What I do…

Tim was away last week.  Just a few days.  And in the past I would always tell him how I’d miss him.  But not this time.  This time I noticed how happy I was those days alone.  This time I noticed how great it felt to have the bed to myself.  This time I didn’t miss the hugs at night.  It was a nice alone time.  And it reminded me of my single years.  Deciding about schedule and when to eat was so easy.  I just had me to think about.  And it felt like a little break.
But I was also worried.  Tim was worried.  Because I have been pulling back little by little.  No more nakedness in bed.  No hugs.  Not my hand on his leg while in the car.  Not me reaching out to touch him, not even after Tim being away for a few days.  It was all different.
And I wake up to what is happening.  The intimacy between Tim and me, as husband and wife, goes very deep and my system is going off.  There are too many memories of hurt.  I want to protect myself.  And the way to do that is to get away, physically and now also emotionally.
But this is good.  This is very good!  My systems are reaching the surface and I am aware.  This is not a danger to our marriage… it is a red flag about my wounds.
MaddyChristine Hope Photography-2-2And in this new season of healing through Living Waters I reach out to my Heavenly Father.  I experience myself to be little in this.  I am aware that I cannot heal myself and I stick to my Heavenly Father.  I press in, and I wait for healing.  I wait for Him to do His work.  In what way?  I don’t know.  When?  I don’t know.  All I am asked is to keep walking and keep showing up.
These days aren’t easy.  We are dealing with trauma.  But I celebrate that we are well.  We both are very committed, we communicate honestly about how this season affects us.  We stay connected and we are one.  Tim loves me so well by being so very patient.  I can tell his commitment.  It may be rough now… but we will write this chapter.  And we will close this chapter.  And write another one…
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This was also shared at Holley’s Coffee For Your Heart.  To read more personal stories or get encouraged, go HERE !

Please give me some alone time

Screen Shot 2012-11-30 at 11.34.33 AMI had a ‘breakdown’ in August.  I was tired.  Oh so tired.  And I just wanted some alone time.  And with that comes the realization that what I go through, Tim goes through.  And I can imagine that at times, it really isn’t easy for him. To have a wife who doesn’t sleep (it’s gotten better 😉 ), to have a wife who goes through emotional roller coasters, to have a wife who is not always physically well.  And the fact that I influence Tim with my ‘things’  weighs heavy on me at times.  So I didn’t just want a break for myself, I wanted a break for Tim.  And we had the perfect circumstances to do just that.  The day before we were to house sit I cried and I found Tim: “Would you consider having a conversation with me about maybe going our separate ways for a few days?  You can maybe have the house with the pool and have fun with friends while I just rest at home?”  
Tim’s response was not what I had expected at all.  I had hit rock bottom and I thought he would taste my heart.  I thought he would be very compassionate of me needing to just ‘be’ and rest… without it influencing him.  I know he loves to go out, be with people and enjoy summer fun.  I just needed to be in bed and read.  I thought this was a way of taking care of both of us.  
Tim was compassionate for sure, just not the way I had anticipated…
He said: “You are married now.  We are married now.  Living apart for a week is just not an option.  It just isn’t right.” 
And he gave me the greatest gift ever!  He grabbed his wedding vows and started reading…
Maddy I promise to lead you, by God’s grace, providing for the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of you and our family…
“Did you hear that beautiful?  I promised to take care of your emotional needs too.  I can’t leave you for a week…”
He continued to read:
To be available to you and to be your rock, comforting you in times of sorrow and struggle…
To make you my first priority above all other things…
Maddy, I promise to love you in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard, when our love is simple and when it is an effort, extending grace to you at all times, for this is how God created you to be loved.  
And after that Tim said that maybe it is him who needs to learn.  Maybe it is not about me trying to be better when life gets hard, maybe it is not about me being so very tired and still wanting to be a good wife and serving Tim.  Maybe it is about him needing to learn how to handle it better.  
And I had instant relief.  His faithful care for me is IMPRESSIVE.  And at the same time I keep reminding him that it is okay to have faithful care for himself too.  He is learning that it is okay to go hang out with people, it is okay to have fun without me. Sometimes we just need different things.  
And the results were amazing.  We went house sitting.  He played in the pool with friends.  I got my rest.  I was honored.   And because of that I was able to hang out a lot more than I anticipated.  Being full of energy and so joyous over spending time with friends.  
Oh what the reminder of weddings vows can do!!
I love that you are here and I certainly would love to hear from you.  To leave a comment go HERE !
This was also shared at Holley’s Coffee For Your Heart.  To read more personal stories or get encouraged, go HERE !

Community scares me

MaddyChristine Hope Photography-Summer in KennettSo I have always had lots of friends, and I love socializing.  I love people!  But when Tim started mentioning us moving so we can be closer to friends, I wasn’t too thrilled.  
I LOVE where we live.  Tim had this home ready for us when we got married.  It was pretty far out from where he used to live but Tim knew what I had left behind in Holland, he wanted to give me similar characteristics.  So far out we moved so I could have some cows around, lots of green and space.  It blessed me from the get go.  When we got home after our honeymoon I started going on morning walks to be with my Heavenly Father.  I LOVED it.  It is so very peaceful and I feel blessed every time I go out.  I love the quiet crisp morning, the birds chirping, my walk starts as soon as I close the door– no need for a car to drive me anywhere, and sometimes we hear cows mooing at night.  It is perfect!
But it is no longer perfect for Tim.  Tim is a people’s person.  He energizes by being with people.  After we got married, not only did I leave people behind but by us moving, Tim sort of left his friends at a distance too.  After having been here for a year and a half, we realize it is just not convenient.  Most people don’t like to make the 40 minute drive to come see us, and we don’t like to always have to drive for everything either.  We would love to be more involved in church but that is hard when we are so far away.  Besides, we are ‘in the spur of the moment’ people and that doesn’t work when you live 40 minutes from your community.  Tim was starting to ache.  He missed his friends and it was starting to show.  
Tim was good to give me time.  Knowing I love where we live, he would just mentioned moving every now and then and it started to settle in me.  I realized that I too would benefit from moving.  And I had to be honest with myself… I wasn’t too thrilled not only because I would miss our surroundings… but because community scares me.  It was a bit of a hard awakening.
I realize I have never really lived in a community setting.  Growing up everything was pretty dysfunctional and I learned that I can manage on my own.  I learned it is very safe to manage on my own.  Sure I have tried the community thing but I feel God is bringing it to the next level.  I think He has great things in store when we move.  Like me learning TO DO community.  Like me learning to BE ME and seeing people will STILL love me.  Like SHARING LIFE.  Like BEING THERE FOR one another, which goes BOTH WAYS.  I think there is just a lot of healing involved for me.
At first my take was: we tried it my way (by living out in the middle of nowhere), now it was time to try it Tim’s way (living near friends and community).  We could test it out and see how we’d do with that.   But my heart has changed… I no longer want to try it out.  I think it will be a great next step for us.  I think this is what we need and even brings us as a couple to a next level.  I am getting excited and even anxious… LET’S MOVE!

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‘Engageaversary’ is what a friend of mine calls it.  Anything I can celebrate I will.  Today it is two years ago that Tim asked me to marry him.  He had a friend of ours hiding in the bushes, taking photos as it all took place.  What a fond memory and what a happy time in my life.  Meeting Tim, our season of engagement, planning our wedding and our wedding day are the most dear memories of my life.  Don’t get me wrong… BEING married is wonderful but I especially look back to those days with very happy and warm feelings.  It was certainly my first taste of extreme joy in my life.

I had no clue what was about to happen.  For all I knew, we were loving the park574798_380657398642029_2075144074_n

And then he stopped 536081_380657251975377_1772208458_nAnd talked578973_380655141975588_1034685410_n

And dropped down564889_380657198642049_413205356_n540530_380657131975389_342281863_n577170_380655958642173_773032222_nYes, someone is following us, you really didn’t know?319881_380655721975530_440697732_n

548469_380648271976275_569377310_n383431_380651501975952_906810814_n538802_380637915310644_774393654_nCalling home and loved ones380352_380653368642432_213559916_n536419_380639295310506_2049969672_n
Party afterwards536393_380641818643587_1632686518_n301826_380640651977037_1294905292_n 301838_380640058643763_1009728546_n 581099_380640781977024_393648436_n The party continues
And we partied until the next day even


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Failure and Grace

MaddyChristine Hope Photography-Eph2When I became a wife I was super excited to finally have someone to take care of. In my single years, living with housemates, they would often say how lucky my husband would be since I loved to take care of people and things. So when I got married I was excited to do laundry, excited to cook meals, excited to keep the home cozy and nice. In that I strive to excel. Because I know it blesses my husband so much when I take care of things. He takes care of the things he said he would take care of, and I’d like to take care of mine. It’s my desire to be a blessing to my husband. Some call it old fashioned. I find true pleasure and satisfaction in it.

Somewhere down the line Tim did have to balance me a bit. I do think I strive for perfect and I have to be careful that doesn’t exhaust me. I cannot be perfect. Trying to be perfect is the wrong striving.

When I started picking up work again Tim challenged me to share some of the chores I considered mine. I disliked that idea. I still wanted to take care of things myself. I still wanted to see them as my job. But I gracefully accepted Tim’s help and we learned a new normal. For one, he started doing groceries and it was a huge relief. But I kept having the feeling that I failed. I was no longer doing what I had in mind I’d do. It was hard for me.

And then last week happened. I had much on my calendar. It’s sometimes overwhelming to work, and deal with my Holland house and other lingering things in Holland, all the while keeping our home organized and still bless the people around us with meals, home made caramel and surprise parties. Somewhere in there I also want to do things that help me relax, like going out on walks, photography or being creative in other ways. So on Monday I messed up. All these things came together and the day just wasn’t long enough. Time got away from me.

I made a point to mention to Tim about dinner plans. He had soccer at night and that means he can’t have a late or heavy dinner. So I may a point to say we’d have a late big lunch. Well, I wasn’t around for lunch time. And I got home late which even compromised dinner which put stress on both of us since we had to leave for soccer. Not a pretty picture. Though Tim isn’t demanding, he was disappointed. Since I made a point to mention the schedule for the day he was counting on me. I felt so bad. Failing the one I love feels horrible. It gets worse. Will you believe that I did the same thing the next day? Well, I totally did. We had another night of soccer, another full day for me and I totally blew it, again. I felt so bad, again. I had totally disregarded Tim and his needs over mine (work, working on a quilt, helping a friend).  Me wanting to be perfect causes this all to be a big deal.  It was easy for Tim to extend grace, he was quick with it too. But to extend grace to myself is really hard.  I felt embarrassed.  

Now I know lots of wives will tell me that this happens to them all the time, that this is pretty normal.  I believe that, but I don’t want this to be my normal, and lately it becomes pretty normal for me to juggle schedule like this.  More than I would like to I am working on laundry in the evenings or weekends, taking away from our time.  In the beginning I had set the standard that Tim would not be bothered with or see the home chores.  I would want to do my chores during working hours so that Tim would not be faced with any of it.  And now in reality I am making the bed late at night, he sometimes has to grab his laundry straight from the dryer.  I hate that. That will not be our normal.  And as I learn to better handle my schedule I know there are lessons in all this too. First of all, I need to accept that I can’t do it all, all the time.  It is wonderful I want to put my husband first.  It is wonderful that I long to serve him and do him well.  But I will fail. And I will need Tim’s help.  And I certainly need his grace.  Second, I need to embrace God’s gift.  He knew I could never be perfect and He extended grace in all circumstances.  Without grace I am nowhere and I need to learn to be full of grace towards myself.  Neither Tim, nor God are expecting me to be perfect.  Striving to be perfect is the wrong striving for it is by grace I have been saved, through faith – and this is not from myself, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that I can not boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Without Him I can do nothing. And when I do succeed, He deserves all praise and glory!

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I always want to be lovey-dovey with Tim. I always want to feel and be connected to him. Well… how I have that in mind has turned out to be quite challenging in this busy season of work. As usual Tim is my reminder that we are okay. We have been in a season that we work 12 hour days, 6 days a week, going to bed late and getting up very early in the morning. It’s not regular life, it’s a season. And changing seasons are part of who we are, that is our life.

Remember me writing about our Conscious Cuddles. Well, when they don’t happen I am not so well. When it doesn’t happen 3 days in a row, I start to worry… where will this lead us weeks from now? We will not be well. We need to be connected. Those are some of the worries that pop up. We cannot not connect just because life is busy. But Tim reminds me that this is just a season of something different.

I was praised today for the high standards I continue to have for our marriage but at the same time I notice I am growing and changing. I actually find there is connection in the not connecting. Okay, our conscious cuddles are not as long as in less busy times (though there are still there) but at least we agree that we need to be focused on work right now and us time will come back to us. We agree that we are okay and we will get back to one another. Just now, for the time being, work is taking up most of our conversations, and that is okay.

Photo credit: Wojtek Wolfe

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