Thursday, May 28, 2015

What We've Been Through: a 10th anniversary post

Somehow, someway, even though we are obviously still newlyweds, today is our 10th wedding anniversary. 
A DECADE, y'all. 
It's insane. 

We've been through a lot these past ten years. It hasn't always been pretty. It hasn't always been fun or easy or romance novel worthy- but I love our journey. And our story from single kids to newlyweds to working professionals to parents hasn't been perfect. But marriage takes work and dedication and choosing love and there is literally nobody else out there on the entire planet that I would ever want to go through life with than my husband. 
I love you, Boo.

All women think that their husband is the best and noblest and funniest and hardest working and best father and most Christlike man to ever walk this Earth- but I'm right. I really am. Because mine is. 

A lot has happened over these last ten years, y'all. 

We've broken two coffee pots, but not our promises to one another. 

We've gone through surgeries and sadness, but not separation.

We've killed house plants and microwaves and 2,763 swarming termites, but not our love for one another.

We've battled stomach viruses and hurricanes and flea outbreaks but never our marriage vows.

There have been broken dishes and cracked windshields but our union has never shattered.

We've birthed three babies and raised our standards for marital joy.
We've given away countless outdated outfits and unloaded boatloads of petty arguments. 

We've gotten over the first few rocky years of marriage and our own self centered view of what marriage should really be like.

We've changed diapers and our own stinky attitudes.

We've planted trees and put down roots together. 

We've decimated dollarweed and died to ourselves for Christ and each other.

We've had roommates and housemates and fights that dragged on way longer than they should have.

We've bickered and bugged each other and been blessed beyond measure.
We've brewed one another enough coffee to float the Ark. 

We've compromised on paint colors and supper choices and laundry folding techniques but never on our convictions. 

We've gone to bed mad but always woken up beside each other.

We've fought with each other- but we've given up keeping score.
We've binge watched Netflix and gorged on Chinese take out but still haven't gotten sick of one another. 

We've settled the white Christmas lights vs. colored Christmas lights debate but still can't agree on what type of milk is superior.  

We've nursed one another through surgeries and childbirthing and migraines and the worst sunburns that have ever occurred in the history of The Gulf of Mexico. No joke.

We've come up with countless inside jokes and dorky ways to amuse ourselves like hiding dirty socks in pillowcases and stashing outdated yearbook pictures into lunch boxes. 

We've sacrificed time and money and sleep and priorities and used those resources to build a Christ-centered home for the family we've been given. 
And our blessings have abounded. 

We've been through trials. Tons of them. And we've used those turbulent waters not to drown our relationship or erode our union but to force us even closer together as we battle the waves that crash into our lives. 

With loads of prayer and the Lord's help, we've made the foundation of our marriage a strong one and formed an unshakeable bond through the vows that we made in His presence that afternoon ten years ago today. 

We've clung to Him through this 1st decade of our marriage will continue to do so for the next 6 or 7 that we'll spend together as husband and wife. 
"And the rain fell, and the floods came down, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on The Rock." -Jesus, Matthew 7:25
*emphasis mine

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

For Luke To Read in 2027

Like most families, we dyed eggs before Easter this year. An uneaten, colored egg remained in the butter cubby of my icebox door for a few days after we'd finished and I'd noticed in the days after Easter that it had disappeared, but I had assumed that was because it was eaten. 


As I was vacuuming behind a bookcase in the Big Kid's bedroom this morning, I discovered that it had, in fact, not been consumed. That single, solitary, red dyed egg had been shoved in the dark recess between the back of their bookcase and their wall and was left there to slowly crumble and disintegrate into a pile of pink shell fragments and dehydrated yolk bits.    

**SCIENCE FACT: Boiled eggs do not stink like you'd expect them to when they're abandoned in a corner for three and a half fortnights. When left unattended in cool, dark places, the shells will become brittle, crack and expose the whites and yolks to the outside air, then therefore slowly dry and dehydrate their insides until nothing but a crumbled pile of crusty yellow yolks and fragile egg shells remain. 

I questioned the kids about it and quickly surmised that Luke, my oldest, was the culprit. Upon further pressing, he explained that he'd hidden the egg back there because he "just didn't like those stinky ol' eggs too much" and didn't want to have to eat the last one. 

Well at least he's honest, amIright?? 

When Luke moves away from home, I'm going to send him on his merry way with a boiled egg secretly stashed in one of the toes of his shoes because revenge is a dish best served cold. 

Boom. MomLaw for the win.

So Luke, when you're reading this, prepare yourself because approximately 12 years from now you're gonna need to get your game face on BECAUSE MOMMA AIN'T PLAYIN' AROUND, Son. 

ps- I still love you.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Holy Sandpaper

I saw a quote online (read: Pinterest) recently that said "Children are holy sandpaper. Raising your kids will expose every flaw and weakness you have. And that's a GOOD thing." 

I've talked before about how motherhood is a refining fire because I've learned first hand that IT IS. 

My kids don't turn me into a mean spirited, short tempered, impatient woman. My kids just expose me for the mean spirited, short tempered, impatient person that I can be. The pressure of having and raising and loving my three tiny little people is the surest and fastest and most efficient way to widdle me down to the very core of my character. 

Women that I see who are loving and giving and patient and kind to their kids aren't that way because they're a Mom. They're that way because they possessed those qualities before they ever had children. And when the pressures  of motherhood came, when the rain fell, and dissolved away their superficial, exterior layers and exposed their core self, that's where their good lived. 

They had worked to store up a lifetime's worth of long suffering and gentleness and peace and kindness and all those fruits of all those spirits so that when they were finally wrung out and tired and running on empty, they were still left with the good inside them. 

I've redoubled my efforts lately to own my attitude because I've noticed lately that when I'm exhausted and the coffee pot it empty and the day isn't done and the supper isn't fixed and the dog's water bowl has been overturned for the seventeenth time, there sometimes isn't much good left in my tank. There're loads of frustrated outbursts and frazzled responses, but no gentle answers and patient ears. 

My kids deserve a better example than that. 

I've formed a habit that has really helped to ground and center me and my impatient, easily irritated, quickly aggravated attitude. Before I finish up my morning Bible study, at the end of my selected readings, I thumb through to Proverbs and read the corresponding chapter for each day's date. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so each date of the month will have it's own unique reading, no matter which month I'm currently in. I've been doing this for several months in a row, and it's been awesome.

It's helped fill my soul with loads more of the good stuff that I've been training my heart to heavily rely on as my three kids smooth out my rough spots like the holy sandpaper God made them to be. And, as I'm learning and growing and striving to set better examples for them, I'm able to fall back on those good reserves that Proverbs has given me when my coffee pot has been drained and it's 5:30pm and my casserole still hasn't gone in the oven and the load of towels that I put in the dryer but never turned on has soured into a boiled-egg-and-mildewy-smelling mess. 

I still get short tempered sometimes. I may or may not have cried a little on my deck in an exasperated heap yesterday afternoon when my youngest, Nathan dumped two toddler sized handfuls of garden soil into the 6' blow up pool that I'd just spent 39 minutes emptying, cleaning, rinsing, and refilling. Trying to carry on a phone conversation with me still sounds like a preschool mosh pit is happening in my living room. 

I'm still not Mary Poppins. But then again, I'm not Cruella de Vil, either. 
And I reckon that's a good place to be. 

"A Mom who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and she who rules her spirit is better than she who conquers a city."- Solomon. Proverbs 16:32 
(Katie McReynolds' version)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

An Open Letter Of Advice To A Future SAHM:

*I received an email from a sweet girl in our family who is about 10 years behind me in her life. She's in college (Go girl. Woot, woot!) and can't wait to get married and have babies and stay home with them and raise them to love Jesus and each other. (How she tapped into my family motto, I'm not sure, but I digress.) 

I ended up sending her a word vomit covered message of completely unsolicited advice from me as her 10-years-in-the-future-self. Below is a rough transcription.

And I realize that, for many wives and Mommas, being a full-time SAHM is not a realistic choice for them. There are all sorts of good families out there, this letter is not meant to discount those Mom's whose family dynamic looks different than mine. This is my story.

So this letter, sweet reader, is meant to show you how, even before I was ever married or engaged or even dating my husband, I was making choices that would eventually affect my ability to be able to choose this path that I am walking with my family and how, as a young college girl, I began empowering myself to navigate it.


Hello there, College Gal!

I believe, for my life, there has been no higher calling than for me to stay home and love my husband and raise my family and cook them yummy food and teach them to love Jesus and each other, just like you dream to someday do for yours. 

I'd like to talk to you a little about how I came to the place I'm in now: staying home with my three young kids, preparing to start teaching them at home and surviving and thriving as a SAHM with a house and a family and a dog and a cat and a tank full of fish and a couple of backyard turtles to love and raise and care for. How I made choices even in college that still affect where I am today. So, if you're interested in some a lot of unsolicited advice, please continue reading...

My first bit of advice: LOVE JESUS. And not just in a "He died on the cross for me so of course I love Him." kind of way. Really love Him because you've actually gotten to know Him. Read through The Gospels and walk with Him. Learn to rely on Him for every single ounce of strength that you'll most certainly come to need when you're raising a small army of preschoolers who can't seem to sleep through the night or make it through a single meal without spilling something or crying. 
Because trust me, those days will come. And when you're running on empty and you're cranky and you want to pick a fight with your husband over not wiping off a high chair tray or not dumping the water out of the bath toys, you're going to need to fall back on that relationship you've formed with Christ. Some days, you're just going to need to lean into His grace for the energy and strength and fortitude to make it until bedtime without turning into Cruella De Vil. 
And if you haven't started cementing that personal relationship with Him now, it's gonna be monumentally harder (but not impossible!) to form that bond with Jesus when you're sleep deprived and your shirt is schmeared with peanut butter from shoulder to hem and you can't remember the last time you flossed your teeth. 
(Please don't judge me.)

Secondly: CREDIT CARDS ARE LEECHES. Hon, if there was a single bit of truth I could give you as a wide eyed 20 year old, it would be to eschew debt. Treat credit cards like they are either the black plague or a really old glass of sweet tea that you've left on your nightstand for 6 straight days in Louisiana. In July. Accruing debt while you are in college is like drilling massive holes into the bottom of you and your husband's future joint checking account. Work your tail off for scholarships. Work on campus. Work off campus. Save all the pennies that you can. (Within reason, of course. Because TacoBell is going to happen. I'm not a dummy. Just eat a Nacho Supreme for me while you're there.) But seriously, getting married without debt and actually having some money in the bank is BANANAS awesome. You should really do it. 
**If you've got student loans- use only what you need for the semester. That lagniappe money that's left over is not for clothes or eating out or Starbucks or pedicures. Buy your books and a fresh ream of loose leaf paper and a new fine-tip Bic. Then take the rest and pay it back. Immediately. Then, work like crazy to pay off the remainder of your loans WHILE YOU ARE STILL IN SCHOOL. I had to take out loans for a few semesters. I was newly married and taking full course loads and still managed to pay them off, in full, before each semester was over. It was hard, but I did it. And I believe in you! 

Thirdly: DO NOT BUY A BIG HOUSE. When I graduated and went house hunting with my husband, we could have pooled our joint incomes to qualify for a much, much larger mortgage than we needed or wanted. But, we house hunted and mortgage brokered with ONLY my husband's income in our budget. 
That gorgeous, adorable house with the hand laid hardwood floor and extra bathrooms and pool and attic recording studio and bubbling fountain beside a gazebo may sound like a dream, but let me tell you, in five years when you've got a newborn (or two or three) screaming like a banshee at the top of their lungs while you're staying home and racking up debt like nobody's business because you can't pay your bills with cash every month, you're going to want to jump off the deep end of that pool you just had to have every month when the mortgage is due.  

Fourthly: SAVE YOUR MONEY. I worked for three years after I graduated and before my oldest son was born. During that time, when my paycheck would come in, we would deduct our tithes and offerings, and then put the rest of it in our savings account. No lie. While we were DINKs (dual-income-no-kids), we only lived on my husband's income. So, for the nearly three years that I drew a paycheck teaching we were able to set aside a comfortable nest egg for our future selves and rainy days. 
Because, trust me when I say this: RAIN WILL COME. Our house needed new windows. And then a new deck because someone literally fell through our old one. (That was an awkward BBQ, believe.) Then our air conditioner went out. Then we bought a reliable used car. Then we had medical bills. And then, and then, and then… Our nest egg as dwindled a lot lately- but we are still afloat. And, since we have been disciplined in our spending thus far in our 10 (awesome!) years of marriage, we are going to be able to stay that way through these lean years while we build it back up. 

So, sweet, lovely, wonderful college girl with wedding and house hunting and baby having dreams- CONGRATULATIONS. Hold on tight to Jesus and throw away those credit card applications. Work your tail off and save your tip money. Spend way less than you make, sock away everything you can- and when the day comes that you'll drive home from the hospital with that precious bundle of joy in your arms, you'll be financially stable enough to stay home with that amazing, sleep depriving miracle God's blessed you with. And, most importantly, you'll be strong enough in your relationship with Jesus to survive the SAHM storms that sometimes come.  

Just don't forget to send me a wedding invitation!
Love, Katie