24 December 2012

6 Lessons from the first 6 months

June 22 was the beginning of an adventure, and here we are six months into this crazy, hard, wonderful thing called marriage.  There has been yelling and arguments, laughter and hugs...and somehow with God's help, we are learning how to work together and be a family.

I have to admit though, I really thought I was one of those people who didn't have those dreamy expectations of marriage.  You know, thinking that it was all going to be roses and sunshine.  I have had many a conversations with my married friends and many a good talks with my mom on how to make a marriage work.  But once we started the daily routine of just living together as husband and wife, I realized how MUCH of a personal choice it is to make this work.  I can choose to be grumpy/cranky after a long week of work when Jim doesn't get the chores done that I ask him or choosing to let him watch his favorite show instead of complaining when we don't get to watch another episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" for the millionth time.  It's a choice everyday.  A choice to die to myself out of love for another or be the selfish, whiny, sass-pot I more often than not have a tendency to be.
So anyway here's what I'm realizing/learning very early on in the game.

1.  It's not ALL about having a perfectly clean home 24/7
Probably within the first week of getting home from our honeymoon, I said to Jim one night at dinner, "Okay, now we have to get on a daily/weekly cleaning schedule."  Poor guy, he looked at me like I had 5 heads.  Let's just say that I'm the one that's all about having a routine in our home, where as Jim is the more relaxed, laid back, spontaneous one.  But I have noticed and am realizing sometimes I get all worked up about our home not always being "perfectly clean."  And no we are not living in filth, but I am realizing that sometimes I get a little carried away.  It will not kill me if a sink of dishes waits to be cleaned the next day; however, if it sits there for a week, then that's another story.  One way we are working on this together is having something every evening called a "15 minute pick-up."  For 15 minutes before we head to bed, we spend the time doing a general clean-up around the apartment: finishing the dishes, picking up laundry, taking out the trash, etc.  So far it is working good for us, and a little way to help me not be so crazy anal retentive about the up keep of our home.  Go Team Hubbard!

2.  Don't go to bed angry/Leave for work without the "I'm Sorry's"
I do NOT like going to bed mad at each other or leaving for work being mad at each other either; kinda sucks.  Majorly.  Anger left unaddressed, even if over something little, just breeds resentment and cranky feelings.  Which is not a good way to head off to dream land or start a busy day at the office.  We have had a few occasions where we went to bed giving each other the silent treatment or heading off to work with few words to each other.  And we are both learning how that really does suck, and does nothing to solve the disagreement we are having.  That old saying, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger" is very true, and we are learning through trial and error how true it is. :)

3.  I REALLY showed have paid more attention in learning how to cook
Growing up, my Mom tried to teach me basic cooking skills, knowing someday when I was married or out on my own, I would be able to cook.  It is has been an ongoing joke for quite some time in my family, that my cooking ability consists of heating a Lean Cuisine frozen dinner or pouring milk into a bowl of cereal.  And know that I'm married, I'm realizing that I REALLY should have paid more attention when my Mom tried to drum up my interest in cooking skills 101.  When my Mom and I have our bi-weekly lunch dates, one of her first questions is, "What new recipes have you tried making for dinner?"  More often than not, I'm just smiling at her saying something like, "Ohhh Mom." ;-)  Jim is usually preparing main parts for dinner, like cooking the meat...BUT I'm a great salad maker ;-)  And off course if he makes most of dinner, I step up to do the dishes.  BUT with the help of a wonderful online thing called "Pinterest" I'm quickly acquiring an assortment of tasty recipes to try my hands out at.  Most recently I made some appetizers for Thanksgiving and a bunch of fancy holiday treats for a Christmas party I had a few weeks ago.  And for Christmas Eve dinner, I'm making a fancy breakfast buffet of yumminess.  Practice makes perfect, and I'm slowly working on my cooking skills.  But for real.  Mom, you were right...I should have paid better attention all those years you tried helping to teach me things :).

4.  The family that prays together stays together
Neither of us claims to be saints...we are both very much "works in progress."  But there really is something to be said about praying together as a couple.  And no I'm not talking about walking around with your head bowed in deep contemplation 24/7 or acting like you are "holier than thou."  But I'm just talking about bringing God into your marriage and family life...like praying together as a couple in any/all decisions.  We're not great at it (praying together), but we keep pluggin away at it.  Even if its just praying over each other for 5 minutes before we head off to bed, every little bit helps and adds up.  And every time we do pray together, I am reminded how much it is like super glue for our relationship.  Yay prayer.  Yay Jesus :)

5.  We need to make decisions together
Okay, this one may sound quite obvious to some of you.  But for me, I have found myself sometimes slipping into the habit of making decisions for both of us without consulting the hubster; like buying a piece of art to hang up in the apartment or making plans for the weekend without asking Jim for his input or "deciding" where to arrange things in the apartment or picking names for future kidlets.  I think part of this comes from selfish tendencies, and also just being used to for so long being able to do things my own way.  But know we be a family, a team...and there is no 'I' in team.  Jim has pointed this out to me several times, and the weird thing is I didn't even notice I was doing it...but like in all these things, it's a work in progress :)

6.  Still make time to "date each other"
Our lives are both pretty busy between work and graduate school...but it is still important to make time for each other, to still date each other.  It doesn't always have to involve money.  It can be something as little as having a marathon of watching all the Christmas episodes of "The Office" or leaving little love notes around the apartment for each other or sending a text message during the day "just because" or taking a Rosary walk in the woods behind our apartment complex.  It's the little joys that add up to create a happy, healthy marriage.  :)

If this is what the first six months has been like, I cannot imagine and wait to find out what the future holds :)

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."
-Song of Songs 6:3

07 December 2012

Suffering, Hope, and Being a saint

Wednesday night I went to Mass.  I have been trying to do some extra things to help ready and prepare myself for Christmas...so I figured an extra dose of the Eucharist was a pretty good option.  The church I went was of full of little kids from Religious Ed and their parents.  Sometimes there are those homilies that stop you dead in tracks, and make you think, "Wowzers!" So last night was one of them nights for me. Two big things that made me think, read on and you shall see:)

The priest started talking about the first reading from the prophet Isaiah (25:6-10) see HERE for the actual reading.  He started talking about how there is a lot of suffering in the world; far away and right here in our own communities.  Right here in the southeastern part of Michigan, two specific families come to my mind when I think of recent hardship and suffering.

Officer Patrick O'Rourke was a police officer who was shot and killed at the beginning of September.  He left behind a lovely wife and four young kids.  From what I have heard, he was a guy who loved his job, was devoted to wife and kids, and a faithful Catholic.  Now these kids are left without a Daddy; a big hole has been left in their lives.  His wife writes daily at a Facebook page dedicated to the memory of her husband.  Her strong, unwavering faith are an inspiration to me and the 14,000 some people that follow her (if you need some inspiration, seriously give Amy O'Rourke a read here) ... but, WHY?

A 15 year old boy named David died the beginning of this week from a local all boys Catholic school.  He sounded like the go-to guy; great friend, well liked among his peers, and an awesome talent for sports.  The cause of his death is unknown and now his parents are preparing (if they haven't already) to bury their young son.  WHY?

Why does God allow suffering??  Plain and simple, he doesn't want it...but we live in a fallen world and if God gives us the personal freedom to choose to love him, he has to allow people freely choose to not love him (hence all the sin, sadness, suffering, etc.)
amazingly enough our God has made it that he destroyed death, it has no freaking power over us!  Death cannot, does not win!  The Lord will wipe away all the tears of all those who weep and are sorrowful and down cast.  Jesus is SO close to those who suffer and in pain; for he knew truly what it mean to suffer.  His suffering can help us unite our own to his.  I think (just me speaking here) the fact we have a God who truly knows what it means to suffer, helps us along our own trials and pains in life.  No it doesn't completely take it away the pain and frustration and anger, BUT I cannot help but think that going through those valleys with God in some strange, mysterious way has the potential (if we be open to it) to draw us closer to him.

I found it to "interesting" that each week of Advent represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus.  Week 1/candle 1 represents HOPE.  These are just 2 situations I know of where these families/people need some hope.  We all need some hope in life...I mean just watch the local news at night!  One of my most favoritest quotes is from Pope John Paul II, "Do not abandon yourselves to despair.  We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song!" We cannot abandon ourselves to despair!  We must be a people of HOPE.  Just like the candle of this first week of Advent reminds us...

(so all that was the first thing that caught my attention...below is the second thing...)

The priest giving the homily on Wednesday night said something that made me think (here it comes!).  Someone had sent him an e-mail saying that when a priest went to the bedroom of this young man to pray for his soul and with his family, they discovered his bedroom was not like a typical teenagers full of posters of favorite stars or athletes (although those things are not bad either).  They found his Bible and rosary on his bedside table, a crucifix hanging above his bed, and the image of Jesus hugging a baseball player on the wall.  And they the priest said, "you know what's different about David? He didn't wait to become a saint."  Although his life was short, he didn't wait to work on his relationship with God, he took advantage of the one life God gave him to make a difference in this crazy, beautiful world...he took Jesus' call on his life as a disciple seriously.  So then I started thinking about my own life.  First of all, I think sometimes people have this false notion on what it means to be a saint.  Being a saint doesn't mean you are on your knees in prayer for 5 hours a day or walk around with your hands folded and head bowed down....being a saint means recognizing that you quite haven't got your stuff together all on your own, but instead you go to Jesus for more.  One time a friend of mine shared this story from the religious education class she teaches.  In this particular class, they were talking about saints and what it means that each of us is called to be a saint.  So my friend asked her students, "What does it mean to be a saint?"  One little girl raised her hand and said, "I know, I know! I learned from the stained glass windows in church-to be a saint means you let the light shine through." I loved that story and think it sheds light (pun intended ;) on the true meaning of holiness and striving to be a saint.  Striving to be a saint is hard work; it needs to be ongoing through one's entire life....but let THE light (aka Jesus) shine through you...just like how light shines through a stained glass window and illumines the picture and the inside of the church.  And when we strive and keep working in our daily lives to let the light shine through us, that's what being a saint is all about.  Never give up on it...always keep working at it...and don't wait to the end of your life.

So in conclusion?  
1. Pray for those who are suffering (emotionally, physically, or spiritually) that you know of personally and even those you don't know personally this holiday season. 

2. Never lose HOPE!  Cause let's face it, in the end, our guy wins the battle :)

3. Don't wait to be a saint! start today :)

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