there is hope (even when life stinks)

It’s been a tough week.

Our son was hospitalized Sunday-Tuesday for his asthma. (And that was our second trip to the ER in 3 days. The first one was with a different kid. I won’t get into that.) On Wednesday I came down with a terrible cold. On Thursday the drain to our dishwasher got clogged and started flooding our kitchen. On Friday I got diagnosed with bronchitis. (Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!) On Saturday I accidentally started a very real fire–think 8 inch flames–in our kitchen. (My husband put it out before anyone could get hurt. Why in the world is there no knight in shining armor emoji?!)

Some good things have happened. We made it out of the hospital alive. Our friends have rallied around us time and time again. We got a free regulation size in-ground basketball hoop installed. We are all still alive… Have I already mentioned that?

This is not our first rodeo. Oh no. Not only were the boys born at 32 weeks, needing 21 days in the NICU, this is our son’s 5th hospital stay in his 6 years of life.

He asked me two nights ago when I put him to bed, “Why does God let so many bad things happen to me if He loves me so much?”

Re-read that if you need to. Let it soak in.

You guys, he’s six.

My heart broke for him. It’s had me in tears several times today.

Thankfully, though, I’ve thought about this question on his behalf many, many times.

God, what did I do so wrong that you thought it right to deny me of every single prayer request I and hundreds of others were praying about the boys’ birth?

God, if you want us be prosperous, why do you allow us to accrue tons of debt as a result of what feels like a gazillion hospitalizations?

God, if you love him so much, why’d you give him so many health obstacles to battle?

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”                 John 9:1-3

This account of Jesus and the blind man was brought to my attention nearly 5 years ago by my husband. He regularly shares Scripture with me. I’m thankful for that.

He read this small passage aloud and by the end I was sobbing. Total and complete ugly cry, you might say.

I was crying because I knew that God was giving me those verses as the answer to my questions, the faith to cure my doubt, the seed of acceptance to overcome the root of bitterness that had sprung up.

God let all these things happen so that His power could be seen in and through my son. And that’s what I shared with him in response to his question at bedtime.

What a privilege it is to know he was marked since before birth to carry these trials throughout his childhood because God wants others to seek and find Him as a result.

Do you know what people say of my son to me in private when he’s in the hospital, the clinic, the speciality doctor, etc? They say, “He’s the sweetest and bravest boy we’ve had in here in a long, long time, if ever. I just wanna take him home with me! You should be so proud, Mom.”

And I am.

But more so than that I am hopeful that my son sees his weakness as a way for God’s power to be perfected in him and that many people know Christ better because of him.

I know I already do.

Why I’m 100% Okay with Jumping on the Chicago Cubs Bandwagon

It’s been a while since my last post. (Do I always start with that line?) Almost all of my blog posts are heated or heavy and since I neither like being hot nor feeling heavy I decided to shake things up a bit and go for the lighthearted route this time around. I do not know how well that will go. Consider yourself warned.

Re: baseball

I have said “I hate baseball” at least 100 times in my little life. This one time however, 2 and a half years ago, my friend gave me tickets to an Iowa Cubs game. My husband was busy that night so I took all the kids thinking “Oh we are such cute Americans going to this baseball game.” I was doing it for the kids.

It could not have gone more poorly unless one of us had died. The kids had negative 10 interest in the game and I spent $30 on food even though we had eaten dinner at home beforehand.  (Free tickets my booty!) I left covered in nacho sauce, dripping in sweat, and on the verge of swearing at people. THEN we let our boys play t-ball in this lahaaaaaame league which cost a small fortune and taught them nothing but made me feel similarly to how I felt after that Iowa Cubs game– week. after. week. Boy oh boy did that solidify my opinion of baseball.

(Here I told you this was going to be lighthearted, yet I’m ranting about my experience with baseball. The turn around is coming soon. Just stick with me!)

Fast forward to the 2016 World Series.

I’m proud to be an American, a Midwesterner, and Des Moines (home of the minor feeder league to the Chicago Cubs, mentioned previously as the Iowa Cubs) resident so I was happy to watch history be made. I didn’t want to miss out on what people would be talking about for decades. (I will say with great grief that the Cubs’ historic win was indeed overshadowed by the two Des Moines area police officers killed in the line of duty the very same day. It’s a shame on so many levels. “Violence creates nothing. It only destroys.” Attorney General Loretta Lynch). I started thinking, maybe I will give baseball another chance, for patriotism’s sake. I was soon energized by it all and I felt like THIS is how I should feel about baseball. The fact that the Cubs’ colors are red, white, and blue was a major bonus!

So just like that we have reason number one of why I’m jumping on the Cubs bandwagon: It’s borderline anti-American to bash America’s favorite pastime and geographically speaking the Chicago Cubs make the most sense for me.

1908. Second to last time the Cubs won the World Series. (The last time was a week ago.)

Guess what else happened in 1908? OUR HOUSE WAS BUILT.

I’m not superstitious but coincidences like that get me super pumped. By game 5 I was telling anyone who would listen the year I house was built. “Just remember,” I’d say. “Our house was built in 1908. We got this!” as if it had any bearing at all on whether or not they could clinch the series. It pumped me up though, and I got a few sympathy laughs in the process.

So, reason number two that I’m okay with bandwagoning the Cubs: 1908 means something to me AND to them.

Then you have the slo-mo in the major leagues. This is not available to the average high school, much less little league, teams. In my naïveté and pride, I have always viewed baseball players as “less athletic” than other professional players. They don’t have to run very far or for very long. It’s not that hard to hit a ball with a bat. No one is tackling them. Et cetera.

But when you watch baseball in slo-mo you are stunned at how much athleticism there is going on down on the field.

Balls thrown at 100mph (!) are very hard to hit! Stealing bases is very difficult because those bags are so darn little! Tagging someone out at second and then immediately afterward someone at first requires insane teamwork and precision and oftentimes stretching in very flexible ways!

And if you’re talking pressure, if you’re talking one wrong move by one person and the entire game can be lost- that’s baseball. It’s so intense!

And I didn’t realize any of this until 2016. My extremely late twenties

So reason number three: slo-mo, specifically of the Cubs, gave me an appreciation for baseball I never had before and therefore I owe my allegiance to them in particular.

(I have never cheered for the Cubs before this year and they’ve never won a Series in my lifetime, so please excuse me if I feel like a bit of a good luck charm to them.)

We let our 6 year old boys stay up for game 7, which went on till 11:53pm. I do not for one second regret it and I hope they remember it their entire lives.

At the end of the game, one of them said while obviously recalling hearing me say “I hate baseball” in the past, “Mom, if I play baseball will you come to my games?”

Poor thing was concerned his mama might choose her unnecessarily strong aversion to baseball over supporting him in the sport.

When I replied with an emphatic, “I will be at every game I can possibly attend,” they both said, “Good, ’cause I love baseball.”

Reason number four: by being a Cubs fan, I open wide a window to my boys’ hearts. If they love baseball, by all means, I LOVE BASEBALL.

 

 

thai curry recipe

Warning: I’m not a food blogger!  I feel like such a poser right now. 😄

I’ll start off by saying that my curry recipe is a few things:

1. Originally mine.
2. Adaptable.
3.  Being published here by request of several friends.
4. Usually made on a dirty stove so please don’t judge the photos. 😂😂😂

I make curry about once every two weeks and all 4 of our kids love it. I use it to clean out our fridge of all the veggies before they go bad.

For me, curry is all about the timing. It’s definitely not a walk away for 10 minutes kind of thing. It’s involved, so I will give you step by step– lest you make the mistake I did at first (which was burn the milk right out of the coconut milk.) 😳

I don’t measure while cooking hardly at all, and most certainly not with a dish I make so often. So, for my friends who thrive best with specific instructions, you may find my recipe slightly irritating. 😵

(I’m doing such a great job selling my recipe, am I right???😄)

Ok, so here’s the basic preview.

My curry has chicken in it, but you can make it vegetarian if you like. Also I  ALWAYS use sweet potatoes in my curry- I highly recommend it. Other than that, you can add or subtract from this list according to your tastes, or according to whatever you have on hand:

Chicken
Sweet potatoes
Broccoli
Bell peppers
Mushrooms
Peas
Green beans
Garlic
Onion

I would never even think about using canned or frozen veggies to pull this off. I’m sure someone, somewhere does it, which is totally cool, but my recipe is all fresh, every time.

Here’s how I do it:

Cut all the vegetables into bite size pieces.  Curry is eaten with a large spoon and you should be able to fit about 2-3 pieces of food on it in my opinion

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You can see here that I didn’t have peas, but seriously how gorgeous is this spread? Taste the rainbow!

In a large fry pan, melt coconut oil and add your potatoes. Cook on medium heat for 7 minutes or until soft.  Stir occasionally, using this time to cut your chicken. I do larger strips than bite size because it cooks down so much.

Add your broccoli to the potatoes after about 7 minutes, then your bell peppers 3 minutes after that.

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In a separate pan, sauté some garlic and onion in a small amount of coconut oil and then fry up your chicken.

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Douse it in curry powder. Just go crazy. When you think you’ve added enough, add more! 

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Apart from the veggies, pictured here are your essentials. Coconut oil, curry powder, green curry paste, and coconut milk. All of these items were purchased at a normal, American grocery store. I don’t make a trip to the Asian market that often, but when I do I buy all but the coconut oil there. They know what’s up!

While the chicken and veggies are cooking, start your Minute brown rice (oops! not pictured! told you I’m not a food blogger!!!).

Add the peas and mushrooms.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the green beans to your stir fry mixture last. They are best a little crispy in my opinion but if you like them soft throw them in with the bell peppers.

When the chicken is fully cooked, add it to the large pan of veggies.

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Pour two cans of regular coconut milk in. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW. Make sure it’s not the low fat or low something or other kind. No no no! That stuff is terrible. Just the original.

It’ll come out looking like this:

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Half milky, half watery. Appetizing, right???

Add green curry paste, approximately 2 tablespoons.

Stir well. Add more curry powder. Cover. Simmer on low just until the concoction is warm. Over-cooking will happen easily if it cooks too long or on medium-high heat, and then the coconut milk will lose its milky texture and become flavorless, leaving you without a real curry.

End result of my normal pot of curry looks this:

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Thick, milky, and less colorful than the previous steps.

Serve over brown rice immediately. My husband and I add crushed red pepper, Cayenne pepper, and siracha in the bowl to taste.

It’s the easiest recipe to make just the way you want it. I hope this wasn’t too overwhelming! You’ll get the hang of it after making it the first time. I don’t even think about the steps anymore!

And nowwww for the abbreviated version.

Kayla’s Thai Curry Recipe

Time: 45 minutes.
Serves: 6 (👈 hubs says it’s even better the next day. make a bunch and bring it to work!)

Ingredients:
Chicken
1 Sweet potato
Broccoli
Bell peppers
Mushrooms
Peas
Green beans
Onion
Garlic
4 tbsp or more of coconut oil, divided
2-3 tbsp curry powder
2 15 oz cans original coconut milk
2 tbsp green curry paste
6 servings Minute brown rice
Crushed red pepper, optional
Cayenne pepper, optional
Siracha, optional

In large pan, heat coconut oil. Add potatoes. Cook for 7 minutes. Add each vegetable in succession, cooking until desired tenderness is reached.

Cook Minute brown rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sauté garlic and onion in coconut oil. Add chicken and 2 tbsp curry powder. Cook chicken until juices run clear.

Add chicken to veggie pan.

Reduce heat to low.

Add coconut milk and curry paste. Stir well. Add remaining curry powder.

Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes, just until warm.

Serve immediately over rice.

Add spices to taste.

👋👋👋👋👋

average

Have you ever been around a really successful person who is also very humble? These people don’t brag about their accomplishments or compete with you to see whose better because they don’t find their worth in what they’ve done.

They’re the type of people whose words you find yourself clinging to. Like, “What gem is going to land on my ears right now?”

My husband and I had dinner with such a man and his equally successful wife last week. They are both very smart, very fit (former college athletes and current marathon runners), popular, musical, good-looking and humorous. They have high degrees and prestigious jobs.

And they are humble.

Their humility makes them generous. It makes them super laid back about their possessions. It makes them approachable. And it also makes people really listen up when they talk.

There’s something he said during dinner that I have not been able to stop thinking about all week.

“I want our kids to be average at everything but loving God and others. That’s where I want them to be excellent.”

Listen. This guy has been excellent at everything he’s touched his entire life.  He got straight As. He started on varsity. He was on homecoming court. He played college sports. He is musically inclined. He’s a handy man. He got an advanced degree. He owns a large, beautiful home. He has a wonderful wife and healthy children. He is ANYTHING but average. He is well above average.

Do you realize how monumental this is?
Someone who has tasted everything the world has to offer, who has money and status and experience, and yet says that love is what matters, love is what counts, that’s where he wants his kids to excel… Holy cow.

This tells me that everything my heart wants me to chase after is not worth it. What my flesh craves will not satisfy me. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and even that there might be inherent danger that comes with success. (Pride, forgetting God, and greed are just a few things the Bible says about it.)

This isn’t a new concept for me in all actuality. After all, I’ve been going to church my entire life. 

I have to say, though, that there’s something about wanting my kidssuccess that seems justifiable. Am I right? It’s like, “Ok God, I’ll stop chasing after the world but please make my kids good-looking, well-mannered, athletic, popular, smart, and motivated in school so they can get high paying jobs some day. K thanks!”

What if my child gets straight Bs, can’t speak publically, never makes varsity, is kinda clumsy, is relatively unknown in her school, doesn’t really want to go to college, doesn’t even get asked to go to homecoming (let alone make court) BUT is fiercely loyal to her small group of fairly nerdy friends, gives God her anxiety, reads the Word, and tells others about Jesus?

Will I consider her successful??? Will she have lived up to my expectations? Will she be the young woman I have always wanted her to be?

If I’m honest, my flesh wants more for her, but my spirit says that would be enough because the one who is last shall be first, the greatest in the kingdom of heaven must become the least among you, and because if you seek first God’s kingdom (not your own) and His righteousness, allllllll these things will be added to you (Matthew 20:16, Matthew 18:4, Matthew 6:33).

Let us aim for godly success and work hard in all God has given us to do, whether that’s laundry or building houses or fixing cars or nursing someone to health or taking biology class. And if worldly success comes our way, praise God. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights, ” James 1:17a.

Harvey the RV

🚐 going down in history as the greatest vehicle we never owned 🚐

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Because I get asked so very often to explain our recent camping trip to Texas, here is everything you need to know about taking a cross-country trip in a rented class C motorhome with small children in one blog post. How about that. 😁

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know:

1. We definitely plan to rent one again because it was that amazing. My husband came home from the trip saying, “We are totally going to buy one of these!”  He wanted to rent it out for free to all our friends and while I think many of you would be on board with that, I personally view it as an administrative nightmare and major thorn in my side. Given that an older (2007) version such as the one we rented sells for about $30,000, I talked him down pretty quickly. We will rent. We will not buy (unless we strike gold, in which case we just might buy). 💁

2. Renting an RV is so affordable. Everyone who finds out we rented an RV for 8 days and drove almost 1500 miles in it says in disbelief, “Yeah, but how much did it cost?” I tell them that with EVERYTHING included:
rental fee
+insurance
+gas
+food
+propane
+camp sites
+my bridesmaids dress for the wedding I was in while we were in Texas
+our entertainment
+extra 4GLTE since we weren’t on WiFi that often
(I’m talking EVERYTHING)
= less than $1500.
6 people. 8 days. $1500. Boom goes the dynamite.
Just to put this into perspective, after flights, rental car, hotel room, meals, and my bridesmaid dress, I would have spent $1,124 if I flew down alone (and left my husband at home with all 4 kids) for 3 days.
1 person. 3 days. Over $1,100. Annnnnnnd boom goes the dynamite again. 😅

3. You have to pack everything but the kitchen sink, and this time that is not hyperbole. Each of the rentals I found required you to pack everything from bed sheets and bath towels to pots n pans to toilet paper and paper plates. I even packed extra blankets to hang on the windows at night so the kids would sleep in later than the sun. We brought books, crayons, the tablet, movies, and toys. I brought my yoga mat and dumbbells.💪

4. Besides all the aforementioned things, the RV has everything you could need. (I know it sounds rather contradictory but just hear me out.) The RV we rented has a full kitchen (oven, stove, fridge, freezer, sink), a 3/4 bath with standing shower, 4 beds (2 queen-sized and 2 full), a dining table and couch, a TV, ample storage (I mean like PLENTY of room to spare). Our family of 6 was very comfortable all week. When you rent a campsite at an RV park, you get running water, sewage service, and electricity as part of your package. This makes the RV a full fledged house on wheels. (You can choose to stay at a Wal Mart parking lot but in doing so you forfeit those  amenities. Even still, if your water tank is full and your propane tank is full, you can use the running water and electricity in the Wal Mart parking lot, just on your own dime.)

5. You don’t need to STOP and take bathroom breaks like you do during traditional road trips. My kids do not tend to time their bowel movements according to our gas fill-ups, so the fact that I could just walk them back to our bathroom while my husband kept driving was simply blissful. It made the actual driving time so much more efficient. Harvey rode like a dream, but walking around the cabin while it was going 70mph was a bit bumpy so we had to hold on to the counter and doors on our way to the restroom. We did not allow the kids to feel free to move about the cabin unless they were en route to the bathroom with an escort. (Note that if you rent a camper that you tow behind a truck, it is illegal for passengers to ride in the camper while it’s moving. They must be in the truck, making this point null and void. I would not rent one that I needed to tow for that reason.)

6. Not all RV rentals are as affordable as ours was. I did lots of hunting and searching and settled on a private owner in the Kansas City (KC) area rather than going through a commercial RV rental company mostly because he gave us UNLIMITED MILES. Most companies allot you 150 miles/day and anything over that is $.40 per mile. Now, in order to get this deal we had to drive 3 hours in the way of our route to Texas to pick up our RV. (Now, think about this in terms of #3 for a moment. I had to pack EVERYTHING into our van and topper, then unload it into the RV in KC, and then a week later do the reverse. It was crazy.  I spent AT LEAST 40 hours packing for this trip and even still, I would do it again. So worth it.) If you think a KC area RV is right for you please ask me for the contact info of our guy. You’ll be very pleased!!

7. Cooking is a breeze. Due to our daughter’s gluten sensitivity, it was very important to us that our Texas plan allowed me to prepare all our food. Couple that with a large family on a limited budget and we knew we couldn’t afford to eat out more than a couple times, regardless of gluten intolerances. With the full kitchen at my disposal, it was just like being at home. I went grocery shopping outside of KC right after we picked Harvey up. It rained the entire time we were gone (our campground in Texas flooded the last day were there) so we weren’t able to grill at all, but it was fine. We ate out once, and it was Chipotle (obviously) in KC after we dropped Harvey the RV off on Day 8. Mission accomplished.

8. Naaaaaaaps. Because the three big kids were not required to be in car seats (and in fact the RV couch did not support car seats at all- they just tipped over when we tried) and the baby was the only one in a car seat during the trip, they were insanely comfortable lounging on the couch and beds– which translates to very little complaining and are we there yets. They would all fall asleep for like 3 hours at a time while we were on the road. That does not happen in our van anymore! The traveling time was so pleasant. So so pleasant.

9. The RV crowd is generally very friendly and helpful so you get to meet people from all over the country. We really like that. And of course we could keep to ourselves when we wanted. At times I felt anxious about being attacked in the RV parks but the doors lock and our neighbors would wake up very quickly if they heard someone trying to kill us, so I eventually got over that. We survived!

10. No, you do not need a special license to drive the Class C motorhome, such as Harvey the RV shown above. Just a valid driver’s license, insurance (our auto insurance covered the insurance for the RV rental), and confidence to maneuver the rig. Since I was missing the latter, I was the designated navigator and bathroom escort. 😋

All in all, a class C motorhome is the best way to travel cross country with small children in my opinion. Can’t wait to do it again!

not a coconut

Our kids came home from a class at church nearly two years ago singing, “Oh the fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut! If you want to be a coconut, you might as well hear it: you can’t be a fruit of the Spirit. ‘Cause the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self contro-o-ol!” and to this day we still sing it several times a week.
Because all our kids (well, maybe not the baby!) know the fruits of the Spirit and because I find parenting to be rather exhausting of my own “goodness”, I gave them each the permission to say one of the fruits out loud whenever they noticed me not living like Jesus.
Now, up till this point the technique had been going well for a couple weeks- I was being caught in my sin, called out for it, and repenting sooner. Emerson and Oakley use it most often when I am irritated at someone– usually Luca, because well, she’s currently 2 and happened to get an extra large dose of her mom’s sass and her dad’s stubbornness…😆–  but sometimes other drivers on the road or whatever. (Side note: Emerson told me last year, genuinely, out of a heart of love, “Mom, you are such a good driver. You always know everything the other drivers are doing wrong.” 👈 Backhanded compliment, anyone????😂)
Anyway, so there was this time when I was getting frustrated with Luca and from another room I hear Oakley say, “Mom, self-control!”
He’s right. I need to take a deep breath here. This isn’t that big of a deal.
“I mean kindness!”
Ummmmmmmmm, ok I know. Just GIVE ME A MOMENT.
“No, wait, gentleness.”
“Oakley Crawford! I told you ONE fruit of the Spirit! One!!!! Not every single one that applies!” I barked at him.
You guys, I can’t make this stuff up. Now standing face to face, he looks at me sweetly in the eyes and said, “Then I pick patience.”
Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln. If there ever was a time when I wished my kids did NOT know the fruit of the Spirit, it was certainly then. Forget the stinking fruit of the Spirit and let me yell at your sister and YOU while I’m at it, ya little turd.
I honestly don’t remember how I reacted outwardly in that moment. I don’t know if I said something sassy (my usual) or just walked away (what I’m trying to do more often) or if I laughed out loud (highly unlikely- I’m pretty sure I only found it funny in hindsight).
I can say for sure, though, that that rebuke has made a huge imprint on my heart. The kids still say one (and only one😄) fruit of the Spirit when the occasion arises but now my mind automatically takes it further: if I’m not portraying ONE of the fruits of the Spirit, chances are pretty high I’m not portraying ANY of them. Can you be impatient while still being loving? Clearly no.  Can you have joy without peace? Hardly. If you’re not being gentle, are you being good? No!
Here’s the point: don’t excuse your sin as something less than what it is. “Well, I just wasn’t being patient enough.” That means you weren’t walking in Christ-likeness. You weren’t being loving. You weren’t practicing peace or gentleness or ANYTHING that the Holy Spirit enables you to do in a moment of temptation.
Am I preaching to the choir yet? Yikes. This post is mostly meant for myself… Gotta hit those truths home hard so 20 years from now I’m not still struggling with the same old same old.  I’m sure you girls got this down pat!

request for perfect marriage: denied

I have an obsession with my husband. :mrgreen: I think he’s the best. Kerry is my wildest dream come true and I appreciate him more with each passing day. He’s #mymancrusheveryday.

But I didn’t always feel this way. No, it was only 3 years ago that this obsession began (and we’ve been together for over 7).

“What happened?” you say.

“I’m glad you asked,” I say. 🙂

The story of how we ended up together is pretty unusual (if you haven’t already read my page “the story of our love” you will get a better feel for what I mean if you go read it now) and although I had very strong feelings, strong enough to get married to him, they faded after the honeymoon phase was over.

Our honeymoon phase, from my perspective at least, lasted a record-breaking 3 weeks. 21 stinking days.

21 days after I said “I do” my heart said, “I don’t.  I sooooooooo don’t.”

So what went wrong? Did he start beating me? Did I realize a crazy secret he’d kept from me during our engagement? Was he cheating on me? Was the sex just terrible?

No. No. No. No.

What happened was that he did not meet my expectations.

On day 21 of our marriage, a Friday, he woke up, got ready for work, kissed me and said, “See you tomorrow afternoon!”

“Tomorrow afternoon? What? Why?”

“I’m going camping with the guys. You knew about it. Why are you acting so surprised?” he asked. Little did he know he was about to be blindsided by some major sass.

“Yeah, I know THE GUYS are going camping tonight. Why would I assume that meant YOU when we JUST got married like 3 weeks ago?! I can’t even believe you would just leave me alone. Whatever. Go have your man time. Go camping. And enjoy every minute of it while I just sit back here all by myself like a widow,” I snapped.

Now, mind you, this was also the phase where I didn’t always say exactly what I meant (in fact I regularly said exactly opposite of what I meant) but he, being the young, honest, God-fearing man he is didn’t know that yet so when I said, “Fine then, just go camping!” he took me seriously and went. 😄 I am laughing out loud now but I was NOT laughing then. I was seething. 👿

Like a cold press coffee I brewed alllllllll night long and was pretty darn pungent the next morning.

Let’s just say my attitude didn’t allow him to be a very happy camper. 😳

The next several years can be summed up by these key words: disappointment, discontentment, anger, bitterness, fits of rage, misunderstanding, and more fits of rage, all the while Kerry just tried to figure out why I was always yelling at him.

We vowed in front of God and all the witnesses at our wedding to never divorce. It saved our marriage time and again. If it had not been for that I would have left without a doubt. I stayed but I thought I’d be miserable forever because I HATED being married.

Even on the better days I had this nagging doubt that we were ever supposed to be together because I felt unloved. (I wasn’t unloved, it’s just the way that Kerry communicated it didn’t translate to anything meaningful to me. See The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman for more on this concept.)

One time I got so angry at him that I threw a fork. I wasn’t targeting him, but it ricocheted off the table and hit him in the face. I’d like to say that was my wake up call and that I never did anything like that again. Not true. Things went on like this for years.

There was, however, one particular thought that revolutionized the way I viewed marriage and it is the reason I’m currently happily married.

Here it is:

Does a woman have to earn the right to be loved? Does she have to prove herself to be lovable? Isn’t it just understood that she deserves unconditional love because of who she is? Why then, does a husband have to prove he is worthy of respect? The Bible clearly teaches the wife is to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:22 and 1 Peter 3:1). Wouldn’t that mean, then, that you, as the wife, give it even when you don’t feel loved, even when you don’t want to?

I don’t even remember where I heard this but I do remember being very struck by the fact that I was demanding Kerry prove he is respectable rather than just giving him respect. After months of wrestling with this idea, I finally decided to move forward. I chose to respect my husband. God commanded it and I would obey. In my heart, I began thanking the Lord for Kerry- that he sometimes washed dishes, that he provided for the family, that he didn’t ever retaliate with violence when I was acting aggressively, etc.

Once I changed my heart, my behavior started to change. There were obvious signs of disrespect I knew I needed to stop doing (yelling, slamming doors, throwing forks, accusing him, etc) but I was sure there were other things I was doing/not doing that communicated disrespect to him, so I asked him to give me some pointers. 

He replied by saying that me simply asking in what ways I could be more respectful was a huge sign of respect. #win! Then he listed these things after much thought:

–Ask me questions about how to handle a bigger situation rather than just flying solo and assuming you know what to do. Remember we are a team
–Correct me calmly and privately rather than exploding
–Say, “I respect you”
–Use a pleasant tone even when I do something you view as stupid or inefficient
–Express willingness to submit even if you disagree with a decision I’ve made

Since you’re not married to Kerry Poucher and you are not me (maybe you’re not aggressive at all, maybe you’re a cold-shoulder Shannon, or a evil glances Evelyn, a slanderous Suzy, or a money-spending Mary), you might want to ask your own husband how he would feel more respected  if you sense you need to make a change. Even if you don’t think you’ve been disrespectful, it couldn’t hurt to ask how to do it better, right?

Start by choosing respect in your heart
and then let the Holy Spirit modify your actions accordingly.

I would be lying if I said it’s been perfect ever since I made this decision, and that I’ve never done/said anything I regret since then. Truth is, I’m still working on it, but Kerry and I both agree our marriage is amazing and a huge blessing to both of us because the more respect I show him the more love he shows me! Thank you, Emerson Eggrichs, for that tip! 🙂  

I hope and pray that my trials are a source of encouragement to you!