marriage

What Makes a Good Marriage Week 3

This is the last post in the short series What Makes a Good Marriage. Or, at least, the last post for now. I would actually LOVE to continue this – there is so much wisdom to be gained from those who have gone before – but alas, not everyone feels confident to step out and write a piece that is going to be publicly posted (and that’s okay!). But if you’re an older woman wanting to share what you know, please do contact me! Remember that you are specifically charged to “teach what is good, and train the young women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3-4). This is your golden opportunity!

Today we end with some words from my very own grandmother, who was married 64 years. It’s been nearly 10 years since my grandfather passed away and I can still see the depth of her love when she talks about him.

What Makes a Good Marriage?

By Orpha Cade

The Bible says to “Be faithful to your own wife and give love to her alone.” and “The Lord sees everything you do.” (Proverbs 5: 18-23).  The fact that Wink and I became “born again”  Christians soon after we were married saved our marriage.

   I was definitely not free when we got married, for I still had another year of high school, and my mother was depending partly financially on me daily.  The letters we were receiving from my dad told us not to expect him to come home alive from Guadalcanal, where he was stationed as a Navy Sea Bee.  So Mother was crying, depressed, and when she met Wink, she thought he was her salvation.  If Wink and I got married he would take me from Mississippi to California where Mom had always wanted to live.

  Perhaps I should mention how a 15 yr. old high school girl met this fellow who was stationed in the nearby Army Air Force Base.  Every Sunday afternoon I played the beautiful Grand Piano at the U.S.O. where the soldiers had a free lunch and gathered around the piano to sing. I played all the popular songs of the day, (“I Want A Girl Just Like The Girl Who Married Dear Old Dad”, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”)  and lo and behold, Wink asked me when I was leaving if he could walk me home afterward.  I told him “No”, that I was going to a Sunday evening Evangelistic service at my church to hear a speaker from out of town.  Wink said, “I’ll go with you!”   And while walking the seven blocks in pitch dark to my home (Greenville was blacked out due to the war) we discussed the sermon we had heard.

   A year later, we got married – I was barely sixteen – and knew absolutely nothing about what makes a good marriage.  Wink had about $300 to his name and I had a job, leaving high school at 1 p.m. every day, until 6 p.m. as Secretary for the manager of a Men’s Clothing Store.  And we had never talked about what we expected out of marriage.  I only knew that I didn’t want to get pregnant, as I was on the road to graduating top in my class of 86.  I had watched too many “marriages” of my classmates that didn’t last, the girls got pregnant and had to leave high school, and I didn’t want any part of that.

   Today I tell our sons that if their dad hadn’t gone to church with me on our first date, none of them would be here!  Today I strongly believe that if a couple differs in their religious beliefs and still get married, they greatly decrease their chance for happiness and solidarity.  But if they agree to one church home, under the leadership of the husband, their marriage will be the best, as ours was.

  Our faith in Christ was important to both of us and built and saved our marriage.  Our best friends were always Christians.  Many years later, Wink would tell me of  a Christian speaker he had heard in downtown Los Angeles where he had his office or someone he had witnessed to.  We bought a 2nd home at Forest Home, where we enjoyed going often to hear great speakers  who spoke on many different topics, helping us to build up and have a better marriage.  We learned that the husband is the head of the home, but he leads by serving – being the most loving and the most giving of the family.  “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11) I can truly say that Wink was like this, obedient to a life of sacrifice.

    And I wasn’t always willing at first to do what the Holy Spirit was leading Wink to want to do. I remember  when he wanted us to move from our beautiful home (where I had said I would live forever) by the ocean in San Clemente.  I was rebelling, saying I wouldn’t move.  Wink was oh so quiet, just praying, and we had driven down to Oceanside where we were helping to get a new Evangelical Free Church started (now North Coast).  After meeting with the group of 47 one evening, I finally said, “Okay – I will move”, and Wink gave me a huge hug and kiss.

    To end this, I would say that to have a good marriage, you must like each other.  You can’t have thoughts of “trying to change the other person”.  You must not only love your spouse, but LIKE him or her.  You must agree over financial matters.  (I was a “saving” person – keeping track of every penny we spent (only the first year), and I still have that book!)  And I guess I wasn’t easily offended, even though I was later called “tight-wad” by Wink’s business partner!  I worked at various jobs until Jerry arrived – taking him on my bicycle basket to the Doctor in Long Beach for his check-ups.  And thank goodness – for the Grace of God in our lives, I really no longer needed to work, but could stay home and be the mother I always wanted to be for our four wonderful boys.
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Check out the first two posts in the series here:
40-weeks

Twin Summary: 40 Weeks

The twinkies are 41 weeks. This is the summary for their 40th week.

Did I mention last week that my washer broke? The new one still hasn’t arrived. Last night Mercy wore a onsie and formal tights to bed. My husband wore dirty underwear to work today. I dried off with a towel this morning that clearly had bacteria breeding in the fibers.

But the whole time I’ve been thinking, can you imagine life before washing machines? It seems impossible. It’s unquestionable – if I lived two hundred years ago I’d have to sacrifice at least two of my children on account of too much laundry.

Schedule:
7:00am Wake, Nurse
7:45am Breakfast
8:50am Nurse, then down for Nap 1 at 9am
10:30-11:00am Wake, Nurse
12:30pm Lunch
1:00-1:30pm Nurse, then down for Nap 2
4:30pm Wake, Nurse
5:30pm Dinner
6:50pm Nurse, then bedtime (at 7pm)

Nursing:
I can’t explain this, but I feel like I had tons of milk this week. More than usual. Must be all the chocolate I’ve been eating.

Eating:
This week I was supposed to be pushing the iron-rich foods (to address the anemia issue). I did make lentils a few nights and threw some cereal their way each day, but otherwise it was kind of a normal week eating wise. I hope to be more diligent next week. In the meantime, I started taking an iron supplement since I inexpertly diagnosed myself with anemia-induced iron-deficient breastmilk. That’s a long (made-up) way of saying I’m following their anemia to the source and assuming their iron deficiency has something to do with the fact that I’m always anemic. I only inconsistently take iron because… well, I’m lazy. But this week I was totally on it.

Mercy no longer likes to be spoon fed. I put a spoon in front of her face and she turns her nose up like a snooty food critic. Sam will still eat anything in any which way. That explains why he’s growing wider faster than he’s growing tall.

Milestones:
Sam can pull to standing, but cannot get down himself. He gets quite frustrated. He pulls up and then pretty much just cries until he either accidentally lets go and falls down or I come put him down. I hope this stage passes quickly.

I don’t know if this is really considered a milestone, but they’ve started stealing each other’s toys. One will be gnawing on something and the other will just crawl right up and grab it. Crying ensues.

Oh! One last thing. I’m writing this down because I simply could not remember when I did this with my others, but I started leaving a blanket in the crib overnight with the babes. Previously I was just covering them at nap time.

Well, off to make some more lentils.

marriage

What Makes a Good Marriage (Week 2)

 

Last week I started a short series on What Makes a Good Marriage. You can check out last week’s post here. The point of the series is to offer advice from women who have been married a long time – in other words, experts.

Today’s advice comes from Mrs. Lori Rosenkranz. I met Lori through our church’s MOPs program where she serves as a mentor mom to us young mothers. She has been a great example to me over the last few years as I navigate through my new role as wife and mother. I am excited for you to read what she has to say!

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What Makes a Good Marriage?

By Lori Rosenkranz

Both my husband and I grew up in homes marked by divorce, living with and through the painful consequences. As a result, we entered into marriage (at 22 years old) particularly mindful of creating a stable, healthy, loving atmosphere. We desired this as a couple, and also hoped and prayed to provide this for our future children. The Lord has blessed us with 32 years of marriage. We continue to enjoy a wonderful friendship, mutual love, respect and appreciation for each other. He has also blessed us with our 4 ‘lovelies’ as we call them – one daughter and three sons, all currently in their 20’s.

Here are a few areas we’ve identified as important in creating a long lasting, happy marriage (as well as a safe haven for our kids):

Don’t expect your spouse to be to you, what only Jesus Christ can be. Don’t expect them to fulfill all your needs, and don’t expect your marriage to be perfect. If you do, you will set yourself up for disappointment.

Leave & Cleave to One Another – From the day we said “I do” the two of us became, not just a married couple, but a new family.  When we marry, that relationship must become the priority, above all others, even with our own parents. It should continue to remain a priority when the children begin arriving on the scene.

Choose to Forgive – “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers”, Ruth Bell Graham has said. Forgiveness means we give up the right to hurt our spouse, even when they’ve hurt us. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Never Threaten Divorce – We made a decision from day one, that no matter how difficult the circumstances, we would work through them, without threatening to walk out on the commitment we made before the Lord and to each other.

Don’t Attack Weakness– You will learn your spouses strengths & weaknesses, very early in your marriage. Don’t attack those weaknesses, and don’t point them out or talk about them with friends & family or in public settings.

Communicate – Learn to ‘calmly’ share/discuss what you think about a particular area of concern that affects your lives together. For example: I’m concerned with how much money we are spending on rent/mortgage, on groceries, or maybe there is a concern regarding how the children are, or are not being disciplined, or frustration with housekeeping issues, etc. Set aside time so the two of you can calmly and clearly discuss these concerns, and not too late at night when you both are tired – save it for the next day, when you are better rested.

Be Honest & Trustworthy – Knowing you can trust and depend upon each other creates incredible stability & security.

Humor – A good sense of humor goes a long way in greasing the wheels of marriage…so have a good laugh, preferably together!

Be willing to ‘adjust’ and work with, instead of against your spouse. This makes for a pleasant environment, one you both will want to come home to. “Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Keep Perspective – Marriage isn’t a sprint, its a marathon and so worth going the distance.

And finally, the most important aspect of the marriage relationship is a sincere faith & trust in God, looking to Him as the head of the family.  He is, after all, the One who created marriage, giving us a roadmap, throughout the Bible, for His divine plan. As Christians, we have chosen, individually and as a couple, to follow the Lord through regular, consistent intake of biblical principles, week after week and year after year. Not just attending church, but regularly reading the Bible, seeking His godly wisdom, guidance & counsel.

“Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole. If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won’t matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength.”

~ Timothy Keller 

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Have you been married a long time? Do you have any practical advice you’d like to share that has made your marriage successful? I’d love to hear from you! Click the “contact” tab at the top of this page or comment on the post below.

RELATED POSTS:

What Makes A Good Marriage (Week 1)

Four Marriage Tips From an Inexperienced Wife

favorite-kids-discipleship-1

My Favorite Kids Discipleship Resources (BFBN Guest Post)

Today is BFBN Guest Post Day and I’m excited to have Carrie from Wiley Adventures here posting about her favorite discipleship tools that she uses with her four kids. You can find me over at Mama’s Organized Chaos posting about the lost art of the formal address, Mr. & Mrs..

My Favorite Kids Discipleship Resources

By Carrie Wiley

One of the most daunting tasks as a parent has to be discipling our children and raising them in the Lord. There is nothing in parenting that I hold with the same importance and nothing that I pray and beg God for than my kids salvation. But, I think it is of the utmost importance to remember that salvation rests only and always with Jesus. My greatest victories as a parent cannot save my kids and my greatest failures cannot ruin them. Salvation rests only and always with Jesus.

That being said, I think it is Biblical and God-intended for us to raise our children in a way that they know in their heads the truth of God’s word. That we teach them and train them according to what the Bible, God’s perfect word, tells us is THE truth.

Through the years, both as a mom and as a former children’s director, I have gathered some of my favorite resources to help in the discipleship process with our kids. I hope they help you as you walk this journey with your own babies!

Bibles

Baby Blessings Bible – I like this Bible for babies up to age 2. It was recommended to me this past year by a friend who gave it to Archer as a gift, and I’m sad I didn’t know about it before. It’s padded and durable, and while it is more of a “story” book, every story in it points back to Jesus.

The Big Picture Story Bible – This Bible is my favorite for 2,3,and 4 years olds. The pictures are big and beautiful. The language is easy to understand and captivating and it asks good questions. And again, every story points to Jesus.

The Jesus Storybook Bible – This is my all- time favorite Bible for children. I think you can use it with any age but probably the best fit is 5 years+ . The whole point of this Bible, every single part of it is to point back to Jesus being our rescuer and redeemer. Every part. If you don’t own this Bible, you need to.

Missions

Maps – If you want to teach your kids about how much bigger the world is than just our little western bubble, if you want them to be mission-minded, if you want them to love ALL people no matter their skin color or where they are from, you have to SHOW them. We have maps all over our house because I want our kids to be curious. I want my kids to ask questions. I want them to see how tiny of a dot our location is on the map compared to the rest of the world. And when I tell them that God SO LOVED the world, I want them to see what that really means. It doesn’t take anything fancy. You can print off free world maps from the internet. You can find maps online geared towards kids. You can find wall maps like the one I have in our playroom. It doesn’t matter which kind, you can find something to fit your needs and budget.

Give Your Child The World

This book is a resource full of other resources. I have yet to make my way through the whole thing, but it is absolutely worth the cost of it.

Missions in a Box

This is a brand new resource published by the WMU and I can’t wait to get it for myself. I actually had a very similar idea for a missions curriculum and was so excited to see this out on the market.

Music



Seeds Family Worship – This is straight scripture in fun kids’ songs. Also, it’s not annoying. It’s catchy and is sometimes good for the Mama heart too.

Hide ‘Em In Your Heart – this is my favorite from when I was a kid and I have now passed it on to my own kids. Again, straight scripture and a great way to help your kids memorize verses. My daughter especially loved these songs! See here sing some of them here: LK is hiding them in her heart.

Church

Your church is one of the greatest resources you have as a parent, especially if you have an active children’s ministry (active meaning more than just nursery). Every week after church, we ask our kids two questions: 1. What did you learn? 2. How can it/does it affect your life. Two, easy-to-remember-questions that can help make the Bible applicable to their life, just over a conversation at Sunday lunch. I HIGHLY encourage you to press in here.

Devotions/Books



The Biggest Story – This book is the story of the Gospel clearly and BEAUTIFULLY laid out for kids to see, understand, and WANT to read. We often use this book in family worship

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Long Story Short/Old Story New  These are 10 minute devotions that are great for Family Worship or great for an older child to work through independently. The Long Story Short is focused on the Old Testament while the Old Story New focuses on the New Testament. They are OFTEN on sale on Kindle for only a couple dollars and sometimes free.

Hopefully these resources can help you. My prayer is for you to be encouraged as you faithfully raise your kids in the Lord, and I beg Him to save and rescue our babies!

Related Posts:
 

**This post contains affiliate links**

39-weeks

Twin Summary: 39 Weeks

This is the summary for the babies’ 40th week. They were 39 weeks old. They turned 9 months this week.

This week I’ve been really feeling the four kid thing. Maybe it’s because my washer broke and I realized the quantity of laundry that’s done around here now that there are four. Maybe it’s because the babies eat A TON and I now have to make four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at lunch time and prepare six plates of food at dinner. I also have to run the dishwasher three times every two days instead of two times every three days, which is what it was when I only had two children eating. I guess we’ve just reached the point where the babies aren’t cute little stationary objects anymore and they actually have an impact on our consumption as a family.

But I mean. What a blessing for this to be my life problem. That I have to make four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Schedule:
We are still on the same schedule, but I am getting antsy about it. I know I should not be complaining here – and I’m really not – but the babes still nap around 5 and a half hours a day and that’s a lot of time to be home. The older two are going crazy. I send them outside as much as I can, but sometimes the aftermath of unleashing two active kids into a mud pit in the backyard is more cleanup than I can wrap my head around. Instead I have been focusing on leaving for the park as soon as everyone wakes up in the afternoon (or, more accurately, until I WAKE THEM UP) but that doesn’t give us much time. Anyway, I think this upcoming week I may focus on shortening the morning nap a bit so the afternoon nap shifts forward and we have a little more time in the late afternoon.

This is the beauty of a schedule. It serves the parent.

7:00am Wake, Nurse
7:45am Breakfast
8:50am Nurse, then down for Nap 1 at 9am
11:00am Wake, Nurse
12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm Nurse, then down for Nap 2
4:30pm Wake, Nurse
5:30pm Dinner
6:50pm Nurse, then bedtime (at 7pm)

Nursing:
I was just thinking yesterday about what my plans for nursing are. I hope to continue well past a year, but I don’t really want to be still nursing six times a day at that point. I envision more like three times a day at twelve months. That means in the next three months I need to drop three nursing sessions. I also probably need to get them drinking water. There’s no hard deadline – perhaps I will get to twelve months, still be nursing six times a day and feel totally happy with that, but right now my plan is to nurse less frequently by then.

Also on the subject of nursing, MOPs started up this week and the babes were old enough to go into child care (hallelujah!). I nursed them when they woke up in the morning like normal but the next two times I usually nurse were at MOPs and Mercy refused both times. I kept Sam on one side because I didn’t want him to drink all the milk and then have her suddenly get hungry, so this meant one side was emptied twice and the other side filled up for five hours (which, since we’re talking twins, is more like ten hours). It was pretty painful and I definitely woke up the next morning with a plugged duct. Ugh.

Crawling:
Sam is crawling like a pro and almost pulling up to standing. Mercy is army crawling. So here I have two moving babies.

Thankfully Vera is now strong enough to carry them so when I am trying to corral them and they keep scooting away she can help with the retrieval. I can see why some people intentionally have their kids three to four years apart. Four year olds are so helpful! How long until I can leave her in charge while I run to the store?

Bathtime:
The big news in bath time is that the babes are strong enough to reliably sit up in the bathtub so I can bathe all four together. It looks a little crowded to me but they all seem to think this is the most fun thing ever. Rub a dub dub.

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Well Check:
The babes had their 9 month well check this week. They both gained weight well. Sam weighs more than Mercy now. No surprise there – he eats three times as much.

Both babes came up low on the hemoglobin finger prick test. The doc wasn’t concerned about it, but did order lab work to confirm the results of the finger prick. I thought about it and decided to wait on the lab work and just try to focus on incorporating more iron rich foods into their diet. They’ll have it tested again at their 12 month well check and if it’s still low I can reconsider the lab work, but for now I’ll save the 300 bucks or whatever it costs to run blood work times two.

 

marriage

What Makes a Good Marriage? (Week 1)

I like to stockpile old People magazines under my living room coffee table and flip through them when I have an extra ten minutes to kill before nap time ends. Through some mix up that I cannot even begin to explain, a new issue arrives in the mail every single Friday even though I’ve never paid them a dime. Anyway, I can never get through the whole thing in a week so they tend to accumulate in that basket under the table.

That explains how last week I found myself sitting on the couch reading an article from an October issue about Mandy Moore.

“Mandy Moore Opens Up About Moving on After a Painful Divorce: ‘I Feel So Much Lighter'”

“My story deviated in a different direction than I expected,” Moore tells PEOPLE exclusively of her 2015 split. “But ultimately, life is about being happy and fulfilled and sometimes that means making hard choices.”

These are the role models People magazine puts forth for us young marrieds. If your marriage isn’t making you happy, get out. Do what’s best for YOU.

What terrible advice! No wonder so many people get divorced – look at the examples being set forth.

To combat all the unhelpful and often times negative input about marriage, I’ve started making a point to ask people I know who have been married a long time how they’ve done it. What makes a good marriage? How do you avoid divorce? Until recently I was just making mental notes of the advice they gave, but a few weeks ago I got a little bold and asked them to actually write it down for me.

For the next couple weeks, I am going to post what one of them has written each Friday. Hopefully you find it as encouraging and uplifting as I do!

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Today we’re hearing from Mrs. Chris Vickers. Chris has a B.A. in Psychology,  is Wife to Tim, Mom to Luke (27) & John (24); MOPS Mentor; Sunday School Teacher; Moms in Prayer Leader and former Babywise Mom. She blogs occasionally at Christine Janine. I met her through MOPs two years ago and she has been encouraging me ever since!

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Chris and her husband Tim

Thoughts On Marriage

By Chris Vickers

Marriage is a wonderful thing, right? Then why is it so hard at times? I have been married for 32 years to a man I refer to as my “Best Friend.” We met at a Christian group in college and quickly became close friends. Two years later we were married. We’ve been through a lot together during these three decades: We’ve experienced the death of parents, moved cross country and back again, bought and sold a few houses, birthed & raised two sons, seen each other through surgeries, traveled to exotic places and lived side-by-side through the ebb and flow of life. Although we have a great marriage, we’ve had our share of arguments, disagreements and frustrations (like the argument tonight over visiting extended family after Christmas). We’ve had some seasons that were pretty awful and some seasons that were pure bliss. Over the years, I’ve made a few observations and developed some strategies that have helped me in my marriage. I hope they will help you as well.

1)  Men are different than women. Duh, right?! They are not like the men in some romance novels! I read some Danielle Steel romance novels when I was in my 20’s and then expected my new husband to act like the guys in the novels. When he didn’t, I had a negative attitude towards him. So—I stopped reading those novels. Instead, I read books about men so I could understand my husband better. Some of my favorites are The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger; Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn.

2)  Our husbands cannot read our minds. You could be cooking dinner with a toddler on your hip while talking on the phone to your sister when the doorbell rings. Your husband doesn’t know if you want him to: a) Answer the door, or b) Take the toddler from you so you can answer the door. He can’t read your mind or even guess what you want him to do. He needs you to be very specific about what you need and say it out loud: “Could you please answer the door?” I have learned through the years that my husband is SO happy to help me if I’m specific about my needs. I’ve also applied this to other areas of need, like asking him to hold me when I’m crying and upset (which was so strange for me, but actually helped).

3)  Focus on the positive.  The other day I caught myself feeling frustrated at my husband for something he had done and thinking “Pet Peeve #101: Leaving the clothes hanger out for me to put away again!” I was unconsciously mentally keeping score of things he was doing that annoyed me! Once I realized what I was doing, I forced myself to think about good things my husband does, like cook dinner every Sunday night to give me a break. I made a list of all of my husband’s positive traits and keep it in a drawer in the kitchen. When I am frustrated or annoyed with him I read over the list and it resets my attitude.

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“Suck it Up” straw

4)  Suck it up. I have a fat straw in my jar of kitchen tools next to the stove. The straw is a visual reminder for me to “suck it up.” In other words, to let things go when there is a conflict with my husband. When I’m tempted to make an issue out of something, I see my straw and think “Chris, suck it up” and it really helps! I then say a quick prayer, asking God to help me let the issue go, and he does!

5) Remember the boy he was. I’ve noticed that men seem to get more and more burdened with the stress of  life as they get married, get into a career, add a few kids, buy a house, etc. At times they become consumed with stress! It really helps to “remember the boy he was” by thinking back to the time you first met, how he acted as a young man and the things you did together as a young couple. I guarantee you will fall in love with him all over again!

6) Meet your husband’s need for sexual intimacy. Men need regular times of connecting with their wives in this way. I’ve accumulated a wardrobe of lacy things that I put on for my husband to make it fun for him. I learned from Shaunti Feldhahn’s book that the only time men release oxytocin (the bonding hormone that Moms release while breastfeeding) is during love-making with their wives.

I sincerely hope that sharing these things will be helpful in strengthening your marriages.

Come back next Friday for another guest post on having a successful marriage!

respectable-sins

When “Me-Time” is Selfishness

Recently the young mom’s bible study I’m in finished going through Jerry Bridge’s Respectable Sins. The book focuses on the sins that are most commonly either accepted or overlooked by modern day Christians – things like anxiety, pride, impatience, worldliness, and lack of self-control. It would be an understatement to say that the book opened my eyes to a few sinful areas in my life… it’s more like it tore me apart and dug around with a fireplace poker.

Anyway, one of the areas that particularly hit home for me was the section on selfishness. I spend a pretty significant portion of my day trying to eradicate selfishness from my kids by teaching them to have awareness for others, empathy, and to share. Plus, I mean, isn’t making sacrifices for our kids what motherhood is all about? Certainly with this kind of everyday application I should be a saint when it comes to selfishness – or selflessness, rather. So it’s pretty ironic that it turns out to be one of my more prevalent sins – and one unfortunately shared by almost every mom in the study.

When it comes to refined selfishness (that is, How To Be Selfish Without Anyone Noticing), one of the biggest ways we mothers fail is in the area of our time.

Being Undependable

This is a big one in the stay-at-home-mom community. Remember the time when we had full time jobs and scheduled meetings that actually started at a specific time? Maybe one morning you woke up and didn’t really feel like attending the meeting you’d scheduled two weeks ago. What did you do?

You went anyway. And you were probably on time.

Making our own schedule is a real perk of being a homemaker. I get up when I want, eat lunch when I want, schedule play dates when I want, and make the kids nap when I want. This is pretty awesome. But sometimes I think we can get a little too comfortable with the privilege of making our own schedule. This is where selfishness with our time comes in.

Last week you scheduled a play date at the park with another mom, but you wake up this morning and just don’t feel like it. No matter that the other mom was planning on the play date and rearranged her schedule to accommodate it, you’ll just cancel and reschedule. (Maybe you’ll tell her your kids woke up a little under the weather). That is selfish! That is prioritizing YOUR time over the time of the mom you had plans with. So is showing up an hour late to something or failing to RSVP to something you’ve been specifically invited to.

Attending Church

For a while I really struggled to consistently get my family to church. I liked the idea of us going to church and did see the importance of it, but with sermons being so easily accessible online and also being that I believe we have a personal relationship with God which exists outside the walls of a church, I often opted to stay home on Sunday mornings. Getting out the door with kids can be tough and besides, isn’t the weekend supposed to be my “free time”? Haven’t I worked for, earned, and DESERVE a (completely fictional) weekend of free time? But missing church was prioritizing my time over God’s time, and it was ultimately selfish. Plus, truthfully, it’s not even in my best interest to skip out on church. I’m more patient, more peaceful, and noticeably happier after I go.

Inordinately Guarding “Me Time”

The biggest one I see in myself right now is a selfishness surrounding nap time at our house. Anyone who knows me knows my kids nap three hours every afternoon whether they’re sleeping or not. This is MY TIME. I will sacrifice activities, errands, and even some level of freedom to protect this time.

There is nothing wrong with enforcing nap time – it’s good for the kids and it’s one of the practical ways a mom can stay rested. I BELIEVE in nap time. But recently I’ve become painfully aware of a selfishness surrounding nap time for me. The selfishness manifests itself in a couple of ways: one, a negative attitude or bitterness when I actually have to do something during nap time and two, a strong irritation when nap time is interrupted for whatever reason. It’s like I’ve constructed this perfect world where the hours from one to four everyday are MY TIME. Anything that infringes upon MY TIME puts me in a sour mood. This is selfishness! In Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges calls this “inordinately guarding our time (pg 119).”

Scheduling my Husband’s Time

The other area my selfishness runs rampant is in terms of household roles. Like with any marriage, my husband and I have semi-defined roles and responsibilities. I change diapers, he takes out the trash. I make dinner, he eats the dinner.

Kidding. He obviously pays for the dinner.

Mostly things run smoothly, but occasionally I find myself frustrated because in that one moment, he isn’t helping out as much as I banked on. Maybe both babies are screaming and he’s just over there reading the paper. Or on a weekend morning I’m cleaning up the breakfast dishes while he’s watching sports. Now, before you start thinking my husband is a lazy sloth, let me tell you the reality: Eddie is very hardworking, perceptive, and always (ALWAYS!) willing to help me. I really think he sees his role as husband to make my role as wife easier. He’s a catch. But doesn’t that fact just expose how selfish I’m being when for one single moment he fails to address my need and I get all crabby and bitter? Sometimes he’s even actually doing something helpful – like washing the cars – but I’m irritated because I think his time could be better spent lowering the crib mattresses for me or fixing the garbage disposal. In those moments, I have decided that MY TIME and MY NEED in that moment is greater than however he has prioritized his time. I am being selfish.

Selfishness for me is more attitude than action. I may do the right thing, but if I do it bitterly, I am still being selfish.

What’s a Girl to Do?

Like with any problem, the first step is acknowledge its existence in our lives. For this sin in particular I think the tendency is to be like “Oh, moms. This is just our stage of life.” But selfishness is not a stage of life issue – it’s a heart issue.

In Respectable Sins, Bridges provides a seven step process for addressing sin in our life, but I think it can probably be condensed into these three steps:

Step 1: Acknowledge the problem and look for reoccurring circumstances of the sin.

“We cannot begin to deal with a particular manifestation of sin… until we first openly acknowledge its presence and activity in our lives. (pg 38)”

This is a long post. I gave multiple examples of selfishness with my time. Do any of these ring true? Are there other times where selfishness might be running rampant in your life?

Step 2: Look up, memorize, and pray on verses that speak to that specific sin.

Examples in this case would be verses like 2 Timothy 3:1-2, James 3:16, and Philippians 2:3-4 (among many others!). The point here is to gain a greater understanding of the problem, to seek forgiveness, and to recognize our need for God’s help.

Step 3: Create practical strategies and barriers for overcoming the sin

This part is the easiest. If you routinely cancel plans when something better comes up, STOP DOING THAT. Decide to be dependable. If you miss church regularly, find an accountability person who’s going to poke and prod you to go each week. For my issue with selfishly owning nap time, I need to actively work on an attitude adjustment and probably spend a few nap times doing things I’d really rather not do, just to break the negative habits.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking I’m totally boring and selfishness isn’t something you struggle with at all.

Actually, wait, there’s no chance you’ve read this far down if you haven’t felt that this totally applies to you. But maybe now you’re wondering if there are other respectable sins that you’re overlooking. Probably. Definitely. In that case, pick up a copy of Jerry Bridges Respectable Sins. It’s good. It’s convicting. It calls you out as a sinner and sometimes it hurts. But remember, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
        Proverbs 28:13

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Creative Counterpart

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38-weeks

Twin Summary: 38 Weeks

This is a summary for the babies’ 39th week. They were 38 weeks old.

There are many times during the week that I think “I have to remember to write that down this week!” and then it comes time to actually summarize my week and I can’t for the life of me remember what I wanted to say. My memory is failing me. It’s early onset dementia. You think I’m joking but I googled the stages of dementia and I can identify with every single one of the bullet points listed under “mild dementia”:

  • memory loss of recent events
  • personality changes
  • getting lost or misplacing objects
  • difficulty with problem-solving and complex tasks, such as managing finances
  • trouble organizing or expressing thoughts

But then, really, what mom can’t? There’s too much going on to remember where I put my keys, what I did yesterday, or whether or not I brushed everyone’s teeth. And as for “trouble expressing thoughts”… you try explaining complex concepts to an inquisitive four year old. That girl puts me at a loss for words multiple times a day.

Anyway, back to the things that happened this week.

In BIG WORLD NEWS, Eddie wore a baby for the first time in history. When Vera was a baby and I suggested he carry her in the bjorn one time and he responded OVER MY DEAD BODY, he probably didn’t anticipate there were twins down the pike. And even now that we have the twins, he has stubbornly refused to put on a baby carrier for the last nine months, at times going to considerable difficultly to avoid what he considers to be an undeniable loss of manhood. “The Feminization of Men” he calls it. I don’t know. He might be right. I know my dad wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing a baby carrier either.

Anyway, Saturday morning we decided to go for a little family hike and although he initially insisted on just holding the baby, the incredible inconvenience of holding a baby while helping a two year old navigate a rocky incline eventually outweighed his pride. He broke down and put on the Ergo. And obviously I documented it:

Big changes a-happenin’. Big changes.

Schedule:
7:00am Wake, Nurse
7:45am Breakfast
8:50am Nurse, then down for Nap 1 at 9am
11:00am Wake, Nurse
12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm Nurse, then down for Nap 2
4:30pm Wake, Nurse
5:30pm Dinner
6:50pm Nurse, then bedtime (at 7pm)

Nursing:
Nothing new to note. I’m still occasionally getting bit. It still hurts.

Naps:
Naps are perfect. A few times this week I woke them up closer to 3:45pm/4pm from their afternoon nap so we could get to the park before dinner. They were fine for a while but really broke down come 6pm, so I did an early bedtime. I know it seems crazy that they sleep from 1-4:30 every afternoon, but they really do seem to need that long of a nap or they can’t make it until bedtime.

Nights:
Nights were okay. We were still dealing with some lingering sickness so one baby or the other woke up about every other night. Not ideal, obviously, but it could be worse. I am going to get them back on track this week.

Milestones:
Mercy is army crawling. Sam is pulling up to his knees.

Personality:
I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but Mercy is the easiest baby in the history of babies. This is no knock on the other three, but finding out there are babies like Mercy is like discovering the existence of unicorns. I just had no idea God made babies like her. She rarely cries. Like, almost never. Even when something cry-worthy happens like she gets her legs stuck in the bars of the play pen:

img_1037

Did she cry about this troublesome position she found herself in one afternoon? Nope. She just laid there and sucked her thumb until I came by, noticed her situation, and helped wiggle her out.

She doesn’t cry before bed (ever), she doesn’t cry when I feed Sam before her, and she doesn’t cry when I leave her in the stroller for two hours at the park while the other kids play.

She cries so little that I would worry she has some sort of psychological problem, if it weren’t for her excessive happiness. She also smiles, giggles, and laughs more than the other three ever did at this age.

I guess she’s just a happy baby.

Well, that’s it for this week.

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screen-time

Television and The Dark Side

I’m just going to start here right off the bat by admitting that I have done almost no research whatsoever on the long term effects of screen time on children (or adults) and everything below is based solely on my own opinion and anecdotal observations. That sounds like a recipe for a good blog post, right?

But if I could sum up my total thoughts on screen time into one simple and straight forward sentence it would be:

I don’t like being with my children after they’ve watched TV.

You see, my TV has this really quite extraordinary ability to turn my otherwise relatively well-behaving and mostly emotionally stable kids into a dark and beastly version of themselves. The symptoms of this “dark side” are increased disobedience, discontentment, lethargy, a sense of entitlement, and above all else, a temporary loss of the ability to speak in any tongue other than what we affectionately call “whinese”.

For this reason, we do not allow TV on a regular basis at our house, with two exceptions. One, in cases of sickness (and yes, one must distinguish between actual sickness and the pretend sick they usually pull the day following a real sickness just to see if I’ll put on cartoons again) and two, Friday night movie nights. On Friday nights we do put on a movie and let the kids eat dinner on a towel in front of the TV. They are not immune from experiencing the “dark side” after this once a week event, but they usually go straight to bed so it’s less of an issue.

Otherwise, no TV.

In addition to sidestepping the dual personality disorder described above, I think there are two primary advantages to limiting (or altogether avoiding) screen time in the home. The first is that it encourages reading as a substitute form of entertainment and the second is that it unmasks negative behaviors that might otherwise go unnoticed and unaddressed.

Encouraging Reading

I haven’t done the research here, but I think we can all agree that reading is better than watching TV. Reading activates the imagination in a way that television cannot.

I love to read. I will often choose reading over watching TV. My husband has some level of interest in reading – he likes it – but he struggles to get into it in the same way I do. I have dissected this fact and looked closely at our upbringings to see if there is any explanation for the difference in reading enthusiasm.

To sum it up, my husband watched A LOT more TV than I did. Sure, he played sports and was active and healthy – it’s not like he sat home all day playing video games. But TV was present in his daily life to a much greater extent than it was in mine. I definitely watched TV (a whole lot more than I let my kids watch!) but I also remember my mom enforcing a read to watch minute swap system whereby we had to read as many minutes as we wanted to watch TV. If I wanted to watch a half hour episode of Full House I had to read for a full half hour prior to the show coming on. Naturally, there was less TV watching going on in my house than my husband’s house. My mom also encouraged reading by taking us to the library often and reading to us on an everyday basis.

It’s no surprise then that my brother, my sister, and myself all grew up to be book loving adults. Yes, we all watch TV, but we all are avid readers as well. This makes me believe there is a negative correlation between the amount of TV allowed during a child’s developing years and the amount that child reads as an adult. My hope is that by limiting exposure to screens (TV, video or computer games, etc) as much as possible and encouraging reading instead, we will produce avid adult readers.

Unmasking Negative Behaviors

One downside to television that I don’t hear discussed very often is the way it can cover up negative behaviors that would otherwise need to be addressed. Parents use screen time as a quick fix for undesirable behaviors and although it may work in the short term, it leaves the bigger issues unresolved.

For example, a mom may turn on the television so she can get a few things done around the house while her children are occupied. This seems like a good solution because the kids are safe, quiet, and no longer distracting her from the household chores. But in that case, the television is just putting a little bandaid over the real problem – which is that her children are not able to play independently. A mother should be able to tell her kids that they need to go in another room and play so she can cook dinner, make a phone call, or fold the laundry. Turning on the television may give her a 30 minute break, but until she teaches her kids to be content entertaining themselves, the problem is just going to continue.

I know how it is come late afternoon. You’re tired, you’re trying to get dinner ready, your husband isn’t home yet, and your kids are bouncing off the walls. You could turn on the tv and they would probably sit there on the couch quietly watching while you pour yourself a glass of wine and busy yourself in the kitchen. But that solution doesn’t address the real problem – which is that your kids need to expend some energy! Don’t turn on the TV- throw them outside and tell them to run around!

Another example of screen time masking behavioral issues is giving children a phone or tablet to play with at a restaurant. Letting a 4 year old watch youtube videos while you eat may make for a more peaceful dinner, but it also just hides the problem – that the 4 year old is unable to sit still for an hour during a family dinner.

Perhaps most common is the use of television as a remedy for tiredness. If a child is super wired, throwing tantrums, or otherwise acting crazy, they probably don’t need to sit in front a TV and “wind down”. They need to be put to bed.

Screen time should not viewed as a fix for negative behaviors because it doesn’t actually FIX anything at all. It just covers up the issue. If we want to actually address the behavior, we must greet it head on.

Finding a Balance

I am aware that at some point, I will have to strike more of a balance with my children and technology. Soon they will be in school and they may have to spend some amount of time on a computer or tablet. In the future I do want to be able to incorporate television as a form of entertainment in our home (in moderation of course!). But my hope is that by limiting their exposure now, I will have already cultivated a love of books within them and will have addressed the behavioral issues that screen time may potentially mask before it’s a regular part of their lives.

Plus, back to my original point about television and the dark side, I will actually enjoy being with my children.

Today everyone at the Babywise Friendly Blog Network is posting about screen time! Be sure to check out what they’ve written!

BFBNWaterMark
CHRONICLES OF A BABYWISE MOM
Rules for Balancing Screen Time
MAMA’S ORGANIZED CHAOS
10 Benefits of Screen Time for Your Toddler
TEAM CARTWRIGHT
Forgive yourself, Mama. Screen time can be just a season
WILEY ADVENTURES
{How We Do} Screen Time
JOURNEY OF PARENTHOOD
Redefining Screen Time Limits as Kids Age
LET’S BE BRAVE
Screen Time Alternatives