Month: May 2015

What Saves a Marriage?

Dustin and I have been married for seven years. They say the first seven years are the hardest. I hope that’s true. They were really hard for us.

Maybe it was because we were young and naive. Maybe it was because we were getting to know each other. Maybe it was because we were selfish and sinful. I don’t know.

But the last seven years have contained some of the greatest trials I’ve ever faced.

I’m all for sharing our story to help other people better their’s. However, as I sit here wanting to tell you what I’ve learned about marriage and restoring relationships, all I can think is, “Who am I to give any kind of advice?”

I almost failed at marriage.

I have been thinking about this post for a while now, because we’ve reached two milestones this month: one year together post-separation and seven total years of marriage. That’s huge to me. But I’m at a loss for what to say.

What saves a marriage?

Sometimes I have so many words to write, but only one thing has been on my heart.

Humility.

If I could give one piece of advice (outside of you-and-your-spouse-need-Jesus), that would be it.

Clearly I’m no expert on relationships, but if there is anything I’ve learned it’s that pride can and will destroy your marriage if you let it.

Pride says, “I’m angry. I hate you!”

Humility says, “I’m hurt. I’m scared.”

Pride says, “Don’t let anyone see the real us. It’s too messy.”

Humility says, “We need community to help us thrive. We need help.”

Pride says, “I have to be right, or I’m not worthy of love.”

Humility says, “God and my husband love me no matter what. It’s okay to be wrong and admit it.”

Pride says, “My ways are the best and only ways.”

Humility says, “We are a team. Let’s figure this out together.”

Pride says, “I have a right to act this way, because you…”

Humility says, “I’m responsible for my own behavior.”

Pride says, “I’m right and will fight to the death for what I want.”

Humility says, “I’m human. I’m flawed. I’m sorry.”

The last five months have been the most stressful since Dustin and I reunited, and there were times I feared he’d change his mind about me.

I was ridiculous and emotional, but he kept loving me anyway. 

He is so humble. 

In the words of Martina McBride…

“When there’s dark clouds in my eyes,
He just sits back and lets ’em roll on by.
I come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.
My baby loves me just the way that I am.”

The way Dustin handles me at my worst has taught me what it takes to keep a marriage alive. Humility. 

I’m not always right. My ways are not always the best.

I married that man for a reason. I don’t want to spend one more day putting him down or pretending like I know better.

I want to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).

Everyday I strive to grow, and I will keep seeking forgiveness when I fail. My marriage is counting on it.

First Dance

Happy 7th Anniversary, Dustin Paul. Thank you for loving me with your whole heart. I love you!

 

Sharing the Love

One thing I love about the internet is all the people who are joining in conversations and sharing each other’s ideas. It’s a way to encourage your friends far and wide, to learn new things, and to be challenged to grow. So here’s to sharing the love!

  • Deep Roots at Home is another blogger that gives me a lot of encouragement, and I hope to follow in her footsteps of standing for the truth, as well as encouraging other women. Her willingness to be authentic and vulnerable to share Christ’s message is so inspiring.
  • Despite my desire for a peaceful environment, I still find myself buying “stuff and things” that end up cluttering our home and stealing our peace…this article confirmed my suspicions that we as a generation are not struggling because of a failing economy, but because of a drive for more material possesions.
  • Have you been on Etsy? If not, you should check it out. This particular shop, Mama Bear Baby Wear, is special to me, not only because the products are excellent, but also because the owner is an inspiration to me. Despite losing her husband in a car accident, she is supporting her children through her work as a counselor and seamstress. She homeschools her children and specializes in attachment therapy, two things very dear to me. If you want to make your home more eco-friendly, please consider buying from Amy!
  • Have you used Shutterfly? I got some prints made for my Etsy shop, and they came today. Getting that orange envelope in the mail was exciting. I’m really happy with the quality. I ordered two sets of prints. One in gloss finish, and one in matte. I think the matte finish is best for the cards I’m making. You can get 50 free 4×6 prints if you sign up today.Shutterfly Prints (1)
  • When Dustin and I lived in Ohio, we became friends with two of the most reverent Christians I’ve ever met. Kevan and Lindsay Duke are a beautiful couple, and they have such integrity in ministry. There were, and continue to be, a great encouragement to me. Kevan’s latest blog post reminds me that no matter what havoc is created in our country, God’s Kingdom will always stand. Kevan and Lindsay also make beautiful home decor. Check out their Facebook page, Stuff We Make: Decor by the Dukes.

Thanks for stopping by Milly Becoming Wilder. Will you pass this along? Please Share the Love!

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

When Mother’s Day is the Worst

May 9, 1989 was the day my birth mother died, so believe me, I know – sometimes Mother’s Day is the WORST. When everyone else is celebrating, but your heart is full of ache, how do you handle it?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of women die from cancer, heart disease, suicide, car accidents, childbirth complications, stroke…Everywhere you turn, someone is in mourning the loss of his or her mother. And yet, Mother’s Day comes and goes; a painful reminder of their loss.

My own experience with Mother’s Day has varied through the years, and that got me thinking. I know I’m not the only one who has struggled on this particular date, and there are a lot of people who have freshly lost their mothers.

There are also countless women who are mourning infertility or lost children. Whether you’ve lost your mother or you desperately want to be a mother, Mother’s Day can be heart-wrenching. 

It’s not just Mother’s Day, either, but Father’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, a loved one’s birthday or last day, the due date of a baby lost. It could be any day of the year for you.

So how do you deal?

You can mourn your loss or you can celebrate your blessings. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4).

For years, I mourned. Although God had given me a wonderful new mother figure, I didn’t know how to separate my loss from my gain. I’m not sure how Robin (Mom) dealt with countless less-than-celebratory Mother’s Days with me, but she gave me so much grace. She understood that my little girl heart was broken, and she let me cry.

It’s okay if you have to mourn through celebration.

It’s okay if you have to bow out.

Want to lay on the couch in sweatpants and avoid socializing? Call me. I’ll drop off some ice cream. 

When you are walking through a time of mourning, you have to allow grace to wash over you, and you have to rest.

Have you ever read the account of Elijah in 1 Kings 18-19? Israel was experiencing a severe famine, and the leaders were following Baal, a pagan god. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal and effectively facilitated a situation where God demonstrated His power and glory before the people.

After doing so, Elijah slayed the pagan prophets, and then he ran from Mt. Carmel to Jezreel, a distance near that of a modern marathon. 1 Kings 18:46 says, “The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.” Little detail, Ahab was riding on a chariot.

Read what happens next in 1 Kings 19:1-6…

“Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’ 

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”

Now, I know that Elijah battling pagan prophets and leaders is not the same as losing your mother. However, his emotional and spiritual experience is a common thread throughout humanity.

So many times I have uttered the words, “I have had enough, Lord.”

Do you know this weariness?

I really think you should take note of how God ministered to Elijah in his state of complete physical and spiritual exhaustion.

Food and sleep. That’s a God-endorsed way of coping in a time of sorrow! 

In this era, busyness is overvalued and resting and eating for strength is devalued. I’m not suggesting that we should become sluggards and eat all of our emotions, but there is a time to stop, rest, and eat to strengthen your resolve.

I think it is important to remember the people around you who are celebrating and lift them up. However, just as my mom gave me grace for my brokenness, the good ones around you will understand when your spirited is not elated.

If you need to remember your loved one by visiting a grave, watching home videos, or snuggling up with their ratty old sweatshirt, do that. If you need to weep and talk it out, do that. As long as what you do to cope doesn’t harm you or someone else physically or emotionally (i.e. drugs, alcohol, violence, hateful words, etc.), don’t worry that what you’re doing doesn’t match the experiences of other people. Just because you aren’t celebrating on a particular date doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

There is a time to cry.


There is also a time to laugh.

For the past few years, I’ve been able to genuinely celebrate on Mother’s Day. I’ve done a lot of healing in the past decade, through counseling, friendships, long talks with my family, artwork, writing, becoming a mother.

It took me a long time before I understood I didn’t have to feel guilty if I chose to celebrate instead of mourn. 

You don’t dishonor your lost loved one if you choose happiness. I know my mom would not want her death to steal my joy forever.

As I said before, God brought a wonderful woman into my life, and I have called her “Mom” for over twenty years.

IMG_0008

Celebrating her motherhood is a joyous occasion, and I can do that wholeheartedly tomorrow. If my birth mother can see me, I’m sure she is thankful for this woman that God chose to raise up her girl.

I guess what I want to tell you is that it’s okay to celebrate the other people in your life that are in the here and now. Whether you’ve lost your mother, whether she chose not to be in your life or you never knew her, celebration is still beautiful if that is what you choose.

There are mothers all around you, and I’d be the first one to give you permission to celebrate those women. In fact, if I could take back some of the Mother’s Days of years gone by, I’d spend more time celebrating my mom and the sisters in Christ who have stepped in to minister to my heart.

You will not dishonor your loved one’s memory if you choose laughter over weeping.

Even if you are still suffering a recent loss, I believe it’s okay to lay those feelings aside for a day or two if you want. You don’t have to go to battle everyday. Taking a day to refresh and enjoy the blessings in your life is not only wonderful, but necessary.

If Mother’s Day is the worst day for you, give yourself grace to heal. Whether you choose to mourn or to celebrate, always choose grace.

Goals for May 2015

Recap of April Goals

1. Continue making Bible study a higher priority < This is still a work in progress. Quite frankly, my schedule is entirely too full. It’s not an excuse, but it is proof that you can be too busy.

2. Pray and commune with God like it’s not a chore

3. Less screen time for Josiah

4. Visit a “Senior Saint” at least twice

5. Look through and organize home decorations, and get rid of anything we don’t intend to use (If I keep listing it, it’ll happen eventually, right?) < That’s hilarious.

6. Continue to improve the look and usability of millybecomingwilder.com < I’m still working on it, but for someone who doesn’t do coding, nor has the funds to pay someone to do coding, I think/hope it’s coming along.

7. Work diligently on Income Tax and Excel classes. < With the support of my wonderful husband, mother, family, coworkers, and friends, I got certified in Microsoft Excel, and I’m almost finished with Income Tax. That’s something to celebrate!!!

Goals for May 2015

Honestly, I hadn’t even looked back at my April goals until this evening. What a crazy month. I wasn’t too disappointed, though. Despite the chaos, I managed to do some good things. Here are my goals for May…

1.  Finish Income Tax class on a positive note.

2.  Continue to grow in Spiritual Disciplines.

3.  Slow my life back down after my classes are over.

4. Go to MANY garage sales, because they make me insanely happy. So many unique finds! Side note: I picked out a cuter outfit for going to garage sales tomorrow than I wore to work today. I might have a problem.

5. Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with my guys. We love Mexican food and festivities, even though we are the whitest people on the block.

6. Play “The Minimalist Game”…This is a challenge for me and anyone reading to cut down on the excess material possessions that steal our space and our peace. Want to know more? Read this!

I met “The Minimalists” last year at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati. They are not Christians, but what they’ve learned and are now teaching others is so full of truth and in line with Christ’s teachings on money and materialism. Luke 12:15 says, “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'” I shared that verse with them and thanked them for their message. I hope they accept Christ as their Savior some day. Their joy is contagious, they are full of love, and they speak their message boldly…they’d make amazing ministers!

The Minimalists and Me

7. Celebrate 7 years of marriage! We will also be celebrating a successful year of marriage after separation, which is beautiful and blessed and totally the handiwork of God. Praise Him!

Dustin and Me

May 2015 is a pretty exciting time for us. Our marriage is growing stronger everyday, and as of May 31, I will be working part-time, so I can spend more time loving on my family. If someone would have told me my life could be this beautiful 18 months ago, I would have turned around and walked away. Never in my dreams, or even in my prayers, could I have imagined what God would do with our family. The glory is all His. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).