During a wind storm many years ago, a tall and stately tree fell down. Someone told me the tree was 30 years old. When it was upright it had pretty green leaves on long branches and a big thick trunk. It was not a severe wind storm that knocked the tree down and no other trees nearby were damaged. I walked over to look at the downed tree with its roots ripped out of the earth and noticed something interesting. The roots were eaten away by termites! The thriving tree above ground was quite damaged where the roots could not be seen.
Thinking about the tree with damaged roots made me contemplate marriage and how an outwardly healthy marriage could have hidden rot. Marriage, like a tree, needs to be attended and given care. Looking healthy on the outside is no guarantee that the roots are healthy, too. It only takes a small crisis to take down a marriage that has no solid roots.
What are the termites eating away at the roots of your marriage? Deal with those termites quickly and thoroughly, or the next storm may take your marriage down.
Early in my marriage I had exactly what I prayed for, a loving husband and three beautiful babies and yet I often cried in frustration. I was so fearful of making a mistake with the huge responsibility of raising three helpless children who depended on me for their survival and development. Was I going to damage these precious blessings with my impatience and stupidity? These thoughts really weighed on me and I felt I was not passing the Good Mother test. I prayed constantly and sought wisdom from the Bible and read every parenting book I could get my hands on. And you know what I discovered? Fear is a paralyzer.
Parenting out of fear creates reactions with uncertainty rather than actions with confidence. Whether we have parenting worries or financial problems or any other out-of-control feeling, fear makes us grasp at decisions in desperation rather than in confidence.
Once I let go of my frantic need to do EVERYTHING RIGHT ALL THE TIME, I had many choices for action. Confrontation with a loved one is an opportunity to connect. When I had a tantruming 2 year old, I learned to model patience, teach love, and show grace. Running away, even mentally, doesn’t help anyone. As much as I wanted to shut myself in my room, pull the covers over my head and eat cheese and crackers in bed (who does that?) I learned to face problems with faith and courage and the support of Mr. K. There is a solution to most every challenge though the best answer may not be an easy one.
Fear is a paralyzer, but faith is an energizer. Let go of what cannot be controlled and cast any anxieties on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). I’m still learning how to deal with fear, but when I look back on all that God has taught me and Mr. K by relying on Him through the trials of parenting, I see how I have grown in wisdom and faith. The kids have turned out pretty good, too.
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Broken promises lead to the breakdown of relationships. But what do you do when you chronically break promises to yourself? Over the years, I have learned to not make promises that I cannot or will not keep so that I can trust my own word.
Whether it is an exercise program (I will work out more) or diet (I will eat less), or how you parent your kids (I will be more patient) or how you deal with your spouse (I will be more patient), the things we say to ourselves are important. If we continuously disregard our own promises, we discount our integrity. Conversely, promises made and kept lead to a confidence in ourselves. The important thing is to do what you say, even if it is a sacrifice of comfort or time. If you cannot trust yourself to keep your own word, why should anyone else trust you?
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 (MSG)
When our three kids were much younger, I got through the hard days by asking myself, “In twenty years what will it matter?” Well, Hubby and I have passed that 20-year mark on the life-long journey of parenting. Our two girls are in college and the little baby boy is 16 years old and 12 inches taller than me. We have passed through diapers, tantrums, and spilled milk at the dinner table. We are completely done with the heavy duty parenting of babies, toddlers, tweens… and almost done with teenage years. It is a great spot to look back and see how far we have come.
Obviously, the kids don’t know about the sleepless nights I spent feeding a newborn every 2 hours; the worry over fevers and finances; the loop in my fatigued brain saying, “Am I doing this right?” They remember an inflatable pool on our cement patio; donuts on Saturday mornings and wrestling with daddy before bedtime.
Now we look back at twenty years worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and realize there are no more bath nights and bedtime stories. The training wheels are done, tiny black tap shoes were sold at a garage sale and the tooth fairy will not visit anymore. They are having adventures on their own, but we still have a little more family time to treasure on our journey with our three young adults walking tall beside us.
Hello! My name is Ani Kouyoumdjian. Don’t worry if you can’t say my name. My Armenian name is one that most people do not attempt to pronounce. Over the years of volunteering at my kids’ schools, some teachers and students called me Mrs. K because it was easier to say. I am known as Mrs. K where I currently volunteer as a library aide at a local elementary school.
My favorite time to hear my name called is when I visit a lovely young married friend with five small children. When I go to the door with a plate of PB&J sandwiches and knock, I hear a stampede of little feet and a chorus of “Mrs. K is here! Mrs. K is here!” The door flies opens and I am greeted with a flurry of hugs and smiles. On some visits, my friend and I talk and laugh and fold laundry together. On other visits, the conversation is deeper and we talk about spiritual things and end our time in prayer.
As I start this blog, I imagine myself spending a few minutes visiting with you. Some visits may be helpful and encouraging. Other visits may be cheerful and fun. I hope that every time you visit me, your heart will be glad to say, “Mrs. K is here!” Welcome to my blog!
Love & Blessings,
For the interested:
Ani = “AhNee”
Kouyoumdjian = “Koo-yoom-jun”
Mrs. K is married to the wonderful and supportive Mr. K. They will soon celebrate 28 years of marriage. The K’s are blessed with three beautiful children, The Firstborn 22-year old Daughter, The Middle Child 19-year old Daughter, and The Boy, who will be 17 years old this summer.