Monday, January 31, 2011

Happily Ever After

As a wife and mother sometimes Christian radio is helpful and sometimes not. I don't listen nearly as much as I used to, when home educating having the radio on in the background can be distracting. This morning though, Matt and the boys left early to do chores for friends who are on vacation and as I was preparing the house for the day I was listening to a show on communication in marriage. The show was really geared toward newlyweds or even engaged couples. Being an "old married woman" with 10 + years of marriage experience under my matrimonial belt, there were parts of the show to which I was shaking my head and saying an inward "amen". Other parts I felt like gave me permission to be moody or cantankerous due to my "God given personality". Fortunately, I learned before I got married(through repeated head smashing against the brick wall of life)that I would never be truly happy or fulfilled in any relationship outside of Jesus. I know we all know that in our heads. I know we all say it at church. But do we live it? I certainly didn't. I sought fulfillment in relationships outside of God. I placed on the shoulders of so many of my friends the responsibility of making me happy. I have a "chipper" enough personality and gracious enough friends that the long term damage to relationships was minimal...but inwardly, I often dealt with disappointment and moodiness because another human being failed to make me feel whole.

Then one day I moved to Salem, IL. For the first time in my adult life I wasn't surrounded by the safety net of close was me and God. I had relationships here, but they were new, almost foreign. I remember the day so well. I was on my morning walk and the lyrics to a song were running through my mind...the song was entitled "God Spot". I realized that the emptiness and loneliness I was facing in this new place was not anyone's fault. The reason I was unfulfilled "by myself" was because I had inadvertently placed the expectation of fulfillment on my friends. Jesus alone wasn't enough to fulfill....I was a relationship junky. Once I saw it, I realized how wrong that was...I also realized that it was totally unfair to place that kind of expectation on another human being. Relationships are only ever whole and truly loving if an individual finds fulfilment in Christ alone. That frees us to really love another without a self fulfillment agenda getting in the way.

The talk show expressed the need for all married couples to find their fulfillment in Christ first. AMEN to that! However, then they went on to express ways of dealing with conflict...most of the conflict examples they gave, were conflicts stemming from expectations placed on another for one's own validation. I know as humans we are never totally free of the flesh until we are dead. We will feel forces of it until the day Jesus takes us home. We will have moments of unguarded words with insecurities leaking out. Yet, I've found in my marriage that the more I truly believe that my worth is based in Jesus, the less often I fall to attacking Matt when I feel needy. It doesn't mean all conflict disappears, we still have days where we don't see eye to eye or I'm overly emotional and sensitive. But it does mean that once "reason comes riding in on a white horse" I can see what I'm doing and LET IT GO. That, I believe, is the second secret to a good marriage. I don't have to win. There are no winners. I don't have to be validated, I am valuable because Jesus says so.

You see Matt and I have settled into our relationship. We rarely fuss over issues anymore. We've learned to place an issue on the table and emotionally detach ourselves from it. Then we tackle the issue based on truth and what is real. We almost always come to an agreement based on what we both believe to be truth. We don't even think in terms of whose argument or idea won. But, there are the little rubs that come from living with another person and those are a whole different topic. It is those little rubs that can make relationships difficult. For example, last Wednesday night the boys and I got into town, after a long day in St. Louis. We normally meet Matt in town for supper before church. We got to the restaurant and I set the boy's drinks down. Matt starts to move them. I say, "why?" He explains that friends are eating with us and we need to make room for them. It's important to note here that Matt is the Tortoise and I am the Hare. He often thinks, responds, and moves very slowly. I often think, respond, and move at the speed of light(which has led to MANY apologies in my life). I argue, "There's room if we add this chair". He continues to move drinks, think and think and think...(tick tick tick). I think, "What is the big deal?" However, after 10 years of marriage(and due to the public location) I've learned to keep that thought to myself. However, I don't do a good job of hiding the annoyance in my body language. So I grab a plate and head to the salad bar before I say any more. On the way, I'm still annoyed...."why does it take this man 20 years to find a seat? What is the big deal?"...and then I realize what I'm doing. He's questioned my great plan. How dare he? Do I think I'm God? I realize that I'm being silly...after all what is the big deal? Who cares if he wants to deliberate on the seating for another 10 minutes? Further more, I've not seen him all day and when I do, he is greeted with a scowl and annoyance. This is really silly. "Jesus, I'm sorry. Help me." Then with HIS help, I let it go. Not stuff it. See there is a world of difference between washing something away down the drain and keeping it stuffed in your cupboard to mold and fester until another day. I let it go, because he is a good man. Because my way isn't always right. Because there are a million little things about me that he let's go all the time(ie like my rabbit speed way of running through life). Because I'm a child of God and He isn't pleased with this little "tude" of mine. And so I walk back to the table with a genuine smile for him. I've let it go. It's only a table and some chairs after all. He smiles back and humbly says, "You were right, we needed to just add a chair." I honestly answer, "No big deal." It doesn't even occur to me to feel good about being "right". Not because I'm Super-Wife, but because I let it go...and my value is in Jesus, not in whether I'm right or not.

So I talked to the radio this morning and let the good experts know that conflict resolution goes deeper into oneself than a "conflict resolution" card that you carry in your wallet. But it flows from a heart that is willing to let the unimportant things go. A heart that promises to find it's fulfillment in Christ. A heart that is humble enough to say, "I'm wrong". And to be honest, from the hard work of disciplining our tongues to not respond too quickly(I'm learning this skill better everyday from the example of my Tortoise).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Any mother who has suffered through the first year of violin lessons knows what a joy it is when the songs start sounding more like music and less like a cat screeching after it's tail has been stepped on. The casual listener won't know the difference, but Mommy does and she's filled with admiration at his hard work.
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Monday, January 24, 2011


Today I'm helping my eldest with violin practice. He's learning to play the hymn, "What Wondrous Love is This". So I'm trying to explain what the writer was communicating in this song. I said, "Bub, the person who wrote this song is amazed that God, who is perfect and made everything would love us so much that he would leave heaven to come be our example...even when we were sinful and ugly." His eyes are wide, I think I'm making some progress so I wax eloquent. "Do you think when you communicate this song it should sound like this(here I start singing staccato)what. won.drous. love. is. this. o. my. soul. o. my. soul. what. won.derous. love. is. this. o. my. soul." His face is creased with lines of distaste. I'm sure he's getting my point, so I go on. "Or do you think it should sound more like this(here I burst into my attempt at a beautiful legato version of the song). His face brightens, he's impressed, I can tell. "So bub, which do you think would best communicate the words? His face seems a little perplexed again, but he answers, "I think the second way would be best...but Mommy, I think you have a little boogie in your nose."

Well so much for my attempt to teach the beauty of artistically communicating a message through song. He's a 7 year old boy who is easily distracted...especially by boogies. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Decorating on a Dime Part 2

I didn't get as much done as I had hoped today. School went longer than expected. Some days we are done by 2pm and other days....well, let's just say we got our learning in for sure. :) I will post a few photos of what we did get done, with more to come later. Hope you enjoy.

This is my dresser. In it's past life it was stained a light brown and had a 1960's style shiny varnish on it. We sanded it down...not all the way down to the wood(there's just so much my poor arms can take), but enough to get the varnish off. After that we painted it with two coats of regular latex paint, after that dried we painted one coat of oil-based paint. I think if we had to do it again, we may have used a primer first and then just painted with the oil-based black. We are learning as we go. The art work is supper simple. Buy canvas(I got mine at Hobby Lobby when they were 50% off), then buy a stencil (Hobby Lobby $8) and twallah, you've got art. I rolled two canvas with white paint and two with black. Then after much trial and error we found that spray paint works best for the stencil.

This is Matt's dresser and we did the same thing to his as we did mine.

The mirror above Matt's dresser serves as wall art. I got it for $5 at Walmart(it's actually an over the door full length mirror). I used a wall rub on it to make it more interesting. The box on Matt's dresser is from Walmart as well. It serves as storage for all the strange things that come out of his pockets after work, but I'm not allowed to throw away. It's one of those male mysteries. :)
We put the tiles up on our headboard tonight. The 12X12 tiles we purchased at Menard's for around $6 a piece. We cut luon(sp? It's very thin wood) into squares slightly smaller than the tiles. We painted the front of the luon white and trimmed the sides in black. Once they were dry we used construction adhesive to glue the tiles onto the luon. We set heavy books on them to make sure the tiles and the luon became one. We let them set for a little over 24 hours to make sure they were dry(nobody wants a tile on their head in the middle of the night).
Then we measured on the headboard where we wanted the tiles and marked it with chalk. Now the tricky part comes. We spread construction adhesive pretty thick on the back of the luon/tiles and I held them to the wall while Matt double checked the tiles with the level.
Then Matt used pretty small nails(about 4 each tile) to hold the tiles up until the adhesive dries. The nails have to be pounded in only to the tile then a nail punch must be used to drive the nail all the way into the wall so that the glass tiles are not damaged. WARNING: The construction adhesive will most likely damage the dry wall when we take it down. Therefore, be prepared to do some mudding and sanding in the future if you plan to use this method

If the headboard looks a little high that's because it is. Matt plans to build a base for the bed to sit on that will be 6" higher than the bed currently is. The higher frame will allow for storage under the bed. There is one last touch we plan to add to the headboard. I have a friend who is very handy with woodworking. She is making me two wood boxes that will hang between the tiles, a candle will be in each box...hard to explain, I'll post photos when they're done. Matt also plans to build side tables for the bed. Those photos are to come, but probably much later. :)

A friend bought me these curtains, but I'm pretty sure they are from Hobby Lobby and if you sign up for their newsletter, you'll get a 40% off coupon every other week, so you can get nice curtains inexpensively. The walls on either side of the window still need some attention, but I'm just not sure what to do on them yet. Do you have any ideas? I was thinking perhaps a few B/W photos of Matt and I, but not sure.
It's been fun trying to decorate economically and in a modern motif. While I love the room thus far, I think the room is on the verge of being a little masculine looking, but I've always felt a little sorry for men stuck in flowered bedrooms for 50 years, so I guess all is fair. :) Seriously, do you think if I add a flower arrangement or something, it might bring a bit of femininity to soften it a bit? Calla Lilies? I'm totally open to suggestions, so feel free to send them my way. I always love hearing from you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Decorating on a Dime Part 1

Where do I begin? I guess I first need to figure out who to blame for my crazy weekend of redecorating. I could blame my mother. She started quilting a few years ago and she's really good at it. So she decided to make each of my sister-in-laws and myself a quilt for our beds. Well the time came for me to pick out material for my quilt. That was tough. I love all kinds of color combinations and all kinds of decorative styles. I think a quilt made by your mother is as close to an heirloom as one can get and so I wanted to pick colors that would be classic, timeless. I went with black and white. You can't get anymore simple than that, right? However, our current bedroom isn't decorated in black and white...although, it's not really decorated in anything.
I could blame Carma and Dorinda, my two "old roomies". These girls taught me to jump in and just do it - who cares if you've never done it before? I still remember the day I arrived in Salem. I drove up to the new home I was to be sharing with Carma, Dorinda, and Rachel. I was a little nervous. They greeted me, showed me my room, helped me unload my things and then said, "So did you bring work clothes?" I replied yes and they officially invited me to help them "redo the basement". I welcomed the chance to do something and not just sit around and be awkward with my new friends. I changed clothes went down stairs to do what I thought would be something like cleaning or painting...before I knew it I had operated a hammer-drill to bust up some old concrete, went to the saw mill and planed lumber for a wooden wall and used a shop vac to suck up old coal dust from a coal bin where we would later put that wall for which we had planed lumber.
I could blame Charity. I remember years ago, my long time friend Nate brought this sweet girl around and told us he was going to marry her. So like any good friend I tried to become friends with Charity as well. When girls are becoming friends they talk girl stuff until they find something of substance that they have in common. Charity and I were talking about her future home and how she planned to decorate. She said something like, "One thing I do not want is for our bedroom to be the hang out spot in the house. A place where the laundry gets dumped and the kids run in and out." Several years later, as I looked at my bedroom with piles of things we never know where else to put and baskets of laundry and trim that has never been put up and dry wall mud that's never been painted, I can hear Charity's voice in my head. :)
So dear reader I'll let you decide who is to blame. All I know is that I've been dreaming of a bedroom retreat for quite sometime and so when Mom said she was quilting and Dori and Carma said they'd come help paint, the project began.
At the end of last week Matt and I completely emptied our bedroom into our living room, this is what it looked like.....

While I don't consider myself a Martha Stewert, this kind of mess drives me batty. This is real motivation for me to get the bedroom done. I do not want to look at this disaster all next week. Not to mention, I promised myself nothing would go back in the bedroom unless it had a there is sorting to be done and a van load will be heading to the local thrift store next week.

Once the room was empty, I was able to sand the drywall mud that Matt had finished spreading. On Friday night and Saturday morning my Super Roomies came to help me paint.

Matt and I rarely buy anything til we have cash for it. Therefore after over 10 years of marriage the only brand new furniture we own is our living room furniture. We don't have any official bedroom furniture. But recently, Matt's grandma moved out of her apartment and gave us a queen sized bed and MATCHING dressers!! OK, so the dressers belonged to Matt's dad and uncle when they were high the 60s, but they match. So I decided to update them by sanding them down and painting them. We have no headboard for our bed. However, I got the bright idea of painting one on the wall(like they do in hotel rooms) and so we girls put our heads together to come up with a design for the head board of the bed. This photo shows the beginnings of a headboard, a rectangle painted on the wall with $4.28 worth of wood trim around it. The black and white art you see on the floor is a canvas we painted and then spray painted a stencil on it. Cheap art is good.

Hopefully tomorrow we can get the headboard finished and our clothes back in our dressers and at least a semblance of order restored. So far I love how the room is coming together. The three nights of sleeping on the floor of the school room and the tornado like disaster in the rest of the house were worth it. I'll post the almost final photos tomorrow night....I hope. :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!!

I just bought myself the unabridged audio version of C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy for my birthday!! ALL THREE!! It's so fun to be grown up. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

2010 Cast of The Weston Family Christmas

Happy New Year!! It's been awhile since I have posted. I direct the Christmas drama for our church youth and we start our practices in October. However things don't really start getting busy with the drama until November...notice my last post was in November. :) The drama went very well, I am so honored to work with such talented young people. Our Christmas season tends to be dominated by the drama...don't get me wrong, this isn't a complaint, we LOVE doing it. Our boys participate in the children's drama and I've learned over the last few years how to manage my time in December. This year was busy, but I had all my Christmas shopping done, house decorated and even hosted the Thomas family Christmas BEFORE the drama's opening night. Lots of costumes and props were already purchased or made way before the crunch time and everyone in the church is so willing to help in anyway possible to make the drama a success. So at the end of the day it's a busy time, but it certainly doesn't drain us of the joy of the season.

For Christmas this year I got the new book by Mary Beth Chapman entitled Choosing to See. Reading about the intense grief of a family who has lost a child in such tragic circumstances gives one cause to pause and reflect on priorities. I'm not really big on New Year's resolutions. My history has been one of miserable failure when it comes to resolutions. There was a period of about 10 years that I resolved every year to weigh 115 lbs. Reality set in about 8 years ago and I realized 115 lbs is NEVER going to happen for me. :) So my resolutions have grown up with me. This year though I was struck while reading Mary Beth Chapman's 2008 Christmas letter. She writes, "How would I have lived differently if I knew that my time with Maria was going to be this short?....I would have purposely hugged and kissed more. I would have tried to memorize and lock away in my heart certain smells and smiles. I would have colored more and worked less. I would have laughed more and fussed less. Bedtime wouldn't have become a chore to check off the list of things to get done. Instead it would have been more of an opportunity to listen about the day and offer whatever words were needed. The swimming pool wouldn't have been too cold to swim in. The flowers in the garden would have all been picked, and definitely more ice cream would have been consumed!" Those words have inspired and convicted me. I look at all my relationships differently through that lense. But since my boys are my top priority calling from God, I look at them so differently now. Even if God grants us the gift of enjoying them for a life time, our time is so short. They already are growing up so fast.

And so I resolve in 2011 to hug and kiss more. To memorize and lock in my heart the golden sweet mundane moments. I will sword fight more and be on the computer less. I will laugh more and fuss less. Bedtime will be earlier so that it is not a rushed chore to be checked off, but a time where I do have time to sit and listen to one more story or answer one more question. The pool won't be too cold to swim in. The black berries in the woods will be picked, and definitely more ice cream will be consumed!