A Wife Loved Like The Church

Jonathan and I both love to travel. We have been everywhere from San Francisco to Prague. We have slept in classy 4 star hotels and dirty hostels. Over the past 10 years, we’ve shared some amazing memories through our travels.

And then we had kids.

Let me just get this out there :: Traveling with little kids can suck, but you gotta do it anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. They’re fun and I genuinely enjoy being with them. But, if you want a “just like old times” trip, your kids are going to make you want to gouge your eyes out. With a plastic fork. From an Indian food restaurant in Oklahoma City you never {and I mean never} should have tried. Not that I’m speaking from experience.

1,100 mile road trip to Iowa

1,100 mile road trip to Iowa

Yet, even with the eye gouging moments, we make it a point to take our kids to as many places as we can because we want them to grow up loving to travel. They’ve been every where from San Diego to Washington D.C. with several areas in between.

Why travel with little kids? They won’t even remember.

True. I highly doubt Joseph will ever remember that time he saw the White House {in fact, he could care less about the White House, but he was pretty fascinated by the fountain on the North Lawn}. But, our girls {who are now 4 and 5} still talk about visiting LegoLand last August. So clearly, they remember something. Yet, our travels aren’t just for them to remember-that-one-time, but to prepare them for when they are older. Traveling while they are young is an investment for their future. Teaching them to have manners in new places, make insta-friends at new parks, enjoy seeing the culture of new places. None of this can they fully do now, but one day they will.

The fountain that was far more entertaining than the White House

The fountain that was far more entertaining than the White House

Traveling with kids is so expensive. I could never afford it.

You are telling me. Come November, we have to buy 5 plane tickets when we fly. That is easily $1500. Did you read that right? $1500. Oy. I need a drink. So, what do you do if you can never, ever, afford to fly somewhere? Drive. It takes longer, but we’ve done many 1000+ mile road trips. With three kids. Under the age of 5. {See above paragraph about Indian food in OKC.} If you can’t bear the thought of driving that far with your kids {or husband, ha!}, find a closer place. We live in Austin and have made many a vacation trips out of the surrounding cities. Even a day trip can be an eye opening experience for your children. Once at your destination, you can either stay with family/friends, or find deals on a hotel. We’ve had major luck with the “big name” travel sites on finding great hotel deals.

With the right planning, you can make your trip fairly inexpensive. Make your own meals. Stay at a campsite. Find family discounts at area events. Make a budget, make a plan and stick to it.

Joseph tagged along with me to NYC last fall for a wedding. He loved it.

Joseph tagged along with me to NYC last fall for a wedding. He loved it.

I realize not every family can travel. The expense and time off work just aren’t permissible. And frankly, not every family wants to travel. It can be overwhelming and chaotic. But, it can be amazing and incredibly rewarding. If you set the right expectations.

How to have good expectations when traveling with kids.

I’ve learned the best thing for our family is to have a well laid out plan. If we are visiting a new city, map out the top things we really want to do, followed by the things we would like to do. On a recent trip to D.C. our list included the White House and The Museum of Natural History. Everything we did or saw after that was mere bonus. Having a plan in place, will help you prioritize and stay focused.

Realize that when traveling with little kids, they will be more of everything. More tired. More hyper. More cranky. More chill. More nervous. More excited. And it can vary by day {heck, with my kids it can vary by hour}. Be prepared with extra of everything. Extra water. Extra snacks. Extra time. Extra lovies. Extra {extra} patience. You’re asking a lot from these little people, so set your expectation accordingly. And give them lots of praise.

Julia can become very shy when she’s in a new setting. The problem is, we Windhams don’t do shy. Jonathan and I are both quite outspoken and encourage our children to be the same. We spend a ton of time coaching Julia on how to use her voice and speak up to other adults {or other children she wants to meet}. It’s taken countless failures, but our last trip to the East Coast showed me just how far she had come. On our flights she was talking to the attendants, while out and about she was making friends with other littles, and when visiting museums she was asking the curators for more information. Every time she stepped out of her shell, we were quick to praise her efforts. In her world, this is a huge step and I want her to see how well she has done.

Day trip to Sea World - San Antonio, just me and the littles

Day trip to Sea World – San Antonio, just me and the littles

Traveling with little kids can suck, but you gotta do it anyway. 

Our travels as a family aren’t always rosy. When we were in D.C., Jonathan and I spent a good 30 minutes arguing because we were under prepared for the day {think rain but no umbrella, lots of walking but no stroller}. Our kids were grumpy, tired and generally off balance. But, as Jonathan and I changed our attitudes and reset our expectations, the day ended up being really fun. So while traveling with little kids can suck at times, you gotta push through and keep doing it anyway. The long term reward is worth the momentary road bumps.

Now take a deep breathe, make a plan, and start your travels!

Hannah turns four today. F-O-U-R. How did that even happen? She’s so pint sized that I’ve had my fingers crossed that she’ll be little forever, but she keeps proving otherwise. But don’t ever misjudge her by her size, she is a force to be reckoned with.

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Hannah (Sissy, Michelle, Hannah Banana),

My sweet, hilarious little girl. You make my heart happy. You dance to the beat of your own drum, and for that I am forever grateful. You know what you like whether it puts you on the fringe or not. You aren’t afraid of who you are, and I pray you always keep that confidence. Your a handful, little girl. I can’t say that it’s always been easy being your mama. You’re stubborn and sneaky. But man, even when it’s hard to parent you, it’s an amazing gift and privilege to do so. You have a heart that wants to soar, but wants to never stray too far from home. Know that no matter how far you fly, you will always be able to come back.

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As you get older, I pray that you use your stubbornness, your boldness and your creativity for God’s glory and kingdom. It’s my greatest desire for you to have a personal  relationship with our Lord, one that isn’t based on your family, but one that’s between you and God.

Sweet girl, you are loved, beyond words. You may fight like cats and dogs with Julia and Joseph, but I know they will be by your side cheering you on for life. As for your daddy and me? We think you hung the moon. Keep dancing to your own beat, Hannah Michelle. We love you exactly as you are.

Love you to pieces,
Mama

Our first week of summer has seen daily trips to the pool that leave the smell of sunscreen and chlorine lingering in the air.

I love summer.

But, I haven’t always. Texas summers are hot, leaving you sticky and oppressed by the heat. Yet, lately I’ve grown to love it. This aroma that is summer.

The aroma of days filled with sunshine long after kids are in bed, giving you time to enjoy good company and a drink.

FletcherSummerPatioThe aroma of relaxed Friday nights at the park.

MamaJuliaCowboyHatThe aroma of cool-air libraries offering reprieve from the heat and enticing you with long-waited-for reads.

LarssonBookThe aroma of summer to me is undeniable. It smells of pool water, frozen treats, laughter among friends and late nights that lead to lazy mornings. The aroma is intoxicating and fills you with a happiness that lasts as long after the sun sets.

Coffee Before Talkie

 

Can I get an AMEN?

I’ve joked that Oklahoma is no man’s land. I’ve even said that I’d disown my children if they decided to go to OU {I’m joking…}. But, honestly, I know a lot of amazing people from Oklahoma. And when I tease them about their home state, it is just that, teasing. Because, even if I can never cheer for the Sooners, I can still love the Sooners.

Today {as well as this past weekend} Oklahoma was hit by devastating tornados. The news is heart breaking. Elementary schools leveled. People without homes. People who’ve lost family members.

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 8.07.38 PM(photo credit)

Please join me in praying for Oklahomans. They have a hard road ahead, and we need to keep them in our thoughts and prayers. 

Two ways you can practically help ::

1. Connect with your local church to find ways to join alongside them with outreach.

2. Financial donations {Check out the following sites – Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, Take Part}

Oklahoma won’t be repaired by tomorrow. Or next month. Or even next year. Devastation like this will be felt for years. Do what you can now, but don’t stop with today. Continue to remember the people of Oklahoma for time to come.

I’m pretty awesome for how often I don’t blog (what I really wanted to title this post). Can I even say I’m a blogger? Not sure what qualifies a person as a true blogger. And if I’ve dropped off that list all together. Whatevs.

Julia’s graduating from preschool on Wednesday.  I don’t even want to talk about it. (*silent sobs*)

JuliaGraduationJack really is a horse dog.

HannahAndJackThis kid cracks me up.

JoeJoePark

Jonathan, Fletcher, John and I went to see The Lumineers at the end of April. It was awesome. But not nearly as awesome as us.

TheLumineers

This guy. Love him.

JonathanSummer starts in 6 days. Crazy.

The kids and I have already started working on our tans. Hannah has us all beat.

The guys and I have two more kick butt concerts planned (Of Monsters and MenMumford and Sons. Don’t worry, you can be jealous.)

Then heading to Annapolis to visit Jesse and Shelly (and their not-so-little-bambinas!).

Jonathan and I will celebrate 8 crazy, beautiful years of marriage July 30th.

I leave for a 8-day mission trip to London August 2nd.

And finally, Julia starts kindergarten in late August. (*loud sobs*)

 

What are your summer plans? Traveling anywhere fun?

As reports of the Boston Marathon bombing keep pouring in, my heart is heavy. My family has stood at numerous finish lines waiting for me to cross and I can’t help but wonder, what if this happened to us?

Running is my release, my happy place, my passion. And today that was torn away. A senseless act has put fear in my heart. Fear of the finish line, fear of running. While watching about Boston, my mind wondered to the tragedy of Newtown just four month ago. Another senseless act that put fear in my heart.

My children aren’t safe in their schools.

I’m not safe while running.

Fear. Overwhelming fear.

That’s the tragic part of tragedy. It puts fear in us. Fear that was never there before. It makes us suspicious and doubtful. It makes us grow weary. Quietly, this verse came to mind.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I can’t say that I won’t be fearful when I cross my next finish line. I can’t say that there won’t be suspicious and doubt lingering in my heart when I run. But of this I am certain – Fear will not reign over me, because God reigns over me. He has strengthened me. He has helped me. He is upholding me. No shooter, no bomber, no tragedy can ever change that.

Fear will not reign over me, because God reigns over me. 

My thoughts and prayers go out to Boston and the runners. You’re in my heart sweet folks, stay strong.

If you live in the Boston area, here are places you can donate blood.

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting anxiously to hear about our weekend in New York. I will write a post soon. For now, I’m still in recovery mode – which should tell you just how awesome the trip was.

I’ve always wanted to read The Great Gatsby, it’s even on my 30 before 30 list. But for one reason or another, it never made it to my “reading now” list. Until about two weeks ago. I was at the library and noted that had a copy on their “for sale” rack, so I bought it {side note – library “sales” are awesome and cheap}. I set it aside with the hopes of reading it in New York.

400px-Gatsby_1925_jacket

{photo credit}

Fast forward to the morning we fly to New York. I opened the Great Gatsby, read about 8 pages, and stop.

Clearly, not a stellar beginning.

On the flight home, we had time to pass at the airport, so while Jonathan finished up some work, I started reading. And reading. And reading. I read 100 pages in one sitting. I finished the book after two more sittings.

For those of you who have never read the book {or are hoping to see the movie this summer}, I won’t ruin anything. Promise. But, I was struck with this thought –

I didn’t like The Great Gatsby.

The story seemed like a dream that weaved in and out of consciousness, making it hard for me to separate reality from fiction. Based on the plot, I suppose that is exactly what Fitzgerald was going for. A surreal feeling stood with me from start to finish.

I had to mull over in my head if I was actually disappointed by The Great Gatsby. I had expectations of a great book, one that would become part of my annual reads. Instead, it will become a book “I read that one time”. But, the beauty of it is this – Even though I didn’t think The Great Gatsby was all that great, it’s still a wonderful read.

When an author can make you feel exactly how he is writing, that is something amazing. When you read a daydreamy, fuzzy-around-the-edges book and you feel grounded the whole time, the author has missed his mark. But, even 70 years after his death, Fitzgerald has my head twirling around, slightly dazed and confused. Just like his characters.

Fitzgerald taught me something, something beyond his written word. He taught me that whether someone likes your story or not, you need to make them feel your writing. Make them hate you or love you, so long as they feel you.

The life of a grad student is challenging. Especially if they have full time jobs and family. They literally work non-stop 6 or 7 days a week. There are early mornings and late nights. Breaks are far and few in between.

The life of a wife married to a grad student is challenging. It’s single parenting 6 or 7 days a week. There are early mornings and late nights. Breaks are far and few in between.

Tack on life commitments, theology studies, marathon training, new jobs, little sleep, and even fewer dates, and you find yourself in a revolving door that never slows down.

This is where Jonathan and I have been for nearly a year. Constant go-go. Never stopping, just pushing through. Holding everything together, tediously keeping it all from collapsing, all from breaking.

Until it breaks.

About three weeks ago, after another long week, Jonathan called to say he’d be home late. Again. During the conversation he said “Babe, you need to let me know when enough is enough. We are in this together. I need to know how you’re doing.” Enough was last June. Enough was last December. Enough was yesterday. We are past enough. Immediately, pride crept into my heart. I thought “If you can’t see that I’ve had enough, I’m not going to tell you.” I went silent on him and our conversation ended quickly after. I found myself left standing in my house clinging to my pride.

My evil, lying pride.

In that moment along side my pride, like a flood washing over me, the Holy Spirit prompted this thought ::

This is how divorces start. 

Divorces don’t just happen. You don’t go from honeymoon happy to bitterly divorced. Divorces start off like a disease; small and unseen. And when left untreated, they grow until what once lived dies.

So in that moment, that moment of realizing that this life I had built, this love I had cultivated, this relationship I cherished could be killed, I hit my knees. I cried out to my Heavenly Father because, I knew that in my own power, in my own selfish desire, I would divorce Jonathan. This life can get too hard, and I don’t like hard. But… {oh what a wonderful word} with Christ’s power my marriage will continue to stay strong, even when it’s hard.

So I prayed. Prayed for my heart, prayed for my attitude, prayed for my marriage. And then I told Jonathan how I felt, what I was struggling with, my loneliness and frustration. I talked, he listened. He talked, I listened.

That weekend, Jonathan and I talked to our closest couple friends. They already knew what was going on, but we still needed them to help us in the thick of it. Help point us to truth. Help us remember our desperate need for Christ. {Where would we be without good friends?}

Then we booked tickets to New York. Just Jonathan and I. No kids, no obligations. Just the two of us.

We leave this Friday. {And a chorus from heaven sang “hallelujah!”}

Things are still hard. Life is still busy. But this truth has sunk down deeper in me than ever before :: Divorce is not an option for our marriage.

For that moment, standing in my bedroom after that phone conversation, I saw the path my life could go down. And I don’t want that. The heartache, the tears, the pain. It’s not worth it. So instead, we are fighting for our marriage. We are not letting this ship sink, we are not backing down, we are not giving up. Together we are clinging to our sure foundation.

Confession :: I didn’t do one single Easter/Resurrection craft with my kids. 

Late Saturday night, I was perusing Facebook seeing pictures of all these clever crafts that other people had done and I thought “Oh crap. I should have done that with the girls! I totally missed the chance to share the Gospel.” Immediately I felt guilty. And even as we were going to church on Sunday, I was struggling with the guilt of not doing enough, not talking about Christ enough.

Then when Hannah announced that she was so excited it was Easter because then she could wear her pretty dress {the same she wore for Halloween and Christmas} I knew, just knew, I had failed to make them understand the deep meaning of Easter.

And it’s true, I did fail. If it were my job to save my children, to “talk them into the Gospel” then I am a failure. I will never succeed at that. There are no words within me that are powerful enough to lead my children to salvation.

Thank God for that.

Thank God that my children’s salvation is not in my hands. Thank God that my own salvation is not in my hands. Because if it were, I’d fail. We all would fall short of God’s glory. We would be condemned.

But, Easter is proof that God is in charge of my salvation. That I am not capable of saving myself, saving my children, and therefore Christ did it for me.

Thank God for that.

So I missed a Gospel centered craft. So Hannah liked Easter because of her dress. So I failed to make my children understand the overwhelming power of Christ’s resurrection. Thank God for that. Because it shows me all the more how dependent I am for Him to move in my children’s lives, in my life, in order to move us closer to Him.

And while I know, and treasure, that it is my job as their mom to share the Gospel with them, to speak of God and His amazing works, I rejoice that it is not in my ability or words or power to save them, but in Christ only.

Thank God for that.

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