It's About time!
Updated: Feb 19
We didn't hang hearts from the ceiling this year.
Happy Thursday friends. I realize that this is a weird way to start off.
This, my weekly time of zero homeschooling and zero noise for a solid few hours of one glorious day. (Thank you Joel.)
But this has been ringing in my ears this, my month of all things red and chocolate and lovely.
I ALWAYS hang hearts.
The kids know that just after Dad's birthday late January it's time to get the familiar pattern for latticed hearts, akin to snowflakes but heart-shaped and trickier than you would think they would be- hence the pattern in the same accordion folder in the same drawer every year.
Right next to the drawing Isaac made us many years ago now of our house right there on top of the whole world, and Abi's attempts at craft projects.
Nathan's pleas for "weird" sweaters for Christmas, Notes to the tooth fairy from Alayna because she's the youngest and the tooth fairy was old by the time we owed her a quarter are in there, as well as Caleb's notes he snuck under our door at night and Anna's phase of drawing where people were "eggs" with weird arms and legs are all there in the folder that now has burst at it's seams and won't stay closed for all the tugging and turning of papers.
But I cannot part with one of them.
It's our accordion file of remembrance that was originally holding a shape file from college that I did get an "A" on and has not helped me literally in any way, shape or form in teaching this crew.
(See what I did there?)
So it now holds all the things that no one but me would grab in case of a fire.
Because I have to have some leverage when these kids start shopping for Nursing Homes.
That is, if Alayna doesn't have room for us on her ten-acre goat farm.
Ah, the future indeed is bright friends.
And in the busyness of this month and even preparing for the month ahead, this married couple has forgotten most of the usual traditions we try to keep in the month of all things love.
Instead we made a new tradition.
I do miss the hearts, but am also so enjoying the beautiful petite blush roses sent from my college son and so I'd say that this kind of change isn't such a bad thing.
I am late to the chalk-paint markers game, but decided on them this year to draw out a huge, "Jesus Loves You," on the front window for passerby's to view, and it makes this heart so very happy.
I also love that scribbled-out on mirrors and windows are the other kid's messages of love to whomever peeks into their corners of the world.
A little love from here and there.
One such place is my youngest's top bunk bed where only the cat will see her message of love but her cursive is on point and that alone is cause for celebration.
I remember how we scrimped and saved and planned and packed and repacked a dozen times awaiting our 15 year anniversary trip to Mexico.
I remember pulling our rented bikes over by a sandpile and noticing a large rock just in the very tip of the Gulf with the salty breeze blowing our hair, and the warm sand in our toes.
It was romantic.
Too romantic for words.
And then my dear husband of FIFTEEN YEARS OF MY WHOLE LIFE got out the camera and began recording not one, not two, but TOO MANY videos for the KIDS BACK AT HOME.
His idea of romance was getting the kids a view of birds diving for food and mine was, um..................not involving birds OR kids.
It was the vacay of the bitterly disappointed and tears over ceviche only reminded us that we were now two totally different co-workers.
To make matters worse, we landed back in Cleveland and had the argument of THE Century right there feet before we were to see our kids again and hand out all the treats we brought home.
We walk past that little window seating area with distain to this day.
It was "We thought this would be good - the bad - and the ugly cry."
We got home just deflated and not knowing how to start again.
And it wasn't because I was unthankful for the ceviche, or that he was unloving.
It was because we had thrown so much into homeschooling and ministry to others that we didn't have a whole lot of common left for each other.
So we began again.
We fought for time alone together and even had the audacity to plan a yearly getaway instead of saving up for another one fifteen years down the road.
We made weekly date nights not just nice but a priority no matter how daughter number two frowns when she has to make dinner or how many times daughter number three decides to fall down a flight of stairs while we are getting our coats on.
So the brothers are Hitler for a few hours...?
You'll figure it out.
And we leave and eat something yummy and go cheap, go fun, go slow and sit, go whatever we feeling like doing and come home again to kids who are surprisingly all still alive and well.
And we are well because we orphaned them for a bit.
But wait, there's more!
A few year's ago now we even began leaving the kids on Sunday nights for an hour to let the busiest day of the week settle in our hearts. It's cheap and quick but it has kept the ministry at McDonalds and not brought it home to our other ministry.
And for us, this works.
And yes, the kids hate this too.
They call it our "Radical Sabbatical," because one, they are homeschooled and have no idea what radical means nor sabbatical for that matter, and two, they just like being "extra."
But we don't care what they call it, we leave them with leftovers and leave a lot more at McDonalds before returning to the wild again.
And this year we had the audacity to do the unimaginable.
It almost pains me to type this.
And I know that in doing so I will loose subscribers.
All three of them.
With one being my college daughter.
This year, we left on our "Annual Abandon," and took our cute selves to Disneworld.
WE WENT TO DISNEYWORLD WITHOUT OUR KIDS.
Oh Yes, yes we did.
But wait for it....
FOR THE SECOND TIME!
Can you even?
Well apparently WE can!
We strolled into Epcot with visions of Moroccan food dancing in our heads and rode all the rides.
Some even twice.
We stood beneath waterfalls in Canada, grabbed souvenirs in Japan, and listened to live music in Mexico.
We ate chocolate filled crepes in France until they dripped from our faces, ate dinner in Italy (of course!) and we loved every inch of it.
We laughed at someone asking us if our accents brought us from Minnesota and counted dozens of crazy, bad toddlers.
No fanny packs were involved but we might consider it for next year.
We had a hoot, and we just made memories that will last long after the last bowl of cereal has been scarfed.
We refuse, and I do mean, refuse to sink into becoming "business partners" ever again.
And boy does it take work.
It takes time talking about nothing but what you would each love to accomplish in the next year, and making dates "ministry free" zones.
It takes turning off the phone and telling your kids to run to the neighbors if there's blood that a band-aid cannot stop.
And you sure hope that they aren't on a date too.
I get it. Your kids are young. You can barely come up for air.
We were there.
With two 18 months apart and two more 16 months apart I was meals on wheels for most of our marriage while simultaneously trying to put something besides spaghetti on the table for dinner each night.
I get it.
But you CAN do something.
We have pictures of us playing phase 10 in our van in the driveway when our crew were ankle-biters and let me tell you, when the rearview mirrors tell you that "objects are closer than they appear," they are dead right.
There's always a way to connect.
And not surface connecting either.
We were with a couple recently and just had this feeling that they didn't talk about deep things together.
Maybe that works for them for a time, but that's not for us.
If this is the one whom my soul loves, the one who we raise children with, give our lives in ministry with, I don't want a surface friendship.
We WERE there, and I know what that's like.
And we are here, cultivating a deeper relationship and it's so much richer.
And it's not because we listen to every single "Focus on the Family," podcast, though they have been invaluable in keeping our heart's close.
It's not because we have heaps of money to spend on each other.
It's not because we never argue or have disagreements.
It's not because we have all the marriage books read, though they have encouraged us.
It's not because our children are older and more self-sufficient.
It's not because we make it to every Couple's Retreat we can each year, because we haven't been to one since I can remember.
It's not because we are older and wiser.
It's not because we have arrived Spiritually by any stretch of the imagination, and it's not because we know more about marriage and what it takes to keep it alive.
It IS because we take time to talk to one another.
And we take time to listen to the heart of the other person.
Be it on a walk, in bed after the news, before church begins, school begins or the weekend begins.
We take time to listen to the heart of the other.
And the other has the freedom to share what is fully on their heart.
No money is involved, no far away trips, no extravagant gifts or retreats or heaps of advice in seminars.
We just talk- and listen.
We give space for fear, for hurt, for discouragement and doubt.
We listen with our eyes and our facial expressions and our whole attention.
We make things right, we pray, we give the shot in the arm, the cheer of encouragement, and the shoulder to cry on.
Little moments after dinner over lukewarm coffee, laughing over good, long days has done more for us as a couple than all the trips to wonderful places we've ever taken together.
(You may need to go back and re-read that last sentence again. Go ahead, I'll wait.)
The bottom line is that long after taking care of bottoms, you will be different people.
Yes, you'll still love cornbread pancakes and long walks, but life changes you and that changes your relationship.
Find the time to reconnect today, and tomorrow, and every day after that.
Remember that you did not stand before a congregation of family and friends and God and promise to love, honor and cherish your children, though you love them to the moon and back.
You vowed to cherish your spouse.
And you sure hope that you give a good example to your hoodlums so they leave and cherish their spouse too.
There's always time and there's always phase 10 no matter what phase you are in.
And usually there's money in the couch for a Speedway hotdog or three.