Marriage is…

This morning I woke up to this note that my husband had left for me on the ipad:

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So when Riley went down for her morning nap, I pulled out my bible, read and journaled through Colossians 1.

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An hour later, Jordan came home with a pumpkin spice late for me (hence the “don’t drink a 2nd cup of coffee”), to my absolute delight :).

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We sat together for a little bit, drinking our coffee and talking about the things we had both learned in Colossians 1 this morning.

Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? It was. But to be honest, this great morning in marriage followed what was a difficult day in marriage (yesterday).

Isn’t that a glimpse of what marriage is sometimes? A really tough day, followed by a really beautiful one? At times it may be many days of tough before the beautiful follows (or vice versa), but being married to another person is bound to include many of both.

Along that line of thought, I figured I would share a list of things that I have discovered about marriage in my young, toddler years of it (2 and a couple of months to be exact):

Marriage is… being a part of something bigger than yourself.
Marriage is… awesome. But it’s not always awesome.
Marriage is… not awful. But sometimes it is awfully hard.
Marriage is… falling short. But also making a shorter fall for the other person.
Marriage is… learning from the wisdom of those older who have gone before you. But sometimes it is falling on your butt and learning the hard way.
Marriage is… a thoughtful act. But sometimes it is acting thoughtless.
Marriage is… non-communicated expectations, miscommunicated intentions, and unmet desires.
It is also giving grace. Over. And over. And over again.
Marriage is… accepting grace offered to you. Over. And over. And over again.
Marriage is… feeling frustrated that your spouse hasn’t pursued you well.
Marriage is… facing your own hypocrisy and realizing that you haven’t pursued your spouse well either.
Marriage is… taking trips, going on dates, and full of fun!
Marriage is… folding the laundry, paying the bills, and full of monotony.
Marriage is… not going to solve your problems. It will, however, reveal problems that need solving.
Marriage is… both giving and receiving. But it works better when both people are more concerned with giving than receiving.
Marriage is… occasionally soft blankets when you sleep in with the smell of warm breakfast already made. But it is most often a crying baby, lack of sleep, and waking up to the realization that you are out of coffee, creamer or filters.
Marriage is… hard conversations, tension, hurt and tears. It is also holding, kissing, laughter and making love.
Marriage is… completely dependent on prayer. It is also completely independent from self.
Marriage is… not just two people. But the community that surrounds you with truth, support, and prayer.
Marriage is… giving all of yourself. And knowing that you will not be abandoned or rejected.
Marriage is… accepting the whole of another person. And never abandoning or rejecting them.
Marriage is… total acceptance and freedom.
Marriage is… taking on another’s fear and pain. It is also sharing their joy, dreams, hope, and future.
Marriage is…forever.
Marriage is… God’s idea. It is the example He chose to demonstrate the relationship between Christ and the church.
Marriage is… a mystery.

I saw this today on a friend’s blog, and thought it was the most perfect picture of marriage:

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KM.

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To my Groom, Jordan. Here’s to many more years of tough, beautiful, wonderful, fun monotony! May we look back in the end and find that we were one tree and not two.

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Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

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Yesterday I had one of those moments. You know, one of those moments where you finally let yourself face the things you’ve been avoiding and dissolve into tears? Yea, one of those. Riley had gone down for a nap, I grabbed a cup of coffee, got down on my knees to pray (I don’t usually get on my knees to pray, it just seemed like a good idea), and just lost it. I’m pretty sure that at the end of my time of prayer I was just laying face down on the floor sobbing.

You see, last week I came face to face with the real Krystal, and let me tell you, she was not pretty. What I saw was a mom who just wanted her sweet daughter to be napping all day and counted down the hours (and minutes) until she would be able to have “me time.” A woman who thought about herself all.day.long. Who was disengaged when her daughter was awake, spending most of her time on the ipad or watching TV. I saw a woman who was vain, spending more time on her appearance than on her heart and spirit. A woman who only posted photos of herself on instagram where she felt she looked good and cleaned up enough. A woman who was lazy, choosing baby’s naptime as veg-out time to piddle around online and drink coffee rather than do the laundry or clean the apartment (which really needed to be done, by the way). A woman who was not very thoughtful or loving to her husband but would snap at him or speak disrespectfully to him when her expectations were not met. Expectations that she had not communicated to him but only, well, expected of him.

I looked at myself and saw the woman that I judge. The type of mother and wife that I don’t want to be. I am guilty. I was exposed before myself, and was left discouraged and disheartened.

So I was broken before the Lord. I read a little bit in Ezekiel (one of the Old Testament Prophets, the book of the Bible I am currently reading daily sometimes) and found myself agreeing with God’s judgment of Israel for one of the first times in my bible reading career. I usually have a tough time digesting the pictures of God’s judgment that we see in the Old Testament (I’d assume most people do). I usually wonder, “Why would God do that? It seems so unfair. Too extreme.” But this time as I read about it, I found myself thinking, “Yes, that makes sense. They deserve it. I can identify with the Israelites. And I deserve it too. I deserve God’s complete wrath and judgment. It really is right, completely logical and just.” I sat there feeling defeated, at the end of myself.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

But then as I sat there in tears, I felt God’s Spirit comfort me. And I started to feel overwhelmed with gratitude and freedom. Because the truth is, I do deserve God’s wrath. His just judgment finds me guilty of serving myself at the cost of hurting many others, but most of all disobeying and turning from the One who created me for a love relationship with Him. BUT (oh glorious, beautiful “but”) that is not the end of the story! Unlike the children’s song Humpty Dumpty, my final destiny is not helplessness. (sidenote: has anyone else noticed how disturbing children’s songs and fairy tales are? Just me?)

God encouraged me with this realization: even if I were to spend every second of Riley’s awake time engaged with her, spend every naptime cleaning and doing house chores, and speak nothing but loving and respectful words to my husband, my heart would still be the same. I might be “doing” all the right things, but in my heart I would still long for Riley’s nap time, still want to veg out and do nothing, still get obsessed with image, and still harbor bitterness in my heart towards my husband if I felt frustrated. Now that may not sound encouraging, but it is! Because man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel). Even if I could trick everyone else into thinking I was the perfect wife and mom, I can’t fool God. He knows what really goes on in my head. And yet. YET. He still chose me to be His. He still loved me so much that He took my place. He poured out the wrath that I deserve on His son Jesus instead, so that I would not have to know the judgment I have earned. Instead, He gives me freedom from this. The perfect life of Jesus is credited me.

So I lifted my body from the floor knowing that I was forgiven. Clean. OK. Knowing I could get up and try again. Knowing that I could try to do better but whatever I did, I did not have to carry the heavy weight that had brought me to tears in the first place. It was already carried for me. Jesus has given me His Spirit and promises to work in and through me, and that is VERY good news! And even in the Old Testament when it talks about God’s judgment, the final word is always a word of blessing and restoration.

Humpty Dumpty may not have been put back together, but this girl sure was :).

KM.

Up in Flames

A couple of nights ago I had a dream that I was letting the oven pre-heat and accidentally caught our apartment on fire. I woke up relieved to find that it was only a dream. There are a few re-occurring dreams that I have, including showing up to high school naked, an alligator eating my brother, and all of my teeth falling out. But this one (about the fire) is different because it actually happened.

Like most newlyweds, Jordan and I were caught up in a fuzzy, feel-good bubble of bliss those first few weeks after our wedding. Everything was exciting about our first home and new life together! “Don’t you just love this tea kettle?!” “Let’s use our cloth napkins for dinner!” “I love the patterns we chose for our bathroom!” I’m about 98% sure we said stuff like that. We would have never anticipated that we were only weeks away from living in hotels while waiting to find out if our insurance would replace that tea kettle or our bathroom decor.

I never knew that I loved to cook until we got married. When I lived with roommates before marrying Jordan, I would just eat things like Lean Cuisine, salad, cereal, oatmeal, or mac & cheese for dinner. Every now and then my roommates (Emily and Lauren) and I would cook dinner together, but it was usually homemade pizza with Trader Joes pizza dough. But once I got married and had all these brand new, fancy kitchen appliances, I started cooking for real and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! So I started branching out, trying new recipes, and cooking with ingredients I didn’t even know how to pronounce. One night I was really in the mood for trying something new and decided I would attempt to make coconut shrimp. Little did I know that would be the last time I would cook on that particular stove top.

I had never cooked with a pot of oil to fry something before, so I was frustrated that every recipe I could find for coconut shrimp simply said, “cook in oil.” Could they be more vague? So, I just figured I would fill a big pot up with oil, wait for it to boil, and then stick the sweet, battered shrimp in! What I didn’t know was that oil doesn’t boil like water. What I also didn’t know was how dangerous it can be to cook with a pot full of oil. Until it burst into flames. Then I kind of figured it out.

I will never forget how terrifying that moment was. Huge flames were reaching the microwave and I had no idea how to stop it. I considered throwing the pot of oil into the sink and turning on the water but (PRAISE THE LORD) I remembered that oil and water DO NOT mix (duh) and left the flaming pot on top of the stove. Seriously, I could have melted my face off. I kept racking my brain for what I could do to stop the fire from spreading, but I was coming up with nothing and thick black smoke was starting to take over the kitchen so I figured it was time for me to get out of the apartment.

I’m sure we’ve all been asked the question, “if there was a fire and you could only take 1 thing with you, what would it be?” I thought about that question and scanned our apartment quickly before I left. All of a sudden, this question was my reality and I had no idea what 1 thing to grab! I saw Jordan’s computer sitting on the living room table so I quickly grabbed it along with my cell phone and ran out of the door screaming.

The first thing I did when I got out was call 911, but I couldn’t even form a coherent sentence much less tell them my address. All I could choke out was hysterical sobs. Thankfully, one of our neighbors stepped out and called 911 for me. All I could think about was that I had just.lost.everything we had. I was so scared, I could barely breathe. I tried calling Jordan (I had sent him to the store to buy some mango salsa, since my homemade version didn’t work out) but although he answered, the cell reception was so bad that we kept losing our connection. What I didn’t know was that right after we hung up, he had pulled into the apartment parking lot and heard me screaming. He panicked, thinking that I was being attacked by someone! He was actually relieved to find out it was a fire and that I was ok. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been for him at first. Jordan grabbed a fire extinguisher (my hero!) and kept running back into the apartment to use it, but eventually the smoke got too heavy for him to breathe, and we had to just let the fire spread until the fire department arrived. Which, by the way, was the most helpless I had ever felt.

The firefighters arrived quickly and, thankfully, the only actual fire damage was in the kitchen. The rest of the apartment was filled with smoke damage, but that just meant it had to be cleaned. At one point (when the fire had been put out) a couple of firefighters came out of our apartment laughing. Apparently the Nora Jones Pandora station I had on was still playing in the midst of the smoke and flames. The soft, sultry tunes definitely brought some funny irony into the situation! Jordan said it reminded him of a TV show where everything is up in flames and there is soft, sad music in the background.

That night Jordan and I stayed in what would turn out to be the first of 3 hotels we would live out of for the next 5 weeks. I think we got chick-fil-a for dinner at like 9pm? I don’t really remember, because we barely had an appetite and spent most of the evening making phone calls or just sitting together in shocked, exhausted silence.

The next 5 weeks were tough, but we tried to make them fun to the best of our ability. Thankfully, our insurance (if you don’t have renters insurance, BUY IT NOW!!!) covered everything! So they were in the process of having all of our furniture and personal items removed and cleaned by professional companies, would replace the few kitchen items that were destroyed by the fire, and paid for pretty much all of our meals over that 5 week stretch. So we were able to eat out WAY more than we would have been able to afford otherwise (besides, we couldn’t really cook in a hotel room. Not that I would have had the guts to attempt it again that soon anyway), had an excuse to buy new clothes, and definitely took advantage of the buffet breakfast, free wine at happy hour, pool, hot tub, and all the amenities the hotel had to offer ;-).

It may sound fun, and at times it was, but being displaced and homeless is not an easy thing. The only good that came out of it for Jordan and I was a deeper appreciation for each other, and a level of bonding that I doubt we would have had that early on in marriage, had it not been for this event. There is something so special and intimate about sharing such a difficult experience with another person. Many people can have compassion and sorrow for you, but only the other person you shared the experience with can really understand what you’re going through. To this day, I think it has molded a deep understanding and togetherness between us.

People have told us that one day we will have a funny story to tell our grandkids. I believe that one day, we will be able to look back on this experience and laugh about it. But that day isn’t here yet. I even started shaking a little bit and getting emotional as I wrote this. I’m still a little bit scarred from the trauma, but I do hope to look back on it one day and laugh. I also hope to be able to cook fearlessly again and try new things. I still love cooking in the sense that I like chopping and mixing ingredients, but once I light the stove top or the oven (we currently have a gas stove/oven which certainly does NOT help my nerves!) I feel anxiety flood my body. I’m so paranoid of a fire that once when I smelled popcorn burning, I literally ran into the kitchen, grabbed the bag of popcorn, threw it out on the back porch, and dumped half a bag of flour on it! (oh yea, I learned that , in the event of an oil fire, pouring flour on it is the trick).

Until the laughter comes, I hope that finally writing about the event will help me process it, and ease my fire dreams and anxiety.

KM.