Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You Have to Move Toward Him, Even When it Hurts

In life, there are good days and bad days.
I've written about how we've been dealing with this pressure sore on M's bottom for the last couple of months. Some days, it's better and he's up and everything feels normal.

I like those days.

Then, other days, it flares back up, and he's stuck in bed on his side and that's no fun for anyone. There is a lot of sweating and discomfort, and flipping from side to back to side, and there are lots of pillows and teeth brushings in bed.

It sucks, actually.

We had a good day, despite all of this, the other day. Followed by a really bad couple of days.

Thank God for grace. If we didn't have grace with each other, I'm sure we wouldn't be able to keep going, because this is really hard, and it won't leave us alone and we're so tired.

The other night, I slept in the guest room. It was sad. I didn't want to be alone. But the muscle spasms wouldn't stop and I couldn't sleep, so Michael insisted I go.

I begged for mercy as I finally fell asleep on my tear-drenched pillow. I was pretty much out of hope. But, I eventually did fall asleep.

In my dream, Michael was standing in the doorway of the guest bedroom (which is upstairs), telling me it would be okay. I felt comforted in my dream, but then when I woke up, it actually made me feel worse, because I know that's never going to happen.

He'll never stand in a doorway. He'll probably never even see the upstairs of our house. He'll never be able to scoop me up, and carry me and hold me. He can tell me it's going to be okay. He can give me a pep talk, and pray for me, and be strong for me emotionally and spiritually, when I'm spent.

But not if it's not for grace.
Because, he's not perfect, he's human. And I'm not perfect, I'm human.
And this big, huge thing in our marriage also isn't perfect, but it's not human, so we can't even reason with it, or bargain with it.

It's concrete. It doesn't budge.
So, we must.

I cried so many tears over the last few days because I just wanted so badly to be rescued. I want that man standing in the doorway, surprising me with his strength, to scoop me up and save me.

I get so tired of saving myself.

The thing about being married to someone who sometimes literally can't move toward me, is that even when I don't want to/don't think I can/I'm sick of doing it myself, I have to be the one to move.

I have a choice. I can move away from him, or I can move toward him.

Often times, I don't get this right on the first try. And all I do is make things worse. I hate it when I do that.

To the other wives in this situation, make the right choice. Move toward him.
Husbands, remember that your wife wants to be rescued. She understands what you can and what you can't do. Rescue her in the way that you can. It means so much.

John Eldredge describes this need that we as women have, so well:

“I wasn't mean; I wasn't evil. I was nice. And let me tell you, a hesitant man is the last thing in the world a woman needs. She needs a lover and a warrior, not a Really Nice Guy.” 
― John EldredgeWild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul

This morning, I told Michael about my dream. I don't usually tell him about those dreams, because I can't say the words without tears and I can't stand to see tears well up in his eyes. But, I told him, then I laid down next to him and we held on.

Now, as I write, and process, I'm reminded of a Susan Ashton song from the 1990s. This song was on one of the first "Christian" CDs I owned as a new Christian teenager. I've always loved it.

So, you'll pardon the cheesiness of the 90s with me, right? Because here it is, in all its YouTube glory:

You Move Me
by Susan Ashton

This is how it seems to me
Life is only therapy
Real expensive
And no guarantee
So I lie here on the couch
With my heart hanging out
Frozen solid with fear
Like a rock in the ground
Oh but you move me
You give me courage I didn't
Know I had
You move me on
I can't go with you
And stay where I am
So you move me on
Here is how love was to me
I could look and not see
Going through the emotions
Not knowin' what they mean
And it scared me so much
That I just wouldn't budge
I might have stayed there forever
If not for your touch
Oh but you move me
Out of myself and into the fire
You move me
Now I'm burning with love
And with hope and desire
How you move me
You go whistling in the dark
Making light of it
Making light of it
And I follow with my heart
Laughing all the way
Oh 'cause you move me
You get me dancing and you
Make me sing
You move me
Now I'm taking delight
In every little thing
How you move me

So, let's be brave. Let's move toward each other. Let's give and receive grace. Let's rescue and be rescued. And hold on tight. Because the bad day won't last forever. And when it is over, we want to be closer to each other, not further apart.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Wish I Didn't Like Stuff

Sometimes I look back on my single days so fondly.

Like, what did I do with all of my free time?

Oh yeah, I wandered around my apartment, wearing a cushy blanket and eating Chef Boyardee Spaghetti and Meatballs and eating Famous Amos cookies, and watching seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD and I read Nicholas Sparks books.

The truth is, those days weren't really all that great.

But, the shopping was!

The other day, I had to go to Target and spend $93.00 on things like allergy medicine, and medical supplies and ziploc bags and I had to just walk by all of the fun stuff.

Target is evil, because they make you pass the cute stuff to get to the necessary stuff.
But, I stayed strong.

I did not buy any of the following three things that wanted me to buy them.
1. The Choose Love/Be Amazing/Choose Happiness/Be Peaceful/Feel Beautiful candles. I think these candles smell so good, plus I'm such a sucker for cute packaging. But, nothing was on clearance, so I walked away.

2. New scents of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. I'm addicted to this stuff, but I usually stock up around Earth Day, when the coupons are awesome.

3. Random blue Ball Vintage Style Mason Jars. Pinterest pretty much exploded in my brain as I walked by, and I thought of like 47 cute things I could create in/with these jars.

I actually left Target the other day feeling kind of down. We had a very tough Summer, financially. And things are finally getting better, thank the Lord! But, I can't bring myself to spend money on things we just don't need.

I wish I just didn't want stuff! It would be so much easier. I wish if I had an extra $30, I wanted to spend it on something noble like feeding hungry kids or giving so they can have clean water, or saving those sad, slow motion dogs in those Sarah McLachlan commercials, and I do want to save those dogs and feed the children.

But I also want all this cute Target crap that I don't need.

Oh well. I'm proud of myself for walking away.

Because I'm a grown up now, and I have to make wise choices with the money that we're blessed with.

I miss the rush of shopping, but I have learned to get a little rush out of saving money instead of spending it.

Saturday, I went to Sam's Club thanks to my new membership (thanks, Mom!) and I'm so excited to save money by shopping there again.

Also, I realized that the Jiffy Lube Groupon is back, if you live in Hampton Roads, this is a good one and I'm always so happy when it coincides with when our vehicles are due for service.

And, I found out that emeals is running a Cyber Week special, so you can get 30% off their meal plans. This is awesome for us, because I loved doing the Fresh20 meal plan, but we stopped doing that when we started eating Paleo, and having to plan my own menu each week is just too stressful and I usually fail and end up at a drive thru or ordering food through an app or standing in line every Thursday at Chipotle, and that's not cool.

I hope those links help you if you're in a similar situation.
I've also found that pinning things I want on Pinterest is a fun window-shopping type experience that is generally free.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

This Love Is Ours

I wake up at weird times on the weekends, because I work at weird times during the week.

I don't hate it.

So, yesterday, I was peeling sweet potatoes in my kitchen at 5:00 a.m.
I was sliding the potato peeler toward the stainless steel bowl, careful to make sure the peels landed inside the bowl, when I noticed a little brown spot on the potato.

These potatoes are a couple of weeks old, and the only reason I was peeling them at 5:00 a.m., was to throw them in a breakfast skillet, because I knew they needed to be eaten soon.

I took a closer look and noticed it was a heart!

I ran it into the bedroom to show Michael.
I thought it was extra cute, because I don't know if y'all know this but, Michael calls me "Sweet," short for sweetheart - which I have no idea where I got that name, because I am a lot of things, but I am generally not very sweet. But anyway, somehow I have him fooled, and for that, I'm grateful.

I served M breakfast in bed, then I highlighted my hair, and took a shower, then I was going to get him up. We were easing into a weekend that included fun, festive plans.

But then, when I rolled him over, getting him ready for the day, I noticed that dang pressure sore, screaming back at me.

Y'all, it's back.
Well, I guess I shouldn't say back, because it hasn't technically gone away since before July, but it's back as in it's mad again, and I had to be the mean nurse lady, and put M back on bed rest.

I don't know if we are finally getting used to this crap, or if maybe a bunch of people are praying for us, but it was really okay.

I was kind of sad to miss the Christmas Parade with my family, but my number one priority was taking care of my husband, and doing everything I could to cheer him up. I want to be his helper in a way that makes things better and easier for him, not in a way that makes things worse.

So, on his side he went.
I went out and ran errands, then came back, and we had sushi in bed and watched a few episodes of Homeland on the iPad.
We were sweet to each other.
We cuddled a lot.

I got him up late afternoon just long enough for him to shave and wash his hair. Then put him back in bed, and I cooked and cleaned a little, and watched the news.

I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, because those bring cheer.
I ate four.
The fourth one was outright sin.
I may or may not have eaten three more before writing this blog post at 4:00 this morning.

Before we fell asleep, we laid in bed, both on our side, and Michael and I took turns reading from the book of Philippians, and we prayed together.

And I remembered, that as long as we lean into each other, as long as we lean into the Lord and really trust Him, and as long as we don't zoom out too far and look at ourselves and especially if we don't allow ourselves to feel sorry for ourselves or each other, we really can do this and it really isn't that bad.

There has been a lot of not-fun in our lives this year. Dreams not coming true. Bills not being paid. Pressure sores not healing. Us not sleeping.

I bought a 2014 planner the other day.
I can't wait to get the new year started.
This one has been a hard one.

But, at least we've done it together.
We are a team.
No added annoyance or challenge can take that away from us.

I think we make it through because we really mean it.
We really love each other.
Deep down.
Beyond the platitudes and beyond the routine.
Our 'survival mode' is rooted in hunkering down and holding on to each other.

So, I'll take days like yesterday that don't go as planned, but end happily and together. I'll take as many as I can get.

Because, to steal a line from a Taylor Swift song, this love is ours.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Fifty to my Wonderful Wife

Today is our fiftieth! Fifty months, that is.

Somewhere early in our marriage I suggested we celebrate our "monthaversary" of our wedding. It seemed like a novelty for the first year, but four years later the gag is still going. 

A year is too long to wait to recognize our special commitment and in the days and weeks we are overwhelmed with the routine crises. But every month on the sixth I remind Dana how much I love her and how glad I am to be her husband. 

I imagine in forty-six years we will enjoy a well-deserved getaway. But until then I'll keep remembering the monthly celebration of our special day. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

You Need To Read: A Million Little Ways

This morning, I finished a book.
Then, as soon as I had the chance, I went online and ordered a copy for my friend Kimberly.

You know a book is good when you can't wait to share it!

I received my copy of A Million Little Ways at Allume. Emily Freeman spoke briefly before dinner that night, and I remember just wanting to hear more from her.

Because her message, about uncovering the art we were made to live met me right where I am right now. I've known for a while that I have a story to tell. Recently I got a couple of big, bold nudges to jump into the book writing world.

I'm terribly afraid of the rejection that you read so much about.
But I also know that if I don't put myself out there right now, and try, that I'm being disobedient.

I have to live the art I was made to create.
It's against the grain for me.
Because I'm a list maker, not a dreamer, by nature.

I don't go slowly.
I don't savor.
I don't, as Emily would say, 'let my soul breathe.'

But, I'm taking this big risk.
And one of the only things that brings me peace is the fact that I do feel like it's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing right now.

I think everyone should read this book, and check out Emily's blog, Chatting At The Sky.

I personally can't get enough Emily Freeman right now.
In the least-stalkery way possible, I want to drink the wisdom God has penned through her hands.

Seriously, y'all. I'm not getting paid to write this. This book is beautiful. And not just because the cover matches my life, but because the message matches my desire.

Chapter 7 is my favorite. I think I underlined every other sentence.

Here are some of my highlights:

Art makes it possible for us to remember both the beauty and the horrific, the lovely and the loss. Art numbs the wound just enough for us to be able to access the source of it, to reach down into the depth and pull it up to examine.

As important as it is to embrace the gifts you have and the unique ways you can offer hope to others, you also need to recognize and embrace what brings out the hope in you. What touches your soul so deeply that it causes tears to come out? We're talking about magic water that pours out of your eyes. Maybe paying attention to what calls the water forth will give us a hint as to what it is that makes us come alive.

... maybe tears are tiny messengers, secret keepers of the most vulnerable kind, sent to deliver a most important message - Here is where your heart beats strong. Here is a hint to your design. Here is a gift from your inner life, sent to remind you of those things that make you come alive. These tears carry the gift of your desire. Listen to them. Change in the world comes when we acknowledge what moves us and why.

Y'all know, I write a lot about the things that make me cry. So it should come as no surprise that my major takeaway had something to do with tears.

I'm a feeler, what can I say?

Get this book and let me know what you think. Happy December.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


It has been such a glorious Thanksgiving weekend.

We ate at my sister's. FaceTimed with my brother. Drank mimosas from Brandy's mimosa bar. I snuggled Caplin for HOURS. I put way too much food on Michael's plate. Jimmy made a delicious feast. I love my family, and Thanksgiving Day represented all that is good about living at home.

I spent almost all of Friday, on the couch. I think I watched episodes of Dateline that went back to September. The TiVo literally thanked me. Michael and I ordered pizza and a movie and for the first time in years, I stayed awake for the whole thing.

It was Silver Linings Playbook, and I loved it.

Yesterday, I spent the day decorating this house for the first time for Christmas. I repurposed decorations we've had for years, and I had a lot of fun.
I decided to do the tree in just green and teal and silver and white, so that it didn't clash with the already-established theme of the living/dining area: teal and coral.
I put the red stuff upstairs.

I put lights on the balcony.
And in jars...
It was a blast.

Now, I drink black coffee, and write by the light of the Christmas tree and I kind of don't want the sun to come up, because it's just so beautiful.

Michael is doing so much better. We are pretty much back to our little normal.

And, I'm thankful.