Just recently, my husband and I celebrated 15 years of marriage! It really blows my mind! We were high school sweethearts and then broke up during our college years but found our way back to each other. We have friends all around us with struggling marriages and divorces and it has started multiple conversations about how we have made it to 15 years and what our plans are to make it 15 more! Please know that we have had our struggles and every day is not a rosy love story by any stretch! In fact, just last night I tried to push him out of the bed for snoring, this morning we fussed as soon as we woke up about lunches, book bags, and shoes! I promise we are not perfect! I am writing this as a reminder to myself, really! A dear friend of mine, Caroline Auman, and I were texting this past week…..we say that one day we are going to write a book about being foster parents. If we do, watch out because you will laugh so hard you will pee your pants! She is currently fostering 2 children and she has 2 biological children. I would like to quote what she said because it puts my heart into words “Love is work, and love is working”. Isn’t that so true?? Love is work! Marriage is work, Parenting is work, Fostering is work, Friendship is work, Adopting is work! All of those “jobs” are in addition to your “working job”! All of those take lots and lots of love and that is work, but let me tell you something…..love works every time.
I wanted to put out a few blurbs about love in each of the areas of my life, in every area it is work but it is working!
Ladies, I know you are tired. I know you are overwhelmed. I know you have “to-do” list a thousand miles long. Marriage is work. Marriage is intentional. Each day we choose our attitudes, our behaviors, and responses. Honestly, some days I don’t choose wisely! The more you love your way through this the more love will work. Have you ever thought or heard “this is just not working”? Love works. Bad attitudes, constant nagging, slamming stuff around, smart comments, silent treatments, and so on-they don’t really work. (I was only able to list these things easily because I am guilty) Love works. Be intentional. Make time for each other. Even if its 15 minutes at night to talk about your day (and even if you or your husband fall asleep while talking). Send “thinking of you” messages. Say “thank you” for the things your husband does! I know, I know, it isn’t the way you do it or would have done it or maybe you had to wait a week or a year but still say “thank you”. Gratitude changes a hardened heart and will soften the heart of those that receive it. Hold hands. This is one of my favorite things! We are both stomach sleepers (until I push him out or over for snoring) and somehow our hands end up at the top of the bed and we hold hands until we fall asleep. (I know you want to throw up) Pray together! Its really tough to argue with someone or be mad at them if you are praying together! If you don’t know where to start just say “I know this is weird but I want to pray with you” and go from there! Love is work and love is working in our marriage.
Whew, Lord have mercy! Parenting is so exhausting! Yesterday was the last day of spring break for my school kiddos and all 7 of us were at home together. I cooked, cleaned, cooked, cleaned and then cooked and cleaned again before baths and bed! My 5 children are ages 3,5,10,12 & 18. All of them have different personalities, different likes and dislikes, and different mood swings! Sometimes I parent on the basis of “Is this going to scar you for life or not”?! I will tell you though, even with all their differences, they all respond to love. They respond best to patience, kind words, and positive encouragement. One thing that I am constantly working on is individual time with each child. It is so important! I do well with the oldest and youngest but the middles get mingled in so I have to be sure that I take time to spend with them. Pray with your children, eat dinner at the table together, have electronic free nights, go to the park, go outside and play with them (the dishes and the house can wait), read with them. One thing that we do that I love, is my 12 year old son will say “everybody tell the best and worst part of your day” and we go around the dinner table and tell it! I am definitely not a perfect parent but I do try my best to love at all times. I also admit to my children when I mess up and I apologize and ask for forgiveness from them. You have to be real with kids….they only want honesty, humility, and genuine love and caring. Love is work, and love is working.
I have a really difficult time leaving my job mentally when I leave physically. I think about my patients constantly. I replay events in my head and I am always thinking about how to do better. It is important to mentally “take a break” and I do some days, but not everyday. Sometimes as a nurse I am frustrated when things don’t go as planned or I feel like I am jumping through hoops to get what I need. I have to remember, Love is work and love is working. If I care about what I do, then the rest will fall into place. You can’t teach someone to love and care! All of the other stuff can be taught! So if you are nurse, just love. Just love on those patients, love on those families, and love on yourself! Love what you do and you will do it well!
I have a few friends that are currently in the “foster fog” at this moment!! As most of you know we fostered for 4 years and then adopted. It is a wonderful, difficult, happy, sad, painful, overwhelming, fun, funny, and exhausting world! So many people say “I don’t know how you do that, how you can take care of a child that may leave”. The answer is LOVE. Love is work and love is working. Love works in the life of a child that has no where to go, no one to hold them, no one to tell them “everything is going to be ok”, no room to call their own, no house to call a home, no one to identify as Mom or Dad, no one to sign their report card, no one to go on a field trip, no one to come to their school programs, no one to hold their hand, no one to order school pictures, no one to take them on trips, no one to buy them clothes, no one to cook their favorite food, no one to celebrate their birthday….the list goes on forever…but love works and love is working in the lives of these children. To those of you who are going from court date to court date, visit to visit, and child to child, just love. Keep loving them and being there for them. That is all it takes to change the life of a child forever. For those who say “I couldn’t do that” or “I wasn’t called to do that” then find someone who is and be a source of encouragement for them. Babysit, take a meal, send a card, whatever you can do will help! You will be part of something bigger than yourself and you will be blessed! To all the foster families out there: Love is work, and love is working.
The dictionary defines work as “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result”. Love definitely is work!! It does require physical and mental effort to achieve a purpose! Your purpose is worth it though right??? Keep working hard, keep pressing forward, and know that you were made for a purpose greater than yourself by someone who knows that love works.