Compatibility Isn’t What Makes Marriage Work

Hello, sweet people!

I originally wrote this post in 2016 — it’s crazy how drastically life has changed since then! But I’m more convinced than ever that compatibility isn’t what keeps a marriage together through the long haul. I’m also convinced this is a lesson we need to learn every year. 

I’m learning what real love is … and it’s beautiful.

There are many misconceptions about love and how best to make relationships work. One of the most deceiving and killing is the lie that compatibility is necessary for a thriving, successful love. Sadly, many friends, lovers and even church family separate when they feel a drift in their compatibility from one another.

Friends, this is wrong.

What Makes Marriage Work

When we base our vows on the typical definition of compatibility  we head down a road of disappointment. Marriages are not meant to be built on how well you compliment your spouse and how well your personalities work together.

Nothing in life is meant to be built on this.

Spouses can be annoying. You can be annoying. The traits and personality quirks you initially found cute can turn into irritants. We’re meant to rub each other raw … that’s one way God works our character.

Instead of basing a relationships value on how well you work together examine your ability to suffer together.

The original, Latin root for compatibility is compati which means to suffer with

Suddenly, being compatible isn’t as fun as before.

Sweet friend, how well do you suffer with your friends, spouse and church family? How well do you show them genuine, authentic love?

Young lovers, please don’t base your relationships on how well you compliment your significant other without asking yourself the simple question: am I willing to suffer with them? Will you suffer with them when finances get tight? Will you suffer with them when they lose all respect, when your child is dying, or when they lose a job?

Make Marriage Work

Honestly, this has been an interesting and new concept for me. I knew that Dalton and I’s relationship needed to be built on an enduring, committed love … but the idea of suffering with? Well, #tbh, that threw me off.

To avoid being overwhelmed, I took this new challenge one practical step at a time. In the past, suffering with Dalton meant being able to give a good back massage when his body ached and cheerfully keep to our budget. I knew that if you aren’t willing to suffer through the small, inconvenient moments then you’ll crumble when the hard stuff hits.

And how true that was! For us, suffering changed from minor irritants to gigantic hurdles! We endured living apart for 7 months while our son had surgery after surgery. For Dalton, suffering meant sleeping on the hospital couch for 9 weeks while I was on bed rest, not turning up the heat in the winter to save money, and driving back and forth each week so I could stay with Uriah while he was in the NICU.

Had we based our marriage on the easy moments we couldn’t have made it through the last few years. How thankful I am God carried us through that traumatic season of  life!

And it’s true for all of us — you may hit iceberg sized difficulties in the future but for now you’ve been given small opportunities to grow deeper in love.

What do you think? How have you grown in your ability to suffer with your friends, spouse or church family? Or is this an area needing strengthening? Share your heart … and let’s grow in grace together!

With love, blessings and coffee,

Frannie

Encouragement for the Woman who Feels Forgotten

I see you, sweet woman. 

Whether you’re single and lonely or a busy, married mother covered in grimy children (and wishing for some alone time), I see you. And while I can’t reach through this screen and squeeze your hand I want you to know that you are not forgotten. 

No matter what stage we find ourselves in, it’s a common theme to feel forgotten and surpassed. In my own life, I can look around and see the ordinary, fun things we’re not quite able to do just yet for fear of germs and sickness and, in all honesty, sometimes I feel forgotten. 

Do you ever feel that way? Like you just don’t fit in? Or worse, that you could fit in but no one seems to even notice you’re missing? Maybe you have so much to offer but this season of life keeps you too busy to volunteer (I’m looking at all my working moms and caregivers out there). 

Friend, I’m here to tell you that you will never be forgotten or passed over.

Christ paid too much to forget you.

I’m very emotion-based so whenever I feel that my husband and I are not as harmonious as I’d like (aka, we bickered over diapers or late dinners again) 😉 I begin to feel like I’m unraveling. 

And when my inner being is filled with this unraveling feeling I tend to not think clearly — I go into panic mode, looking for any way to calm the inner chaos a minor conflict created. 

I’ve recently learned something so precious, so timeless, that has changed my chaos to calm and it’s this simple:  

Simple, isn’t it? If nothing can separate us from the love of God doesn’t that include the emotional mess I created when I melted down from a tiny, minor argument between myself and the man who loves me? 

And if I can relax and trust that I am not forgotten, that God the Father loves me entirely, then I can rest, relax and not become emotional goo. 

And if God the Father cares that much about me and the ridiculous mess I can be, then, can’t you trust that He sees you in your season of life? He sees you hiding from your kids in the bathroom. He sees you longing for a hidden dream long put off. He knows your tired and wishing to be a stay at home mom. He hasn’t forgotten you even when the rest of your community has. 

Sweet friend, God sees you, He loves you, and He will never forget you. 

If you are feeling forgotten and longing for a friend, leave me a comment. I would love to get to know you. We’re all walking together in this journey! 

With love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

Breaking Up with Self Pity

It’s taken me ten months to admit the truth to myself — I am drowning in self pity. I haven’t been dipping my toes or gingerly wading in the pools of self pity. No, I have been diving in deep, pouring buckets over my head, in self pity.

I did not mean to end up here; it just sort of happened. Somewhere around month 5 of our NICU stay I began to shower my hurts and shattered dreams and fears with heavy doses of self pity. I would nurse my angry, irrational feelings. After all, I have had a difficult pregnancy. Who wouldn’t feel a little sorry for themselves in this situation? These tiny, seemingly harmless excuses would flutter through my raging brain and heart and without knowing it I was soon bathing in a sea of self pity.

Now, almost three months post- NICU life, I’m still wallowing in it. Why do we have to be the ones to work so hard? Why us? Why me? Why Uriah? The whys and the whines and the wishes eat up hours of time, energy, and emotions. I didn’t really know the extent of my wallowing until this week when Uriah got his (awesome, amazing, incredible) stander and specialized chair.

In one sense I was thrilled to receive equipment that would help his posture and muscle tone but, in a far more honest sense, I looked at my son strapped in the contraption and wanted to cry. Cry in rage because it feels so unfair that we have to go through this. Cry at the injustice of my baby boy not being able to do what others are doing at his age. Cry in frustration over (get this) having another (awesome, amazing, incredible) piece of equipment fill my house and take up precious space. Cry in, I admit, exhaustion because what if I’m not doing enough therapy to help him catch up?

I know my feelings are to be expected; after all, I am only human. But being human isn’t an excuse for living in self pity.

I want to share 5 ways I plan to overcome my habit of wallowing in self pity. This will not be an overnight experience; choosing thanksgiving over pity and joy over grief takes time and practice.

  1. Admit and repent of choosing self pity instead of rejoicing in the Lord always

Humbling myself and agreeing that I have been focusing more on myself and what makes me feel good (pity partying) is the first step to breaking the habit of self pity. Plus, my LORD promises to help those who humble themselves and give grace when in need.

2. Stop repeating the same story over and over and over and over again

It’s so basic. To stop wallowing in self pity I need to stop talking bout what makes me want pity. Instead of focusing on my woes it would be healing to focus on what’s current in my life. Like, instead of telling a friend my horrific birth story, I should spend the time talking about the great milestones Uriah is accomplishing or the hilarious joke Dalton told me or a  yummy recipe I just found.

3. Serve others by becoming interested in their needs and stories

I have become so self-absorbed. Self pity does that. To break my habit I will become more involved in others than in myself. I will ask about their stories. I will take time to pray for their hurts and grievances. I will be active in meeting needs when I am able.

4.  Get a fresh perspective of my situation and find the blessings in every storm

Instead of focusing on how far behind Uriah is I will start focusing on the amazing gains and milestones he has accomplished, the incredible joy he brings us, and the awesome blessings our situation surprises us with every day. Sometimes to break the habit of self pity we have to take a step back, get fresh perspective, and enjoy the blessings that every storm brings.

5. Start over every day

To really conquer the habit of self pity I have to start new every day. I will feel down, I will fall back into self pity, and it’s very possible that I will grouch and grump and whine and complain. But I will start over every day. I will rely on my Lord’s present grace to overcome my habit of focusing on myself.

And I’ll print this powerful (adorable freebie) and place it where I can read its truth every day.

Have you ever experienced a time of self pity? How did you overcome it? And if you are currently in a wallowing season of life would you like some prayer? Leave us a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond and bring it to the Lord in prayer!

Also, follow this Dropbox link to get your own 8.5×11 copy of the cutie above. 🙂

With lots of love, blessing, and coffee,

Frannie

This Time Last Year: Learning About Hydrocephalus

September 8th, 2016 I drove to our high-risk specialist for a twenty-two week check up on Uriah. I remember feeling pretty good about our appointment; it had been at least four weeks since my last emergency room visit where I lost blood and thought, for the third or fourth time, I was miscarrying. Although, to be honest, we had had so many difficult issues in my pregnancy that getting an ultrasound always made me feel slightly uneasy — like, today might be the day I again learn something is wrong.

But we were doing okay; my subchorionic hematomas were disappearing, my misdiagnosed miscarriage was beginning to be a past memory, and we had a closet full of little girl dresses for our daughter. (Since we had been told it was a girl a few weeks prior).

I settled onto the little recliner and let the technician wave her ultrasound wand over my growing belly; we chatted but I could tell something was wrong. Small tears trickled down her face as she tried to remain professional. A sinking feeling settled in but we pushed through the exam. When I told her we we’re expecting a girl and asked for a confirmation I got to experience one of those funny moments when I’m told, “No, it’s a boy; see here?” I laughed to myself because, why shouldn’t the gender be wrong; it had already been a chaotic first pregnancy why not add a little comedy to it? I imagined naming him Isaac for laughter since it was too silly not to laugh.

She left and it took an abnormally long time for our doctor to appear. Again, the sinking feeling filled me. I had seen tears, hadn’t I? Eventually, the specialist arrived and, by the look of his face, I knew I could ask confidently, “Something’s wrong, isn’t it?” He asked me how knew and I commented on his very sweet but teary-eyed tech. He nodded, I asked to get off the recliner and sit in a real chair. Bad news shouldn’t be received while reclining.

Your little boy has a condition called Hydrocephalus. His brain is being compressed. His femurs and thigh bones are measuring short. This often goes hand-in-hand with trisomies. Like Down Syndrome? Yes, or Trisomy 13 or 18; both are incompatible with life. You’re son will need to be born in a specialized NICU by c-section; I recommended delivering early in a hospital in St. Louis. 

What do we do now?

There a number of tests we could take to rule out the possibilities of trisomies but I’ll be honest, they run a risk to the baby and premature labor. I won’t even offer a termination because I think you won’t accept one. You mean an abortion? No, we wouldn’t considerate that. We’ll need to do weekly ultrasounds to keep track of the baby’s head circumference and growth.

I’m not really sure what happened after that; I know I thanked him for his kindness and confidence in our God Who believed all life deserved to be born. I also told him to thank the teary-eyed tech for being so kind.

I scheduled the next appointment, walked to the car, unpeeled a banana and began to cry over that messy breakfast. I cried and I cried. I wanted to call Dalton but he was working and I hate giving him bad news over the phone. I wanted to call Mom but knew I wanted to talk to Dalton before anyone else. So, I called my wonderful friend and husband. The good news is that you’re having a son. The bad news is that there are some problems with his brain and bones. Maybe a Trisomy like Down Syndrome. Can you come home?

The day proceeded slowly; I cried while I drove home. Cried over how unfair it was to receive more bad news. Tears over the thought that my precious baby could be suffering that moment. Fear of the c-section and grief of losing the home birth we wanted. Tears because what did this mean for our little boy? What did a compressed brain mean for his future? What did a Trisomy mean? Could we really be one of those families who experience a child born incompatible with life?

The rest of the afternoon was spent at home with Dalton, who is an amazing comforter. I remember our land-lord showing up to do some painting in the house and Dalton asking him to come back later, we just got some bad news, he said. We chuckled over the gender mix up and ate ice cream, exhaustion filling our hearts.

I talked with our parents; telling them about the dubious medical diagnosis. Mom and Dad worked with some wonderful friends who had a precious daughter with the same diagnosis. They quickly called them and received the amazing love and understanding and practical advice you get from someone who has been in your shoes. Mom and Dad called back and told me about the connection and repeated the hope our friends had given.

And then I went to bed. The day had ended and we had survived. This precious baby boy with difficulties was still growing, still miraculous, and still ours. I’d spend the next few weeks re-writing my new birth plan to include a c-section and NICU two hours away; I’d google Hydrocephalus and then wish I hadn’t. I’d feel moments of pity and grief. I would write this blog post and we would begin to receive countless prayers and love from our friends and family. I would connect with a private Facebook group specifically for those with Hydrocephalus and I would be embraced by an amazing community. I would write this post 8 days after our ultrasound sharing all the blessings God was sending our way.

Little did I know my water would break in 10 days.

It’s amazing to be one year from this event; it feels like yesterday. Maybe that’s because our live’s went on a 9 month pause?

Yet, if given the chance, I would change none of it. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I still cringe when I think of the memories. And yes, I wish I could make easier on Uriah.

But look at this precious baby. Look at what God has done in his little life. Look at the joy, the fun, the sweetness, and the miracles he has given us. 

I imagine that this time next year the bad memories will hurt a little less and the new ones, the memories we make this year, will be closer to the surface. I want Uriah’s first library visit to be the memory I think of this time next year. I want to remember the friends we’ve grown closer too and the family too. I want to reflect on how adorable and healthy Uriah is and how blessed we are.

I hope my reflecting over the past isn’t turning into a broken record for you, sweet readers. I process life through words and writing and, to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the hurt broken dreams bring. So I’m sorry if my reflection bores you; but this is how I work through life’s experiences. This is how I ponder God’s hand and how I move on from the pain and rejoice in the midst of it. I admit I’m still learning to get over the hurts and difficulties  but I thank God for His perfect will and plan for our lives — including all of the pain He’s helped us walk through.

With love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

Dealing with Anxiety: Coffee Series

Dealing with Anxiety @ AuthenticVirtue.com

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why are thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember Thee from the land of Jordan … the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Psalm 42:5,6,8

Every once in a while I catch the blues; you know, the Eeyore-like tendency to see the world colored in grey, fearful, and unhappy? And don’t worry, I sometimes felt this way before my time in the hospital.

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