Part 1: The Other Side of Happily Ever After and the Proverbs 31 Chick!
Okay. I haven't decided how often I am going to post! I think I can do it as often I as would like (although I am not certain as to how often you are going to read it) so let's not get too serious and make a committment neither one of us is willing to keep. Shall we say "friends with benefits?" Great!
Warning: Now, this post will be longer than the rest because I am establishing a foundation.
So let's start from the "beginning" or that point where movies end and life begins--the other side of "happily ever after." In graduate school, I learned the importance of establishing a foundation, some background, and a certain measure of context to ensure clarity. That being said, I would describe myself as a "conservative modern" woman. I don't know if I like the term "traditional" because I pull my influence from the Bible rather than the "norms" of "moral" people in times past. Simply put, I go with what God's says and leave the "experts" to their "marvelous nonsense." Now, I am not a religious nut. But you need to know what I believe because then you will understand why my approaches are what they are and the nature of my struggles.
Here's what I believe (even if you don't agree, stick around, I promise in the days to come I will keep you laughing and interested):
I believe in God. No. Really. I believe in God. Which is to say I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I believe in Jesus Christ' death, burial and ressurrection. His sacrifice ALONE is the ONLY reason I am saved.
I believe in the Bible. EVERY SINGLE LETTER OF IT. At times, this is hard (you will understand why later) but I believe God is ALWAYS right and God is far smarter than I could ever be or imagine.
I believe in marriage between a man and a woman. YES, I said it! I love gay people and I don't bash because I wouldn't want anyone to bash me because of my sin. YES, I said "sin!" [Go back to the "I believe God, Jesus, Bible" piece to refresh on my beliefs which develop my perspectives.]
I believe marriage is a "ride or die," "in it to win it," "even when it gets hard, I am sticking with you" sanctified union.
I believe women have a wonderful assignment from God to care for our families, especially for our husbands (should you have one) and to raise our children to love and choose Christ for themselves. I believe our careers and ambitions are great as long as they do not take us outside of our primary responsibility to honor God's charge to keep our homes. I know for many "submission" is a dirty word, but I understand how God empowers women so, even through our submission, we are a mighty force to be reckoned with should you come up against us.
I also believe in being FABULOUS! In everything, you should always have your own mark of personal style. It aint worth it if you haven't stamped it, honey! Always leave a " (fill in your name) was here" note on everything you do. Only YOU can do YOU!
Soooooo, recap: I believe in God, what He says, in marriage, sticking it out, and being in submission to my husband as I care for my family while pursuing my own, conflict free interests and being fabulous at it!
Ok...now that that's done, back to our regularly scheduled program...
Here is my BEFORE husband, kids, work, ministry and more...enjoying single life and entertaining all kinds of what "happily ever after" was going to look like.
Ahhhh, my wedding day. I entered into and instantly took on a family! My wedding day (and the entire wedding weekend and honeymoon) was right out of a storybook! It was beautiful, more than I could have imagined and a wonderful start to my new life...
Now...this is a snapshot of where I am now.
OK! Sooooo, my life looks great, right? Well, let me tell you. "Happily ever after" is NOT easy! So in my version, I met the guy, fell in love, met the kids, and fell in love again, got married, adopted extended church family, had a baby, add a dog aaannnndddd, yeah...it got interesting! Nothing prepares you for life after "happily ever after." NOTHING. Not pre-martial counseling, buckets of advice from family and friends, the entire self help section of Barnes and Nobles...NOTHING! Once you cross the threshhold, you are in it and you learn as you go and master as you grow. There are times when you get lost in it all.
This got me to thinking. Seeing as how I believe in the Bible and all; I decided to read Proverbs 31 (the Biblical outline of a virtuous woman) as it is a key passage most woman study (even though it was written for men so they would know how to choose a woman to be a wife) when we decide to FINALLY consult God to figure out what we are supposed to do in this whole marriage, mom, and ministry thing!
What I want to know is...WHO IS THIS CHICK?!
There are times I feel as though there isn't enough time in the day to do everything I need to do. When I go to read about this woman, I don't feel too encouraged! Now, the Proverbs 31 woman is great. I always strive to be her. Somedays, I feel like I nailed it (others...not so much.) I mean she handles the home, her kids, her maids, her husband, her business, her own fashion, her devotional life...all of that. I wonder if this was a "day in the life" glimpse or a combination of days? I would prefer the latter! She has covered all of the bases. Some days, I haven't even gotten off of home plate.
I used to judge the woman who came to the supermarket looking like she beat herself up and then blamed someone else for it. However, I soon learned about the demands of being the backbone of the family. What I learned is that this woman, just like me, quickly became the person responsible for ensuring everyone else was happy even if that meant making some adjustments.
I discovered you can't be a wife and mom and not be happy to serve because that is EXACTLY what you will do each and every day for as long as God grants you the opportunity. So, you skip hair appointments, throw on flats (because heels and carrying a babyseat is NOT practical or safe), and wear the same outfits because they don't require ironing! You get up early, stay up late, share your last bite of your FAVORITE food with your kids, pay attention to your husband even though you are dog tired all while carrying a smile because no one in the house can handle the "mommy attitude." Everyone else gets to be mad or tired but not you. No. YOU matter. You have magic in your hugs, healing in your kisses, and life in your words! So, you don't get to be mean, grouchy, or "out of it!"
You realize in "happily ever after," you take the white horse away from Prince Charming after you tie the knot and become the hero.
Sometimes I struggle with where I fit in. I mean I can find several scriptures on how I should serve but struggle to find the ones which address much needed spa days or a customized car just as a "thank you, baby, for everything" gift (I'm joking...well, only if the last part was offensive). But then God shows me He cares about me, is here to help me navigate, and having some time to pour into myself isn't a crime.
She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
This woman wasn't a mess. Let's face it. Doing anything with God means you should be the most graceful to ever to do it. Regardless of how much of a stretch this "prototype"of a woman can be, she helps me to set my priorities. This is how I know I am on the right track.
So, although "happily ever after" has taken me on some interesting twists and turns (which I will share with you along the way), it's good to know God is in total support of me not losing me because I am needed and so are my eyebrows...