Archive | July 2014

My Colbie Caillat Revalation

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life and beauty. After two years off from my Mary Kay business, I decided to start it back up. Why? you ask? Isn’t it a pyramid scheme? Didn’t you fail miserably before? Don’t you have product coming out of your ears?

No, not a pyramid scheme. Yes, I failed, but that was because I had no heart in my sales. And yes, I had product coming out of my ears. And my parents’ closets.

This time, though, I have a reason to sell. Of course, like any business, I have a goal of making money. Duh. I’m good at my job, and my husband deserves a bit of a financial stress-o-meter break.

More than that, though, I want to make a difference in someone’s life, just like other people have made in mine. And not in an “Oh my gosh, my smokey eye is LIFE CHANGING” kind of way. In a “thank you for believing that I’m beautiful” kind of way.

Colbie Caillat’s new song, “Try,” is EXACTLY what I hope to make my Mary Kay business.

Today, I had on my most stunning makeup. I wore my cute shoes, had my nails done, and my hair pretty, and had on one of my favorite dresses. I was as snazzy as I can get. And you know what? I felt ugly. And fat. And ashamed of the baby bump I can’t seem to shake. And I went from feeling amazing to feeling like hiding in a burlap sack in moments.

Caillat’s song is my focus. The last few lines are so incredibly perfect.

“Take your make-up off,
Let your hair down.
Take a breath.
Look into the mirror, at yourself.
Don’t you like you?
Cause I like you.”

THAT is the foundation of MY Mary Kay. My focus is first and foremost on the reality that most of us are not comfortable in our own skin. We might walk talk, smile brightly, and always say we’re fine, but most of us have, at one time or another, felt the same way I do. My Mary Kay business is about finding the beauty within us, through the imperfections and the things that make us “us.” It’s taking off our make-up and looking in that mirror and saying, “That woman is _beautiful_.” Make-up is just a different kind of beauty. Our natural faces, our natural skin, ourselves: we are beautiful whether we have make-up on or not, whether we’re all done up or not, whether we believe it or not.

My Mary Kay is my God-given tool to reach out to all of you. I’m no better off than you are. Trust me, all I want to do right now is binge eat a gallon of ice cream and let the chocolate melt away the image I see in the mirror. But that won’t help. And the reality is that my image, all of this depression and self-loathing and low self-esteem is because of the way I perceive myself. Acne and blemishes and redness: I have skin care products that can fix that. Oily, gross skin thanks to PMS: my cleanser takes care of that. My skin issues can be taken care of so that my skin is as healthy as it can be, but nothing will take away my freckles or my blonde eye brows or my light eyelashes or my scars. And I’m learning to love those. They are part of what makes me beautiful.

If I tell Michael that his birthmark on his nose is an angel kiss, his one imperfection physically so that he has to stay here on Earth (like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”), why am I any different? I’m not, and neither are any of you.

You are all stunning. Exactly. As. God. Made. You.

I want to start believing in my true beauty, both inside and out. And I hope that everyone I meet, whether through MK or through something else, realizes their true beauty, too.

So, of course! Buy make-up! (Especially from me, but from whomever. 😉 ) Make-up is fun! It’s a way to express yourself and play up your features and find a new “version” of yourself. But will you join me in remembering that the original version, our natural, make-up – free version, is just as amazing as our dolled up look?

(And husbands/boyfriends/fiances/fathers out there, I know you guys have been telling us this forever. Keep telling us. Sometimes the world and the voice between our ears is too loud. You’re often our only saving grace.)

So… I’ll take my makeup off, let my hair down. Take a breath, look at the mirror, at myself. And I’ll like me. Will you like you?

 

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An Open Letter to International Delight Creamers

images17Much to my chagrin two weeks ago, I fed #2 some angel food cake dowsed in what I thought was non-dairy coffee creamer. After our switch to a dairy-free household, International Delight became my not-so-secret love affair with all things deliciously sweet. (When you are denied chocolate, ice cream, most cakes and cookies, you take what you can get. And it gets very, very tasty with ID.)

The creamer, though, is not in fact dairy-free, though the label states “Non-dairy Ingredients.” It lists sodium casinate, “a milk derivative.” I know, I should have known better. I have no excuse. I was desperate for sweets. I decided to listen to the “non-dairy” claims rather than the “milk derivative.” It was in parentheses, after all! (I know, I know…. No excuses…)

So! I decided to write an open letter to ID and see if we could change a few things. 

Dear Ma’ams and Sirs,

I love your creamers. Literally, I use them on EVERYTHING. In coffee, on cake, in milk, on ice cream… About 4 months ago, we discovered that my son was highly allergic to milk. I was nursing, so I, by default, became “allergic to milk.” Your creamers, though, were my salvation. When I couldn’t have chocolate, I had your chocolate caramel creamer. When I missed the cream on my angel food cake, I turned to your sweet cream creamer. When I needed that little push of sweet in an otherwise pasty, flavorless mess of a vegan meal replacement shake, I turned to caramel macchiato. If I’m honest, caramel macciato and I had somewhat of a love affair. Coffees and shakes and cookies and all the goodness I probably shouldn’t have been eaten were paired with its delicious, smooth caramelness.

Until two weeks ago, when I realized that your “non-dairy ingredients” masked a silent lie. How did I realize this, after 4 months of drinking it to my heart’s content? I fed my little man some sweet cream-soaked angel food cake. And he blew up like a balloon.

I know that your label says “sodium casinate (a milk derivative).” I’m fully aware that I probably should have avoided it just out of precaution. But I was desperate. And now I am both chocolate-less and in shock. I don’t personally know all of the legal requirements for posting food allergy information on your bottles, but as a mother, I’m begging you to add milk to your ingredients list. A simple “CONTAINS: MILK” would have kept me from 4 months of poisoning my child.

Again, I’m not blaming you. You have it labeled on your bottles as a milk derivative, but you’ve got to admit: your creamers are AWESOME! It’s heart-wrenching to walk past them after I’ve gotten my eggs, staring at their beautiful colored containers and knowing that, at least for right now and if I ever have a child again, I cannot taste their wonderfulness. Instead, I’m stuck with the ever-flavorful vanilla and chocolate options of the non-dairy milks…

Not because you have to, but because you love us customers, will you consider adding an allergy warning onto your list? While I’m well-versed in most milk by-products, I’m still new to this, and I’m sure many other parents with new food allergies have probably made this same mistake. Even better, would you think about possibly making a truly dairy-free creamer? Not only would you have the undying appreciation of all milk allergic folks, but you’d appeal to all of the vegans out there! (I’m not sure about the rest of the country, but my hometown is crawling with them….)

Anyway, I love your creamers, and I will be buying them again as soon as I’m done nursing, though they will be drunk in the wee hours of the night, safe from little boy fingers and tender little throats.

Sincerely,

Stevie Matus, an avid creamer fan and guilt-ridden mother

 

*****UPDATE:*****

International Delight’s parent company called within 30 minutes of my sending them this letter. I am amazed. Though I have no idea whether it gets flushed into the netherfield of bureaucracy, the man on the other end took all of my information, #2’s reaction, and my suggestions calmly, politely, and apologetically. It was awesome! So, whether they change it or not, I am still an ID lover.

I HOPE they change it. And while I am trying to be fair and polite myself, I DO think that an ingredient that could hurt my allergic child should be labeled. Legally, if it’s less than 0.05%, they are not required to label it. Gosh… that’s a potent 0.05%! 

Overall, though, ID was helpful, concise, and very concerned for #2’s welfare. Kudos to them! Drink creamer, y’all! Unless you’re allergic. Then… Don’t.

Kitchen Nightmares

I am beginning to realize that I totally have kitchen staples, and that my life literally falls apart if I don’t have them. I start doing crazy things, like subbing mayo in for eggs in pancakes. Seriously. This happened this morning. We survived.

Especially since our household is dairy- and oat-free, we’ve had to get creative. And, I’ve never particularly liked the taste of olive oil in cooking, nor felt particularly wonderful when using cooking spray. (It just feels right, I tell you, to smear oil with a paper towel.) So! Here’s my list of things I MUST HAVE in my kitchen for my culinary life to be complete. And not fall to pieces. But first, I must flip my mayo pancakes.

1. Coconut Oil

coconutoilSeriously, if you can’t already tell from my over-use of the word, I’m totally serious right now. This stuff rocks my dairy-free world. Not only can I use it on toast, I can bake with it, saute with it, and use it to whiten my teeth! (Oil pulling is awesome. I only did it once, because my mouth filled up with spit and that was kind of gross, but my breath was so fresh and coconutty, and my teeth felt so nice!) When you find something with health benefits that’s natural and not the gross fake non-dairy margarine that’s one molecule away from being plastic, your life is made.

2. Applesauce

No, not that jarred stuff you find in H.E.B. The real stuff. The “just finished cooking this” stuff. Theapplesauce-2 “no added sugars, but added spices and love” stuff. It’s amazing. A divine experience. And I am amazed at how easy it is, that we don’t ALL do this! After running out of eggs, I made brownies with this. A-stinkin’-mazing. I will never cook brownies any other way. For real, dude. Of course, I used two of my other staples as well: coconut oil, and almond milk. So good… like fudge cake. But again, applesauce needs to always be in my fridge. Not only is it an uber-healthy snack for the kids and easy on toddler teething gums, but it’s a baking essential.

3. Almond/Rice Milk

almond milkI interchange these always. My mayo pancakes today were with rice milk. Almond milk is my preference for baking, though, because it’s thicker and sweeter. It makes my world glorious. Seriously. Too exhausted to make cupcakes from scratch? Get the box mix, add almond milk, coconut oil, and dairy-free (or regular) pudding of your choice to those suckers, and get ready for an explosion of awesomeness. Plus, my kids can drink it and get that daily dose of calcium, as well as a little protein.

4. Spices??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Dude. Spices. ALL THE SPICES! I MUST HAS THEM ALL! (I’m having flash-backs to my childhood of Pokemon-induced comas.) No meal is complete without something from the spice rack, and a simple addition of salt (GASP) and pepper can bring that bland tilapia to its full, glorious potential. That, and some concentrated OJ heated up. Mmmmm….. I need to make that this week…. But spices are where it’s at. Cooking 60 years ago was centered around spices, and our international culture has brought so many fun ones to us! Nearly every week, another spices sneaks into my grocery basket and smuggles its way into my kitchen. They’ve started taking over another whole shelf.

Cooking in general, but especially dairy-free cooking, NEEDS these things. I cannot survive in my kitchen without them. Of course, there are tons of other things that I have in my pantry that are essentials, but all of them can be switched out for something else. No couscous in the pantry? We’ll use rice. No broccoli? Canned green beans it is! No nanners? Have some applesauce, wee one!

What are your kitchen must-haves?

The Truth About Government Assistance

government assistanceI started writing this post yesterday, and then scrapped it because I altogether did not like the insane amount of anger and frustration I was left with.

After seeing this picture today, though, I think I’m going to try again. This time, hopefully, I can do it without crying or wanting to smash my face against a wall.

You see, I have government assistance. My husband is our sole provider, and I stay home. I choose to stay home, and I have my reasons. But, I don’t have to give you those reasons. As it is, my husband works hard, and because he’s working, he’s – gasp – ALSO paying for the assistance we use. 

The truth of the matter is that, regardless of which tax bracket you fall into, if you work, you’re contributing. That’s what taxes do. They go into a big ol’ imaginary pot, and then they’re doled out to help the citizens. Are some tax brackets carrying more than others? Probably. Are low income families lazy and riding on others’ coat tails? Not usually.

The reality my family faces is that we cannot afford food on our own. Especially because of #2’s allergies, we are forced to eat real food instead of ramen and Mac n’ Cheese and hot dogs and Hamburger helper. Even IF we were to just eat that, which would be terrible for our bodies, we would still be spending more than we make. We have a very, very basic budget. We also have financial mentors and have taken financial classes. We do our best to find ways to make a little extra money. Regularly, nearly if not every week, I am over my budget by $200 – $350. That’s with Food Stamps and Medicaid, and with an uninsured spouse. What would you like me to cut out? Our life insurance? Our renter’s insurance? Clothes for my kids? Gas for my car? Those are non-negotiable things on my list.

We’re not out buying fancy-pants TVs and xboxes and designer shoes. Some people on assistance do, and usually it’s because they’re trying to fix the aching hole of inadequacy that forms from not being able to provide for your family. Is it right? No. Does it happen? Yes. And I’ll bet you’ve done it yourself. Binge-eating ice cream after a break-up? Binge-watching Netflix because you don’t want to do homework? Eating out all the time so you don’t have to cook? It’s the same thing, except that for those of us with assistance, we’re just digging a deeper hole.

Before you get on your high horse and judge people with assistance, take a moment to walk in their shoes. Imagine having to pull out your Lone Star card and swipe it, hoping beyond hope that you have enough still left on the card. Or, having to shuffle through your purse for your coupons or your WIC vouchers. Trust me when I say that those Oreos you see on the conveyor belt are because I can’t buy alcohol with my card, and I very much need a break.

So look, I get it. It is super frustrating to watch your hard-earned money get siphoned for some single mom buying frozen pizzas and fajitas and Lindor chocolates with her Food stamps card. I would be frustrated, too! And I get incredibly angry with those few people who abuse the system, lie on their applications, and buy stupid stuff. Most of them, though, don’t know any different and are reacting on instinct. Those of us who don’t cheat, though, are genuinely trying to make your money count. And these constant reminders about how we’re all lazy good-for-nothing moochers are getting old.

The next time you go to “share” one of these pictures, please stop and think. If you were to suddenly lose your job, where would you go? You now have a $1300 mortgage to pay, credit cards to keep up with, and kids who need to be fed. You have no room for pride anymore, and that’s all these pictures are. Reality states that at any point, at any time, anyone could be in the same position.

As someone who would LOVE to be forking over the cash for these programs instead of having to use them, please hear this if nothing else: we are trying. We don’t want to be in this place for forever, and we know it’s hard on you. We’re doing everything in our power to get to middle class, so we can have the privilege of helping someone else. Rather than looking at it as a burden on yourself, look at it as giving back to society.

Thank you, all of you who work long hours and hard days, for helping my family survive. Thank you for giving us the stepping stone to get out of poverty. Thank you for your taxes. In return, we will make sure to buy good food responsibly (though Oreos will probably still end up in the cart). We will continue to seek extra jobs and move up in our careers so that someday we don’t have to be on it. We will work, so that you know your efforts are not all in vain.

And maybe next time, instead of disgust and anger in your pictures, you can stop someone on the street, in person, and offer them a hand up. I can guarantee that it will do a whole bunch more toward what you want than a measly picture on Facebook.

Old Habits Die Hard (and Other Embarrassing Admissions…)

Bad-HabitsWhy is it so easy to slip into old habits?

Hubby and I have been facing some hard relational times lately, and we seemed to be moving in leaps and bounds. And then, old habits started to pop up. My old habits, mind, not his. Silly habits like not getting up when my alarm goes off, not washing the dishes once they get into the sink, not kissing him at the door. (And before any 50s housewife jokes crop up, try it. It’s amazing the difference in his attitude when I greet him with affection, rather than ignoring him. Strange, that…. )

So, why is it so easy to slip up? And why do we all hide it? I find myself avoiding the truth, hoping that the dishes will magically vanish, or maybe little forest animals will come in and clean them on their own. With all their little grubby hands and disease-ridden feet. Right…

Seriously, though, habits are called habits because they are not easy to break. At least, the bad ones aren’t. For example, I have bitten my nails since I was 3. 3! My parents tried everything down to what I swear to you was jalepeno-spiked nail polish. I’ve tried again and again to stop. Jagged, hurting fingernails are not attractive, practical, or great for back scratches. Unfortunately, that isn’t my only bad habit.

I’m beginning to see that there are two main reasons why we struggle to break our bad habits: we are too focused on the “now,” and we have no self-control or self-discipline.

1. We are too focused on the “now.”

My financial spirit animal of choice, Dave Ramsey, is constantly reminding his listeners and the people who call in that they have to focus past today.* For financial success, you cannot keep your head down and focus solely on the things you need/want today, and hope that there’s a magical pot of gold at the end of life called “Retirement Fund.” The thought is just silly! We logically know that we would need to put money into an account for there to be money when we retire. We know that.

We don’t do that.

A lot of that is because we’re focused on Now and not Later. To go back to my own bad habit, I bite my nails now because they are rough, uneven, or any other excuse I can come up with. I am not thinking about later when my fingers will hurt because I’ve bitten the nails off, or how my hands will look with stubs instead of glorious long nails. Similarly, if I push off exercise because right now I don’t have the time or the energy to do it, I am not focusing on the later of being out of shape and unhealthy.

Every life improvement book I’ve read, whether Christian or not, has advocated for the reader to focus on what’s before them. You want to be in shape? Work towards that goal. You want to stop biting your nails? Work towards that goal. You want to have a better marriage? Work towards that goal. Put up pictures. Write reminders on your mirror. Affirmations. “I don’t bite my nails because I want to have pretty hands.” “I kiss my husband because I want him to know I think he’s sexy.” “I walk every day because I want to lose some baby fat.” They seem so “dur,” but it’s amazing the difference your life has when you start being conscientious about your actions. Suddenly, I catch myself mid-rip of the nail and stop. Grab clippers and a nail file. Fix the problem without making it worse. Is it hard? Oh my gosh, yes. Is it worth it? I don’t know. You tell me. I think it is.

*As a caveat, Dave Ramsey the Spirit Animal ALSO says that sometimes, the only way to survive is in the Now. If huge life events occur, sometimes Later isn’t super important, and it’s ok to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, injury, sickness, etc: sometimes taking care of the Later looks like surviving the Now. 

2. We have no self-control or self-discipline.

I love waking up early. I love listening to the birds wake up and watching the sky blush first purple, then pink, then orange, and then blue. I love it! I love a good cup of coffee and sitting on my porch. I love the moments of quiet when I can do my Bible Study or read a good book without small children on my mind. Those quiet moments give the rest of my day a quiet strength.

Lately, though, my bed has been comfy. My alarm goes off, my husband rolls out of bed to work, and I stay snug as a bug in a rug in the bed. Even though I know I’ll enjoy the morning more if I get up. Even though I’m racked with guilt for not getting up. Even though I’m probably not even sleeping at this point. I just. Don’t. Want. To.

Most of the bad habits I have, and I’m generalizing this onto all of you, (YAY YOU!) are born out of my lack of self-control. I don’t get out of bed not because I’m exhausted or sleepy, but because I can’t be bothered.

In my marriage, this looks like me not getting up to get dinner started on time, and then getting furious when I burn the rice because I’m trying to cook it fast. Or, when I neglect the sexual aspect of our marriage, and then wonder why my hubby’s all up in my grill with kisses and hugs and wiggly eyebrows. Or, when I snap at my husband for something stupid.

With my kids, it’s the same. Not having the self-control to get off the computer and give them face-to-face time, so they get fussy and grumpy. Not having self-control over my emotions, so snapping at them for little things. Not having self-discipline to plan ahead, so getting annoyed when they act like kids at the doctor’s office.

Self-control, or self-discipline, are two of the hardest attributes I’ve ever encountered. They play off all of the other attributes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness. Each of those can only exist if a person has: self-control. And self-control is not the same as self-discipline.

Self-control is the first step. It is the mental step. It is waking up, looking at the clock, and saying, “I am getting out of bed, because I know it’s good for me.” Self-control is containing the unhealthy thoughts and emotions, things like envy, anger, lust, jealousy, laziness, and greed.

Self-discipline is the second step. It is the physical step. It is actually getting out of bed. It is continually, day in and day out, walking away from the Oreos, or putting down the iPhone, or popping open that stroller for a walk around the neighborhood. Self-control is just the first facet of discipline. Without both, though, our bad habits sneak back into our lives. (Just ask my flubber blubber. My fingers grab Oreos without a second thought…..)

Today, I’ll be going for a walk with little man #2. Today, my husband helped me wake up, because he knew I didn’t have the self-control or self-discipline to do it entirely on my own. (YAY for awesome Hubby!) Today, I’ll do my best to avoid those daggum Oreos. I’m focusing on the things I can do now, using self-control, to achieve what I want to achieve tomorrow.

What bad habits do you have? How can you focus on later, rather than now? What are your ways to have self-control? Tips? Suggestions?

Balloons and Smooth Jazz

balloons-girl-photography-pictures-railroads-Favim.com-454075I love smooth jazz.

I love it for the saxophone, the way it sings and weaves through the music. I love the piano, for the chords and keys that seem to dance in blues and purples and greens. I love the mood it brings out, that mood of peace and contentment and relaxation.

But I don’t just love jazz for those things. I love jazz because my father loved jazz. And every time I listen to it, I’m brought back to my childhood. The moment those first notes hit my ear, I’m a child again, sitting in the backseat of his car as we head home from another overnight trip at the airport. I am exhausted. My head is nodding. I’ve been up all night in a conference room, perhaps, or in his cubicle, or holding his hand as we watch the radar swirl bright green, or holding binoculars too heavy for my arms to my face to watch the planes take off, or gathering old runway lights from the side of the tarmac. It has been a good night, and my sleepy child eyes watch the world pass outside the window as smooth jazz fills the car. I watch the sunrise, salmon pink and muted orange through the clouds of a summer morning. The overpasses of the city dip up and down, here covering the sunrise, there framing it. And smooth jazz fills the car.

I love classic rock, too, but not for the same reasons. On its own, rock is just music. I don’t hate it, but I’m not addicted to it the way I am other genres. But I love it.

I love it because it brings back those childhood memories. Sometimes, it’s our old beat-up Hyundai hatchback, the smell of diesel from the highway traffic, and the summer sun beating down on us as we head to Furrows. Sometimes, it’s the evening light, the smell of grease and gas, and a car up on jacks. Either way, classic rock reminds me of my father.

And now, it reminds me of my husband. Now, just beneath those first memories are car rides through downtown’s slow traffic, watching my husband jam out with his baseball cap backwards, his sunglasses on, and his hands beating the tempo on the steering wheel. It’s his grin as he quizzes me on songs and bands that I can never remember, and his sweet surprise when I manage to get one right. It’s bittersweet, an aching in the heart, because his love of rock was born of his father, and his father is no longer here to listen with him. It’s the AC/DC CD in the player that brings flickering, hidden emotions across his face. It’s his lopsided grin as he tells me I’m his angel and he’s the devil.

You could give me any genre. Any song. If I haven’t heard it yet, that just means there is a memory waiting to happen. The ones I do have each are tied up somewhere in my mind. They are strings tied to balloons filled with life and color and emotion. Some, I cherish more than others. All of them are special.

So parents out there, especially dads, know this: even the little things you do are written on the hearts of your children. Something little, something you might think is insignificant, might mean the world to them. Something might be their jazz or their classic rock. And maybe, someday, they’ll tell you what it was. From the heart of this child, though, I promise you that so long as you’re there, so will the memories and the balloons. All of the hard work, all of those times you’re away to provide, I don’t remember those. I as a child have blank spots for the times you are not there. There are no memories to be made. Playing by myself or with my siblings or at the park without you are just regular memories, filed away under “Whatever Days.” Those moments you make the effort to see me, to get down to my level, those days are labeled “Special.” And those days are engraved on my heart.

“3 Reasons to Stay Married” and a Sword

blacksmithI read an article today. (Big surprise, I know.) It was exactly what I needed right now, as the husband and I tackle some hurdles together. In his article, “3 Reasons to Stay Married,” Tyler Ward talks about how marriage is a fire, bringing out our lesser qualities to burn them away; marriage requires putting your spouse before everything else but God; and marriage can change the world by changing the couple, the kids, and the people around them.

There is so much goodness in this. Go read it. Right now. Go. Because the truth about marriage is exactly this: it WILL be hard and at times, it WILL disappoint. Why? Because you’re not married to a perfect person, and YOU are not a perfect person.

What I am continually discovering is that this dance of marriage is more beautiful than any Cinderella could ever have imagined. Her prince accepted her as she was and didn’t challenge her at all. There is that necessary component of acceptance. Marriage cannot survive if there is not unconditional acceptance, but it doesn’t stop there. Marriage brings out the ugly, shameful, embarrassing, and painful. It brings out the side of us that we hide from the rest of the world and, sometimes, even from ourselves. If it is a healthy marriage, it brings these hidden things out in the only place where it is safe to do so.

And marriage doesn’t stop there. It just builds. It builds and builds and builds, like a never-ending wave of growth. Like the magical bean stalk. Just when you think you’ve gotten everything out in the open, when you’re coasting in “Happy Marriage Land,” something else rises to the surface. The beautiful thing about it, though, is that a true partnership will have cloud-touching highs and rock-bottom lows, but each time, it is farther than the next. This low you’re in now is just one step higher than the low you had three months ago, and that high to come will be one step higher than the last.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.”

It is not easy. It is not pleasant. Sparks fly. Pieces shred off. There is friction and pain and doubt that it will ever look like it’s supposed to. Stopping after just a little bit of friction, though, leaves you with a dull, misshapen, useless hunk of iron. Sharpening it, though, leaves you with a sword. And I don’t think anyone would deny that there is a certain beauty to the blade of a sword, even as it’s dangerous.

That is what a true, healthy marriage is. It is full of friction. It is a constant returning to your spouse, even when you don’t want to. It is facing the sparks and refusing to stop, because you believe that something beautiful will come from it.

So… Do you think these are good enough reasons to stay married? In the face of the struggle, do you think it’s worth it?