Sunday, March 10, 2019

Where I've been for two months... thoughts from Carol

This is a post you won't find pinned on my Pinterest page or shared on Facebook. Today I'm sharing a little about the life behind the writing you see here on Home Sweet Life. So this is just for you faithful readers, as a thank you for sticking around and reading what God gives me to say.

Life is a ever-changing journey

We see that change when babies are born, when our grandparents die, and every day in between - if we are looking.

Our lives here at home have been changing a lot here in the past few months. After almost 16 years, we ended our homeschool adventure when our youngest daughter graduated in December. That was a wonderful chapter - okay - book - in this story of our lives.

But with that change came all sorts of other opportunities and adjustments. 

I read a quote recently that said "We walk past 1000 stories every day, a writer sees at least 50 of them." I could have written you fifty stories every day about the things that were changing, if I had the time. :) Instead, I decided that it was more important to be involved in the stories than to tell them, so I have been writing less here on the blog for the past two months or so. Thanks for being patient with me.

In the past year, God has been impressing some important truths upon me. But before I share those, let me back up a little bit. For 2018 God told me my word for the year was going to be LOVE. Oh, some days that was easy, but other days it was really hard. When it came time to think and pray and see if there was a new word for this year, the answer was no, I still have much more to learn and experience with the word love, so the word of the year continues.

Many of you know that my Mother-in-law passed from this life into the next at the end of October. The end of last year was spent serving my family in a deeper and different way, as I tried to ease their grief in the only way I know how, by being the hands and feet of Jesus. This was yet another lesson in how to love others and accept love in return.

As last year rolled into this one, I knew there were things that God was telling me to write, but I was struggling to set aside the time to get them down on paper, or typed into the computer, and out of my head. So I stuck with my commitments to my newspaper column, a couple of guest posts and the weekly #parentingtruth post here on the blog.

I'm not trying to re-invent myself, as I know a lot of recently-retired-from-homeschooling moms do, because I have a fairly good idea of who God wants me to be right now - today, and when He is ready to change that, I know He will tell me. 

So, as I embrace this new season in my life, and in the lives of my family members, I have found a freedom to choose to put some of those thoughts about those particular truths God has been showing me aside for sharing at a later date. I have notes, oh so many notes, and ideas, and random thoughts that still need mulled over. They will mostly get shared here, I'm just not sure when. So I will underpromise and hopefully overdeliver and they will come as they come. I might even just decide to take a week off for a Spring break - if Spring ever arrives - LOL!

As I've been thinking about what truths to share with you, here is the one that keeps coming to the front, so I will share it with you today. If you think a friend needs to hear it, you can share, and if not, then you readers will be the only ones who read it.


Marriages need cultivation.

In the past year I have seen multiple marriages fail within my larger circle of acquaintances. These thoughts are not a judgement of those failings, just some personal observations I want to share, and hopefully some encouragement for you to think about your own marriages, and how you might choose to cultivate them this year.

This year Kurt and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary.

Just so you know, he hates it when I talk about him here on the blog, so I won't. :) I'll talk about me.

Marriage has been almost nothing at all like I thought it would be when I was a teenager. Parenting hasn't been anything like I thought it would be either - just in case you're wondering. That's why I started the #parentingtruth series.

Marriage is not about give and take, it is about giving, and growing, and sacrifice, and being strong when you need to and giving way to the other's wishes when needed. Marriage is not 50-50, it's about 125% from each person. Our marriage has never been perfect, no one's is. But it is always worth fighting for!

One thing marriage has taught me? God still has a lot of refining to do in me. When problems arise in our marriage it is never 100% my fault, but is never 0% my fault either. God has shown me that a quiet answer does turn away wrath, and that iron sharpens iron. There are other things He has shown me, but those what you need to hear today.

You might think you have a wonderful marriage, but you still need to cultivate it. Likewise, even if you have a terrible marriage, you still need to cultivate it. I think ours falls somewhere in the middle - like most of the marriages of our friends - and it needs cultivated, daily.

So for the past two months, I have been making extra efforts to cultivate our marriage. At this time of year that mostly means going birdwatching with Kurt. Something I usually enjoy, but can struggle with in the winter, because frankly, I do not like being cold.

Yesterday we went on a birdwatching expedition, and then we went grocery shopping. It was a short birdwatching trip, only about 3 hours, because the wind was cold and biting, and we were trying to beat the rain.

So what did we cultivate?




Agreeing to sometimes disagree

Do those sound like things you need to cultivate in your marriage?

We talked, about all sorts of things, some of them life changing, some of them mundane, but we talked. After 16 years of homeschooling, sometimes all I want is a quiet place with no words, no expectations, and no books. Shocking, right?

But because I know my marriage needs cultivated to grow, or to even survive, I went birdwatching instead of locking myself in a quiet room.

How were we rewarded for cultivating our marriage?

Maybe our marriage will survive, or even thrive the year. But more importantly, we can know that we were obedient to God's call for husbands and wives to love each other. Nothing is guaranteed in this life, so I am choosing to be thankful for all of the small things in our lives, instead of stressing out about the big things. 

And just in case you are wondering, we did talk about setting aside time each week so I can get back to this writing God has called me to. :)

For all of you other birders out there, here is just a short snippet about  our expedition today...

When we arrived at our destination, I asked Kurt if we could stop at the bathroom first, because I knew it was going to be brutal windy once I got out of the car. He finally acquiesced, and after four tries of bathrooms that were all still locked for the season, we found a just-cleaned port-a-pot. Kurt was a little dismayed because he wanted to go to the eagle's nest first, and the bathroom was in the opposite direction. 

After I was done, we turned around and headed back into the park, and almost immediately spied one of the resident eagles, not near their nest, but in the trees by one of the locked bathrooms. LOL! So you see, sometimes it pays to humor your wife. :)

After watching and photographing the eagle for a while, we got back in the car and set off to find some ducks. Now, I will admit I am not good at identifying ducks. That's okay, because Kurt has been working on ID-ing all of the ones he has seen already this year, and so he told me what they were. Since it is time for ducks to migrate through Indiana, we saw several kinds that were new to me, including Redheads, Lesser Scaup, Gadwell, Ring-necked duck, and some female Bufflehead.

Then, after I was way too cold, we headed back to the car to warm up and eat our provisions (snacks). Of course I ate the pudding first and my healthy snacks last - haha, must have been my frozen brain. 

Finally, Kurt drove us towards where the eagle's nest is, and along the way we saw a lovely blue heron, and lots more ducks. On the frozen surface of the lake near the nest, we got to watch on of the eagles eat a HUGE fish. 

After that we went grocery shopping. Maybe not the glamorous end you expected from our birdwatching date, but still fun, because it is something we rarely do together. On our way home it began to rain, but my spirit was not dampened. I had spent time cultivating my marriage to the man I love, and I saw some new birds too.

What might you discover if instead of ignoring your marriage today you cultivate it?

Love my friends, it needs to be our word for every day, not just a year.

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