Art of Manliness

One of my new favorite blogs to read is the Art of Manliness.

Two great posts I’d highly recommend reading are:

14 Ways to Affair-Proof Your Marriage The post is thorough, thoughtful, and well-written. I appreciated the reminder regarding sexual tension in mixed company – not to “rationalize it away.”


Write A Love Letter Like A Soldier
(Dude! Her name was Sarah!)

(Still have all the letters Tom wrote to me before we were married….)

Happy reading :)

No Shortcuts

Yes, I’m kicking and screaming. Yes, it does feel like my teeth are being pulled out – and I can tell you what that feels like both literally and figuratively!

God is putting little beacons of light in my path. Admittedly, they are hard to use because my frustration and anger are great and my walls are very high at the moment. My soul feels like my body does when I’m growling through my 30th (girl-style) push-up. One foot in front of other other, numbly, feeling like stopping, yet trusting that the ground will not collapse underneath me.

I’m praying that the Lord will keep working in my heart, and I am begging Him not give up on me.

This was sent to me from my mother-in-law< - check out her new blog!): = Daily devotions for 06-21-2008: Title: How to Do the Job You Don't Really Want To Do Author: Elisabeth Elliot Book: A Lamp For My Feet Certain aspects of the job the Lord has given me to do are very easy to postpone. I make excuses, find other things that take precedence, and, when I finally get down to business to do it, it is not always with much grace. A new perspective has helped me recently: The job has been given to me to do. Therefore it is a gift. Therefore it is a privilege. Therefore it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Therefore it is the route to sanctity. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. The discipline of this job is, in fact, the chisel God has chosen to shape me with--into the image of Christ. Thank you, Lord, for the work You have assigned me. I take it as your gift; I offer it back to you. With your help I will do it gladly, faithfully, and I will trust You to make me holy. = On Sunday (15 minutes late to church, but we made it in time for the sermon!), Rev. Dr. Don Stone was our guest pastor and he gave an exposition on Romans 6. From the sermon, this quote made it to my feeble notes: “There are no shortcuts in the cultivation of character.”

Today was the first time I was able to get some serious house cleaning done since Tom left. Our floors were so dirty that if one walked across them barefoot, their feet would be blackened by the time they got from one side of the house to the other. My friend’s daughter Anne-Marie came over and helped me with the children while I scrubbed the floors and cleaned bathroom. How nice it was to not be interrupted every other minute, and what peace of mind to know that no one was peeing on our neighbors flowers or smearing peanut butter all over the walls while my attention was focused elsewhere! What a sweet young woman, too. She played with the children, read to them, and even befriended Leah enough that Leah allowed Anne-Marie to carry her around.

Clean floors are good for the soles ;-)

Basic Needs and Baby Steps

The sun came up today after all.

This morning, I promised my friend Mary that I would:


Mary, whose husband was in Iraq for a year, said that those were areas she struggled with, too. Obviously, when basic needs aren’t taken care of, they affect all other areas of life.

She suggested developing a bedtime routine for myself – planned downtime, followed by going to bed at a reasonable hour. This could be tea, reading a book, etc. It’s hard to get “cozy” when the house is a sweltering 94 degrees at bed time, but last night, it got down to the 50s (so nice!) and I was able to wear a comfy sweatshirt to bed.

For breakfast, her tip was to make oatmeal in a mug so that it’s more portable. Mary makes single serving salads and puts them in storage containers a few days in advance for lunches. She also recommended yogurt smoothies for a another portable meal idea.

Just Askin’ for Those Emo Oranges…

Before I met my husband, I went through a terrible breakup a little over a year before.

Granted, I was 15 (going on 20) at the time — and yes, teenagers do fall in love, for real. I won’t say much about this person, because it’s really not the point, and we have both moved on in life and found people better suited for us. However, I’ll never forget the feeling of loneliness that happened after the breakup and lasted, well, until I met Tom.

Having gone through that desert, I firmly told Tom that I would “never get married, and never have children”. (The account of how we met can be read here.) It was my way of putting up a boundary around my heart to protect myself from feelings from abandonment, loneliness, hollowness, and sheer insanity. I knew how dependent I could be upon a relationship, and I never wanted to feel those feelings ever again. I hated myself for entertaining such hurt.

It was Tom’s calm response to my defense, “I understand. But, I want you to know that I like spending time with you and that if that’s all you’re willing to give me, I’ll take it,” that got through to me and gained him entrance to my fortress.

Yet, here I am. Feeling the feelings that I was trying to protect myself from. He’s still alive! We’re still married! It’s just that my soul’s so happier when Tom’s around.

When the fortress walls go up, it’s hard to even let my kids in. “What do you want me to do? There’s no blood on your cut! Go AWAY from me and PLAAAAAAAAAAAAY OVER THERRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEE!”

Today was the most beautiful day. It was in the 70s, and there was just enough breeze to stimulate the senses, but not enough to lose a hat. The children played in the freshly mowed yard (thank you, Andrew!) while I weeded and planted all day. (My friend Debbi from church calls weeding, “exercising dominion.” I like this. I chanted this in my mind, sounding as if casting the Patronus Charm, while I pulled the stubborn ones.)

I’d be enjoying the moment when a moment of inspiration would occur:

“Maybe we could go out on the motorcycle tonight!”
Oh yeah, Tom’s not home.

“I’ll call Tom and see if he wants to do burgers on the grill for dinner.”
Tom’s still not home.

Thomas (who was also inspired by the day, building forts and practicing “swords and crossbows”): “You don’t understand mom, the guy had this special power and he could…”
Me: “How about you go talk to….shoot… never mind…”

Obviously, someone is missing.

It’s not that I am ungrateful for Tom’s job! In a time of economic recession, we are still on our feet. Sure, it’s in a humble way – my furniture has holes in it, my dining set is completely mismatched, we have a hole in our porch, we can’t run the vacuum and the fans at the same time, the trim is peeling, and we live with “features” (like the few remaining windows with weights in them) from 1910, and we all have beds that are either broken or are too small for our bodies – but we are not starving, and we’re happily living within our means. I am very thankful for a job that stimulates my husband’s beautiful mind. I am thankful for the co-workers who have become close family friends.

By the way, I know all the “right answers”:
“Be thankful your husband has a job.”
“It could be worse – your husband could be in Iraq for a year with your brother in law.”
“Stop complaining – there are many single moms out there who are under a lot more stress than you.” “You need to be more dependent on God, and less dependent on your husband for happiness.”
“You’re obviously not praying/trusting in God enough to be feeling this way…”

These are the thoughts shame me as the tension builds up and I am short-tempered with my kids, when I am tired the next day from avoiding going to bed until I collapse, when I must call a babysitter just to run errands, when I am the third wheel while spending time with couples at church picnics, when I feel like I can’t breathe I’m so overwhelmed.

Fear gets the better of me and I worry that something terrible will happen, as punishment, to put me in my place.

My natural tendency is to just push forward, and “do the next thing”, as Elisabeth Elliot would say. Only I think I do this on my own strength more often than not. I don’t know how to move from relying on my strength to God’s strength. I don’t want to just cope, I want to suffer well! But, prayers asking the Lord to work in my heart end in me crying for my husband.

The smell of his skin left when I washed his pillowcase. (Washed sheets. After I finally crawled into bed last night and found that my baby’s crawling around on the bed earlier in the day left a nice surprise for me – the inside gel chunks from a diaper seam that opened up. Artificially congealed pee, all over the sheets, all over my black night gown.)

He’s still alive. He’s just been bleached out of my bed.