forever safe and resting with Jesus.  So thankful my sis had the mindset to take them...
I may continue down the sappy, weepy trail I've become so familiar with. Or joy may continue edging it's way in.
Either way, I know I have a network, faithful friends, family and support from people who share compassion with us as we trudge along.

Thank you all for walking this journey along side us.

In memory of our little sparkling piece of heaven. 
Abby Marie
September 14, 2010 ~ July 15, 2014

Monday, March 28, 2016


Great is the Faithfulness O God my Father...

My 3rd child is 7 today. Alexia Magdalene.  Named after my mother. 
 I can not browse through the photos of her birth and the time surrounding with out a teensy bit of sad seeping through the cracks and crevices.  

 2008-2009...That was a hard time. The hardest I had known then.
 Lowell & I had just experienced loss in huge ways....our business, home and our marriage were broken, falling apart at the seams.  
At 8 months pregnant I went to stay with my parents under the pretense of wanting to give birth in one of those fabulous free standing birthing centers (that was the truth...) But I was hurting, beaten down and with out hope.  I spent most of the time carrying her in tears.  I wonder if that is part of her personality and brooding nature now. Even though God was at work, it was hard to see at times in those long 11 months we were apart. I didn't know if God was going to do a miracle and save our marriage which lay in shambles. BUT, God was close.  Closer then I had experienced and I grew tremendously in Him that year. He has that habit...sneaking into the bad places where He seems the furthermost away and doing his redemptive work. 

We were in the minority of couples that are able to reconcile and continued on life's road. Our reconciliation produced instant proof of God's mercies when Abby was born 9 months after we got back together. Her name Father's Joy was proof of God's power and redemptive favor and joy in us and our growing little family.

As we have lived through the grief of losing Abby, we have seen time and time again how God's faithfulness shines through. 
Alexia has been traumatized immensely in the loss of her younger sister and built in playmate and near twin (not quite 18 months separated them)
 Despite the grief she is a spunky darling bundle and brings much joy to our home even through her spots of melancholy. 

She is growing into quite the young lady.  She loves to spend time following me about, baking and cooking. She loves fairy tales and all things princess.

 She is silly and giggles and love.

So as we celebrate another year of the beautiful gift of her, we marvel again at the story that is being woven with her life and how God's faithfulness is obvious.  
He truly is good and amazing in gifting us with the preciousness.
Happy Birthday Princess!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

For Better of For Worse - Reflections on Marriage

Disclaimer: I in no way an expert on marriage. 
 We as a couple, like many of you have walked thru some tough stuff  (financial calamity, separation, death of a child, illness in family) and have found God faithful.  I must write simply to get my racing thoughts out before my head explodes....Our history has brought hurting marriages to our door, seeking the hope we live.  These thoughts come from those interactions which come as a result of deep pondering and intimate searching in my own heart. 

When we married nearly 19 years ago we had no idea the roads we would walk. If you had told me then what I know now, I would not have believed that I could still live and live with joy with the man God has blessed me with. After all he was and remains my hunk, my knight in shining armor, the one I wanted to ask me out in the worst way, begging God to allow it to happen....  Are we perfect? Absolutely not.  We mess up.  We fight. (just ask our kids) But God has gifted us with truths that have come to us at the right times that have helped us make it through the crappy moments and I can truly say that despite all of the pain I am happier now then I have ever been.  I didn't get there over night. And I still stray away from there...that happiness. BUT,  Love is so much more then emotion.
If I could put down on paper a list of truths that have helped us most, these would be on it. No specific rhyme or reason just my random thoughts coming out as they do, maybe not profound but specific in our process.

#1. Love is not a fairy tale:  (Duh, right?) As young girls, society puts a selfish twist on expectations.  What will make me feel good?  Who will do everything right for me? I am a princess... This is dangerous as it sets the grounds for much disappointment in marriage and results in many never marrying as that perfection can't be found. Now before you turn me off completely let me say that romance is a gift to be treasured and happily ever after DOES exist.  My prince may not ride in on his sleek shiny stallion bearing roses and chocolate each week, but he does ride in bearing gifts, a new dish brush or broom or a block of my favorite Muenster 

#2. Laugh together, MUCH!  About a year ago my man came home from work all excited about a you tube clip his buddy had shown him.  I was nearly to busy to watch and could have completely squelched his excitement.  He had found the series, "Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage".  This has been huge for us.  We have learned so much about each other and have re established laughter in our home on a daily basis. Laughter is healing. It may not be this series that helps you but please find something that you can do together that makes you laugh...

#3.Take the time to hold hands:  Case in point.  One of our counselors made us do that many a moon ago.  You can't really continue to fight if you hold hands.  And it's fun too.  The other night, we had 2 hours completely alone that of course had to be filled with glorious stops like Aldi and Walmart.  Not having any little hands to hold brings nice opportunity...and togetherness.

#4.Study the Bible: We all know this.  But it is easier suggested then done. Sometimes when one is raised in a society saturated with the Bible, one can be lazy.  That's me anyhow,  But the Bible has wisdom. Divine wisdom, about life, love, marriage.  And tho it would be nice to see handwriting in the sky, we have truth in our hands. That word has shown us much.  This is an area that has long disturbed me.  The women that sit with me, opening their hearts and their pain, revealing the less then Godly situations they live in, a great percentage of them are tormented by the scriptures that are picked apart and not taught as a whole. These are the ones who live with abuse whether it be physical, emotional or mental. The "wives submit" verse is hammered but the "submit yourselves one to another" and "husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church" are largely ignored. Lowell and I don't necessarily study together but we often discuss what God is showing us in HIS word.  In our personal situation Lowell's new found salvation has made all the difference in the world.... 

#5.  Be a cheeerleader: While Lowell & I are not necessarily on the same page on all issues or even our hobbies, we have found that stuff flows much more smoothly when we jump on each others bandwagons. He may not appreciate the energy my "causes" (events, pets etc) take but he supports me whole heartedly by taking care of the kids, offering muscle power and telling me "I can do it.."  In return, while I may not agree with his choices,  hunting, or the current political candidate he supports etc, I engage him in conversation about what he LOVES to talk about and try to join him in action as well. 

#6.  Establish your own family unit: This is a tough one.  Sometimes the apron strings are well secured. Extended family is a gift, but one that must be kept in balance. When we say "I do" we are now a unit, a family, me & you. Finding correct levels of interaction can be challenging and we must always use kindness and respect but for us setting boundaries that protect our "me & you" has been vital to growth and health in "us".

#7. Encourage Friendship: Friendship is vital for health in marriage. Not only do I need female friendship that helps me use up my quota of daily words and emotions but He needs time to just do guy stuff.  It make "us" work better as long as we surround ourselves with upbuilding and encouraging people who are passionate about our marriage flourishing.  Ultimately God is the only one who can fill the voids we feel, but friendships designed by him can aid in the process. 

#8. Cherish the Gift:  How does one treat an antique heirloom or piece of value? We care for it, making every effort to insure that it is kept safely, not  scratched or dented or broken.  Our marriages are like that gift.  They are meant to be treasured, to be kept safe, protected. If I view Lowell in the correct context, I easily remember. He is my gift.  My treasure.  I am blessed!