Tag Archives: Marriage

Looking Back and Looking Forward – 1000 Gifts

Looking back and looking forward

2013 was quite a memorable year.  We started the year with a few days holidaying with dear friends, and felt relaxed and full of hope for what lay ahead.  My word for the year: 2013 the year of joy.   I had my joy dares in hand, ready and eager to chronicle our joy gifts from the Father.

I quote this again, as it continues to speak life to my soul:

Joy is who God is.  Joy is the abiding atmosphere of heaven.  Joy is the expression of the kingdom here on earth. And therefore joy is an environment that we should be creating as a community and inhabiting on a personal level – in our homes, in our places of work, we can make those places like heaven. – Graham Cooke

Early February my precious family was hit with illness, husband included, and we negotiated our way through this for many months.  There were some scary nights in there, where I wondered if my children were going to take their next breath.  Those of you who’ve been through something similar know that it’s simply indescribable.

After this, I felt like I was running on a deficit for the remainder of the year, and still am to some extent.  Life continued to bring what it does for many, and didn’t wait for me to be ready – financial challenges, health challenges, relationship challenges, heart challenges.

Maintaining my place of joy became much more difficult than I could have ever anticipated.

But through it all, there were so many beautiful, wonderful, hope-filled, incredible moments.

There were lots of firsts for my youngest child, and even with our third, they are no less special and worthy of celebrating.

There were treasured moments with each of my children, where my eyes were opened to see more of who they are created to be.  Precious.  I love being at home with them.

There were some really enjoyable learning times, and crazy fun-filled moments in our homeschooling.

There was authentic connection with heaven, with the Father’s grace and mercy, and with the soft and loving sound of His voice.

There were those moments with my husband, where we sat looking at each other, completely spent, sometimes in utter disbelief at the most recent wave of challenge, but unspoken love passed between our eyes, as did the firm resolve to never give up on ‘us’.  We have been shaken, but our love runs deeper than ever.

There was one incredible friendship that shone brighter than my worst days, and remains one of the most treasured gifts that I’ve ever received from heaven.  I’m still floored that I’d be worthy of such a tender-hearted, giving, sweet, loving, beautiful friend.

So although the ‘joy journaling’ faded as the year wore on, the overall purpose did not die completely, as today I can remember with thankful heart some ‘big’ joy gifts.  I am blessed.

2014 holds much hope.  I wrote on this just the other day – my word for the year: Spring.

I have little expectation of what might happen in our circumstances.  But I know the Father is already there, and His grace will be sufficient for whatever we will face, whether it be abundant and overflowing, or challenging.

The joy journaling is back at the fore, and once again I have my joy dares printed and ready to go.

Can I encourage you to read my simple and short post on Journaling Joy Gifts, in the hope that you will feel inspired to join the community of joy-seekers?

Be blessed.  And thankful!

Victoria

[You may also like to visit ‘A Holy Experience’ and read Ann’s Grace Plan for 2014].

My friends with The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew are also writing on ‘Looking Back at 2013’ this week.  Have a read of some of their posts and be encouraged [Live on 8th January].

looking-back-at-2013{Linked up at The Homeschool Post – January Blog and Tell}

50 Things To Ask Your Spouse

I recently had the opportunity to guest post for a super lady named Trisha on her blog “Intoxicated With Life – Pursuing a Healthy Home Life”.  Please visit her blog when you have the chance, and read about her journey in homeschooling, healthy living, faith, and much more.  So much about what she writes about resonates with me.

The_Painter-s_Honeymoon_Leighton 1864

The Painters Honeymoon – Leighton 1864

I wrote on being intentional about having time together, and one way that may help you grow closer together as a couple.

In the midst of all that fills our lives at present, particularly with young children, I think sometimes we get too casual with growing closer and being intentional about feeding our love for one another. Some days my husband and I can put our heads on the pillow without having really connected—besides talking kids, money, house, and work. We’ve gotten no deeper than asking how each others days were.

So what to do about it?  Take a read at the rest of the post here.

Enjoy!

{Shared at Little Natural Cottage}

Finding a New Rhythm – Part 2

Window Light by Thomas Sailot

Window Light by Thomas Sailot

Last time I wrote about how my husband and I are re-prioritising and re-ordering at present, so our family can reach of a place of thriving in the things God has for us to walk in.  Read about that here.

Relationships

It’s one thing to be able to trim the tasks and activity within your home with the purpose of freeing up more time.  Watching less TV for instance is as simple as turning the thing off!

But relationships take a different approach.  There are more factors that determine how boundaries can be set and kept; other people being the most obvious factor in the mix. 🙂

By boundaries I mean more than just how much time is set aside to spend with people.  It’s about determining what level of involvement with others is reasonable for our family at this time, what freedoms we are willing to extend to others, and working with expectations that operate between our relationships.  For example, I’m committed to spending time with close friends regularly, but have to think about how often, what nature that contact has, what my kids will be doing, and what level the conversation is allowed to get to depending on if the kids are about or not.  Another example is, who and how much do we allow others to speak into our lives, or those of our children, if it does not bring empower and support the values we are living by?

Sometimes it means that a friend might have a much greater expectation on what I should be giving into that friendship than what I am willing and/or able to give.  They have to be OK with that, as I should too if the tables were turned.

Sometimes it means the answer is no to being with valued friends, as we need to have a family day.  It may mean I cannot say yes to every request for a meal, missions letter, and prayer partnership requests.  It means not attending every function amongst our circle of friends and family.  I can only pray that the Lord will give me the grace I need to be a loving friend when the time arises.

My husband and I are just trying to navigate our way through each situation according to our values rather than set completely inflexible boundaries that don’t serve what we really desire… to be people that love greatly and give freely.  We are willing to sacrifice our own convenience and comfort at times, but hopefully in a way where we co-operate with what we believe the Lord is asking of us and not beyond what we should.

The boundaries we set have to serve who we want to be as a family, and are not a law unto themselves.  Boundaries should enable relationship, not restrict it.  The times when it restricts relationship is when the other party does not respect them.  🙂

Where our children are concerned, we alone are responsible for them and make no apologies for setting boundaries that limit outside influences that prevent us from parenting them in the way we have chosen.  That may mean not allowing our children to go to a friend’s house where inappropriate video games are played.  Or it may mean placing boundaries where there are those that intentionally try and sway our children’s hearts to that of their own personal values.

And finally…

We have become much more intentional about just who we allow into the more inner and intimate place of relationship with us.  We obviously have all kinds of relationships for all kinds of reasons.  But that place of trust and mutual honour, where we are supported and cheered on, and where the way we raise our children is not undermined or criticised, as we seek to place our values ‘emphasis’ in their hearts… that is reserved for only a few.

In the past we had given unfettered access to all who would enter.  But this was unsafe and placed unnecessary stress on us as a couple and family.  We learned that even those we dearly love do not necessarily belong in that place with us.

I write on all this, as this can be one area that is the most draining of all to manage when we’re trying to ensure balance in our lives.  It’s amazing how much freedom can come when you become intentional about your relationships.

We have learned that as a couple we need to walk in unity, and manage other relationships from that place of strength.  It all gets much easier when we are on the same page as each other.

Can I encourage you today to take stock at the activity and busyness in your life, do a little ‘decluttering’ perhaps, and make some choices to intentionally move to a place of greater fruitfulness and freedom, where every member of your family can thrive?

Determine how you can better manage your relationships in a way that won’t prevent you from living in fullness.

Finding a New Rhythm – Part 1

Finding a new rhythm

I’ve been challenged lately to find ways to make better use of my time, and establish some different habits around the flow of our family life.  Since the birth of our third child a year and a half ago, we’ve obviously had to adapt to another little person being around.  But now that we have our new ‘normal’ for the time being, it’s time to get intentional again.

So my husband and I are attempting to find a better rhythm whereby every member of our family feels valued and important, and their ‘love tank’ filled to a healthy place.  From a place of strength, we can minister more effectively to others.  It means re-ordering some priorities.

Our marriage needs some focused attention, as we have cruised a bit for a while and not given one another the attention and time we deserve.  We’ve taken for granted the fact that we deeply love each other and that there will always be reserves to draw from in those times where other things are happening in the life of our family.  So it’s time to top up our reserves again!

Our children each have different needs at their ages and stages of development.  We are listening to what they are saying, be it clearly stating or indirectly via behaviour, so we can better nurture and raise them and so they feel fully satisfied in our love expressed to them.

This Mum here needs some regular time out to re-energise, which is something I do best by myself or with a friend.  I didn’t need this for a long time but 8 years since my first was born, I’m finally seeing that after an prolonged and intense period in the life of our family, it’s time for us to carve this out for me.  My faithful husband is really committed to this.

So what are the non-negotiables?

There are some things that we know for certain (in no particular order):

  • Our children are being raised inside our home.  For us, that means homeschooling and it also means that none of our children go to an alternative place of care, be it daycare, Kindergarten or public school.  It may look different for someone else, but this we have come to be certain about as we have prayed and discussed this together.
  • We know we are called to love others intentionally and sow into close relationships in our lives, particularly those within our community of faith.
  • It’s my husband’s role to provide the primary means of financial support and it is my role to be a wife and mother.  We’ve toyed with the idea of me working part-time on the computer from home in the past.  But we felt for us that this wasn’t the right fit for our family.

What can be trimmed and adjusted?

I’m certain that many of you will relate to this one: I’ve found a degree of connection via Facebook and blogging which I’ve been grateful for.  It sure helps to feel less isolated when you’re housebound with little ones doesn’t it?  But it’s time to trim back on these outlets and dedicate my time elsewhere into more productive places.

I’ve been blessed with incredible relationships that are authentic and don’t require me to keep abreast on Facebook with things happening in their lives.  They’ll actually tell me. 🙂  Granted, there are only a few of them, but I’m sure it’s OK to have a few close friends and not dozens where the connection is so shallow.

So for now, despite filling that deeper need for connection and community (in a very average way might I say), I’m trimming social media time to a minimum.  It’s not even so much the time spent as much as it’s the headspace it takes, and the feeling of busyness that it stirs in my head.  It doesn’t add enough value to my life to warrant continuing with it at the expense of other areas.  And I’d much rather devote my time and energy to the ‘real’, not the ‘virtual’.

As for my blog, my goal for now is to blog once a week during the weekend, and I may be able to do more than this sometimes.  Not writing the recommended 2-3 times a week may mean that I lose some readers.  But I pray that my words will reach those who really need it.

Do you have some areas of activity in your life that need some pruning?  Do you need to re-evaluate your commitments outside the home, such as those at church, within you homeschool network, and extra-curricular activities?
What role is social media playing in your life – do you need some more balance in this area?

Next post, I’ll delve a little into how my husband and I are approaching relationships at present.

Date Nights at Home

date nights at home

If you’re a family like us with young kids, and don’t leave your very little ones with babysitters, then the date night options are a little slim picking aren’t they?  But there are still heaps of fun things you can do at home, even if you’re trying to be careful about your spending.  The main thing is to make it something intentional that you do – carving out that time to be together, even if it means you are left out of the Facebook loop, the following days homeschooling will be a bit ad-lib, and the laundry pile sits there for another day.  🙂

So here’s some ideas from some of the things we’ve been doing together lately, and some we’ve yet to do.  Yes, I have been neglecting my blog a little, but I’m so enjoying being with my husband more.

  1. Watch your favourite movie or series together‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ is a great one, as is ‘Emma‘.  If you like ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Downton Abbey’, you’ll love these ones.  And best of all, they’re free on YouTube.
  2. Type in your favourite genre into YouTube and see what you come up with (I just did ‘English period drama’ and came up with some goodies).
  3. Bake a cake together.
  4. Watch your wedding video.
  5. Have a romantic supper at 9pm (or whenever the kids eventually go to sleep). Dress up in your nicest clothes.
  6. Sit and talk on the couch while eating half a dozen different flavours of fair trade chocolate.
  7. Make your husband his favourite dessert, and enough of it that can take some in his lunch the next day.
  8. Lie under the stars in the summer together.
  9. Do something playful, like built a fort and eat dessert inside it.
  10. Play board games.  Let him win.
  11. Massages.  That simple.
  12. Cook a three course meal together.
  13. Have a picnic on the floor in your PJs.
  14. Listen to music that you enjoyed when you first got together.
  15. If you really really have to get some jobs done, then do each job together.  Fold the laundry together.  Do the dishes together.  Tidy up together.  Do the budget together (or skip this last one if it’s not your idea of a fun date night). 🙂
  16. Dance.
  17. Kiss.
  18. Spend the evening writing a list of things you want to do together when the kids are older.  Like cycling, marathons, or tramping.  Or beach walks, attend a concert, or take an evening class of some sort together.  Just dream a bit.
  19. Sit together while you both read books.  Real books like in the olden days, not the digital kind.
  20. Do some fun things in the back yard, like play on the swing, climb the trees, or get in the kids sandpit.  Why not?
  21. Go to bed early.  Sometimes a good night’s sleep is the best thing to do together isn’t it?

Please share your ideas!