Second Honeymoon

Have you ever felt like God just chased you down and surprised you with a blessing?

That’s how I felt a couple of weeks ago. I had been planning my mom tea party, and we had a couple staying with us while they look for a job and transition to Houston who happened to be expecting a baby any day. The mother of the pregnant woman, who is also a very dear friend, was coming to stay with us, too, to help when the baby came and to help with the couple’s 15-month-old. All of these things were swirling around in my mind when Gary called from work and said that they were going to send him to Charleston for a few days. I just flippantly said, “Can I go with you?” He said, “Yeah if you want to.” REALLY? Could I really do something so spontaneous with all of these other things happening and about to happen at my house? Could I just take off and leave in the midst of all the preparations and plans and unknowns that defined my life right at that moment? It turns out the answer was “yes”!

It seemed crazy, but we started planning our escape – I mean, departure – and it all worked out. The day before I left, the expectant mommy had an appointment with her midwife and found out she was dilated to 3 and the baby had dropped and she could have it any time. Her mother was planning to drive to our home and arrive about the same time that I would be returning from Charleston. The tea party was planned for the following Thursday, and I had planned to go to Goodwill to get tea cups and other serving dishes for the tea party during the week of Gary’s trip.

But I dropped all of that and flew off to Charleston with Gary.

We had to run through airports and barely caught both of our flights. But when the dust settled, we sat beside each other and held hands as I gazed out the window and enjoyed the view from above for the first time in about 23 years. I really enjoyed it.

We got a rental car when we arrived at Charleston, and Gary drove us to our hotel. He is familiar with Charleston since he lived and worked there for a year in 2011.

We checked in and got situated, then went on an old-fashioned trolley to eat at Chick-fil-A. We found out we were in “college town”, and the restaurant was an express Chick-fil-A with a limited menu and limited space that catered to college students. It was interesting to be among so many young college students, but they behaved themselves well, and we were surprised at their civility.

Nothing spectacular, but none of the street jargon and immature behavior that I’ve come to expect from young people these days.

We enjoyed our lunch and our walk around town as we headed to the nearest Trolley pick-up point.

Neither one of us was in a hurry or felt stressed about anything. We just lived in the moment and enjoyed being together.

Gary was the most relaxed I’ve seen him in a long time.

He just wanted to please me and show me a good time.

We had some ideas of places that we wanted to see because a woman we met at the baggage claim at the airport told us some of the best places to go and even went and got some pamphlets and ran back to give them to us. We felt lots of favor, like God was really smiling on us and causing people to go out of their way to be friendly and help us.

One place she said we HAD to go was Magnolia Plantation. So we did!

Charleston Magnolia Plantation

It was cold! We rode on the “train”, and I had 3 blankets covering me! Our driver was a good guide, and we enjoyed our nature ride, even though we were freezing. We’re used to temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s most of the time. That day in Charleston was probably 50 or lower, so that was really cold for us.

I visited the petting zoo alone – all alone – I was the only person in there among all of the animals. Some of the deer were roaming free. There was a deer just inside the gate. I turned to him with my hands out to pet him, but he mistook my sign for “I’ve got food for you.” He tried to eat me! When he realized I didn’t have food in my hands, he went for my purse. He put his nose into my purse, and I pulled it away real fast. Then he got ahold of the zipper on the outside of my purse with his teeth and yanked his head sideways. He unzipped the front pocket of my purse! That was enough for me. I ran to the gate, opened it and got out of there! I watched from my safe place until the scary deer walked away. Then I worked up my courage and went back in.

IMG_20150206_164328

Oh sure, look all sweet and innocent, why don’t ya.

He really did get aggressive with my purse and everything.

IMG_20150206_164700

I walked around the corner of a building and there was this goat looking at me all curious-like.

I laughed and snapped his picture.

IMG_20150206_164556

There were lots of pretty peacocks preening for me. I don’t know if they were trying to get food from me or what, but a bunch of them were showing off, even this poor old bedraggled guy.

IMG_20150206_165021

Gary and I got along so well, and had so much fun just being together. There was this one time, though…
We were all excited. We had a block of time that we could just go and do something, but we didn’t know exactly what to do or where to go. I wanted to see some live oaks. It was too late to visit any plantations or the Angel Oak Tree we had heard so much about, because they all closed at 5:00. So we got in the car and started driving. Gary asked where I wanted to go. I didn’t know specifically since the places I wanted to go were closed already or about to close. I don’t know the area, and I just had a vague idea that we ought to be able to find live oaks with a pathway through them that we could walk on or something like that. I was poring over our tourist book and the pamphlets we had, trying to find a specific place with an address. Gary was driving in heavy traffic asking me where I wanted to go. I asked how far we were from Mt. Pleasant, because I saw a picture of a path going beside some live oaks, and the only information I could find on the page was that it was in Mt. Pleasant. Gary took the GPS off the windshield and told me to find it.

I don’t have much experience with a GPS, so I wasn’t sure what to do. He was fighting traffic and waiting for a destination, so he was slightly distracted and overwhelmed. I was frustrated, because he was asking me where I wanted to go when I didn’t know what was there or how to get anywhere. So we got angry at each other and raised our voices. I felt like he was blaming me for everything that was bad, including the traffic. The way he worded things and the attitude he seemed to have made me feel like he was blaming me. We had our little argument over whether it was my fault and took out our frustrations on each other, then I spotted an address of a park in Mt. Pleasant, so we put that in the GPS and headed there. When we finally got there, we were not happy with each other, but we got out and looked around anyway. There was nobody else there. It was cold. It would be really pretty on a warm day. There would be lots to do there in the summer. But it was pretty abandoned that day. And we didn’t see any live oaks there. We took a few pictures of a lagoon, and looked around some more. Neither of us was saying much.

Then he drove to the beach that he knew was near there. I’m not a fan of the beach. My lack of balance makes the whole beach experience very uncomfortable. And I’m not a big fan of sand, either.

And it was extremely cold.

So he parked the car and got out and walked to the beach while I waited in the car. He came back after a while, and we drove back to the hotel in silence.

I don’t remember how we got back into a happier mood that night, but eventually we did. If I remember right, we were okay when we got back to the hotel and the valet took our car to park it. We always enjoyed little chats with the valets when we brought the car back for them to park. And I don’t remember that night being an exception. So somewhere along the way, we must have made up. We lost our connection for a couple of hours, but we both forgave and re-connected with each other before we got back to the hotel. It’s a shame that we lost that fun block of free time that we both had looked forward to, but we did get past it and come back together in a shorter time than it used to take. I can’t remember specifics, but I know that I, at least, am being more intentional about not nursing a grudge or replaying in my mind what he said or did that offended me or was rude or inconsiderate, and I’m trying harder to re-establish the connection between us when things like that happen. Reading the book, Keep Your Love On, has helped me with this. I’m also trying harder to communicate what I was feeling and why I said what I said or reacted the way I did, so that Gary has a better chance of understanding what went went wrong instead of being clueless and trying to figure out on his own what just happened. I remember that I did pray that God would help us to get back in right standing with each other. I didn’t pray in pity party mode, telling God how mean Gary had been or a “get him, God” attitude, which I’ve done in the past. I sincerely asked God to help us get through this situation in a loving way, and He did.

These things happen, unfortunately, but I’m thankful for the keys I’ve learned recently, like protecting the connection no matter what, and doing what I can on my part to keep on acting in a loving way and communicating even when it’s difficult and uncomfortable to do so. Communicating in a respectful, calm way.

I share this, not just to air our dirty laundry, which I really don’t enjoy doing, but to give an example of how things can go awry, but they can be resolved without bloodshed if we really try to walk in love, keep our love on. It takes a continual dying to self and a constant reminding ourselves that we love each other and we are on the same side, not against each other. We are trying to have fun together, not find fault or criticize the way the other says or does things. We are trying to be unoffendable. We are far from perfect, but we are trying.

Charleston Live Oaks Magnolia Plantation

park near Charleston 2

park near Charleston

That was really the only sour time we had during our four-day getaway.

The rest of the time was very sweet!

Charleston Fudge

Gary really went out of his way to please me. He wanted me to enjoy myself, and I really did.

One night we went out to eat at the Irish Pub the lady at the airport told us about where a really good violin player and his dad and another guy played. Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub.

We sat at the table closest to the musicians. We went early and just stayed until the music started. And we stayed through almost all of it. We enjoyed it immensely.

Then we went to see the highlight of our trip. Angel Oak Tree.

Angel oak8

We had heard about it 2 years ago when Gary was working in Charleston. I did not want to miss out on it. We planned to see it on the way to the airport on Saturday. We spent an hour there just admiring it and taking pictures of it.

It was truly a marvel of God’s creation.

Angel oak9

We both walked around trying to find the best angles for photographs.

Angel oak7

Angel oak6

Angel oak5

Angel oak4

Angel oak

I loved our second honeymoon so much. It was much better than the first. Married love, mature love (sort of) is awesome! Stick with your mate. It will be worth it.

I am so glad that Gary and I have held on to each other through all that we’ve been through. And I’m so thankful that God is teaching us how to get along better now when it’s so crucial. He is revealing to us hidden issues and showing us how to deal with them.

We are becoming more united, more one all the time.

Prayer works! I want to encourage you to keep praying for your mate. And learn as much as you can about building good relationships. Life is meant to be joyful, fun and fulfilling. The same for marriage. But we have to work at it. It doesn’t just happen.

God is there to help you with your marriage. Make sure you put Him at the center of your own life, your marriage, and your relationships with your children and everyone else.

The Angel Oak Tree has a fence around it. They say that tree is 1600 years old. And they want it to live as long as it possibly can. So they have warning signs telling people not to deface it or carve on it or climb it or basically touch it at all. This tree is well-protected. They close the tree at 5:00 and nobody can get near it again until they open the gate the next morning.

If people care that much about a tree and take such measures to protect it, we should be willing to take measures to protect our marriages. And the best protective measure I know of is to pray for it.

Angel oak3

Let your love grow, spread, and shoot out branches to reach out and overshadow and protect all who come near. Like the Angel Oak.

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. Psalm 96:12

And the sun goes down on the palmetto tree!

charleston sunset

I Am Owning My Life

Oh Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.

Psalm 16:5

I stepped out of my comfort zone and held a tea party at my home last night.

IMG_1408

It was for moms to be pampered and treated like princesses.

My kids made it happen!

My little girls dressed up in fancy dresses and helped serve the treats. Garrett dressed up in a tuxedo and met people at the door.

Kelsey baked two different kinds of cookies.

Anna helped with cleaning.

Kelsey helped with everything!

Morgan was dressed very nicely and served everyone their tea.

We had quite a selection of tea, and every woman chose the kind of tea she wanted.

Every woman had her own cup.

Morgan set up the tv to play wonderful Classical music throughout the evening. It was perfect! It set the mood, tone and atmosphere for the whole party.

Kelsey helped me set a beautiful table, complete with two teapots, a teacup for each mom, and delicious treats: a variety of cookies, cheesecake brownies, red velvet cupcakes and a fruit tray. And a vase of flowers as a centerpiece.

I regret that I don’t have many pictures, but I was busy living in the moment.

IMG_1409

I got most of the dishes and cups from Goodwill. I didn’t try very hard to make everything match. I just got my favorite things that I found at Goodwill. But they looked very pretty when we put them all together.

I had made a flyer and posted it on our neighborhood website. I had hand-delivered invitations to my immediate neighbors. And I invited a few women that I knew from church. Some of them told me they couldn’t come until later, and I told them to just come whenever they could.

Five women came.

I prayed that God would send the ones that were supposed to come.

Everyone seemed very comfortable with each other. We had good conversation, and it seemed like everyone there contributed to the conversation and enjoyed what was happening. Only two of the women knew each other.

We talked mostly about the things that God had done for us. Lots of those things involved our children and families.

I did talk a little bit about the book, Own Your Life, by Sally Clarkson. I told them that it was while reading this book that God deposited in my heart the idea that I should reach out to my neighbors and provide a time of refreshing and pampering for moms around me. An interesting phenomenon that occurred is that most of the women who came live really close by, but only one was actually from my neighborhood.

But most of us there were sort of neighbors, in a broad sense. Of course, one of the ladies was a dear friend of mine from my home state whom I have known for 14 years, who lives in Louisiana now. She is visiting here because her daughter and son-in-law are staying here while they transition to Houston. Her daughter had a baby that very morning and was upstairs with her newborn baby during our tea party!

But we all felt connected and comfortable with each other and had sweet fellowship together.

I showed them this short clip near the end of our time together:

I talked about how we each have our own cup, our own portion, that God gives us. He gives us the life that we have, and He wants us to accept what we have been given and make the best of it. And make it really good. Make it happy and joyful and fun. Do what we like to do, because our kids want a happy mom.

I like the phrase, “Become the best version of you.” I think I read that in Own Your Life, or something that Sally Clarkson wrote on her blog.

I have learned and am learning so much from the book, Own Your Life.

I would encourage all of my friends to read it. It has a special emphasis on motherhood, but any wholehearted Christian would benefit from reading her message about “living with deep intention, bold faith and generous love”.

I am grateful for the inspiration I received from this book to open my home and heart to my neighbors and prepare a lovely tea party and time of refreshment for them.

I believe we all were refreshed and rejuvenated, and I felt deep fulfillment and joy from the whole experience.

I am very proud of my children and thankful for all that they did.

It was a great blessing to all of us.

And the blessings go beyond what I can see with my eyes.

Today on Amazon: A Free Book About Restoring a Marriage After Unfaithfulness

If you go to Amazon right now, you can get a free e-book called Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity. You can get it free for Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get a Kindle reader for PC from Amazon or the Kindle app on your smart phone.

Many of my readers have experienced infidelity, so I hope you will get this book and get the help you need to put things in good condition in your marriage after your husbands’ return, as we are praying so fervently will happen and believing for with all of our hearts.

http://www.amazon.com/Unfaithful-Healing-After-Infidelity-ebook/dp/B007FQOEU4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376950073&sr=8-1&keywords=9780781404402

 

Get the ebook here at Amazon.

 

Put your faith out there, and get ready to receive your husband back. Prepare your heart for his return. Prepare to love unconditionally and keep the connection strong no matter what he does. Remember that the only one you can control is yourself. Use your strong will to love him no matter what. And refuse to be offended. Do nothing out of selfishness but everything out of love. Love him enough to do good to him even when he is mean or neglectful or irresponsible. Love, love, love.

Thoughts for New Homeschool Moms

Many people believe that people are either smart, or they’re not. If you’re not, then tough luck. You are not going to do very well in life.

But I don’t believe that. And I have read research that says people are smart in different ways. They call this multiple intelligences.

The reason I think it’s important for homeschool moms to know about and consider multiple intelligences is that it can be easy to get discouraged about your child and his ability or intelligence if you think traditional, academic skills are the only way to measure intelligence. If you take this approach, then you take pride in grades, academic progress, smartness, performance on standardized tests, etc. And if your child doesn’t do well on these things, you may tend to look at your child as “damaged goods”. This can lead to shame and disappointment on your part and the part of your child.

The type of intelligence that your child is strongest in (which may be more than one) will influence their learning style.

Here is a chart of learning styles which I included in a post about learning styles a while ago.

Learning Style Charts

Photo credit Loving2learn.com

“An intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings.”

– Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind (1983)

intelligence type        capability and perception
Linguistic                         words and language
Logical-Mathematical       logic and numbers
Musical                            music, sound, rhythm
Bodily-Kinesthetic            body movement control
Spatial-Visual                   images and space
Interpersonal                   other people’s feelings
Intrapersonal                   self-awareness

To read more about multiple intelligences, go here.

For you visual people,

here’s a colorful chart!

 

multiple intelligences chart

One of the great things about homeschooling is that we can adjust the way we do things to match the needs of our individual children. We can adapt our teaching style to their learning style.

 

We may find that there is a big difference. The goal is for our child to learn so that is the thing we need to keep in mind when planning curriculum, or not to use curriculum, and how we should facilitate learning for our child.

 

My philosophy is “whatever it takes”. What works best for them.

 

I found this great blog post today that illustrates what I’m talking about. I think you will love this, so please click over and read this, but make sure you come back and finish this post here on my blog! 🙂

Another thing that I would like for new homeschool moms to consider is a notion called “readiness”.

 

Some children are early learners. Some are excited to learn how to read and can be taught when they are very young.

 

Others, like most of mine, take their sweet time, and are usually motivated to learn to read by the need to read the words in a game.

 

Some are very interested in numbers and love to work puzzles and solve problems and are quick to learn their addition and subtraction facts and multiplication tables.

 

Others, like most of mine, have to struggle to learn and memorize these facts.

 

My children are very intelligent, but they have been older when they have learned most of these basic skills. They have been way older than 5 or 6 years of age.

 

They are bright, and they are even doing well in academic skills now, but they did not learn them early or young. They learned them as they felt the need to learn them.

 

Some of them still need a little extra time to think about the multiplication facts. But they are functioning very well at the jobs they do and in life in general.

Children do not need to learn certain skills by a certain time to be able to do well in life. There is no window of time where things need to be learned or they will never learn them. There is some truth to the idea that young children can memorize more easily. But some people are never good at memorizing, no matter what their age.

 

So the thing I would say to young parents is:  don’t stress about your child not learning new skills when others their age are. If you present it to your child, and they are not ready to learn it yet, then back off from that, and work on something they ARE ready to learn.

 

I have given this advice to many parents, and it has liberated them from unreasonable expectations and causing feelings of failure in their children. Children need support as they are learning new skills, not harshness or pressure or discouragement.

 

If you want to get some perspective of what it is like learning all of the basic skills we are trying to teach our little ones, do a little experiment.

 

Write something with the opposite hand that you are used to writing with. Copy a memory verse or something with your left hand when you’re right-handed or vice versa. See how difficult it is!

 

Now apply that to how your child feels as he is learning to read, write, add, subtract, and all the other new skills he is expected to learn in his first years of school.

 

Now take these ideas into consideration as you are teaching your child at home.

 

Make learning as pleasant an experience as possible. Guard the relationship you have with your child by not getting stressed out, irritated, or frustrated by his inability to learn something you are trying to teach him.

 

And, please don’t put your child down or consider him substandard because he can’t learn it in the same manner that you learned it or at the age others are learning it.

 

Remember these things as you are teaching your precious little ones at home. You are Mommy. You are not Teacher. They want you to always be Mommy, so don’t turn into something else during “school” time.

 

Your children will thank you some day, and you will be thankful that they still want to be around you.