Monthly Archives: May 2018

Still Married after 27 years

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How long have you been married? Is this your first marriage? How do you stay together? Does it matter?

It’s not that common anymore for people to stay married past 10 years or so. Divorce is the norm now , in Christian and secular relationships.  Did those people expect their marriages to fall apart so quickly when they were in love and planning their wedding and had hopes and dreams for the future? Of course not.  What went so terribly wrong that they decided they no longer loved each other? Each situation is different in the details, but there are usually a few factors that sent them down the path to failure.

Not being willing to put the other person first.

Marriage is a sacrificial relationship, like parenting, and like following Jesus as your Lord. There may be times when you MUST give up your own desires and goals and dreams to save your marriage. This may even be on a daily basis if life takes an unexpected turn. This is why it is so important to really understand the marriage vows.

Here is one example of a wedding vow.

I, (name), take you, ( name), to be my wife (or husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.

Young, romantic, sexually charged, idealistic engaged couples often gloss over these words and don’t consider their actual ramifications. Will you really be willing to take a job doing whatever you have to do to support your family? Will you really be willing to live in a small house, have only one car ( or none), wear thrift store clothes, if that is all that your income allows? Will you stay with that person if they become clinically depressed or disabled? Will you be faithful and not cheat on them with other people if they gain weight or don’t suit your sexual tastes anymore? These are heavy questions, not fun to think about during the fun days of infatuation. That is why pre-marital counselling is so important for those who really seek to honor God and not get a divorce later.

Another cause for failed marriages, not putting in the effort and time needed to keep the relationship strong.

This is related to the first one. Both parties will have their favorite individual past-times and hobbies, but it is essential to be willing to spend quality time together. This may seem easy and it will be at first but over time people can change and their interests can change and you can find yourself in different worlds if you’re not careful. Also, if you have children, there will be years when you need to get a babysitter and go off without the children and just be a couple. I cannot emphasize this enough!  Your kids will be fine for a few hours or days. They are going to grow up and move away. Do not lose your marriage because of your kids. But  I think a bigger cause is usually just plain selfishness. We want things our way.  But not being willing to do things he/she likes at least half the time  is going to lead to resentment. No, don’t keep a list of dates when you did this and that. It won’t be necessary. You’ll know.

The last two common pitfalls are a bad sex life and poor money management.

Both of these cause great stress to at least one of the people in the marriage. Make sure you make them both a priority. A lack of sex is not going to lead to happiness for anyone. And being in debt because you are constantly buying things you can’t afford, even normal stuff like clothes and food, will create anxiety, anger, resentment, competition over who gets to buy things. Make a budget of some kind, get counselling if you need it, but learn to live within your means. Ouch, it can be hard. It may mean you need a better job. Or you may need to put yourself on a money diet. Learn to cook, make do with what you have for a little longer. Cut up the credit cards. Stop all online shopping. If you have a shopping addiction, you might need help with this. As for the sex, be creative. After being married awhile, it can get a bit routine. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Married sex can be fun! You don’t need a new , younger, sexier partner. Part of this is taking care of your appearance and wanting to look good for your spouse. They will appreciate it and you’ll both benefit.

My last bit of advice is to actively love your spouse and treat them like your best friend. The world, media, divorced or single friends, and the devil will try to destroy your marriage in many ways. Beware of  hanging out with people who are contemplating divorce! It is very contagious. And don’t destroy your own marriage by criticizing, complaining, ignoring, and failing to encourage, appreciate,  and truly enjoy your spouse whom God has given you. Look for ways to build them up! Compliment their appearance. Thank them for things they do every day. Surprise them with little treats that you know they like. Dress up nice for them for no reason! Your marriage is a gift. Don’t waste it or throw it away even when times get really tough or even if one spouse really screws up.

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10 NIV

10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

What about you? Are you married? Divorced? Do you agree or disagree or have any thoughts on the subject? I’d like to hear them. Thanks for reading!

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Hopes , Expectations , and Counting your Blessings

I’m definitely not a Buddhist. But I do think they’ve got one thing right. Having too many expectations causes unhappiness. But it’s a fine line that we walk as Christians , praying, trusting, and believing that God hears our prayers and wants to give us the desires of our hearts, but also knowing that God is in control. The Bible teaches this truth but not all churches do. It’s called God’s Sovereignty. We pray for what we think is best, but then , if we’re smart, we pray for God’s WILL to be done. That means that we acknowledge that our prayer could vary from God’s will. It’s not easy accepting that truth. People like to believe in the human idea of “free will”, which exists somewhat, but only as far as God allows it.

All this to say, I had a plan for the weekend, but it isn’t going to happen. I’m sure God’s plans are better, and I look forward to seeing what those might be.

Three words that thrill a homeschool mom

As we count down the last few weeks , two and a half actually, until we will declare our school year to be completed, I’ve been trying hard to stay in the race and not just walk it in . It’s not easy when you are in control and can decide to call it good basically at any point after May 1 since we all know the public schools are not teaching anything new in the last month. The focus is on end of year testing and graduation and survival until the last day when the kids go home and the teachers rejoice. But in my house we are still learning . I’m thankful to live in a state where home schools are considered equal to private schools and there are no testing requirements. I’m the mom/teacher and I know what they’ve learned.

And that brings me to the title of this post. Yesterday I was teaching the boys a Spanish lesson where they had to conjugate verbs and make sentences using the model provided. We were doing this activity orally and one of my sons was taking too long to answer when my other son said those magic words, “Come on! This is easy!” . I didn’t react outwardly, but I was grinning on the inside! Easy! He thinks conjugating verbs is easy! He actually learned something that he actively resisted learning because he thinks he’ll never need to know it. I think that means we’ve had a pretty good year.

And I’m happy to say that many other things were learned as well.

How about you? Do you homeschool? How was your year?

I ran without pain! But I still had long run anxiety

I didn’t even notice at first.

I was so busy dealing with pre-long run anxiety and just managing my dog and the trail that it wasn’t until after I’d run for two hours that it dawned on me. Hey! That didn’t hurt! Going downhill didn’t hurt and going uphill didn’t hurt and the first few steps must not have hurt because I don’t have any memory of it.  This is huge! I ran this same course a week before and it did hurt and I was also exhausted the next couple of days. I must be actually going to heal from these lingering injuries and inflammation. Hip Hooray!

Long run anxiety

I know I’m not alone with this because I’ve talked to my friends about it. But I don’t know how common it is. What is it? It’s a building anxiety that starts a few days before my  scheduled long run. Why would I be anxious about something I really look forward to with great anticipation, my big escape from reality, an easy paced journey on the weekend? Because….. I do look forward to it so much. I want it to go well! I want it to be perfect. That is the thing that always causes me anxiety. The fear that something I want and need so much will be messed up in some way that I can’t control, which is a valid fear and has happened too many times. What can mess up an easy long run, you ask? Well, the main things are 1) difficulty choosing a good route , 2) bad ( hot) weather, 3)no one to run with so I get scared in remote places (a valid fear) and 4) will I have someone at home complaining about me being gone too long? Oh, yeah, and the fear that I might not be able to complete the planned distance.

  1. It’s hard for me to find places to run that are safe, not too far away, and have shade, and have enough miles of  trails or roads that I don’t have to run the same route over and over. I have a few options,  but none of them meet all the criteria.
  2. The weather in  southeast Texas is not very nice most of the year. I have no choice but to deal with it, but I hate high humidity and I honestly do struggle with getting easily overheated and can’t handle running in direct sunlight. If you’ve never run in 70 plus dew point, you don’t know what I am talking about!
  3. I’ve basically lost all of my running partners because no one has the same schedule or location or life situations as me. So I’ve been running some with my dog but she can only go so many miles without overheating.
  4. My family has expectations. Nuff said.
  5. Anything over 2 hours, I start to get bored and hungry and tired.

Two days before the planned run I will make some kind of plan and start to look forward to running. But then the day before I begin to have doubts about the plan and make changes to the plan and basically begin to expect the plan to fall through. Even though at least 90% of the plans work out just fine, there’s always that risk so I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. I’m afraid to ask anyone to make plans with me because I’ve been stood up before. I’ve also run with people who have not been the same pace as me or not been up to the amount of miles we said we were going to run, so they basically wasted my long run. That is very frustrating if you are training for a race! I’ve had some doozies. Good thing I don’t hold grudges! But I do learn my lesson. So I usually run alone now. But I still have the other issues.

The night before the long run I usually have trouble sleeping. I will get my hydration ready and go to bed on time but I always worry I won’t wake up on time. Last weekend I slept so badly that I just turned off my alarm and went back to bed. So that meant I got to the trails pretty late and it was already pretty hot. It was 90 degrees when I finished at noon.  Back to the anxiety. I got up late, but I said, yes, I’m still going . It’s MY DAY and I’m going to run trails. It was Mother’s Day weekend. I had carte blanche , I could run all day ! So I just had to decide where to go.I had already missed two possible group run options by that time.  I finally loaded up my dog and just started driving because I couldn’t make up my mind how far I wanted to go. There are no  trails near me. The closest ones are 20 minutes and are only 3 miles of trails. Then the next closest is a one mile loop, 50 miles away. Then a little farther down the highway is a 3 mile out and back trail. Then a little farther is a park with no shade but more trails, nope. Then 1.5 hours away is the park I really like but I had gone there the weekend before. So I put on a podcast and started heading west . I decided if I wanted to stop I would and if I wanted to keep going all the way past Austin , 2 hours away, I would. Well, I finally relaxed thanks to the East Coast Trail and Ultra podcast hosts and their crazy conversations and I was happy to be driving through the beautiful hill country with not very much traffic. I did see one car accident involving 4 cars that were at a stop light and each rear-ended the other. That was in Bastrop. I also saw a car on fire on the side of the road on the way home.

Finally , I decided to run at McKinney Roughs Nature Park.

This LCRA owned park has 17 miles of trails. I like it because the trails are not all the same. There are rocky sections, pine tree lined trails , riverside trails, Giant ( literally) pecan tree areas ,  savannah sections, and quite a few big hills so it’s a great place to train for trail races. They allow horses and also have zipline towers and dorms for special events. It’s only $5 to run there. It’s not very well known or at least not very crowded, maybe due to the not that accessible location. It’s not super convenient to people who live in Austin because of the traffic, or those who live in Houston because of the distance. But to me the drive is worth it.

I thoroughly enjoyed my run ,and so did my dog. We saw a large snake soon after we started off on the trail but it was not poisonous and we were able to run past it.  Then we passed a couple of horseback riders and I was happy that my dog did not get scared or bark at them. Later we passed a family hiking and then a cute couple having a picnic by the river. A bit later I saw a couple more hikers. We met a few people with off-leash dogs which were not my favorite moments. My dog started letting me know she was really hot by trying to lie down in the shade beside the trail so I turned back towards our vehicle, but first we had to climb up the trail to Meditation Point, one of the scenic overlooks. There was fresh horse poop on that trail but the horses were no longer there. I was wondering if I would have to deal with a horse encounter on a narrow ridge.  We were almost back to the car but I decided to take a left and do a short out and back to explore a trail that had some good ups and downs. After a few good hills, I turned around . It was  a very enjoyable two hour, 7.5 mile hike/run . All my anxiety had disappeared and been replaced by the sweet satisfaction that trail running gives me. Next time, I am going to try hard to focus on the knowledge that  most of my long runs turn out fine and I don’t need to be so anxious.

Happy running!

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The Colorado River. My dog always run down to get a drink and cool off.

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One of the scenic views

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Woodlands Trail

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I love the hills

Happy Mother’s Day (to those with human children)

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What?!! You consider your pets, animals, furbabies to be your children? You are not alone in your confusion.  On the eve  of the American Mother’s Day holiday which is tomorrow,  I would like to honor those women who have raised  actual human children and also explain to the childless why animals are not the same as children, no matter how much you want them to be.

I guess you could say that I find the trend of adopting animals and considering them children to be very sad and disturbing. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals! We have lots of them. They are a wonderful addition to our family and we treat them well and enjoy their company and even , yes, talk to them and treat them like humans sometimes. But we also have six human children, all of which I gave birth to. I’m not leaving out adoptive moms, though. Raising human children doesn’t require going through the birth process, however I think whether you carried them for 9 months or not possibly could lead to slightly different parenting of your children, but I don’t know for sure. I have great respect and even awe for adoptive moms of whom I know quite a few.

Back to honoring mothers, it truly is the hardest job in the world. Nothing  prepares you for it. I wanted to be a mommy since I was a little girl. I started babysitting for neighbors when I was eleven years old, then worked in child care centers for several years during college and also cared for my siblings’ children before I had my own. I had many ideas/fantasies of what I thought it would be like to have my own children. Like most human relationships, mothering turned out to be much more complicated than I expected! I am not the first woman to secretly think they may not be up to the task when holding a screaming , colicky baby for weeks on end. Even if you are really into child development and read all the best books and have a fairly easy baby , you still have to stay awake way past your bedtime, get up during the night, do things you never wanted to do and dig deep for the energy, patience and creativity that parenting humans requires. And then there are the ‘stages’. Terrible Twos, pre-teens, teens, young adults, etc.  And even when they grow up and get married , most of them still expect a lot from their parents.

My children are now 13 years old to 26 years old. One of them is totally disabled. She is the easy one! Every day they give me reasons to pray for help and guidance and wisdom because they are people! People with complicated emotions and needs, unlike pets. They are born with personalities and genetic tendencies that are not easy to change , just like you and I . Sometimes they are easy when they’re little and then they hit puberty and they become like different people. Thankfully it is normal to have a  some good months mixed in with the difficult ones. One heartbreaking , yet common pattern, is for children to repeat their parents’ worst teenage and young adult behaviors. Whether this is learned or genetic is not always easy to pinpoint. Nothing hurts more than to know that your child is hurting the way you hurt when you were their age and not be able to fix it even though you try. I’m always thankful for the times when my children seem relaxed and content. It’s tough growing up!

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My mom and I . She’s the world’s best mom! I may be biased. 

To keep this from getting too long I will just list some of the differences between human children and animals.

  1. Babies require constant attention and supervision unlike animals.
  2. You cannot put a baby in a cage when you need to go somewhere, like to your job.
  3. Humans live much longer and cannot be ‘put down’ when someone decides they are in pain or sick.
  4. Humans babies become human toddlers and begin to rebel against your every instruction and test their boundaries . This goes on for the next 21 years at least.
  5. Puppies require a lot of attention but are usually pretty well behaved by the time they are 1 1/2 to 2 years old. That is just when children are revving up to make you think you are the worst parent ever.
  6. Oh, never mind, everyone knows that dogs, cats, donkeys, monkeys, or whatever pet you have are not the same as humans.
  7. There are just so many ways human children can cause you extreme anxiety, grief, anger, frustration, and also bring you joy , love, and hope that animals cannot begin to replicate. 

    Why would anyone have children in this screwed up world and knowing that they are so complex and can ruin your life just as easily as they can make you proud? Because that’s what humans do! We carry on the human race . It’s built into us to reproduce and nurture. We have hope. We fall in love. We want to raise a family. However those things seem to be in jeopardy. So many young, 20-30 somethings are getting married but not having children. They may be too selfish or maybe they’re scared or maybe they have bought the lie that the earth is overpopulated or humans are less valuable than the earth itself,  or they may think it’s too expensive.  Be brave! Be thrifty! Read books! Make babies and put your whole heart into for caring your family.  Give up buying more stuff and doing more stuff and form real, human relationships with your offspring. Or adopt some of the many orphans that need loving families. Or do both! Even if it’s difficult at times, it’s still worth it.

Happy Mother’s Day !

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect berries and Mountain views

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Sometimes you just have to sit down in the middle of the trail and rest.

I want to share a life lesson or three I’ve learned recently from berry picking and hiking . I posted this first on Facebook so some of you have seen it. I got some nice comments so I decided to share it here as well.
When I pick dewberries I have to lean over in an uncomfortable position and I wear my reading glasses so I can be sure to pick good ones. I am also constantly listening and looking for snakes. This hyper-focus is necessary. When my hunching over gets too painful, I have to stand up and stretch and when I do I scan the berry patch with a broad view. I usually take a few steps to the right or left. When I do this I never fail to see berries that I missed when I was hyper-focused. Also when I’m picking , there are long , thorny vines mixed in with the berry vines. I have to carefully move them aside and when I do I find the biggest, perfect berries hiding under the thorny vines, usually a bunch of them.

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Jackpot! Monster sized berries hiding just behind the thorns.

When we go hiking, I’ve noticed how things can be hidden from view, as well. When you are in a bunch of trees or in a valley or coming around a bend, you can’t see what is ahead until you take one more step and suddenly, there’s a beautiful view! Or you might think you are lost and start getting fearful and then one more step and there is the trail marker right where it should be! Or, more commonly, you might think you are almost at the top of the mountain, but you take one more step and discover that you have reached a flat spot but there is yet another hill ahead. This is a good time to stop for a break and enjoy the view.

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I love this view! I was worth the climb.

What does this all mean? For me it means  1) your perspective can change your thoughts in an instant so keep your eyes open and search for truth behind the thorns and trees and 2) keep moving forward even though you are scared or tired because eventually you are going to get that perfect berry or that beautiful mountaintop view. 3)Take breaks to rest from time to time so that you will have the energy to carry on. Because, as the saying goes, Life is a journey , not a destination.