Jesus Follower | Word Stringer | Avocado Eater

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Young Bride, Thick Pride: Choosing to Stay

I never excelled in math. 

So the first time someone told me having small kids was when the days dragged and the years flew, it didn’t make sense. 

But I loved it. Exactly! Someone finally understands the weird time warp.

I occasionally feel the same in my marriage. Since working and writing and constantly feeding my people, individual days don’t usually drag. 

But over the years I’ve caught myself in the middle of a particularly rough marriage patch thinking, “How many more years is it going to be like this?”

And then last week I woke up and thought, “How did we get here?”

If you think you have a relatively flawless marriage and I sound like I’m speaking Farsi, this post is not for you. 

If you’re a pushover and never stand up for yourself, this post is not for you.

If you’re a pushy one and think you’re always right, this post is not for you.

But if you deal in reality, deal with pride, and can admit you have issues, welcome to the crazy. It’s not for the faint-hearted, or the cocky. 

It’s for the sinners who might want to quit but choose to stay. 

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1994

When I walked down the aisle, said goodbye to my dad and hello to my husband, I had a whopping twenty years under my belt.

Two. Zero. 

As in, feel free to don a white dress with poofy sleeves and a butt bow, fly to Hawaii, have sex, pay too much for a coconut, fly home, play house in an apartment, share a bank account, get a minimum wage job, and make retirement decisions…

…but you can’t legally have a drink. 

I barely knew how to take care of myself, much less how to coexist with someone of the male species.

  • He came from a spirited family. I came from a mellow one. 
  • He loved Ben & Jerry’s. I stressed about fat.  
  • He listened to U2 and the Gipsy Kings. I hung with Boyz ll Men and DC Talk.
  • He walked around in skivvies. I had a passionate relationship with turtlenecks.
  • He watched explosions with Schwarzenegger. I watched rom-coms with Meg Ryan.
  • He talked of retiring in Mexico. I told him I’d write. 

The opposites attracted, and then the opposites retracted. 

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Fast Forward

This week we celebrated twenty-five years. 

Twenty. Five.

As in, you can don whatever you want, drive to Sedona, have sex, pay too much for a dinner on a creek, drive home, play house in a house, share multiple bank accounts, work a meaningful job, and make new retirement decisions…

… but you can’t go back.

  • Back to the biggest year-one concern revolving around who washed the dishes.
  • Back to Christmas vs. in-laws. 
  • Back to who fed the dog. 
  • Back to dial-up issues.
  • Back to strollers vs. joggers.
  • Back to preschool vs. homeschool. 
  • Back to my ironing board and his surfboard.

Though life seemed simpler at the beginning, we still created messes. Pride made me dig my heels in when he called them fights. 

“It was more like a discussion,” I’d tell a friend.

He looked at me sideways. “It was a fight.”

When we moved to another country, I secretly hoped some of our marital issues would be detained at the border. 

We left our friends and family behind, moved into a 5th-wheel, got slapped with missionary status, listened to roosters at two in the morning and argued about sweeping.

The lessons I learned in Baja changed me. How you can grow close and grow apart at the same time still baffles me, but pride built up and crumbled down more times than I could say, “Que?”

God clearly had a plan for our lives. 

So did satan. 

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Walls

A few times over the years my husband mentioned he appreciates it when I’m vulnerable. That always sounds so strange to me, but I realized I like it when he does the same. 

So I continue to read Brené Brown, psyche myself up and sheepishly share morsels of truth. Being vulnerable breaks down walls, but some humans are certainly skilled with mortar and a trowel. 

When we returned to the States a dozen years later, I secretly hoped some of our marital issues would be detained at the proposed wall. It wasn’t built yet, so we rolled them in bubble wrap and brought them back. 

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The D-Word

Barring affairs or abuse, divorce has never been an option. Not at the rocky beginning, not in the messy middle, and not now. 

Forgive me if I’m about to offend you, but splitting because you just can’t get along is a cop out. Irreconcilable differences means you don’t think your problems can ever be worked out. Ever.

Not with therapy, not with books, not with prayer… nothing. And that’s exactly what satan wants us to believe. That mentality also robs God of his power. 

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the U.S. claims the third highest divorce rate in the world. Not exactly a record to be proud of. 

So what’s a couple with hefty differences to do?

  • Marriage Conference: listen to speakers, learn a ton, use your workbook.
  • Marriage Retreat: put down your devices and turn toward each other.
  • Counseling/Therapy: I thought it was for the weak. Now I know it’s for the smart. 
  • Read The Road Back To You: better than taking a test, it’s a great introduction to the Enneagram. It’s an ancient personality type system with uncanny accuracy in describing how humans are wired, both positively and negatively.

  • Then read The Path Between Us: an Enneagram journey to healthy relationships.

One of these books is in our mailbox and one is on our Amazon cart. I look forward to learning more about our tendencies so I can understand why my husband’s lack of details makes me loco, and why my changing plans makes his eyes bug. 

We have a ways to go, but at least we’ve figured out the dishes. 

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Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18 (NLT)

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What has worked for you? Any marriage breakthroughs that changed the way you live? I’d love to read your ah-ha moment in the comments!

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Need Attention? Please Don’t Spin Like a Record, Baby.

  Organizing one college boy and six high school girls into two cars proved simple. Life in 1992 revolved around a manageable amount of activities, so none of us had a problem scheduling a date for the shoot. Three of us sat on the brink of caps and gowns, ready for diplomas but not ready… Continue Reading

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Top 12 ‘October Days’ w/a Dash of Pumpkin Spice

  I scoured the sites and the results are in. Though I probably won’t be trying Pumpkin Spice Deodorant anytime soon, the 26th holds me captive for way too many reasons. Love ‘em or leave ‘em… here are my favorite National October Days, with facts and recipes to boot: This post contains affiliate links, which is… Continue Reading

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Your Grass Looks Greener

  Two Moms, Two Letters, Two Countries   Dear Missionary Mom, I see you down here, with your hair pulled up and your patience falling down. Doin’ that missionary thing can drain, I know. It all looked so quaint from a distance, didn’t it? Needy people, corner sweet bread shops, hammocks in palms. Did you… Continue Reading

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Juggle or Battle?

  Renewed inspiration! Fresh starts! Excellent intentions! Or not. For numerous people the idea of making big changes in January usually conveys feelings of, “Why bother?” or “It didn’t work last year,” or my personal favorite, “Tomorrow. Yeah, definitely tomorrow.” When we started our student-based ministry eleven years ago I wondered if my structured life… Continue Reading

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New Year’s Disillusion

  If looking ahead to the next 358 days makes your head spin… welcome. I’m pretty sure the majority of the planet is hoping twenty-seventeen holds more hope, less violence, higher joy, and lower prices. Of course thinking globally is admirable, but if you’re anything like me you also think about the first few weeks of… Continue Reading

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Last Christmas in Baja?

  The C9 bulbs sit snug and proud, wrapped around the palm. It’s fat, freshly trimmed, and still full of green. Through the fall and into winter, palms don’t change. “It looks like a pineapple,” my husband says. “A glowing one.” He’s right; our own tropical Christmas. But whose kids are those?     The… Continue Reading

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10 Costco Secrets that Work in Baja, Too

  If you’re a lover of the food court, impressed by ridiculously clean, smooth floors, and slightly addicted to samples, welcome to the Costco club.       It’s pretty much the only place where your shopping cart can contain a $45,000 diamond ring resting on top of 1,875 Q-Tips and a five-gallon jug of… Continue Reading

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Christmas Card Burnout

  They were part of the tradition, part of the joy and part of the expectation. I can still see piles of cards in front of my mother. Her beautiful handwriting graced fronts of envelopes as she diligently wrote out addresses and duplicated ours in every lefthand corner. She composed classic Christmas letters with my… Continue Reading

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8 Things I’m Teaching My American Pre-Adults in Mexico

  Don’t Wear Red to a Chinese Funeral In some cultures it’s downright rude to wear certain clothes to certain events. Even if they never end up at a Chinese funeral (where they should only wear white or black), there are some things my American kids need to learn about clothing. Please don’t wear a fancy white dress… Continue Reading

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