Team Griffiths- Working With Your Spouse

A few weeks ago Ivor and I attended his office New Years party. It was held at an old Theater, built in 1929. As such, the “theme” of the party was the Roaring 20’s (so fun!) What I loved most about it though was that Ivor’s band got to play and I got to photograph it. We did get to mingle, and eat/drink at the beginning of the party like everyone else. But then he got on stage, and I got behind my camera. I love that we get that opportunity every once in awhile- to express our individual creative passions at the same time.

For those of you unaware, who may only read my fashion-related posts and don’t actually know me very well- I love photography ūüôā At some point, when motherhood calms down a bit and my kids are no longer 3, 2 ¬†and brand new, I will pursue it more. For now, it’s a passion mostly “at rest” ¬†(as my friend and MOPS mentor mom once¬†said). I ¬†could really write an entirely separate post just about that- but the short version is this: sometimes in early motherhood, we may feel as though our whole identity revolves around being “mommy.” Any dreams or passions we have outside of motherhood feel as though they have died. But they haven’t. They’re still there. We are not JUST moms. We have other skills and talents you know. ¬†But the reality for some of us is that for the time being, with very small children at home who are so dependent on us, we may need to temporarily let those dreams rest, just for a season. And that is OKAY. Anyway- I’ll stop there before I start rambling (I’ll save that for a longer post on another day).¬†Back to Team Griffiths- working with your spouse!

In general, in our marriage we try not to have any part of our lives totally separate from each other. We are married, and 2 separate individuals have now become 1 unit. 1 team. Team Griffiths (or Team “Krivor” as our wedding party dubbed us….they made t-shirts). That doesn’t mean that we never do things apart from each other. My goodness, no. Every couple needs *some* time apart- we’d go crazy. I have my girl time. He has guy time. He may play video games or jam on his guitar while I veg in front of the TV watching This Is Us (because it’s way too “touchy feely” for his taste). But I mean when it comes to something he’s passionate about, something that’s important to him and is a big part of his life (like music) he brings me into it and makes me a part of it. I support him and help him where I can. Give him my very honest opinions, etc. And¬†he does the same for me. ¬†He’s not super into photography or writing/blogging. ¬†But he supports me and helps me. He’s my photographer when I need to “model” my Stitch Fix or Trunk Club clothes, and HE models for me occasionally (and you know that’s love because he’s really not comfortable having his picture taken unless he’s on stage performing with a guitar in his hands, totally candid). And like I ¬†mentioned earlier, it just so happens that both of our biggest interests/passions can work really well together.

One day we hope to take over the world with our multimedia empire.¬†We have big plans. But I digress ūüôā

Marriage is hard. We’re in the thick of year 7, with 3 kids, 3 and under. Nothing about that is easy. So anything we can do to foster unity and togetherness in our marriage, we’ve made a priority. Sharing our creative outlets with each other is just one of them. And we’ve found it to be beneficial in a few ways:

  1. Simply put, it’s more time spent together, instead of ¬†apart. We could (and sometimes do out of necessity) work on those things separately from each other. But it’s always better when we’re together. And yes, I believe I did just quote a Jack Johnson song, not at all on purpose.
  2. We inspire each other to be better at whatever it is we’re doing. ¬†Yes, through some constructive criticism of each other’s work, but also just through the support we receive from one another. We’ve both, at times, shown lack of interest in each other’s work/passions because we were too caught up in our own thing and as a result, those things suffered. ¬†I’m a better photographer and writer when I feel fully supported by my husband. And likewise, he’s a better musician/entrepreneur when he knows¬†he has my support. There is so much power in showing genuine interest and taking part in those things together.
  3. Piggybacking off of #2, we benefit from each other’s skills. ¬†He understands the business aspect of what I do creatively. He’s a business guy, tech guy, legal guy, ad-words guy, etc. I let him worry about those things, and I just create. Likewise, I help him administratively with the band, promoting him¬†with killer photos and sharing on social media, responding to email inquiries from prospective clients, being the keeper of the calendar, etc… and he does¬†the making-music part, because, well, he’s the musician ūüôā It makes us a really great team.

The creative passions and talents God has given us are meant to be shared. And you should be excited to share it with your spouse, don’t you think? Whenever Ivor starts writing a new song, he says “Hey, come check this out! What do you think?” Or when I’m really excited about a photo I took, I say something similar to him. When we’re excited about something, we can’t wait to share it with each other. ¬†We’re not always great at this, but we always see the benefits in our marriage (and our business) when we make the effort to go “check it out” and on the flip-side, we feel the repercussions of the lack thereof.

What might this look like in your marriage? Is there anything you’re passionate about that you’d love your spouse to be part of too? Is there something you can show more interest in that he/she really loves? Do you¬†each have skills/talents that can be beneficial to each other? It’s something worth exploring ūüôā

Team Griffiths- Working With Your Spouse Team Griffiths- Working With Your Spouse Team Griffiths- Working With Your Spouse Team Griffiths- Working With Your Spouse

And for a totally shameless plug of his band, here are some videos! Let me know if you’d like to book them for a party ūüėČ

2015.

It would be really easy to look back on 2015 and focus on the worst month of our lives, July. There’s no denying it sucked big time. But 2015 wasn’t just one month. There were good things that happened too and they’re worth remembering and jotting down. Especially since the events of July did have the biggest impact on our lives, it’s easy to forget everything else. So here’s my attempt at mentioning everything I can remember…the good, the bad and the ugly.

*My kids turned a year older. Gwen turned 2 and Ivor Baby turned 1. I forget sometimes how close in age they are. It’s just so normal to me now.¬†It’s not until someone asks me how old they are. I tell them and then they look at me with wide eyes and say something like “OMG! They’re so close!” Oh yeah, they are aren’t they? ūüôā 14 months apart, in case you were wondering.

*My blog audience grew big time with all the Stitch Fix (and later, Trunk Club) posts. You people love fashion. Who knew?! Seriously. I would’ve never thought that pictures of me in new clothes would be so popular. But…I ran with it and don’t intend to stop anytime soon ūüôā

*As a result, I got invited to a private launch party at Stitch Fix headquarters in San Francisco, back in March when they launched Petite & Maternity. It was a really cool experience, but I wish I would’ve been more outgoing and social and talked to more of the bloggers who¬†were there. Ya know, got my networking on. But I still wasn’t sure how I even got invited and just hid behind my camera most of the time lol.

*We took our first trip back to Philly since having kids (and survived the plane ride!) For a lot of our family and friends, it was their first time meeting the¬†kids. We celebrated their birthdays, went to a friend’s wedding, ¬†had a date night in the city, went to Sesame Place, experienced wonderful thunderstorms (you miss it sometimes), and overall really enjoyed our time there. Not sure when we’ll be back again yet. It’s everyone else’s turn now to come visit US ūüėČ

*I joined the leadership team and became a table leader at my MOPS group and have met some amazing ladies/friends as a result. I’m so happy to be surrounded by other like-minded “let’s be real” women who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and¬†share their struggles with each other. They are such a blessing. #teamWestgateMOPS!

Ok, I guess we’re getting to the point now where I can’t help but mention what happened in July. But I’ll try to focus on the positive and the good that came from it. I can do that now that I’m reflecting back on it, and not in the middle of going through it. Quick aside: please don’t expect someone in the MIDST of suffering to see the “good” in it. Grief and suffering is a process…it changes over time. Give it time. Don’t rush it. I preach it all the time because I’ve lived it. The most helpful people in my life during this time said something like this: “Hey…I’m so sorry, this sucks. Here are some cookies. Can I do your dishes?” You can talk¬†all¬†about how God used this trial for good later. For now, give me the dang cookies and let me eat.

So, here we go. The biggest good I can think of that came out of the experience is this: a much stronger relationship with and appreciation for my husband. I could’ve lost him. Or he could’ve been paralyzed and what we experienced in the 2 months or so following the accident could still be my reality today, and for the rest of our lives. He was helpless. Totally dependent on me. And if you know anything about my husband, that is the complete OPPOSITE of who he is. He is an extremely active, hard-working, get-sh*t-done type of guy. So it was certainly an adjustment for both us (to say the least) to have him not be able to care for himself, let alone me or¬†the kids. All the while, grieving the loss of our twins. Our 2nd miscarriage. I remember one particular evening, in between the ultrasound and the D&C, while I still had remnants of life inside me. We’d been home from the hospital for only a few days. The kids were in bed. We were alone on the couch. It was silent. And¬†I finally broke down. Like, majorly broke down. I cried a little at the ultrasound, but held myself together for the most part, because I’m strong like that (hah). But not this night. I sat on the couch and wept while he held me and we talked about the hopes/dreams we had for those babies. It was an extremely raw and intimate moment between us. As heartbreaking as those¬†circumstances were, looking back on our 5 years of marriage…that’s the single most intimate¬†moment I can recall. Being that vulnerable and broken…and being held. That’s marriage. Intimacy isn’t just a physical thing. Now that things are back to normal and I get mad at him for whatever stupid reason, I look back on this time and remember….”man, I love this guy.”

The¬†other major good was the outpouring of love and support we received from others. I’m still overwhelmed just thinking about it. His coworkers. My MOPS group¬†(some of whom¬†had never even really met me before). Friends and band-mates. So many people offering to bring food, clean our house, watch our kids, or just come over to hang out and keep us company. Talk about “the hands and feet of Jesus”. We experienced it in abundance and we will be forever grateful.

That trial, and our whole year can really be summed up in one verse (well, 3 technically). It’s the one that’s been popping up in my head a lot recently…

“Through the Lord‚Äôs mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.¬† They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.¬† ‚ÄúThe Lord is my portion,‚ÄĚ says my soul, ‚ÄėTherefore I hope in Him!‚ÄĚ Lamentations 3:22-24

 

Is his voice not ridiculous?!

Anyway, whether in big or little circumstances, God is faithful and he is good to us. As this year comes to a close and we look forward to what the New Year is going to bring, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness for God’s constant faithfulness. Ivor’s accident sucked. Our miscarriage sucked. But God never left. He held us together and we survived.

See you in 2016, friends ūüôā

Yet It Did Not Fall

One of my favorite passages of Scripture, that I personally declared as the passage for our marriage (though of course it’s applicable to all of life really), is Matthew 7:24-27, “the wise and foolish builders.” It’s the conclusion to¬†the Sermon on the Mount where¬†Jesus¬†explains that those who put into practice all that he has said, will be like the man who builds his house on a rock. Well, instead of paraphrasing it for you, I’ll just copy it in full here:

24¬†‚ÄúTherefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25¬†The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26¬†But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27¬†The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.‚ÄĚ

Yes, I realize Jesus wasn’t speaking specifically of marriage here, but the illustration still works. You face a lot of crap in a marriage and if your foundation is weak, it’s likely to come crumbling down with a great crash. But if your foundation is strong, it can withstand the beating that is¬†sure to come.

But this isn’t meant to be a sermon on marriage or a declaration that it’s that simple, or a “hey look at us, we’ve got it all together” post. I just want to share a little deeper about what life was like during the¬†most recent “storm” that hit our “house” and give thanks to God that¬†it’s still standing!

Looking back on the last 5 years of marriage (and it’s only been 5!) our hardest times seemed to draw us closer together, but this time especially. I’m grateful though, because I know the opposite could’ve happened. Renovating a house together during our first year of marriage, living out of 1 room and doing dishes in the bathtub. Job and financial struggles. Moving away from our family, across the country and basically starting a new life together. Suffering miscarriage #1. Having 2 babies 14 months apart. And now, an accident and another miscarriage- losing twins. All in 5 years of marriage!

So here’s just a little glimpse of what life has been like recently…

You may have heard the overview of injuries that Ivor suffered after the accident: broken collar bone, 2 back fractures and a spinal cord contusion in his neck which caused nerve damage, but you might not realize the effect of those injuries on his daily life. In the beginning,¬†he was in so much pain, it took a few days before he could even stand or¬†walk for more than 10 minutes. The nerve pain was debilitating. He had a hard time feeding himself. He needed help going to the bathroom. He couldn’t bathe himself or get dressed by himself. Getting him comfortable was a constant struggle and he still has yet to get a good night’s sleep. So for the past month or so, but especially in the very beginning, he was as dependent on me as our 2 kids are. (And I can now say that I know that man more intimately than any other person on this planet. Helping your spouse go to the bathroom is something you might expect to go through in old age, not this soon.) But who can expect or predict things like this? Life is going along swimmingly and then you hear screeching brakes in the form of a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, with a sinking feeling in your stomach when the person on the other end asks, “are you Ivor’s wife?”

It could’ve been so much worse. I am thankful that my husband is still alive. And not paralyzed. But I will still rightly recognize the last month or so as being really sucky and really difficult. It’s easy to dismiss things and¬†try to make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to others worse off than you. There’s nothing wrong with a little perspective, but you can still have perspective and valid feelings of grief for whatever it is you’re going through at the time.

Anyway. I wish I could say that I’ve handled every moment with grace and self-sacrificing love. But that would be a self-righteous lie. There have been several times over the course of the last few weeks that I’ve wanted to scream “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN I JUST GET 2 MINUTES TO MYSELF WITHOUT SOMEONE NEEDING ME????” (and all the moms of world said “amen!”) After all, I was miscarrying at the time too. I was going through my own personal struggle of grief over having life begin and end inside my body ….for¬†the 2nd time. And dealing¬†with the emotions of having and losing twins. But I barely had a moment to dwell on those feelings because of everything else going on. Because of Ivor’s injuries, he was unable to help me with the kids. I’m used to being on my own with them during the day while he’s at a work, but not¬†24/7. It’s been exhausting (to say the least). Single parents- you have my utmost respect and admiration.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14)? Fail. I’ve grumbled. I’ve argued. But God’s mercies are new every morning, and each day He has given me a renewed, supernatural strength to care for my family. And has reminded me what a privilege it is to be needed, and why I do what I do for my family. It should not be out of obligation or duty (though, it is my duty), but the motivation should be out¬†of love. Oh, I’ve had my weak, selfish moments. But I’ve also had a full heart absolutely bursting with love for my husband and our kids- where taking care of them wasn’t even a question in my mind. It was automatic. Not a burden. Yes, I took vows and take them seriously. So of course I will care for my husband when he can’t care for himself. But I also do it because I love that man, and I want to take care of him. It’s a much better feeling, personally (and to those who are receiving it), when you’re fueled by love, and not obligation. And that is a daily prayer of mine as a wife and mommy because it doesn’t come naturally. Any good that I’ve done for my family, all the right attitudes I’ve had- – – it’s not because I’M so strong…it’s because I have a strong God holding me together. And it’s only by the grace of God that this “house” is still standing.

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, July

July 2015 proved to be one of the most eventful months of our lives. Good events, and very bad events. We started off the month with a fantastic day trip to Paso Robles for wine tasting (just my husband and I), as part of an early anniversary celebration. Then we spent a few days in¬†Tahoe for a family vacation. Overall, our Tahoe trip¬†was awesome. We loved it there and can’t wait to go back again (I have an entire post in my drafts folder all about it). However, bad event #1 happened there. On our 3rd day, Ivor Baby had a pretty serious allergic reaction to something and we had to take him to the ER. It was a “moderate” reaction. Eye swelling and hives all over his body. But no respiratory distress, thank God. We didn’t¬†figure out what caused it until recently after taking him to an allergist. Food allergies tend to be the most common occurrence in babies, but we didn’t introduce anything new while we were in Tahoe. We DID, however, expose him to something for about the 3rd time ever, eggs. Little Dude is allergic to eggs (and milk as it turns out, but eggs are likely what caused the bad reaction in Tahoe). Now we know what caused it, and what to avoid in the future. We even have an epi-pen just in case. But we’re hopeful that he’ll outgrow the allergy¬†eventually.

Moving on to later in the month….

We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Yay marriage! Yay us! Good times.

But then,

July 21, 2015- my husband was¬†in a serious bicycle accident on his way home from work. While riding downhill at¬†20+mph, his front tire failed, blew out completely, sending him flying into a chain link fence, breaking his collar bone, fracturing 2 bones in his back and bruising the¬†spinal cord in his neck (injuries¬†that were confirmed much later at the hospital). A random stranger who stopped to help him called me with the news. Well, he called and then handed the phone to Ivor, who then told me what happened. Fortunately, my mother-in-law was visiting at the time so I left¬†immediately to go get him. The plan was for me to take him to the hospital. But when I got there¬†and we realized he couldn’t get in the car because of how much pain he was in, I called 911 and an ambulance showed up a few mins later. When the paramedics arrived and started poking and prodding him, cutting off his bike shirt because he was in too much pain to move his arms, I started to get sick to my stomach. Sure he was awake and talking, but he looked so pale and in so much pain. And so I started assuming the worst (serious internal bleeding that we don’t know about yet, etc. etc. etc.) I had to sit on the back bumper of the ambulance with my head between my knees to keep myself from passing out or vomiting. I kept telling myself “pull it together, Krystal…they don’t need 2 patients right now. Pull yourself together”. After what seemed like way too long, they told me to meet them in Trauma at¬†Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. So I got in ¬†car, prepared to follow them. But then they sat there for what also seemed like FOR-EV-ER, before they finally pulled away and started driving. I was *this* close to laying on my horn, beeping¬†at them to get their lazy as*es moving. Again, “pull yourself together woman”.

Once we arrived at the hospital, he had a ton of x-rays done and a CT scan, and was given morphine to help with the pain. We waited around for quite a bit, wondering if he’d be able to go home that night or if he’d need to stay for awhile. While waiting out in the hallway in the trauma area, I decided to finally take a bathroom break. While in the bathroom, I discovered that I was bleeding.

What I failed to mention earlier was that shortly after our Tahoe vacation, we found out we were expecting our 3rd baby.

And now we’re in the trauma center of Santa Clara Valley Medical, my husband is laying on a gurney out in the hallway in a neck brace, with broken bones, in excruciating amounts of pain, …and now in typical, “when it rains it pours” fashion, it appeared that we were losing our baby too. All on the same day. I walked back out to Ivor and told him what was happening. He held my hand, which was all he could do.

“Worst. Day. Ever.”

They kept him¬†in the hospital overnight and I stayed with him, in¬†the most¬†horrible uncomfortable chair ever, not being able to sleep for obvious reasons. 1. the chair 2. I was freezing 3. I was bleeding 4. I kept checking on Ivor making sure he was breathing…watching the rise and fall of his chest, much like you do when you first bring home a baby. Because I’m paranoid like that. When the doctors made their rounds first thing in the morning they discovered that Ivor had quite a bit of neck pain, so they ordered an MRI for later in the day (the MRI is what eventually showed his spinal cord injury). While he was getting his MRI, I was on my way to the OB for an ultrasound to try to figure out what was¬†going on with my pregnancy, expecting the worst of course.

It was in the OB’s office, sitting there by myself, while my husband was in the hospital, that I finally could NOT¬†hold myself together anymore. The nurse asked me “So, what’s going on, when did the bleeding start?” And the floodgates opened. I was one hot mess in that office. And then came the ultrasound. We discovered 2 things. 1. There were 2 visible sacs on the screen. Twins. I was pregnant with twins. But one of them didn’t appear to be growing well, and starting to disintegrate, which was probably the cause of the bleeding. 2. The other one appeared to be in better shape, with a little baby inside. But I wasn’t far enough along for them to be able to tell for sure if everything was okay or not. So they sent me away to get a blood test (to check¬† hCG levels) and another ultrasound the following week. So there was a small sliver of hope. While it was pretty clear that we were losing one of the twins (one I didn’t even know we were expecting until we were losing him/her), there was still hope for the 2nd one. The hCG test showed that my levels were rising, which was a good sign, but since¬†I was having twins¬†my levels were “unpredictable”, according to the doctor. So ultimately, it would ¬†be¬†the 2nd ultrasound that would hopefully give us a clear answer one way or the other.

Fast forward to that ultrasound a week later (after we’ve been home from the hospital for a few days). Ivor was (barely) able to be there with me for this one. He was in a lot of pain,¬†but he was there.¬†The 2 sacs were still there but the one was significantly smaller than it was the week before, confirming again that we lost one. But then as the ultrasound tech began measuring the 2nd sac with the 2nd baby in it, I knew. I’ve been pregnant enough in the past few years and I’ve seen my fair share of ultrasounds to know what a beating heart looks like, even in the early stages, and there wasn’t one. The tech didn’t say much and asked again if I was still bleeding at the time. I wasn’t. She said to sit down¬†and wait for the doctor to come in to¬†talk to us about the results (again, we know what’s coming at this point). Still though, even with a week to prepare myself for it, and seeing it on the screen with my own eyes, it still hurt like hell to hear the actual words come out of my doctor’s mouth. “No heartbeat”.

That makes 2 miscarriages, and 3 total babies lost. Still as devastating as the first time, even with 2 beautiful, healthy kids at home.

I was considering passing the babies naturally at home, but decided against it given our current circumstances. I was taking care of my husband and our 2 kids and the last thing our family needed was for me to be in pain, cramping and bleeding and not being able to take care of them. So we opted for another D&C procedure.

That was yesterday. And now it’s over.

And it’s a new month.

There’s a lot more I want to write about this whole experience, with Ivor’s accident, and miscarrying for the 2nd time…and the twins. And I know Ivor wants to write about it from his perspective too. But for now, all I can say is that God is still good. And we have never before in our lives been more surrounded by the love and kindness of others. And have never experienced comfort quite like this before.

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).¬†

 

 

A Blessing in the Busyness

Being insanely busy is not ideal. It has a lot of downfalls. In the chaos of “work work work”, “go¬†go go”, it can be difficult to connect. With God, and with each other. But that is the season of life we are in at this moment. We have 2 small kids. A house in Philly (still in the process of renovating). Our own business to run here in the Bay Area, which requires a lot of our time and energy to get going (and The Griffiths don’t half-ass things, we go all in). It’s not like this all the time, there are slow periods. And it’s not how we want things to go forever.¬†That said, I’ve found a blessing in the midst of it all.

I get asked a lot by friends “how do you and your husband find time for each other being so busy (between the kids and the business)?” And it got me thinking…I wonder if things would be different if we weren’t so busy. Being busy has caused us to be very intentional about our time together. Because it doesn’t just happen naturally right now, we have to make an effort to ensure that it¬†happens. And we make the most of it¬†when it does.

During the “slow periods” (normal daily grind seasons of life), it can be very easy to get stuck¬†in a rut. Sit on the couch and stare at the TV all night. That tends to be our rut. But when things are crazy and we haven’t spent much time together, sitting on the couch and staring at a screen is just not acceptable and I don’t allow it to happen ūüôā

So here are the things we do (I shared something like this before …but it’s worth mentioning again).

1. First of all, this wouldn’t happen if we both didn’t agree that marriage is a priority, over everything else (save for our individual relationships with God of course). We could easily put marriage on the back-burner while we raise our kids and run our business. But that’s not the kind of commitment we made to each other on July 17, 2010. Like I said¬†earlier,¬†we’re all in. Putting the kids first, or work first, while our ¬†marriage suffers, is not something we’re going to let happen. Though Satan tries his¬†hardest, he has¬†failed and will continue to fail in all of his efforts. That is all.

2. Date nights.¬†We do a “babysitting exchange” with a friend once a month. I watch their kid while they go out on a date, and she watches our kids so we can go out. It saves us money by not having to pay a sitter and it’s something we actually plan and schedule. Intention. And we have a “radio silence” rule while we’re out (no checking cell phones or tablets, texting or emailing anyone etc.) We have other “date nights” at home too sometimes. After the kids are in bed, we drink wine, eat cheese, rent a movie, talk, etc. Same radio silence rule applies. This is something I’d actually like to do more of. Right now it’s kind of spontaneous and sparse. So, room for improvement here ūüôā

3. Working out together.¬† I’m not saying all couples should do this specific thing (though it does have amazing benefits, for the overall health of your body AND your marriage) but find something fun, challenging, and different to do together that you both enjoy. This is how we got out of our “sit and watch TV” rut. Every night after the kids go to bed, we start Rushfit. It only takes an hour, and then if Ivor needs to get more work done, he does it after. We committed to it and we’re doing it together. Heckling each other (he gets called a pansy or princess on a regular basis), encouraging each other, challenging each other, etc. It doesn’t hurt that he looks pretty hot at the end of the workout.

4. Going to bed at the same time.¬†There is something important about ending the day together I think. At least for me. It just feels wrong (and lonely) going to bed alone (as a married woman). This doesn’t mean we fall asleep at the same time by the way. I tend to be the one who passes out first. And Ivor will read or something if he’s not tired yet. But being in the same room, in the same bed, at the end of¬†a crazy day with the kids (or a crazy day at the office) is a way of unwinding. It’s like a big sigh. No matter what happened that day, whether it was a good day or a bad day, we still have each other. We’re still husband and wife. We’re each other’s constant. We might talk about the day, or we might not talk at all. But we’re both present. Does that make sense? There are very few instances where we don’t do this (like if I’m tired at a ridiculously¬†early time, like 8pm…which happens occasionally, I won’t ask him to come up with me. I know I’m just going to immediately pass out anyway. Or when he has a late night gig or something). But whenever possible, we make it happen.

5. Working together.¬†I can’t help him work on Google stuff obviously (top secret confidential…and ya know, I have no idea how to do what he does). But our business (Bitwise Productions), is our business. So we work on things together whenever we can. He has his part and I have my part, but there are still plenty of things we can do together. That way we can make “work”¬†another way to bring us together instead of keeping us apart. That is the blessing of running a business from home. And the nature of our business (event production) is actually kind¬†of fun. And we get to see¬†just how good of a team we make. Ivor’s the business guy. The big picture guy. He’s the entertainer. And I handle all the details behind the scenes. We need each other. His weakness is my strength and vice versa. We are a team. And that’s why I think our business will be successful.

So that’s where we are right now. We don’t do this perfectly all the time. It’s not the ideal situation we want to be in. I get frustrated and discouraged at times. But instead of letting the busyness put a strain on our marriage, we’re doing our best to make it stronger. While it would be nice to have more quantity time together, the quality time we’re getting now is pretty awesome and we’re not taking that for granted.

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Can We Stop The Husband Bashing, Please?

In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought I’d write a little post about something that’s been on my heart.

I’m part of a private facebook group. I won’t mention specifically which group, but I will say it’s parenting related. And recently there have been several posts from women¬†venting their frustrations about their husbands. And many of these “venting sessions” end up being straight-up “husband-bashing” sessions. And it makes me really sad. I suppose they think it’s BETTER to vent about your husband online, in a private group of strangers, instead of to family or friends who actually KNOW your husband, but I still find it extremely unhealthy, even if what you’re saying about your husband (or wife) is true.

Any form of bashing, insulting, or belittling your spouse to others is extremely disrespectful, in my opinion, and I can’t come up with any good reason for why it might help the situation. I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate issues in a marriage that need to be talked about. I’m not saying bottle up your issues. But release it in a healthy way to the right person, or people. Seek counseling, a trusted adviser, a pastor. Not online to a bunch a people who might give you really horrible advice. Not just because you might get bad advice, or trigger other people¬†to agree and join in on the bashing session, but because,¬†again, it’s¬†horribly disrespectful to do that to your spouse behind their back (or even in front of! which I’ve also seen happen…)

Listen, I’m no relationship or marriage expert. ¬†I’ve got less than 5 years under my belt. But I firmly believe in the golden rule. If my husband went online and aired our dirty laundry, venting about me or¬†insulting me to other people, I would be extremely hurt, and it would put a huge rift in our marriage. We’re both sinners. We fight. We hurt each other. There are things that annoy us about each other. But we talk face to face and work through¬†it. And if a 3rd party ever needed to¬†enter the situation, we’d go to someone we trust. I say that not to pat ourselves on the back. It is only by the grace of God that¬†we don’t even have the desire to do something like that. But¬†that doesn’t mean we always handle things properly when do talk face-to-face about our issues.

But the antidote for all of this, I strongly believe, is to praise your spouse to other people. I came across a small list of benefits to speaking well of your spouse from this article, and I wholeheartedly agree with all 5. This is quoted directly from the article:

  1. You get more of what you affirm. Have you ever noticed that when someone praises you, you want to repeat the behavior that caused it? This is just human nature. It can be a form of manipulation if it isn’t genuine. But it can be a powerful way to motivate others when it is authentic.
  2. Affirmation shifts your attitude toward your spouse. Words are powerful tools. They can create, or they can destroy. They can build up, or they can tear down. I believe most people have a drive to align their actions‚ÄĒand their attitudes‚ÄĒwith their words. If you start speaking well of someone, you start believing what you say.
  3. Affirmation helps strengthen your spouse’s best qualities. Encouragement is also a powerful force for good. All of us need positive reinforcement. This is why when we are losing weight and people notice, it gives us the strength to stick with the program. This is true in every area of life.
  4. Affirmation wards off the temptation of adultery. When others see you are happily married, they are less likely to proposition you. It’s like a hedge that protects your marriage from would-be predators. You simply stop being a target.
  5. Affirmation provides a model to those you lead. To be a truly effective leader, you must lead yourself, and then you must lead your family. Your marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most. When you speak highly of your spouse, your followers are more likely to trust you. It takes your leadership to another level.

What do you think? Do you agree with the list? Would you add any others?

One thing I think it’s safe to say we all can all agree on, is that praising your spouse, instead of bashing them, can only do good things for your relationship. Again, it doesn’t mean you ignore legitimate issues and pretend everything is hunky dory. But when it comes to how you speak of your spouse in front of others, stick to the positive. Like the article¬†mentioned above (and everywhere in the Bible, which is a more reliable source than the article), words are so powerful. Use them carefully. ¬†And if OTHERS¬†are speaking poorly of your spouse, step up and defend! “Love always protects.” It protects your spouse and your marriage from any attempt to destroy it, including the harmful words of others.

Now the one thing I haven’t mentioned, is that words are a reflection of what’s really in your heart (Matthew 12:34). So if you find in yourself the desire to go off about how horrible your spouse is and insult them in front of others, or even insult them directly to their face, there’s a much bigger issue going on. I love what my former Pastor always said about apologies. Saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean what I said” is a bunch of crap. Saying, “I’m sorry I meant that” is a more genuine apology. You don’t say stuff you don’t mean. It’s all about getting to the root of the problem.

Goodness…now I’m going off on a tangent and getting off track. I should just end with this, because I believe in practicing what I preach. Here are the things I love and admire about my husband:

1. He is a ridiculously hard worker. He uses every available resource, gift and talent he’s been given to provide for our family. He gets crap done and makes things happen.¬†I hope our children have his work ethic.

2. He¬†is really great at admitting when he’s wrong, and is always willing to talk things¬†through to determine whether or not he was¬†in the wrong in any given situation.

3. While he is the leader in our home, decisions are always a team effort. He consults me and values my opinion on things.

4. He loves his kids and makes the most of the time spent with them, despite a very busy season of life. He plays catch, builds blocks, wrestles, gives baths and tucks in whenever he is able. And our kids adore him. I love seeing Gwen’s face light up when she hears the garage door open and exclaims, “YAY! DADDY HOME!!!”

5. He hugs and kisses me in front of them (the kids). A habit we intend to keep up with as long as they’re living under our roof ūüôā

6. He has many interests and hobbies and includes me in almost all of them. It makes for a fun, adventurous marriage, and fosters the friendship part of our marriage.

7. He is passionate. About everything.

8. He is not content not knowing how to do something. He will look stuff up. He will figure out how it works.

9. He reminds me of my dad sometimes. From how he gets annoyed by stupid people, dislikes crowds, to the way he sneezes. I know that sounds weird. But there ya have it

10. He is just as passionate as I am about keeping our marriage a priority and encouraging others to do so in their marriages.

Man, I’m not kidding when I say that just going through that list right now filled me with warm fuzzy feelings for that man. #2 in that list (of benefits) is for real! Anyway. Go praise your spouse. That is all.

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I’m a Wife First

On a mom blog you’ll find posts mostly about, well…being a mom. Milestones, updates, funny stories and pictures, etc. But in honor of my 4th wedding anniversary this week (July 17th), I’m dedicating this post to marriage/my husband. Because before I became a mom, I became a wife. And my marriage takes priority over my kids (*GASP*, yes, really). Having a strong marriage makes me a better mom. It just does. Disclaimer: I’m not saying single parents can’t be¬†good parents (I know plenty of amazing¬†single parents). I’m just talking about my situation¬†here. Everyone has different life circumstances. I’m just commenting¬†on mine, lest I offend anyone (which is apparently really easy to do online…have you read the comments on articles that get shared all over facebook? Don’t. You’ll lose all faith in humanity. Online commenters are monsters.)

Moving on.

I remember Ivor telling me once that someone “joked” to him about how once you have kids, you (the husband) are no longer the priority, but you’re even below pets. It was said in jest, but sadly I think there’s some truth to it. It’s easy for “mommy” to become your whole identity and consume your life. It is a pretty demanding role. Time consuming. Physically, mentally and emotionally draining at times. So keeping my husband and my marriage a priority requires actual effort. It doesn’t come naturally. I need to be intentional about it. I’m not content¬†shrugging my shoulders¬†thinking¬†“well, this is¬†just the way it’s going to be for now while our kids are so young…we’ll get back to our marriage eventually”. ¬†I don’t believe it was God’s design for marriages to just “get by”, but rather, to thrive and actually be enjoyed and be fulfilling! Even when kids come into the picture.

So there are a few practical things we’ve¬†done to try to keep marriage a priority . Not to say we do it perfectly all the time. There’s always room for improvement and it requires a lot of flexibility and grace. This is just what we’ve found to work for us right now, most of the time.

1. Going to bed at the same time. Even if I’m exhausted and he’s not, just being in the same room, in the same bed, makes a difference.¬†Seems obvious, but the physical proximity to each other makes us feel closer (go figure). The times when I’ve gone upstairs to bed and he stayed downstairs to watch TV (or vice versa) just felt strange and not right. So we go upstairs at the same time. Even if one of us falls asleep while the other reads/listens to music in headphones or whatever.

2. Along those lines, we like keeping our bedroom *ours*, a sacred place just for us, not our kids. Yes, we kept the babies in with us during¬†those first few weeks of their lives, because it’s just easier for the nursing thing. But¬†once they start sleeping better through the night, into their own room they go. I know everyone’s time table for that is different. But it was important to us. Once you have kids, they kind of take over the whole house. Their things are everywhere and it’s a shared space. But our bedroom is the one¬†place that we always want to just be ours, and off-limits to the kiddos (for obvious reasons).

3. Finding something to do together. Friendship is an important part of marriage so taking an interest in the other’s hobbies/activities is one way to maintain our friendship. It’s pretty easy to do when you have similar interests of course. For us, music is an important part of his life (and I like music). It’s¬†a hobby and a passion for him, but it’s also¬†how we’re replacing my income since I’ve stopped working outside the home. So since he¬†can get pretty busy with music stuff, I participate in it with him when I can.¬†I’ll give my honest opinion on whether something sounds good or terrible (and he appreciates that). I’ll sit with him while he’s working on audio or video editing, and offer my creative expertise, etc.¬†I’m also doing a lot of administrative work for the business (keeping track of gigs, calendars, social media, making flyers etc.). While I can’t always be at his shows with him, it’s how I can still participate in that part of his life. It’s not just his thing, it’s our thing.

4. Taking¬†time to talk about our day. Whether it’s at night right before bed, early in the morning before the kids wake up, or at the dinner table. Spending time each day to just talk about what happened at work, or at home, telling him all the crazy things Gwen did, etc. Recapping what goes on while we’re not together is a good way to keep us connected. I like to know how his job is going and how I can pray for him. Likewise, he likes to know how crazy my day was, what the kids were up to and how he can pray for me. And it’s also a chance to brainstorm together how to handle certain parenting situations (now that Gwen is a toddler….lots of those conversations are starting to happen lol).

5. Part of #4 sort of, sitting down at the table and sharing a meal together. We both love food. Like, a lot. Good food. And good wine. We appreciate it. And we like enjoying that together. I once received a voicemail from him that was all about an amazing burrito he just ate lol. And I’m¬†very blessed to have a husband who doesn’t just love good food, but can also¬†MAKE¬†really good food. He makes most of our meals. He¬†loves to do it. And I love to eat it. He likes seeing my face as I taste his delicious food and I like having the¬†opportunity to compliment his superior cooking skills, especially when I didn’t have to prepare it. He cooks, I clean. It works perfectly ūüôā

So those are ¬†just a few things we’ve made an effort to do in our marriage to keep it a priority. I’d love to hear other suggestions! I should also note that this is all under the umbrella of GRACE and PRAYER. Lots of it! What holds our family together is not our list of 5 things, or our resolve to just “try harder” every day. It’s a complete dependence on God, his grace and goodness to us. His constant work in us. Because if we only relied on ourselves to accomplish those 5 things, we’d fail. Every day.

Thanks be to God for an amazing, adventure-filled 4 years of marriage! I look forward to many many more years of adventure (and good food).

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Pregnancy Update- 34 Weeks!

How far along? 34 weeks
Total weight gain/loss: almost 30 lbs
Maternity Clothes? of course
Stretch marks? Nope
Sleep: constantly interrupted by the need to pee
Best moment this week:  I ate entire pint of ice cream in one sitting, cookies-n-cream, but it was organic so that makes it okay, right?
Miss Anything? being comfortable
Movement?¬†oh yes, he is quite the active little bugger like his sister was….he’s also positioned with his feet ready to kick me in the ribs whenever he feels like it (which is often)…and like his sister, it’s always on the right side…
Food Cravings? ALL THE SWEET THINGS. (nothing changed here)
Anything making you queasy or sick? meh, not really anymore
Have you started to show? Only getting bigger at this point
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Labor Signs?¬†Braxton hicks ¬†(practice contractions)…especially on days when I’m really active and not drinking enough water
Belly button in or out?¬†Oh it’s out there now
Wedding rings off or on?  Still on!
Happy or Moody most of the time?¬†I think I’m happy most of the time lately, but it wouldn’t take much to set me off
Wisdom:¬†Seeing your husband as a daddy is extremely attractive. I learned¬†this¬†when Gwen was first born but it only gets better, the other night he tucked in a stuffed bunny and I tell you that¬†man has never been more sexy (maybe those are the pregnancy hormones talking….moving on!)
Looking forward to:¬†¬†Having the little man on the outside of my body. Pregnancy is beautiful and amazing, but there comes a point when¬†you’re just ready to have your normal body back and be¬†holding him in your arms instead…and I’m pretty close to that point.

 

Darkness is My Closest Friend (Psalm 88) Part 4

This is the fourth and final post in my story of pregnancy loss. If you haven’t already done so, read Part 1, 2 and 3 first.

To wrap up the story I’ll focus on what I learned and how I grew from the experience, and how my hope was restored. As I mentioned at the end of my last post, the happy ending is not the birth of Gwen. I’m not sure where in the healing process I’d be right now if I was still childless. I know that God just giving me what I want is not the solution to suffering or the answer to make the pain go away. I do know that getting pregnant with Gwen did not “make up for” my loss or make it hurt any less. And I know myself and the¬†tendencies¬†of my heart enough to know that I may not be writing these posts right now if I didn’t get pregnant again so quickly. I just wanted to acknowledge that for anyone who might be thinking “easy for you to say”. I know. But the experience was not in vain.

*The reason for suffering. Despite my best efforts, I could find no good reason for what happened. While suffering can sometimes be a result of bad choices we make, most of the time bad things happen simply because we live in a fallen world and no one is immune to suffering. No one. Sin entered the world a long time ago in a garden and ever since, things just aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. Crap happens. Once I accepted that, I was able to let go of the control I thought I had and move on. If I was still stuck on the “why” question, I wouldn’t have been able to ¬†heal and move on with my life. Didn’t happen overnight, it was gradual. But I got there by the grace of God.

*How God used my suffering. I do not believe God causes suffering, but He allows it and uses it for his good. I realize there are many people reading this who may disagree and I’m not going to get into a theological debate in this space (but feel free to message me about it and I’d be happy to elaborate). So what good could possibly come from my suffering? Well for one, a deeper relationship with God. The times in my life when I am most hurt, upset, broken, etc. is when I have the most intimate moments with God. It’s an opportunity for me to acknowledge how much I need him. When things are going well, I tend to ignore him. And like any relationship, it would be kind of shallow without dealing with the hard stuff. God used this¬†experience¬†to deepen our relationship. Likewise, it caused my relationship with my husband to grow. It brought us even closer together. Would I ever ask for this kind of experience to happen in order for my marriage to grow? Of course not. But trials and storms are going to happen. They just are. Matthew 7:24-27 tells the story of the wise and foolish builder. It was my prayer at the beginning of our marriage that we’d be wise builders, building our house (marriage) on the rock (God) so that when the storms come (and they will), our house would stand. It stands and we’re even stronger because of it. If we had built our house on the sand (anything other than God, such as warm fuzzy feelings or attraction alone), then it’s likely our house would fall with a great crash the moment a storm comes. Which is why I think divorce is so common nowadays…but that’s another post for another time. I digress.

*There is an end to suffering. For a non-believer, “life sucks and then you die”. There’s no hope in that statement. For believers, life still sucks sometimes, but God is faithful, He heals and restores and promises an end. That end is not death. That’s why we don’t grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4). We still grieve, yes. But with hope!

*We don’t have to suffer alone. Go ahead and browse the book of Psalms. Or the book of Job. Read about Paul’s experience in the New Testament. We’ve been suffering for a long time. Share your story of suffering on your blog, and see how many people speak up about a similar experience. Thank God we don’t have to go through life alone. The body of Christ is to be just that, the “hands and feet” of Jesus. We don’t have Jesus here in the flesh at the moment, but he gives us His Spirit to live within us and other believers to surround us and carry our burdens, cry with us, pray with us, mourn with us and rejoice with us.

I’m sure I haven’t covered everything I possibly could have in my story of pregnancy loss and suffering and it might not be as cohesive as I would’ve liked (writing in several parts on different days whenever I can find time doesn’t make that easy to do). But I hope it was an encouragement to someone who read it, despite that. And if so, please know it was not my doing, but God’s. He put it on my heart to share my story, and there is certainly no power in my words.

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3 Years!

On July 17, 2009 I didn’t even know Ivor Griffiths existed. On July 17, 2010 he became my husband. What a difference a year makes! And while I’m at it….in July 2011 we moved to California. In July 2012, we found out we were expecting Gwen. Heh. No news this July…but there’s still 2 weeks left lol.

Happy 3 years to my love and my best friend!

 

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