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Posts Tagged ‘Home’

Transition–the uncomfortable place I find myself when the latest move, deployment, or reunion requires adjustment.   As with most military families, one of the most challenging transitions for our family involved the return of my husband from his tour.  This doesn’t seem to make any sense, does it?  After all, like a young mother anticipating the birth of her child I spent months imagining what life would be like when my husband returned safely from Afghanistan.  Emotions ran the gambit—joy, relief, and anxiety—until the day finally arrived.    But, after a few weeks of renewing family relationships, the day-to-day reality of sharing life set in.  We had to adapt to togetherness as much as we did to being apart.

Rules of Engagement

Two-hundred-forty days of boots on the ground—not including training.  That number symbolizes the amount of time Dave spent in the combat zone and away from the home front.  It also defines nearly a year of our family life.  Dave slept on a narrow cot; I slept (or lay awake) between two anxious children.  He dealt with insurgents outside the wire; I installed a home security system to keep adventurous teens inside the home.  My husband ate the cold remains of what had conveniently been labeled food; I served cereal for supper.   The “normal” of each of our lives assumed a different shape. Now that he was home, how were we to re-engage?

I could temporarily vacate my parenting role; perhaps enjoy an emotional vacation while Dave re-established his position in the home.  Or, maybe I should assert my way of doing things.  Why exchange predictability for a different approach?  Unfortunately, I sometimes waver between these two extremes.  But scripture reminds all of us to “consider others better than yourselves.”  (Philippians 2:3)  Neither approach is acceptable.  Wives and husbands—even those experiencing the interrupted lifestyle of being a military couple—provide their children with a level of stability and security when family norms are jointly agreed upon and managed.

Love and War

The distance imposed by Dave’s deployment clouded my thinking in the same way a dust storm filled the desert sky.  Was he safe?  Did he still love me?  Would he come home?  Such thoughts, constantly a part of my mental landscape, stung.  Unfortunately, remnants of the storm remained behind even after my husband’s return.  What if became my new mantra.  What if Dave isn’t happy to be home?  What if being a family man seems less appealing than it did before?  What if…

Fear and negativity, my strongest adversaries, threatened to invade the confines of our home.  If Dave expressed frustration or felt overwhelmed by the demands of four children and an unusually independent wife, I reacted defensively.  Separation required we re-examine boundaries, adjust to the climate, and expect the best of one another.

Standard Operating Procedure

Our first step toward preparing for transitional trials was to create a plan in advance of major change.  We set aside time with each other to discuss questions, concerns, and feelings.  Then, Dave and I prayed together.  After all, what better way is there to support a marriage and family?  And, thanks to technological advances, praying for one another—and our family–continued throughout training, deployments, and more.

While we expected difficulties, we didn’t invite them.  I quickly learned that when my inner monologue developed into a diatribe, I had to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 2:5) and replace it with positive thinking.

Finally, remembering the storm will end provides motivation to continue.  Eventually the dust settles and, sometimes, an oasis lies within reach.

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 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  NIV (1 Corinthians 10:31)

“There’s got to be more to life than this…”  These words–spoken sixty years ago by a young woman with four children and a traveling husband– reverberate in my mind more often than I’d like to admit.

At times like this–when I’ve spent the day scrubbing toilets and wondering who spit their gum behind the stool.  At times like this–when the day’s laundry and homework swallow the sunshine and I answer “no” when my little girl asks to go to the park.  At times like this–when the tension of work and family coincide and I wonder when things get easier.

Then I’m reminded of the moments that are more.  So much more.  Those times I read a bedtime story beneath the covers with a wiggly eight-year-old.  Those times I hear the deep-throated belly laugh of my little boy as he tells a joke.  Those times I pray for the dear ones in my life–knowing I couldn’t demonstrate love for them any better in any other way.

Sometimes living radically is about the day-to-day faithfulness to love–just love.  Sometimes living radically is about leading through serving–even as a wife and mother.  Sometimes living radically is trusting God enough to know his plan for your child’s life extends beyond today’s struggles.

Living radically…loving radically…trusting radically.  Just for today.

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They could be lyrics to a catchy jingle.

                 Driver’s lessons, swim lessons,

                 soccer practice, homework,

                 Business trips, staff training,

                 open house and PTO .

Instead, they’re additions to August’s jam-packed, back-to-school calendar and I’m left wondering when I’ll find time to sleep–let alone fit in enough marital romance to keep the fire’s burnin’ and my marriage a focal point.

Have you ever struggled to balance the challenges of parenting with the needs of your husband?  Do you feel as if you have to choose between the laundry sequestered behind the utility closet or a quiet moment shared with the man you promised to love and honor?  Even worse–are you too tired to care?

My answers?

1.  Yes–most days.

2.  Absolutely.  There is something about laundry!  It multiplies like rabbits and seems to get away from me no matter what I do.

3.  Ask me this question at the end of the month.

Pausing to consider the importance of spending time with my husband, Dave, I’m reminded of something his friend once said, “The day my wife had our children, she became their mother and stopped being my wife.”  I know I’m not responsible for Dave’s happiness, but I am determined that I will remain engaged in his life as only a wife can–despite the busyness.

So…how do I avoid putting my baby on the back burner–especially when we’re both in constant motion?  There are three simple ideas (ladies, these tips are for you!).

  • Get it on!  Your husband’s sexual desire is as much an expression of love for you as snuggling is for you.  Pencil in “the night” on your calendar and give yourself enough alone time to rejuvenate, refresh, and regroup.
  • Time out!  Set aside one time each month to schedule 3 to 4 dates.  Schedule a babysitter, trade with other parents, or take advantage of “Parent’s Night Out” opportunities at local gyms.  For a little added fun, take turns planning each date.
  • Reality Check!  If you don’t make the beds or do the laundry, they’ll be waiting for you the next day.  If you don’t invest in your marriage, your husband may not be.

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Scripture for Reflection

The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. (1 Peter 3:1 MSG)

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Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?  …     Matthew 6:25-34

Faster than an inquisitive toddler.  Able to multi-task from morning till night.  It’s a child safety lock…it’s a roadside work crew…it’s SUPERMOM!

Some days–before my feet touch the floor–I awaken to a ticker tape rattling off details in my head.  Child #1-Dental cleaning at 8:00 a.m., Child #2 and #4-Lunch money for school, Child #3-Program after school, Husband-Stop at drug store to buy deodorant.  Me–Go to work, greet students and parents, manage unpaid accounts, attend a staff meeting or two, and research state education mandates.  Before I know it, my mind has run through the entire day’s worth of activities and I’m exhausted before I even get out of bed.

Have you felt the same way?   Those are the times I have to reel in my heroic delusions (and fear of failure) and take a deep breath.  Nobody is Supermom.  I am just me–able to manage this moment–through God’s grace.  No heroics required–just a mother and wife who loves her family.

Ways to Avoid the Delusion of Being a Supermom

  • List the top 10 priorities for the day and then cross out the last 5.  Any items left undone will still be there for tomorrow’s list.
  • Take a break.  Even a ten or fifteen minute break rejuvenates creativity and energy.  Go for a walk, watch the clouds, exercise.
  • Share the workload.  You can’t do everything yourself.  Rely on your husband and children to pitch in.  (Chore charts are great!)

 

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My manic morning began with the unrelenting pulse of the alarm clock reminding me that the day’s demands required my attention.  I silently pondered a mental “t0 do” list and groaned inwardly.  Better get moving.

 The standard pre-dawn routine halted abruptly when plumes of smoke erupted from my blow dryer and then…mechanical silence.  Strands of hair clung wetly to my head, my two youngest children were wailing because—well, they could, and my oldest son was yelling something about needing clean jeans and could “somebody” take care of the laundry.

Meanwhile, the clock continued its steadfast march toward the rest of the day.  Inwardly, I moaned.  How was I to face another day of maternal duty amidst the confusion and chaos?

I paused just long enough to offer up an abbreviated prayer, “God, please help me today.  I can’t do this myself!”  The Lord spoke gently to my heart. .  “You’re right.  You cannot manage everything without me.  In fact, you can’t manage anything without me!  Remember, Child, this is my day.  Exchange your burdens for my yoke and you will find rest.”

Ahhh…rest.

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