Friday, January 29, 2016

How God Saved My Marriage

It was exactly one month before I turned 20-years-old, I found myself locked arms with my dad as he was walking me down the aisle. I started crying; in that moment I realized I was getting married and didn’t really want to, just yet…

My husband-to-be, later in life, confessed he was standing there thinking similar things.

We were 17 weeks pregnant and knew that we loved each other enough to do what was right for the baby, and together we were better financially than apart. To say the least, it was an interesting start to a marriage.

The first 10 years we treated our marriage the way the world taught us to. We had the mindset that marriage equals misery, a type of bondage.

This world view of marriage landed us miserable. Sure there were glimpses of good times, but without a “structure” of how marriage should really work, we were floundering in a mental prison. We cohabitated…we did it well. We were decent roommates. However, looking back, it was a waste of 10 years of what could have been time invested into each other.

We spent our 10th Anniversary separated. At this point in life, we had been decently successful with our businesses, and had built the material life we wanted. But there was a great invisible gulf between us emotionally that material items didn‘t fill. It only deepened everyday. When it got too wide and one of us would begin to fall into this abyss, for some unknown reason, the one would reach in and pull the other out. While living with the idea that marriage was bondage we were creating the demise of our marriage; sometimes intentional, sometimes unintentional.

We got back together after a four month separation. Sometime in late 2007 God used my eldest daughter to come after me. She started pulling on my aprons strings to take her to church and be baptized. In Dec. 2007 she was baptized, and in Feb. 2008 I had a supernatural experience with this Jehovah God, Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ. I won’t go into details for time sake but I will say this, my mind was renewed, I didn’t think the way I used to. And I craved to learn more about this God I had encountered. I took the next two years and spent every night on my bed watching/reading everything I could about religion. In that process, I became a Godly minded wife.

God showed me all of the behavior I had that was tearing down my marriage. He showed me why he created marriage, and how it was a blessing, not a curse, to be celebrated, not mistreated, and it was a legacy, not a tragedy.

I celebrated 20 years of marriage yesterday, and I am going to share what God showed me, and how it works for me. But before I go on, if you are not in a safe environment, you need to get yourself to one. I have NEVER been physically or verbally abused by my husband. Those things would have been a game changer. Moving on…

My biggest problem the first 10 years was divorce was always an option. Just laying on the table in case I wanted to play that card. When I decided I just wasn’t feeling “in love” with him, I would start to imagine my life without him. This took my time, my thoughts, and my happiness! I had to take it off of the table. Then I had to figure out how to accomplish my happiness I longed for with him.

Next, I STOPPED tearing down my husband to people when I was annoyed with him. This is huge! Stop saying anything negative about the person you chose to spend your life with. I was terrible about this. I was using it as some sort of self-medication because in my lost mind I had the right to tear him down because of his failures in our marriage, but then fuss at him if he dared say anything about my failures.

DO NOT CALL NAMES! This makes my husband crazy to hear others call their spouse derogatory names.

I started respecting him. I began to ponder the things I loved about him. Some of these I didn’t even realize until we had spent years together. He is the kindest man I know. He will stay behind to help cleanup, change a tire, or give you his last dollar. He makes me laugh everyday, and when I would scream and yell like an idiot he would not engage. He doesn’t get jealous, he doesn’t fuss, he doesn’t ask me where I am all of the time. He cleans! He cooks! I began to speak respectfully of my husband, even when I don‘t feel “in-love“, I respect him, and he respects me. That’s marriage. If I base my commitment on my daily feelings then we go back to the above train-wreck. I promise, after 20 years, I look forward to the dry spells because I know the waterfalls and oceans are coming, and those waves are feelings of new, deeper love springing forth! Who better to experience that with than the man who knows me better than anyone. The best marriages are built during the dry spells because it is then that you have to physically make an effort to invest time, energy, kindness into each other. Fall in love over and over again, with the same person.

If you want to be respected then create something worth respecting…this was big! I had not been a wife he could respect. My language, my behavior, my actions were sometimes on point, sometimes grotesque, I had no moral compass (Holy Ghost) guiding my decisions, I was basing it on my feelings for the day. I’m a woman, I’m hormonal, bless his heart…that’s all I can say about those first 10 years with me. We both were a hot mess.

If you do not respect your spouse, the people around you won’t either. If you don’t hold your marriage to high regards, then you are teaching the people around you that they don’t have to. The people in my life are well aware that I do not participate in inappropriate conversations. You are opening doors for the enemy to come in and pummel your marriage, SHUT THE DOOR!

I started praying for him. My prayer life has deepened each year, with understanding how to pray for him, I watched both our thought patterns about our marriage change. I pray every morning, “God, turn our hearts towards each other, remind us today how important our marriage is to each other, stir us physically and emotionally for each other, and I declare the scripture that says ‘NO weapon formed against us shall prosper!’” The days I have failed to pray for us are the days I feel separated from him emotionally. I cannot express the importance to pray for yourself, your spouse, your marriage!!! Only God can renew his mind…PRAY for him.

We do not argue. Not because we don’t have things to argue about. Part of this is because he is so easy-going. Part of this is we have figured out what issues cause us to infuriate the other and we took those things off of the table. For example: we do not share checking accounts. It’s just easier for he and I. My personal accounting measures are different than his ideas and it just works better for us like this. We don’t argue about money. Do we agree on how to handle it? Obviously not, but I am not going to let our accounting differences separate me from this man I love..nor the shoes in the floor, the clothes by the bed, the way he makes the bed… We just move on. However, we trust each other to do the responsible thing with money. I know his info, he knows mine. I have faith in this man to be an adult and handle his business, he expects the same from me. Now when we want to argue, we have learned to be adults and sit down and say, “I am not a fan of ….” We’ve even had our children be a part of some of these discussions because they are now teenagers and are learning to date; they need to learn how to fight-fair. Is there hurt? Yes, but it will not consume my marriage.

I had to learn that I am not his parent. Nor did I want him to be mine. Marriage is about two people coming together as one and creating a life experience. The Bible says we leave our parents and cleave to each other. That’s intimate! And it says I left my parents. DO NOT be a parent! And DON’T act like a child. Be a friend, be a confidant, be a partner, be a lover, but don’t be a parent. I do not need you to oversee my spending, fuss as me for leaving my shoes out, and police my outings. The best thing we learned to do was to stop asking permission to do things. My husband loves golf outings. He loves to camp. Due to my work schedule and etc. I do not do these things with him. I am offended if he asks me if he can go. I am not your mother. I am your wife. I trust that you are going to spend wisely, you are going to respect me during your outing, and you are going to honor our marriage while away from me. And I will do the same while you are gone. That’s called faith. That’s called trust. Respect. And that’s created a wonderful, easy, happy atmosphere that he and I enjoy greatly. And when I travel without him it’s the same. I am here to experience life with him! I enjoy watching him live his life as a man who has been successful. And vice/versa. He never fusses at me, no matter how many times I paint the front door a different color, or how many chairs I have bought this past year. It’s. Just. Easy. It’s freeing!

The biggest reason I was able to make the above changes in my thinking is this:
God said, “What kind of marriage do you want your children to have? Then be their example.” When things are less than perfect I am reminded that my children are watching us and learning how to “be married” themselves. My marriage is not just mine and his, it’s their marriage too. They will learn about being parents and spouses by watching us on a daily basis. There have been times when I see my children being unfair in a relationship and I say, “Do your dad and I treat each other like that?”

Be kind to each other, be respectful to and of each other, put God first and each other second, be romantic, be friends. I am saddened to see when two people who fell in love turn into enemies, turn into victims of each others behavior, or turn into a place of dullness in their marriages. It’s what you make it, make it amazing.

Treat your spouse the way you want to be treated. Serve them, and in turn you will reap the rewards of selflessness.

I don’t just love this man, I adore this man, and when the enemy tries to remind me of things we have done in the past that have caused harm to each other, I am reminded of what God said to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “Cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”

Happy 20th Anniversary, Jason. My gift to you is to honor this marriage we have that is only ours. My words, actions, and deeds I give to you because when you are well, I am well. I am completely, totally, and deeply in love with you.


He bought me these gorgeous diamonds as my gift; he said I could call the title of my blog, ‘He Painted A House for Me.’ He seriously did, and this is exactly what I mean. After 20 years he spends all week working a second job to buy me something I didn’t deserve. 


Monday, January 25, 2016

Mallory's Song

She had feisty eyes when she came into this world…small, wiry, and full of life. I scolded Madi, who was 3-years-old, for pulling her out of her exersaucer, just to learn that she would grab the side and pull herself out at the age of 5-months-old. Madi didn’t make the thing bounce until she was 7-months-old…

Climbing into the dryer, the cabinets, and even out of her crib and leaving the house at 15-months-old, this little girl kept me on my toes. She was named after my love for Dennis Quaid, and my husbands affinity for Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid).

The Middle Girl…

I was the middle child and knew all-to-well the struggle that comes with that position in the family. The struggle is real. So is the mischief-gene that comes with being the middle child. None-the-less she overcame every possible thing that has been inadvertently thrown at her. The list is long; her brother was born when she was only 11-months-old forcing her out of the position as the baby, she was born on my anniversary; kid can't even get her own day...she lost a dear friend at the age of six, and struggled with death, and at the age of nine she met a little girl who was terribly abused and listened to her horrific stories, which changed this girls view of the world. Her vision now jaded from a young age. But she’s overcome.

She’s overcome the fear of death, which gripped her for years, and the profuse anxiety and fear that came with hearing others abuse stories. Her teachers always had kind things to say but would always add, “She needs some confidence in herself and her choices.” She was always very indecisive, always second guessing herself.

It’s her story to tell, but I can paint enough of the picture for you to let you know that real battles have been fought on our knees as she and I have prayed for peace for her and others. She had to comprehend more than I’ve ever had to. But she’s overcome.

She’s played clarinet, and softball - going from bottom of the roster to MVP at the end of the season. She didn’t make the volleyball team her first year but she asked to be the manager, and if she could just practice with the team to learn the game. The coaches were so impressed with her progress they put her on the team. I watched her become one of the best players they had that year. The parents said it was due to the amount of chicken nuggets she consumed; thus the nickname McMallory.

She’s 17 now.

If you had asked me five years ago what this girl would be like at 17 I’m not sure I would have given the answer that matches what has come to be. She was very dependent on me…she wasn’t very happy to be out of my sight; making it difficult for those who babysat her when Jason and I would take a trip. So it’s been surprising to watch her come into her own these past two years.

She has arrived at 17 crowned as Homecoming Princess, which thrills me because her peers placed her there. She is an officer for her local DECA chapter, her grades are spot-on, her volleyball skills continue to grow, been on her first car date, earned her license, bought her first car, and working at Subway, earning her first paychecks.

It’s been an interesting couple of years. She didn’t want a big party like her sister had at 16; just wanted to be home with family and a friend or two. This child cherishes her family and the little cousins. She has a God-given gift for children, she has always wagged a doll. When we moved into our home in 2004 she was 4-years-old and she brought 92 dolls (of various sizes) with her. That was after paring down. So it’s no surprise she is now working church nursery…like a pro.

Throughout all of her days she has stretched me as a momma, and pushed me to search deeper in prayers, faith, and the ability to speak those truths over her and to her.

She arrives at 17 a beautiful young lady wise beyond her years. And loves the three "S's" of teenage life: Selfies, Sassy, and Socializing!
By the grace of God, she has overcome many things. She was built to persevere, she has made me better.

I love you, Mallory Quade

I wrote the below portion of this blog Fall 2 years ago…I decided to go ahead and publish with her permission, while also trying to write a blog about her turning 17.

(Fall 2014)
The perfect first line…

I’m not sure exactly what that would be for this kid.

Over-comer is really the word that seems to sum her up.

At the heels of 16, I am beginning to learn as much from her as she is learning from me, her momma.

I wonder if people are really cursed…I do believe we have generational curses that typically are lifestyles or learned behaviors handed down to us from our parents, grands, etc. But can someone really just be cursed?

Her little baby belly didn’t like any of the first 6,000 formulas we tried after I was forced to stop nursing because of an infection I had. She was forced to a bottle and many, many nights cried with belly aches until we discovered a soy based formula that would work for her.

By the tender age of 11 months old she became a big sister. Not even a birthday celebrated yet and already the middle child. I am the middle child and can speak from experience that this alone comes with a curse for some odd reason.

A plethora of reasons led to her behavior becoming less than becoming as a toddler. My inconsistency in parenting due to my young age, overwhelmed with three babies, and an absence of God in my life, therefore not really knowing how to parent, or having a place of refuge to run to when I was overwhelmed. Couple this age of misbehavior with adults around us who attempted to shame or mistreat her because they couldn’t deal with this child who just sought attention, and learned early-on she got attention - even though negative - from acting out.

By 6-years-old she suffered the loss of one of her favorite friends. I took her to the funeral home and from that moment forward it altered her. I saw the look on her face when her perception of reality changed. I felt it on me like a heavy, damp blanket. Again, without the presence of God in my life the next couple of years of her crying non-stop while at home - in fear of dying herself - I couldn’t cope the way she needed me to. I rocked her, I scolded her, I calmed her, I screamed at and with her when she and I were both emotionally and physically drained…yet, nothing worked. Therapist would give advice but nothing calmed her while she was at home. I felt as though I was going to have a nervous breakdown, and not really understanding the trauma to her mind until recently. At school she was fine. It was two different lives for her. Now looking back I realized that she didn’t want to be pitied, and didn’t want any of her peers to see her differently. I know that now because of years of dealing with the anxiety she suffers with - but overcoming with every step, everyday. One day while moping through the house, weeping because she was afraid her hair would fall out if she went to sleep, she came to my bedside and said, “Momma, I’m afraid that if I don’t quit worrying the Easter Bunny won’t come see me.” I agreed that he wouldn’t and she stopped. She’s never cried about the fear of dying again.

But at the age of 9-years-old, and with just about a year of a happy, healthy-minded child who’s behavior was perfect at school and much improved at home, she had a friend disclose the details of sexual abuse she was suffering at home. That child was removed from her home and the person was arrested. But my daughter went into a life of sheer panic. She would beg for me to be in her presence at all times. But with time we hit a point of safety in her mind again.

As a very young child Mallory learned this world can devour her, and with sheer fear of the world she lives in, she learned to overcome. As I reflect back over Mallory’s life I see where the chaos calmed. The year I began to put God first in my life, my children also learned to do the same. Many times has this child cried out to Jehovah God for shelter, and many times have I stood with hands raised crying out that he would protect her and her mind. And the darkness that seemed to hover around her has been devoured by the light.

As the storm has calmed in Mallory’s life she still seems to also be that kid that cannot win for losing. It’s always her food that has a hair in it. It’s always her t-shirt that ends up with food on it, or the embarrassing moment happens to her.

I write this today to remind people that you don’t know what others deal with, what people have had to overcome, or what is behind the smile. Regardless, your treatment of each and every situation matters, and no matter how annoyed you are with someone, stop and think about how they perceive you. I promise Mallory’s perception of some of the people in her life has changed due to their rudeness. Over the years of her crying in my arms, I have encouraged her to always mind her words, respect the elders in her life, kill them with kindness, and give it all to God. Trust me, I'm harder on my children than anyone. I expect a lot from them...but I've learned all three are different, and my technique must be.

She came home over the weekend after a horrific/embarrassing incident with her “friends” during an overnight volleyball outing and said, “I don’t even care, mom, I just prayed and gave it to God.”

Amen, Mallory, Amen

Now let me tell you about a beautiful girl who may battle the unseen in a bigger way than others, but how she was naturally gifted with a radiant beauty. This child has the ability to plead a case like no one else I know. She can rationalize and stand-up for what she thinks is right. She has a God-given talent and love for babies, and little ones naturally gravitate towards her. She has wagged a doll from the time she could hold it in her arms. This girl is beginning to take what the world is throwing at her and using it to build a testimony that I cannot wait to see God use in the future. This girl expresses herself well, and with anyone. She’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and that’s a great place to be on the heels of 16. Because I know she has and will continue to persevere, and someday protect those she sees suffering from the reality of this worlds harsh ways.

Even though I have failed her many times, today I write this to say be encouraged, Mallory, for you are smart, you are kind, and you are loved. He created you in his image, and has promised beauty for ashes. Greater is he in you than he in the world…

(Fall 2014)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Train Up A Child

See that little, dark, curly haired head sticking out of the top of that baptismal? That sweetness is George, as I call her. Almost six-years-old. Today, I watched her be baptized into the body of Christ.

As I was headed to church to watch my niece be baptized, I heard the pastor on the radio say, "But Jesus said, 'Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.'" Matthew 19:14

It's her story to tell, however, I delight in the joy of the day!

I spent the remainder of the day preparing to speak at church tonight. We are on day 15 of our 21 day fast, and each night we gather as a body and pray over all of the prayer requests, and then someone from the body will share their testimony, a word of encouragement, etc. Tonight was my night. I know I'm on radio in the mornings, but I get so nervous about speaking to the body of Christ. On radio I can act stupid, be wrong/be right/be left, etc. and that's probably the norm. But these are the people of God...It's serious business. 

My heart pounds out of my chest, and I waller (Kentucky term) the pew until I think I'm going to die, and then I hear my name called.

But as always, God sent me to a scripture, this time 2 Chronicles 29-31; through prayer and study, he worked it out for me, and I think I got it all out. I know I was talking a mile a minute. I tend to speak way to quickly and cannot stand to listen to myself. It's painful to my ears. I sound like a chipmunk. EEEkkkkk...

But at the end of this cold, snowy, January day, I'm thankful for my church, I'm thankful for my sister's church who has nourished the little children, and I'm thankful for my new sister in Christ, my niece. God honors our example to our children; I touched on it in my presentation tonight, and watched it lived out for my sister's family today. Selah!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Little Piles of Life

Life is busy, right? It seems as though I cannot get a grip on the daily task, which results in these little piles all around my house.

We walked in from The Boy’s 16th birthday outing with his friends, on Saturday. I can’t explain the chaos that is being a mother of three teens but maybe this blog will represent. It’s much like running a marathon/scavenger hunt most days. At the end of day’s like these I fall in the bed and collapse, and think about all the piles in my life.

The Saturday morning race began with coffee, prayer, make up & hair…now I’m off. I pull into the dealership and clocked-in for four hours. In these four hours I rerouted our planned daily outing from one indoor trampoline park in Lexington to a new place recently opened in Louisville. This cuts down on travel!

I head home at noon to find seven boys and the husband waiting for me. We got waivers signed, people positioned in the caravan of vehicles, and we are headed to Louisville to pick up the eighth party participant.

We arrange to pick him up at a nearby restaurant, but due to intensive Rubik’s Cube solving by these four, a phone call was not placed to let boy #8 know we were close. Therefore, he decided to run to us (his ride wasn’t home yet); we intercepted this kid on his commute to us.

The caravan is now headed towards House of Boom where we sign-in 8 boys, leave them with strict instructions to call us if anything negative happens. I said this twice…to at least six of them.

Dad and I are now headed to the mall to see our college girl!!! I didn’t get a photo of her because I ran across the mall, once I spotted her, screaming, “There’s my baby! There she is for real!” We had lunch with her, bought her a sack full of cookies, and sent her on her way back to her campus life.

We arrived back to House of Boom to discover one boy has an extremely swollen ankle, and has been injured for over an hour. It’s right up there; see it? The sixth paragraph down, I clearly stated to call us if anything negative happens. Eight boys, eight cell phones, and nary a text. He did speak to his mother.

Good news…he didn’t die; I’m sure he cried a little. It looked horrible.

We are now headed towards a pizza buffet. Fed the herd, headed home.

This is where the piles come in. Back to paragraph one. We walked in from this outing and there they are. The remnants of my past few weeks…

They glare at me and mock me. I hate them. I’m not even sure how they form, but it’s like mold. It just grows, and they spread everywhere! Somehow, between the holidays, working four jobs between the husband and I, three teens, their friends, moving a girl to college, a boy turning 16, and my churches 21 day fast, where we meet every night for 21 days and pray over the request laid on the alter, these piles have formed everywhere!

There’s Christmas decorations that didn’t get put away with the tree:

There’s mail from how many weeks?

There’s laundry! Always! My mother is cringing because one week before this pic she had my laundry caught up.

There’s this pile of candles in my kitchen floor. Why?

My bed isn’t even safe from the piles:

Even the photo wall has new photos piled on top of framed photos. Seriously?

This…this just makes me crazy. This is inside my home office door. It’s the remnants of closet clean-out.

This is the remnants of two teenage girls closet clean-out.

My husband says I don’t need a nightstand, I need a locker. I think he’s right.  *sighhh

Under my fireplace. Really?

Uhhh…even the husband has piles of stuff.

Stuff lining the walls to be hung up.

Shoes…there’s always shoes.

This makes me crazy. This makes my aura feel cloudy. It overwhelms me.

But as I was climbing the stairs with my dark, cloudy aura I stumbled onto this pile of boys laughing and having a good time. I snapped a pic, and am reminded that even with one sprained ankle, we are healthy, warm, fed, and loved. My piles of stuff that make me feel like I’m failing to keep all things together as a wife/mother, have no bearing on these moments that remind me that my time with them living at home is short. So let there be piles when there needs to be piles. There will come a day when the piles will not form because I will be an empty-nester, and have ample amount of time to complete house chores.

I’m happy to report that the day after these photos were taken, most piles were dismantled. Most items have been sold, donated, put away in their home. Just a week before the Middle Girls birthday commences. *lacing my running shoes

Let the piles form again…It’s a part of my life…and I’m ok with that.