Tag: Christian

Advice for a young, Christian geek seeking a relationship

A while back Shamus and I received an email from young Christian, geek gentleman seeking Godly council on seeking a mate. That email ended up in an email account that I “lost” when I upgraded my computer to Mint from Ubuntu. Shamus looked over my answers and gave them a thumbs up but never got around to sharing his own answers (it has been a super busy couple of months.) Today another young male geek friend asked for advice on marriage and it reminded me of the questions we received from this young man trying to figure out what to be looking for in a wife. I think my answers apply to both, especially as I have found myself repeating several of them in the last months in other places. So here you go, my advice,  after 16 years of marriage and 21 years of knowing each other as a couple of geeks and Christians all rolled in to one.

 

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1) Has your relationship always been built on a strong Christian foundation, or were there some struggles in the beginning? I know that you mentioned you and Shamus argued a lot about the Bible 

and God. What kinds of things were deal-breakers for you both? How did you reconcile those differences? What do you still both disagree on to this day?

When we were dating I was Roman Catholic– a strong, determined, deep in the culture Roman Catholic. Shamus was a non-practicing Christian. I was actively seeking and gradually God brought me around through my study of the Roman Catholic Bible (slightly different– more books, but I had been taught had all the RC traditions within so when I looked and the Bible said the opposite of what I had been taught it lead to a crisis of faith.) A week or so after we were married I was baptized by dunking (rather than the dipping I had received as a child) and started diving in to the Bible wholeheartedly. At that time Shamus just kind of came along for the ride (he was working things out internally but I wasn’t seeing any changes so didn’t even know at the time.) . I was zealous and growing leaps and bounds every day and determined to learn all I could about this new thing. I was sharing all I was learning and at that time Shamus was happy to just sit back and watch. I am sure there were many things we disagreed on but he saw fit to keep his mouth shut except for in the things he felt were important. Shamus has been blessed with the gift of discernment for a very long time and in this, he knew it was best to keep out of it and let me grow. Later he went through his own growth spurts and yes, there are some things we are not in wholehearted agreement on, I am sure.

We have studied in different ways completely (I have read straight through multiple times and have a special heart for the Old Testament while Shamus has done in depth study via audio Bible of the New Testament so that combined with what the Holy Spirit has spoken to each of us colors our perceptions.) Instead of focusing on those things when one of us comes up with something we see differently we wait and pray and very seldom discuss except in a conversational tone. No point in arguing– in the end the Lord usually opens our eyes and shows us that we have both just been seeing the area from a different angle and that we actually are pretty much agreed.

2) I know that this question is cliche, but I still need to ask it. What would you tell yourselves before you got married, if you could? “Hey younger Shamus, don’t forget to pick up your socks”

I would tell myself to stop whining and complaining, to focus on the positive, to start changing myself instead of trying to change him. In fact just the other day I gave similar advice to a young woman who was asking about marriage and how people can stay in love for so long. My answer to her was the same: Recognizing that only God can change another person– you WILL NOT change them and if you attempt it they WILL resent it. Instead focus on becoming the very best person God has for you to be, follow His direction, pray for wisdom, pray for discernment, seek Him and He will work it out. Also, we all bring baggage into our relationships–our perceptions are colored by them. We have to recognize this and find out what the other person MEANT, not just how we perceived it. Nearly all the marriage problems we have had have come down to communication and perception. And talking to another lady married for the same amount of time to a completely different type of person, she said the same exact thing. So communication and perception- praying for wisdom before opening your mouth. That would be a huge thing I would tell myself (I was NOT wise, at all, so I really needed to pray for wisdom.)

(On a side note, Shamus STILL leaves his socks on the floor but now I understand why– so they can dry and he can put them back on because they got wet.:D)

3) Heather, where do you draw the line between supporting your husband’s passions, and pushing him to be more “grown up”? Some of the “Christian girls” I meet make it clear that this whole nerd thing is just a phase, and they aim to change that. Needless to say I don’t often go on a second date with those. But what qualities should I look for in a woman who can be both supportive of my passions, and still call me out if I’m being a child and playing video games all day?
Hmmm, I think comes back to this “not trying to change the other person” problem. This is something we females are excellent at attempting. Every fairy-tale, every princess, every romance– all come down to trying to change the other person instead of being happy with them as they are and with who you are.

I DID try to change him in this regard (I have a post brewing about that, about valuing another person’s interests because they have value to that other person.) Even though I knew when dating Shamus that he could spend 9 hours programming while I looked on, that he would stay up all night playing a video game without blinking an eye, it made me angry once we were married and had kids. I tried to force him to go out with me even when he had a brand new game or the programming bug had hit. Thankfully Shamus is strong in his passions and refuses to let others stand in the way of them and only gave in very occasionally. Those things that I did not value, that I thought were useless, those very
things lead to him being the person he is today, to the very jobs he does today. (It’s almost as if God knew what He was doing when He designed Shamus. ;P)

Now I recognize that playing video games all day can lead to great things and can’t imagine asking him not to or calling it childish. In fact, I, when I have time, like to play video games all day as well. It is a family activity for us, one that we all value and enjoy, and the growth and learning that has come out of it is one that I would not trade for anything.

On the other hand I have also learned that it is okay to let him know that I have barely seen him in a few days and that I am starting to feel unloved (if you get a chance and haven’t already, read The 5 Love Languages”. It has been a huge help in our marriage in understanding how each of us gives and receives love and how we perceive it. I am a “acts of service” and “spend time with me” person, Shamus is an “encouragement” and “physical touch” person. This made our early marriage life horrible as we kept trying to show love and get love in our own love languages and nothing was working.

Qualities? I would say valuing what others value because the others value it and not showing contempt for what you value. Those are killers in a relationship, regardless of the passions/interests involved. As I have discussed with my kids repeatedly– if someone can’t respect what you love regardless of what it is and how they feel about it then they are not going to respect you. Of course that goes the other direction as well, if you don’t respect HER interests then same thing goes. Either you will end up trying to change to make them happy (and likely will fail horribly and make yourself miserable) or you will spend you time fighting and miserable. Either way that is not how God designed marriage
to be. God is love, all the law comes down to love God and love others, where is love in contempt, whining, complaining, arguing, disrespecting others? It isn’t. That is not God’s way, nor is it God’s plan for us in our relationships.

So valuing others, having respect for other’s interests, not whining, complaining, putting down those interests, but honest when need time. Someone seeking God with all her heart and genuinely trying to get at the truth, not just trying to fit what Christian culture says a Godly woman looks like (my goodness do they have that one whacked out), those would be good qualities.
4) Do either of you attend a church? Or do you participate in a family bible study? How does your family pursue God?
The whole church thing was a huge point of contention for a long time (RC-me meant not going to church was a sin). God changed my heart on that and now has opened my eyes to corporate worship not = “the church”. The church is God’s people, wherever they are and wherever we find them, not a physical place. Physical place is fine if you want it or need it and don’t have natural fellowship with other Christians but is not necessary to growth. In our case it was only after we left the physical church (Baptist then Christian and Missionary Alliance) that God started really growing us individually and as a family.

We celebrate Saturday Sabbath (not all the trappings, just take a day of rest as a family) and try to at least have a time of listening to God’s word together then. We often will spontaneously do so at other times as well. We listen to the Bible, pause and discuss as anyone has questions or a revelation, then move on. We pray together regularly and with whoever is available anytime we feel the need– which is often, multiple times a day most days. We keep Bibles open in different rooms including the bathroom so it is always open and ready for reading. We discuss what God is doing in our lives all the time. He is a regular part of every day.

That said we do not do formal “bible study”. In general neither Shamus nor I finds reading what someone else says about God’s word, aside from information on original culture and meaning of words, is very helpful. There are very few authors that I have found helpful in my personal walk (Seth Barnes and John Eldredge as well as Elisabeth Eliot and Oswald Chambers being the few that I go back to.) Mostly I prefer to focus on God’s word and see what He shows me through the Spirit. Shamus is the same way. On the other hand there have been some excellent Christian books on relationships that have helped including “The Five Love Languages”, “Captivating”, and “Men are Like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti”.
546610_10151048843109335_607917733_n5) Biggest struggles? Another cliche question, but it is different from couple to couple.
Personality + baggage + love language= issues, definitely. The combination of my neediness (thanks to baggage from childhood and family relationship issues) and Shamus’ natural fear of failure and rejection (also baggage related) mixed with me being more extroverted than he and wanting to fix everything and him feeling I was telling him he had failed every time I tried to fix things, mixed up with our very opposite love languages made things extra complicated. Throw in a complete lack of financial wisdom on both of our parts, a very needy, very extroverted oldest child with health issues, our own health issues, and were it not for God’s grace it would have been a recipe for disaster. Instead God used it all to grow us up and change us and once we got over our idiocy bring us to a new place in our marriage that we never would have imagined possible in the first half (I would say the huge explosion that could have lead to our downfall but instead brought
about a renewed marriage was 8 years ago, so now half or marriage away and the second half has been amazing.) Yes, marriage is still work but we complete each other, hold each other up, encourage and help each other grow in the direction God is leading. I can’t imagine life without Shamus and I know he feels the same way about me.

6) Another other advice for a young padawan?

Seek God first. Focus on being the very best He has for you. Focus on hearing His voice (it can be awfully quiet at times), get to know Him through His Word and be open to where He leads, let Him show you His love– learn to see it in all the ways He reveals it.

Get to know yourself. Recognize your own struggles, sin areas, love language, and personality type (Myers-Briggs/Keirsey Temperament sorter is very helpful.) Look at your relationships, learn to be the best friend you can be.

Don’t go searching for someone to complete you, instead let God complete you. When the time is right He will bring the right person into your life, someone who will respect you for who you are without trying to change you, someone you can love as she is.

 

And once you are in a relationship recognize that love isn’t just a feeling. It takes hard work to maintain a relationship and sometimes you will NOT feel loving. Sometimes you will fall madly in love all over again but sometimes? Not. At. All. Sometimes she will make you crazy. Sometimes you will make her crazy. Push through and keep choosing to love her.  Keep praying that God would change the stuff that needs change in you and keep choosing  to love anyway. You WILL get through it. God will help you. You can do it. God bless you.


A Day in the Life of this Christian Unschooling Family

This morning I decided today was a good day to do a post like this.  Then things got crazy so I decided to write as I go–which would be great if it weren’t already 3:45pm.  I have been taking pictures as the day goes, well until 1:00 but you will see.  Is this a normal day?  We don’t have a “normal” day, is it typical?  Yes, in that everyday the kids, Shamus, and I all have projects we are doing and interruptions that take on a life of their own.  Word of warning, it was a long day so it follows after the jump.Read More

Unschooling photo journal 2

One of my favorite things is the togetherness of my children.

Sure they fight but the stigma of “brother” or “sister” is lost when they are constant companions.

Brother and sister take on their old meaning of loved one.

Their companionship and friendship is a blessing.

Though they may not recognize it until they are older.

And when there is discord they are learning to fix the broken ties,

quickly and effectively,

Which will also be a blessing in the future.

On Heartache, Marriage, and Freedom in Christ

Now I am blessed with a wonderful marriage with a great guy who hates being interrupted and never leaves the house.  (This has the wonderful benefit of meaning that though he may get caught up in a project he is hardly likely to leave me.:))  On the other hand I have several friends who are in various stages of dealing with divorce and lots of other stuff, none of whom chose divorce or the other stuff,  all had it thrust upon them.  Some made poor decisions that helped to get them where they are but all of them love the Lord and tried their best to glorify God where they ended up.  Most of them have unbelieving spouses who have chosen to do things their own way.   All have children.  My heart aches for each of them.

I spent some time today wandering around my jungle of a garden, full of weeds and chosen plants, thinking about the heartache and murmured prayers and what Christ can possibly be doing in all of these situations.  You see I know that God uses ALL things for the good of those who love Him. But sometimes it can be hard to believe.

I know that God is using this to show His power and truth and will use this to glorify His name, but it is so hard to stand by and watch these beautiful sisters in Christ struggle and hurt.

And yet, I am seeing each of these beautiful women bloom in ways they have never done before.  I am seeing them put down firm roots in Christ, drawing their strength and nourishment from Him alone.

I am seeing them grow taller and stronger in Him than I have ever seen them before.  Seeing this changes my prayer from , “Lord, make their path easy,” to “Lord, strengthen them to endure, give them wisdom and your perfect peace.”

Seeing them grow in such adversity, seeing them thrive even, is amazing.  Knowing the fruit that will be born from this horrible thing, from this brokenness, gives me hope.


I know that God is using this to show His power and truth and will use this to glorify His name.

Seeing so many fighting to survive the same thing at one time reminds me that we are in a battle, not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against evil personified.  It gives me hope knowing that they are not alone, that we are at war  and that we, as Christians, are in it together.

Seeing them draw strength out of Christ reminds me to stand strong on His promises, to remember our freedom in Christ.

No more are we bound by our environment.  No more are we trapped in our pasts.  No more need we be afraid of our future.  Christ has set us free and therefore we are free indeed.

All this thinking reminded me of the girl in the story of the red dancing shoes.  Her own sin bound her up and in the story she was never set free.  But we are free in Christ, and He is using ALL that happens to us and around us to grow us.  He has taken off those red shoes and given us our freedom to dance for His glory.  I think of each of these women, at whatever stage they are in, and imagine them dancing freely for His glory.  Free of struggle, free of hurt, free of worry.  God is in control and He has set us free.


Like-minded

As most of the people who read my blog know we are kind of an odd family–we are geeky, Christian, health conscious (in the eat organic and food allergies way), unschoolers, who work at home, and church at home.  It is hard to find people who “get” us in one of those areas, let alone in a few, and nearly impossible to find them who get all (and we notice that usually those who don’t “get” us are rather uncomfortable with our lifestyle and tend to want to  “fix” us.  This wouldn’t be a problem except that we are called, as Christians, to fellowship with one another and to not neglect meeting together. I have tried joining secular unschool groups and hanging out on regular Christian home school group–neither has worked out very well.

Finally, all in one day, just as my husband and I were discussing the need to find some sort of fellowship and my oldest asked if we were the ONLY Christians who unschooled I ran into THREE Christian unschoolers online AND found a Christian unschool forum and 2 Christian unschooling e-zines.  Woohoo!

First the e-zines and forums:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Chr-U (Christian unschooling forum)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ChristianUnschooling (e-zine)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Seedling (e-zine)

Now for the blogs!

One of these wonderful ladies,Jena,  who has older children who are older than mine but the same distance apart has begun putting together a list of Christian unschoolers.

Here are some other like-minded ladies:

Danielle

Toni

Renae

Deb

Sandie

Lobug

Sara

Genevieve

Updated to add two more:

Amanda

Laurie

I know there are more out there though I haven’t found them yet.  It is so good to know we are NOT the only ones!

Serverlicious and strange answers to prayer

I just spent the last 7 hours trying to fix what was broken with my server–the one where I host 20 different blogs plus several stores. I am finally, I hope and pray, finished. That was arduous and panicky.

The good news is that not only did I fix everything (with a ton of prayer included) but I also managed to deal with some issues that needed dealt with. Some cleaning up, deleting of unused stuff, updating plugins, all the stuff I hate about running things and usually put off.

Finally, we had an answer to prayer. In order to explain I need to tell you a story.

As you may know I have my teacher’s certification in both Elementary Ed and Special Ed which means in this state I can teach all grades practically anything. When I got pregnant with Rachel we, after, much prayer, decided I needed to stay home and home school. However we were in huge amounts of debt and when Rachel was about 11 months old we felt the pinch. We decided that I needed to go back to subbing and let my mother-in-law babysit just so we could fill in the monetary gaps and start paying down debt.

This should have been fine. Rachel loved being at Grandma’s and seldom fussed when there. She also had been sleeping through the night since day one. There was absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t take the occasional subbing job to help us make ends meet. At least that is whjat we thought.

I got my name back into the system and got my first call to sub. I was supposed to teach 8th through 10th History for one of my old teachers at my old high school. I had plenty of time to prepare. I made arrangements for my mother-in-law to pick up Rachel, had everything all ready to go the nigh before, everything was set–or should have been.

That night, for the first time in her entire life, Rachel would not sleep. She was up screaming every single half hour, all night long. At roughly 2 am I was exhausted and spent the next hour frantically searching for the call back number to tell them I couldn’t sub. I never found it though we did realize that God did not intend for me to be working outside the home.

It took me a while to learn the lesson but every time I tried to take some new work on–babysitting at home, designing baby clothes, whatever, everything would fall soundly apart.

Over and over the Lord reestablished that my main focus was to be our children and that He would provide for us as long as that was the case.

Yesterday my husband and I were discussing our income and how we could bring in more. As you know I have a small but big for me web design business and as well as commissioned art. My husband is already working 4 different jobs from home and can barely handle it all as it is so the next obvious choice was for me to get a part time job. We spent some time discussing it and decided to pray about it. We did then today happened.

When we prayed together about this situation suddenly everything started getting fixed and falling into place. I could finally relax and we realized that we had our answer to whether I needed a part time job. The answer was NO.

Not only that but I suddenly have a few other paying projects in my hands which I could not do if I were working outside the home.

God has promised to take care of us and He has and He will for He continues to be Jehovah Jireh.  And days like this when He reminds me He wants me to be home and be available make me want to go bake cookies, read to my kids, and go all domestic.

Resurrection Celebration

As I mentioned, we don’t do the plastic eggs and Easter bunny holiday–we celebrate it differently–and we call it Resurrection Day. It doesn’t roll off the tongue but it is a reminder of the Truth which is the whole point. I should add here that I ran into Michael’s and then the grocery store this evening to pick up some things because we are supposed to get up to 5 inches of snow tonight. Both places the cashier wished me a Happy Easter. Funny how “Happy Easter” is all right but “Merry Christma” isn’t. Fine by me. The resurrection was the point of it all anyway. 🙂

Aside from the wooden eggs celebrating Holy Week we have several other things we do to commemorate the day of Christ’s Resurrection.  They aren’t big fancy traditions full of pastel springy things and decorations instead they are quiet joyful things, reminders of what He did and why.

We spend Friday cleaning and preparing.  Friday is a day of mourning and peace.  Christ has died, Christ as risen, Christ has come again.   We pause on the died for a day and remember.  We spend the day preparing for His resurrection, cleaning everything much like the Jews prepare for the week of passover–removing all the “yeast” from the house, cleaning every corner, renewing our hearts.  Mind youI have three kids helping so things don’t get quite that clean but is a reminder.

Saturday is a day of quiet.  We only have one egg on Saturday–the closed tomb.  We wait–and while we are waiting we make gifts for friends and neighbors (we do chocolate and cookies because that is what we always do.:)  No chocolate crosses though.  We don’t have many crosses in our house–only our wedding rings which have a plain cutout cross and the wedding cross from our wedding cake.  The cross was an instrument of torture so no chocolate crosses–actually no shaped candy, lots of covered and filled but no shaped ones.)

And Sunday.  Resurrection Sunday is a day of great joy.  I wake extra early and wake each of the children sharing the good news that He is risen. They each bath–symbolizing being cleansed in the blood, then put on their new clothes–a symbol of our new self.  We eat breakfast together (usually pancakes) then we bake bread together to be eaten with dinner.

Later, for our time of worship we hide all our holy week eggs again so the kids get one last chance to find them all–then they tell the final story of the triumph of Christ over death. We sing songs of His triumph and resurrection. They get a small gift —usually something crafty that they can do while waiting for grandparents who will likely bring some sort of lamb type thing because they like to buy them stuffed things and Shamus and I say no bunnies or chicks.

Then for dinner we have lamb–another symbol, as well as the fresh baked bread and our favorite celebratory foods.

And so it goes. It is nothing compared to the typical Easter Celebration that others do but it is rich in symbolism and joy.