The Journey

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you
control it.”
― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley: In Search of America

An email that just came in reminds me of how true this is ..

Sitting right now at a coffee shop in the lovely, Brookings, SD were perhaps one of the most perky business owners I’ve ever met, serves up java. I’m not kidding. It’s rare to see someone so dedicated to best possible customer service, not on this level. Maybe she’s just drinking a lot of her own coffee..

chocolatte

The Cowboy and I met here earlier so that I could deliver some much needed horseshoeing supplies to him ..

I’m still here trying to wrap up some work for social media clients before I run off to a few new business appointments myself .. and literally just took two phone calls in the last 5 minutes for requests to set up photo shoots. I. Feel. Incredibly. Blessed. And, full of gratitude. While my career especially right now may not look the way a few others feel it should, there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t thank God for the life I’ve been given and the opportunities before me – to spend time with family, be more engaged in life and my community and to pursue new paths in career. I’m having an absolute blast. The people I have met along this leg of my journey, in even just the past ten months, when I step back to think about it, leave me in awe.

At the same time, I’m mulling over a few emails from this morning all that relate to work and life and career .. and I’m frustrated. Because I’m not sure where any path leads just yet (besides every night, back to our awesome little acreage).. despite how fun they may be, to be on.

Someone asked me the other week what my greatest weakness is when it comes to career – I’m not great at being patient. I want defined goals, an action plan, to know where this will all eventually lead, how any/all of it to make a difference and to get it done. Not for me personally typically ever. Probably to a fault. But for our family, community and .. who knows who else what we’re working on might touch.

I’ve been in South Dakota now, ten months. I needed a reminder here just a few moments ago after that email came in, to be patient. That I am only in control of certain things. That the rest isn’t up to me. Rather, how any of us respond and move forward … is where we have some control.

And as I gather my things and head out into the rest of the day, that is where my heart and thoughts need to remain focused.

On a windy day ..

There’s an old saying, the Cowboy said to me this morning when I told him what I was writing about.

“Every day is a good day in South Dakota when the wind isn’t blowing. That, and we teach our kids here to lean into the wind when they are old enough to stand.”

………..

I have always enjoyed a gentle breeze on a hot summer or fall day. But ..

A rare still moment ..

A rare still moment ..

I’ve never experienced anything quite like the winds that howl across the Great Plains states. With little in the way of stopping them, they seem to gain momentum the further they travel. By the time they reach us, they’ve typically traveled far and wide, and they are howling. We often double check the kids and small animals are still in the yard.

Yesterday, the gentle breeze was blowing at 20mph in our area. May not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it’s mean a few relatively humorous life lessons since moving to South Dakota earlier this year:

When the winds are above 10-15 mph, it’s usually wise to take the hammock down or someone might get hurt trying to lie in it or in simply walking by.

Going for a run in and of itself feels like resistance training.

Grasshoppers catching a ride on the wind feel like bb’s when they finally hit you.

Talking, shouting to anyone into the wind is relatively fruitless. Behind you though, they can hear for miles.

Sunglasses are often helpful, not because of the sun, but to protect your eyes from dust kicking up off of all those gravel roads.

Pitching hay to livestock should be done with the wind at your back.

Clothes on the line may end up at the neighbors, a mile away.

Semis often drive in the passing lane just because. Well, because if the wind blows them over, I’m thinking it means they blow over into the media versus over onto you. The passing car.

It’s not a wise choice to wear a flowy above the knee skirt.

Hats are a wonderful alternative to an otherwise bad hair day.

Fall

“You have to come see the sunrise,” the Cowboy said to me earlier this morning ..

I had already been out, after the bus came to pick up our oldest for school, in my pajamas. With a steaming cup of coffee.

Sunrise

It is the second full day of fall 2013.

The morning could not be more perfect here in South Dakota. The sun is rising, the colors across the horizon are absolutely stunning and it’s about 60 degrees. One of the best morning’s to go for a ride ..

Nightmare

.. or a run. Or even just hang out on the porch with a cup of coffee and soak it all in. We all know, days like this are numbered.

………………

For about as long as I can remember, fall has been my favorite season. When I was a kid, I loved that it meant the start of another school year, cross country season, football games, crisp cool nights, the smell of campfires, leaves crunching underfoot as we would run through miles and miles of woods behind our house and the holidays once again around the corner.

While it still means many of these same things and I still have a very genuine love for the season .. I found myself yesterday, for the first time I ever I believe, not wanting summer to end. Not wanting to feel the cool breeze of fall or see the leaves turn. I realized after really allowing myself time yesterday to think about why .. it’s because it means another year is about to end. But, not just another year – another season of life. And the seasons, the years anymore, seem to be passing us by so fast.

Cliche, I know. But how very true.

I was helping my daughter with her homework the other night and as I looked over at her, all I could do was wonder where the first 12 years have gone. I looked later that night at the Cowboy who’s been sick for weeks now, fighting some sort of lung infection and all I could do was wonder how many more years of good health and life we might be blessed with. It has been a year of incredibly joys but also great sadness, aging family members have suffered major health complications, a few within just the past few weeks. Several family members and close family friends have recently passed away.

I do my best to never take a day or a moment for granted. Sometimes that means I, and many others like me, often go 500 miles an hour and throw ourselves into everything life, family, community and each day have to offer (often to the dismay of the more laid back around us). But it is also why we can appreciate the opportunity to slow down, reflect and spend time doing nothing but, say..

Soak up a beautiful sunrise.

Hope you are able to get out and enjoy all this fall and this beautiful season of life have to offer. Off to run ..

Tuko

I received a package in the mail this week. I can’t wait to tell you about it. Seriously. What arrived is like the best thing since sliced bread. Especially for those of you with animals. That might ever mark in the house. Or on things that aren’t the lawn or the litter box.

But it’s too nice today in South Dakota (and a lot of other places it seems) to sit inside and write or work any longer. I’ve done it most of the day, working for others and I’m ready to get outside. I did want to share though, the following because it’s had me laughing all week.

We’ve got this awesome donkey, Tuko.

Tuko

Tuko

Tuko has been figuring a way out of the field we typically have him in, all week. None of the others in the herd have tried or found a way. He has. There is an abundance of water, shelter and food in this particular field. He’s preferred to sneak out and go hide in the barn. In the shade. Away from the heat.

When he’s rested up, he comes out and either finds me or hangs out close to the house and waits until I come out. He then follows me (or anyone else that might be here) around as long as I’ll let him. Like he’s one of the dogs.

Tuko 2

The Cowboy just laughs. “Leave him out, he doesn’t go anywhere,” he says to me. “As long as he has some water, he can eat the grass.”

I keep putting him back in. Because I don’t want him heading down the road or getting lost for days in the corn fields. Like say, our cattle might have done a week or so ago. Maybe.

While it’s been frustrating and we think we know where he’s escaping, it’s also been incredibly entertaining. And the dogs this week, I do believe, feel like they’ve gained a new bud.

Dogs

Sunset

The view from my in-laws house to the west each night is truly amazing.

Sunset from Randy and DarlasThere is little to get in the way of soaking up an entire sky of sunset. A much needed grounding for us this evening ..

As we gathered up the kids after a long day, a long week, family coming to town for the Cowboy’s grandmother’s funeral and an unfortunate situation we all had the opportunity to discuss before heading for home, the above scene was a reminder of how small some things are .. and that the God given big picture is almost always, incredibly beautiful.

South Dakota Sunset

I’m back. I think. To journal, which has always been the simple intent of this blog. This time around, it may also be to somehow learn to write AP Style.

Why is that? Because television journalists are told to forget the rules and write like people talk. Forgetting the rules has served me well the better part of the past 15 years. But it’s meant a few public relations/marketing jobs I’ve considered since moving to South Dakota have gone to others. Apparently, I’m told, these positions require someone fluent in AP style because sentences need to be full sentences and dot-dot-dot isn’t considered a formal sort of punctuation mark. (I sure hope someone is mentioning this to our texting generation kids!)

I’ve decided, even if I am no longer officially job hunting (it’s always good to know what else might be out there, aren’t we supposed to always be looking?) it’s still a good thing for me to re-learn how to write. AP Style. For the record, I am keenly aware this post isn’t a great first effort.

…………….

A lot has happened the past few months. Heck, the past year. Life has changed and changed me. I hope and believe, in only good ways. Things are happening worth jotting down – to have for family history’s sake, that perhaps our kids can someday learn from if not simply gain some insights into who the Cowboy and I are, why we do what we do, what our hopes are for them and the kind of people we are in our own words, versus the words some others may ever choose. A lot of fun conversations have been had, I can’t wait to share them. Others have been very serious and not fun at all. They’re all part of the journey of this blessed new life.

I’ve been perplexed about where to start again. How to jump back in. After witnessing another stunning South Dakota sunset tonight, I thought, why the heck not here …

South Dakota sunset.

South Dakota sunset.

Instagram Pic and caption I posted tonight with it on FB in response to a few comments on the shot:

The sunset tonight only seemed to get more beautiful and bright with each passing minute – that was until at about 10:30pm when the last little bit of light faded off into the horizon. We were sitting out back of my in-laws home with the most wonderful group of friends. Light breeze. Smell of corn growing in the nearby fields under high humidity. Horses in the pasture. Kids running around. We just sat, enjoyed each other’s company and soaked it all up. What a beautiful summer night.

……………..

It’s been a long time since I’ve even logged into WordPress. Thanks to those of you who keep checking in on this blog, for whatever reason. I hope in some small way the words I write or the photos I’ve taken resonate with you in a meaningful way. We all have so much we can learn from each other in this life ..

Diesel.

I’ve driven a hybrid car .. oh, probably 6 years now.

It takes regular unleaded, like every other car I’ve ever driven.  While it gets great mileage and has been a wonderful car for us, the Prius doesn’t do all that great on ice.  And the warmer temperatures, melting snow, sleet and heavy fog recently have made for some slick rural roads.

DSC01042

So I’ve been taking the truck.

……………

“Hey,” I said to the Cowboy over the phone .. “Diesel 1 or Diesel 2.  I can’t remember.”

“Make sure you’re not at the pumps for farm fuel!” said the Cowboy, somewhat in a panic I was at the wrong pump and may have already started putting gas in the truck.

“Don’t worry, I’m not,” I replied to him over the phone, not knowing what difference that would make.  (I filed the question in the back of my mind for later)

The Pumps

I had called to ask again, which Diesel for the Dodge.  Usually the Cowboy makes sure there is enough gas in it.  But as I have been the one to use the truck versus my Prius the past couple of days, I wanted to be sure to return the favor and fill it up.  Only the second time doing so on my own, I knew there was a method as to what went into the tank and why, I just couldn’t remember what it was.

What’s the weather supposed to be like, he said to himself out loud.

“I think it’s supposed to be nice,” the Cowboy continued.  “I guess you can go with Diesel 2 for now.  It’s not all that cold out so you shouldn’t need number one.”

image-4

Diesel 2, he explains to me as I sit down to write for the first time in a very long time, apparently gels up if it gets too cold.  He let me know, I would most likely get stranded alongside the road if the wrong diesel is in the tank and the temperatures plummet.

Sincerely good to know.

…………

Also good to know why it mattered if I was at the Farm Diesel pump:

– Farm fuel is good for tractors and other farm related equipment.

– It is the same diesel, it just isn’t taxed.

– The Cowboy says there is about a $ .50 tax on every gallon of gas we buy.  I ask, are you sure it’s $ .50 and he says, pretty close.  (May differ by state.)  I don’t feel like fact checking this morning so I’m going with it.

– There is a dye in farm fuel and if you get picked up, police can check your tank.  If you have farm fuel in your truck, it is at the very least, a $1000 fine.

………….

The things we’re learning .. living on a dirt road.

My Mother …

Apartment is cleaned up.  Laundry is going.  Coffee is on.  Running clothes are on too so that I’m motivated to workout after writing this, before I run off to work.

Life’s been hectic lately.  A good hectic at times and at other times, exhausting.  More emotionally than anything.  But finally feeling like I have a moment to sit and write.

I wrote most of last week about the mom’s in my life.  And while Mother’s Day has come and gone and this was to be my post on Sunday .. my 100th post .. I’m actually thinking my mom would appreciate that I’ve been trying to take care of some other obligations and things that needed tending to, before taking this break.  Plus, she’d appreciate, I believe, the fact I’ve done nothing but think about her and what was important to write about her now for over a week.

There isn’t a day though that goes by, I don’t think of her and wish I could pick up the phone to actually call .. she was and will always be the woman who became not only my mom, but also eventually my best friend.

………………

Those of you who are a daughter or who have one now .. can imagine it wasn’t always that way.

………………

“I don’t have to listen to you!  You’re not my real mother ..” I remember saying to her more than once when I was growing up.

I’m not sure what she ever said or expected of me that warranted that response.

But I remember saying it.  And regretting it then and now with everything I have.  How often we say things, especially as children, we wish we could take back.  Thankfully I had the chance to make amends for that and any other trouble I may have caused her in her far too short a life .. over and over again.  I did my best anyway.

And even though my mom isn’t here to walk me through how she might handle some of the parenting issues I am now blessed and challenged with .. I believe I have some wonderful insight, hindsight and foresight .. as my daughter tries to get away with some of the same.

🙂

Back to my mom.

I may be looking at this through rose colored glasses .. but I don’t think so.  And even if I am, I don’t care.

Here’s what I remember of my mother:

She went by A. Eileen because she hated her first name.  And she never wanted anyone to know it was Agnes.  But I kind of like it.  Family name.  She was born in Maryland but raised in Madison.  Her own father, Paul died while she was very young of tuberculosis.  She ended up with TB because of it.  Scarring her lungs as a very young child.  She was lucky to have survived, herself.  But it would eventually make her more vulnerable apparently, to the cancer that took her life.  She grew up in both a single parent home and when my grandmother remarried at one point, from everything I understand, in an abusive environment.  She attended Business College.  Met my father in a soda shop on Madison’s east side.  Married and moved to the small town of Poynette where she .. and they would live and work and raise our family, most of the rest of her life.

Our first home was tiny, but from what little I remember of it, she made it a home.  Totally 70’s decor.  Sweet flower beds around the house.  Lilies of the Valley out the front window I still remember the smell of them as they would bloom each spring.  A play set in the backyard.  She was always very proud of how things looked, including herself.  She wasn’t a workout queen.  But she was slender, always kept.

And despite the fact she wore little other makeup, there was always bright pink or red lipstick that went on.

She was simple.  Didn’t need much.  Her closet was minimal.  I stood looking at mine the other day and even now, mine is half the size it was a couple years ago (in part because I keep most of my work clothes now at work because I have no closet space in my old school apartment) .. thinking about how I would like to get down to a wardrobe the size of the one she had.  Life.  More Simple.  I love the thought.  And I am going through my own things little by little doing what I can right now to minimize.  (How and when did we as a society ever go from something four-feet wide being enough to closets the size of an efficiency apartment being the norm?)

She was a wonderful woman with an infectious smile .. and a laugh that seemed to be heard around every corner.  When she was happy.  When she was stressed.  When she would hear us say things we shouldn’t .. knowing the consequence was coming.

She was stern, yet vulnerable.  Beautiful.  Outspoken yet often quiet, introspective and kept to herself.  She was helpful.  Had great penmanship.  I love how she wrote her name.  Is that silly?  Whatever.  She was hard working.  Always wanting to pitch in to help wherever it was needed but knowing when it was time to rest and ‘just be’, as well.  She was all about family.  And community where she could.  Volunteering.  Getting involved.  But she was equally good at hiding out and tending to her own well being .. and that of our family.

She preferred my dad do the cooking, she’d do the dishes or get us to do them.  She and my dad both worked hard.  And in turn, expectations of what we could do and how we could pitch in as a team were high.

Especially as we got older.  Older .. interestingly enough, meaning probably my dear daughter, about the age you are now.

During the summer and on weekends especially, mom wanted a clean house.  With or without company coming.  We were expected to keep our rooms clean, have the laundry done and folded, vacuuming done, floors scrubbed with a rag – not a mop, have the lawn mowed, weeds pulled, the garage swept out, toys put away and whatever our other jobs were, done.  We were expected (ahem .. encouraged strongly if we ever wanted money of our own, ever) to work on top of any of that.  We mowed neighbors lawns.  Had paper routes.  De-tassled corn.  Babysat.  My first ‘real job’ I’m pretty sure was at the flower shop/convenience store in town, where my mom would go everyday for her Pepsi and Hershey’s candy bar for a break from work.  It was right across the street from her office.

Work.  Then play.

Which we were given a lot of room to do as well.

(I had written a bunch about that, but thinking I’ll save that for a post all its own.  The importance of play.  And another .. about having a job when you’re young.  Both are so important, I believe.)

In having many expectations of us, we were also given a lot of freedom to mess up.  Figure things out on our own.  And reap the rewards of being good and doing well, earning trust.  Or suffering the consequences of not making wise choices.  And grounded.  For like .. most of my high school years.  All were gifts that helped us both grow into the people we’ve become.  Like us or not.

Travel.

Mom loved to travel.  But hated to drive (flying wasn’t an option back then on a budget).  And she was terrible about reading maps.  One of my fondest memories though is of her, wherever we would be, in the passenger seat with the map.

My dad would say to her, ‘Where next?  Where do we turn next?’

“Well, I think .. here,” she would say.  And she would almost instantly start laughing.

“You think there?!” my dad would say getting frustrated.

We ended up in places we should not have been traveling on more than one occasion because she would break down in a fit of laughter and tears and not be able to even read the map.  Ultimately ending up in the drivers seat while our dad tried to navigate us out of a mess.

I hear her laughter everyday ..

.. as I glance at the photo I took of her on one of the last road trips we would ever take together.

We were in Montana.  And while at this particular moment we weren’t lost, we were laughing.

The photo reminds me each day of her simple nature, her appreciation for life and finding beauty in the everyday little things, for exploring .. but also in coming home again.  And in being with family.

Love and miss you.

“Let there be more joy and laughter in your living” – Eileen Caddy

(A quote not my mom, but apparently another wise Eileen.)

The Best Advice You Were (Never) Given?

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

…………….

I have a colleague who’s last day at work was today ..

At least for now.

We will see him again soon, only with one change.  Well maybe more than that.  He could come back with a tattoo somewhere we’ll never see.  Or have suddenly decided to become a vegetarian.  But one change that we’ll at least know for sure.  He will return to work in about a week and a half with a shiny new ring on his left hand.

He’s a great guy and he’s marrying a wonderful young woman this weekend, the two have been together quite some time, they seem like a great couple and they are excited to be getting married.

I of course, truly and sincerely wish them every blessing a lifetime of love can bring and the best in their marriage.  So do many, many other family and friends of theirs .. and of course all of our colleagues ..

Yet I heard someone say to him today, jokingly .. ‘it’s not too late.’

I might have said that as well a year ago.  But I would have meant it.

Quite honestly, I’m not so sure the relative newlywed that did say it today didn’t mean it. Actually, I know she did because she followed it up by saying just above a whisper but I was close enough to hear, “I actually meant it.”  Which makes me sad.  It wasn’t long ago she was that person rushing off, so excited to get married.  The wear and tear I already hear in her voice is heartbreaking.  (Perhaps I should show her yesterday’s blog.)

Anyway, a year ago for me, I was done.  Done dating.  For a very long time anyway.  That was my plan.  I had NO intention of even thinking about trying to connect with another person in regard to dating again .. and marriage?  Marriage was simply never again going to be a discussion.  The destruction I was witnessing in so many directions around me regarding other couples was enough to make me swear any of it off, I was almost certain, forever.

After focusing on my health and fitness, staying close to girlfriends I knew had my back and me theirs, working with a life coach and being faithful to pray and go to church, I put it all in God’s hands.  I told myself a year ago, ‘Focus on your daughter and your career because it is clearly a much better use of time and energy.’

I had had it.

Then along comes this cowboy.

…………..

My faith has honestly and genuinely (I am somewhat sincerely shocked) been restored that good marriages/relationships, heck even incredible ones do still exist.  That it is possible to connect with someone on a level so deep, that it’s okay to trust in it.  That it is safe to again, give another person (besides your child) .. everything you’ve got.

But I also believed that, the first go round.

A dear old friend of mine, one whom I miss terribly and have always looked up to, who I had no idea ever ventured to read any of these posts, left a comment today on yesterday’s post .. and the challenge I had linked to about being conscious to say only uplifting, positive things to your spouse and about your spouse to others, for 30 days.

She wrote:”I believe in love, family, marriage. I believe it. I know so many people of divorce did too at one point. Including my own parents. But if you really were honest….would those people of divorce have noticed flaws early on, red flags, where perhaps they should not have gotten married? My own mother said just that…..she always had a bit of a red flag moment in her, that said perhaps they shouldn’t. But it was the 60s…she was 22…EVERYONE got married.I feel awful hearing of friends’ marriages in trouble. Makes me so sad, yet its inevitable. Statistically, its going to happen. I will work every day to make sure that it is not me.

We don’t always see red flags as red flags.  We see them as challenges perhaps we can work through.  Troubles for one person, not you both as a couple, that might heal/get fixed in time.  Or with counseling.  Or that some red flags are ‘just stress’.  Or what I feel my ex and I believed, which was – that it was so great we were complete opposites – because somehow then we complimented each other.

In hindsight .. my ex says his family told him we would never work.

Maybe they did.  But we thought we knew better.  And, we loved each other so we tried.

But in trying, failing and throughout the years since, I have learned quite a few lessons.  Lessons I hope guide me well (they better or I’m going to be really peeved .. ) into the future.

Back to my colleague.  Knowing he and his beautiful bride were heading off into the great known, or dare I say, the great unknown that is marriage … I was pondering today, what possible advice would or could I ever give a couple just starting out, to help them succeed in love .. and marriage.

Would they care what I have to say anyway.

Probably not.  Most often we learn best by falling and getting back up on our own.

But for my own daughter’s sake…

I wanted to jot down a few thoughts so that she may look at this, someday, when she is contemplating any relationship of her own.

Love each other.  Speak kindly to each other.  More kind than is necessary where you can.  Date.. always.  Establish a good cache of babysitters.  Surround yourself with good friends and lots of family.  Know that sometimes friends are family.  But also know when it’s time for it to be, just the two of you.  Communicate.  And if you don’t do it well, find someone who can help you figure it out because it is perhaps the most important thing you can work on – for each other.  Laugh, a lot.  Listen every now and then to the tone of your voice and make sure it sounds the way you are hoping to be heard.  Hold hands.  Take walks.  Remember, it’s not always 50/50.  Chances are any slacking in one area by your spouse is being more than made up for by your slacking in another area.  Pray, together.  Don’t put a TV in the bedroom.  Ask each other about your day and mean it.  Spend less time worrying who is right and more time worrying about what is right.  Have one standing meeting each week where you can bring your grievances/frustrations to the table, talk about it and work out a solution together when it’s not in the heat of the battle.  (My ex and I learned this through years of counseling and thousands of dollars billing.  Don’t spend the money to hear the same, just do it.  It was one of the best things we did.)  Continue those standing meetings even if everything is going well and use it instead to celebrate all that is right.  (My ex and I failed on this part here.  Which may be among the reasons we are no longer together.)  ‘Let your love be stronger than your hate or your anger.  Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.’  (- Jane Wills)  Remind yourself each morning of why the person next to you is a blessing in your life.  And perhaps do the same again each night, before you go to bed.

I’m sure I’m missing a few big ones here.  But those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  Thoughts that might someday be helpful to you, my beautiful daughter.  Who knows about anyone else.  Anyway, I never had a conversation like this with my own parents, in terms of what strengthens any relationship/marriage.  It’s one, in hindsight, I wish I had been able to have .. and still hope to with my dad, among others I know carry volumes of relationship wisdom from a life well lived.

Given I know a few people at least are reading this .. I am wondering, what advice would you give to newlyweds?  Or, to those even currently in a marriage but struggling.  What does it take to not only make a marriage work anymore, but work well, thrive and last?

You may now kiss the bride.  Or whoever has helped you learn those lessons.  🙂

Cheers.

Watering the lawn …

What are you doing to keep your own grass green?

(Not, lawn mowed.  Which would give this post an entirely different meaning.  Keep your minds above the waistline.)

Ok, so this is a follow up to yesterdays quote/post and initial thoughts on the fact that in the midst of a lovely weekend for the Cowboy and I, and one where it seems all we continue to do is build on what we have, we stopped to look at all of the relationship chaos around us (because it got to the point it was almost humorous if it weren’t so sad).  To ponder what it truly takes anymore to have a good marriage or lasting committed relationship.  And, who did we know we might look to, to serve as good examples or role models …

……………

I have a feeling today’s post won’t be very popular among some of my friends.  I have many, many strong women in my life and I know bazillions more out there who don’t read my blog necessarily but that would cringe at what I’m going to throw out there.

BUT I found it interesting .. and at the very least, food for thought.

One of the other blogs I follow is called Heavenly Ramblings .. and I haven’t checked it out in awhile. But for some reason I clicked on a post called, “Where Was God in That,” the other night.  http://heavenlyramblings.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/where-was-god-in-that/

This isn’t ultimately what I want to point out .. but why the title caught my eye:

I had just visited earlier that day, with a friend who had lost a child.

How many of us have looked at events in our lives .. Christ followers or not, and felt like were were terribly alone.  That God could not be present or this wouldn’t be happening. Or, there would at the very least, be some sort of a sign showing you the way past the pain and on through to better days.

We are so conditioned anymore to think pain doesn’t serve some valuable lessons, that our goal is to always just be happy.  And that if we’re not, to toss aside whatever it is and move onto whatever might be next.  There are actual wall hangings now for your home, magnets and cards everywhere promoting that belief.

We all know, life, death and the challenges we are presented with in-between, which include any and all relationships (spouse, being a parent, being a child of an aging parent, friendships, any of it) aren’t easy.

Where marriage is concerned, many unions are worth holding onto, fighting through the pain and frustration, watering the grass so to speak and bringing it back to life.  Others sometimes, as sad as it may be, we need to let go of, simply tear the whole thing up and try replanting.

I’m pretty sure at the lowest point in my own marriage and divorce, I was doing that.  Praying for signs that I wasn’t alone and on the right path.

Anyway .. I’m finally getting to the point here.  When I clicked on the blog post above, this happened to catch my eye in the margins of her webpage.  Especially because of the challenges many are facing around us .. and because the Cowboy and I and many others we know that have been through heartache or divorce wonder what we might do better in any current or future relationship.  Ring on the finger or not.

30 DAYS TO A BETTER MARRIAGE

http://seekinghiswill.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/30-days-of-encouragement-for-your-spouse/

……………

“Would you like to come to church with us,” we asked one of the couples we know that is struggling, via text Sunday morning.  We had been with this couple and a few other people Saturday night.  The evening ended with the party hosts/a married couple in a fight screaming ‘eff you’ endless to each other and the whole neighborhood to be quite honest, and one of them then kicking the whole group out in frustration we weren’t taking sides.

“We don’t do church.”  The text we received back.

I’m not trying to push religion on anyone here.  And I don’t know, that wherever you are at in a relationship, or life any of this will help.

What I do believe .. is that in an age where women especially are stronger, more outspoken, are told they shouldn’t bend, show weakness in the workplace or at home, are asked to take on more with family, community, at home and certainly not put up with less than 50/50 effort from a spouse or significant other, it can be tough to appreciate another person’s contributions to anything.  Because it may never seem enough.

In turn, how we speak to each other or about each other …. perhaps even we would cringe to hear at times.  (from the post.)  That’s all I’m saying perhaps we can give more thought to.   

All I know is 1.) I am always looking to do better, and this is probably an area where I could have done better in my own previous marriage.  I did the best I knew at the time, but I am always looking to better.

2.) Following the challenge mentioned in the post above – won’t make major marital problems disappear and it certainly won’t change some things.  This is just simply one area where it might be interesting to see if it helps your overall day to day.

3.) We also, all need some boundaries in terms of what is acceptable in terms of how we will be treated and communicate that to our families in an ongoing manner.  But how that is communicated ….

If you take away nothing else .. and I want this for my own daughter to think about years down the road when she may be in her own relationship as well as for myself because this can be applied forever across the board (job, parenting, friends, etc) .. but if anyone else might benefit from the thought here..

The challenge asks:  ”If all my family and friends knew about my husband/wife came from a filter of what I’ve said about him/her, what would they think?”  

Do you need to change the filter?  Do you talk positively about your husband/wife to others…or do you complain and criticize?  

Words should never “rejoice in iniquity.”  

Refrain (try it perhaps, for 30 days?) from listing your husband’s/wife’s faults to others.  Instead, present them before others today in a strong, positive manner.  Slip in a “good word” for your spouse.  Resist the urge to correct or belittle him/her in front of others.  Some of what you say may come back to them – May your speech always seasoned with grace.

A new text just came into my phone as I write this .. from one of the couples we know and hold dear that are struggling right now .. and that would be my wish for them.  That they find a way to better season, always, their words with grace.  In good times as well as when there is trouble.

It is also my wish and challenge for myself as a partner, as a mother, a daughter .. and a friend.

May we always find new and healthy ways to keep the grass green.