Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Remembering Daddy's Soup

A fresh pot of homemade beef barley soup is in on the stove and the kitchen is clean again... finally, a contented sigh and I can sit on the couch with my little guy.  He watches Thomas, and my thoughts drift back to cold and windy days that I would walk home from school with the knowledge that the second I walked in my front door, wafting aromas of daddy's soup would welcome and warm me.  He would make them daily at the restaurant and bring some home for us; tomato vegetable, chicken noodle, turkey with wild rice or beef barley.    He would be napping by the time we got home so we usually scavenged the cupboards for cookies or chips instead.  More often than not, we didn't even touch the soup, but it was there every day, just in case.  And looking back now, I know that was what mattered.  I did eventually reach an age where I appreciated the warmth, health and care behind this simple act and I suppose that's why it's so important to me to make it now.  I suppose, that's why I do a lot of things. 

My husband habitually asks me why I have a vegetable garden, can dozens of salsas, sauces, jams and jellies every year and batch cook meals every week.  It's a lot of work and a lot of mess. Truthfully, I am only a decent cook and a horrible baker, but I do love spending time in both the garden and the kitchen.  I love working with my hands and anticipating the fruits of my labour.  I love all the different aromas and the contentment in knowing the meal I provide required a bit of sacrifice for the people I care about.  But probably, most of all, I love the nostalgic feeling of daddy's kitchen.  It's always there in the background, mixed in with the repetitions and the sights and smells of home.  And then there's the knowledge, that we had this in common. That this is a language of love, passed down from generation to generation.  Even in the busy-ness and high demands of our current culture it is something that is impossible to forget.  I suppose that's what I too am aiming for...

Monday, 15 September 2014

Marriage, Parenting & Dying to Self

Tensions build.  Communications fade.  Insecurities take root.  Stalemate.  Roommates. And the sudden realization that this, left unresolved and compounded by a year or two, could be marked as the beginning of the end.  Except I have already vowed that will never be an option.  And even in this day and age where everywhere I look divided families are managing a new way of life, that vow grips my heart.  Something needs to change before that becomes our story.  Someone needs to change.

So I pray.  I pray for God to change him. Of course to no avail. But then He whispers in my ear,  "the real question is not who needs to change, but rather who is willing to change."  Am I willing? Do I trust in my God enough to lay down my own life for my husband, knowing that would require a part of me to die? The part of me that is selfish.  The part of me that needs to be right.  And sometimes even, perhaps, that part of me that has nothing left to give.  I don't even know if I can do this. Dying to self hurts! It doesn't seem fair.  But in a moment I am reminded of just how much of my life isn't deserved, and the voice of self-pity is silenced.  So I will cling to the conviction that at least this kind of pain leads to life. 
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:24 

Each marriage is a story all it's own; full of different chapters, conflict, character development and resolve.  Our story, was actually quite pleasant for the 7 years we had together before these tricky, plot-changing, all-consuming characters (our kids) entered the picture.  Before they came along we could hide the fact that we really weren't teammates.  We could sweep this and other issues under the rug of our perfectly clean house and have a ton of fun in the meantime.  No responsibilities.  Time for friends, time for us to pursue dreams and utilize our gifts... time for everything!  All that changed with the addition of one new heartbeat. Then, as if on cue the curtain dropped and we became painstakingly aware of how incapable we are of accomplishing anything together.  We can agree on where we want our life story to go, but not on any single determining factor that will get us there.  Perhaps our problem has always been that we are so similar.  Strong-willed, motivated and highly opinionated...  We have both been employers for much of our adult life, each of us used to calling the shots and exercising our own perfectionistic and obsessive compulsive tendencies.  The fact that we didn't agree on anything was mostly just a joke to those who knew us... until having a family made the need for us to be on the same team more than just a necessity. 

I have been trying to grasp the concept of submission for some time.  I wonder what our marriage would look like if I was one of those women that came by it easily.  But I am not... it is not my nature.  I never saw it modelled and my husband has even told me if I was the submissive type he would be less attracted to me. However, I know that there cannot be two heads of one household for "a house divided against itself cannot stand." And yet I yearn to experience the kind of marriage that actually functions as a team. I don't believe submission looks the same on every person.  I just still haven't figured out what it should look like on me.  I have wondered if perhaps it looks less like the wife I know I can never be, and more like a trust in God to fill in all the gaps apparent in both husband and wife.  And that doesn't start with a "change him" prayer.  Maybe this house cannot have two heads, but it can have one head and one heart. I think I'm beginning to understand God's purpose and design in that.  The point is not who needs to change but rather who is willing to change. That is a prayer; a heart that God can work with in a situation such as this.  And in truth, if I knew how to change the things I don't like about myself, I would have done it by now.  I don't know how.  I need the unconditional love of my father and creator to work through my walls of insecurity and pride and remind me of who he created me to be. 

Marriage is not easy.  Throwing children into the mix does not make it any easier.  I firmly believe that couples, especially in this day and age, should know that any area of the relationship that has problems, will be magnified when kids are added.  Children are a blessing. They are beautiful and incredible and... they bring out the worst in us! They demand the entirety of our attention and reflect all the ways we fall short every single day.  But for some reason it is still easier to lay down our lives for them than it is for our spouse. Unfortunately, I think all too often, it ends there. 
It’s a choice and it is mine; to lay down my wants and petty expectations for his… and trust that whatever needs I have that are not being met in this season by an imperfect man will be covered by a perfect father in heaven. My older sister once told me not to expect that my husband and I will ever be putting in 100% of the effort at the same time.  There is a give and take (when one is giving, the other is taking!) If we do find we’re in a season where we are both contributing, sacrificing and serving the other… well, that’s marital bliss (and it’s not impossible.)  But, it would be unwise for me to expect it.  And if I'm brutally honest with myself, I've most often been the taker. He is a good man.  It's time for a change... a change in heart.