The Sibling Whisperer

That’s right.  We have the “Sibling Whisperer” right here in our home.

We have known for a long time just how special Liam is to us.  But his abilities, or gifts we should say, never cease to amaze us.

As we enter the third year of blending our family, many challenges remain.  We have written quite a bit about the difficulty in bringing four very different kids together to live and love in one family unit.

However, we had a breakthrough during our summer vacation.  And that breakthrough was led by our very own “Sibling Whisperer”.

Let us tell you a little more about Liam.  He was born with Down syndrome.  Continue reading “The Sibling Whisperer”

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2nd Anniversary

You wouldn’t think these low numbered milestones are very important.  But given the chaos we have gone through in our first two years of marriage, we are here to tell you that it is a BIG ONE for us!

Some days, it seems like we’ve been married for 5, 7 or even 10 years.  We have gone through more difficult experiences than any “typical” honeymoon couple would go through.

Most “typical” honeymoon couples go through issues of money, sex, and leaving the cap off the toothpaste! We are happy to say those haven’t been our issues.

However, as a remarried couple and one working on blending a family, our issues have been: ex- spouses, parenting styles, health issues and putting each other, and our marriage, first when we were both used to putting our children first for so many years during our divorce.

Here’s where we are today. Continue reading “2nd Anniversary”

It’s Time To Speak Up At Church

So many of us look for guidance, help, shelter, comfort and advice from our churches.  But we sometimes fail to appreciate and recognize that, just like us, churches aren’t perfect.

Churches try to serve as many as they can in their congregation with different programs and ministries.  But, after all, they will never fully know the needs of their congregation unless we tell them straight up what WE need.  Or unless they ask and we answer honestly and openly.

According a survey by LifeWay Research and Focus on the Family, 75% of Pastors say they are doing enough in their church to help marriages.  Yet only 69% of churches have an ongoing ministry.  That’s a mighty big disconnect.  (In New Hampshire it is more like 95% of churches that don’t have a marriage ministry).  Great article here about the challenges Pastors face with marriage ministries.

When we entered the marriage ministry one year ago, we were somewhat critical of  churches for not prioritizing and focusing on what we believe to be the overarching issue in the breakdown of our families across America.  We believe that is marriage.  And we believe that marriage should be the priority of every church.  But we are just two people who don’t have a say – which is why we are here writing. Continue reading “It’s Time To Speak Up At Church”

Summer Is Busy! But I Have A Lighthouse.

We have been quiet this summer.  When you have 4 kids off from school and full time jobs, summer can just be sheer craziness.

You try to enjoy time as a couple…

You try to enjoy time as a family…

You try to stay on top of your duties at work…

BUT – you fail because you can’t do it all.

As Joya and I approach our second wedding anniversary, I am so thankful to have found my earthly Lighthouse – my love Joya.  Joya is an amazing woman who has endured more than a wife should in the first two years of marriage.  I have seen and witnessed her pain.  And as her husband I feel it too.

Together, we have faced more struggles than couples should face during our honeymoon period – almost all of it out of our control.  Yet, how we approach those struggles IS within our control and we continue to work on our marriage, and our communication with each other, so we can weather the storms when the unexpected ones hit.

I know these struggles have and will continue to make us stronger.  We are aware of the blessings we receive every week.  We know God is preparing us for good and big things ahead.  And we know we are here to share our struggles and triumphs with YOU!  Throughout this crazy summer we have shared some great times as a family!

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We’ll share more about our summer at a later time.  In the meantime, I hope you find time to spend with your spouse – and family – all while working your job!  Just know you can’t do it all and that’s ok.  No one expects you to do it all.  You just do your best while trying super hard to remain a loving and respectful spouse.

Blessings to you all!

–Mike

 

 

Here’s A Question: What Is Marriage?

Ask that question and everyone will have a different marriage:

“Marrying your best friend”

“Living life with your soulmate”

“Not being able to live without your partner”

We just finished the Love & Respect video series and cannot even begin to tell you how much we learned about marriage, relationships, men and women, and most importantly the role of God in our marriage.

As we all know, dealing with conflict in marriage is the 800 pound gorilla.  Continue reading “Here’s A Question: What Is Marriage?”

It’s Just Another Day?

Joya and I usually write posts together but I’m taking this one solo.

Father’s Day has taken on a much different tone since my divorce. For several years now I have not had my children on Father’s Day. I try to convince myself it’s not really a big deal. I’ll see them in a few more days and we’ll do something special together.

Probably the hardest thing is that everyone else makes a big deal about Father’s Day (understandably) starting first thing in the morning at church. So when churches ask Dad’s to stand, I don’t get to thank God for my kids and look at them at the same time. As much as I try to escape everyone else’s focus on it – it’s just plain hard to avoid and pretend that it’s just another day. Continue reading “It’s Just Another Day?”

50th Anniversary!

As we sit here at the 50th anniversary of the New Hampshire Special Olympics Summer Games – it gives us great perspective on life.

In marriage, so many of our challenges come from being two different people with opposing viewpoints.

Here, we are watching a community of Special Olympics athletes who have intellectual and/or physical challenges because they were either born with them or had some event that caused their disability.

Michael’s son, Liam, was born with Down syndrome. For those who don’t know, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, moderate intellectual disability and characteristic facial features. Continue reading “50th Anniversary!”

We owe it to our kids

When we got remarried, one of our goals was to model a loving, healthy marriage for our 4 children.  While this has remained in the forefront of our minds, the world around us has given more meaning to this specific goal.

We all have seen it, though it may not immediately register because we are so busy with our own lives, our own struggles and our own celebrations.

However, as we were reading through some blogs and news sites about marriage recently we were hit over the head with the reality.

More millennials today are deciding to live together unmarried than any other generation. Continue reading “We owe it to our kids”

As victims, we learn to survive…and thrive

“Victim” may not be the most appropriate term, but it feels right given what we’ve been through – and what we know so many have been through as well.

Whether it is in marriage, or at work, or in other areas of life, we sometimes encounter people who attack us – and don’t stop.  For almost two years now, there has been someone in our lives who has gone all out to ruin our marriage and steal our joy on a weekly, and at times daily, basis.

During our engagement and through our first years of marriage we have been attacked and we didn’t know how to handle it.  We felt like victims.  And like most victims, survival is hard and even traumatic.

We’ve talked with and leaned on friends and they have constantly said, “Don’t let that person steal your joy.” Logically, we know they are right.  But as we get relentlessly attacked, it is hard not to feel victimized and helpless.

Only recently have we figured out how to survive…and actually thrive.

Several things have come together for us to get beyond this season in our life.  By creating a stronger marriage we are more equipped to handle the arrows headed our way.  We hope these few points can serve as hope for you or someone you know too.

  1. First and foremost, focus on your marriage and your relationship. Make sure you are both FULLY understanding each other.  Understand how you are being impacted and specifically hurt.  If you are being attacked it will impact you and your spouse differently – primarily because you are different people and different genders.  It is vitally important to get on the same page as your spouse in every possible way.  Counseling has been so important for us reconnecting better than we have ever connected.
  2. Research and use some self help books or video studies on marriage.  This will help you put your focus elsewhere.  We have a group that is learning about Love & Respect in marriage.  This has driven us to focus further on our marriage, our relationship and understanding each other.  We are more prepared now when one of us starts getting upset for one reason or another.  The group will also help you talk through the struggles.
  3. Find friends and people with wisdom to talk to and seek their support.  Perhaps they have been through something similar or maybe they will just be there to listen.  If they are a good friend, they will have something to offer. Don’t be afraid to ask them.
  4. Now the real hard part.  Avoid, ignore, and withdraw from any interaction with the person who is attacking you.  We have heard from many, and we understand that may be next to impossible with an ex-spouse that you share children with, but there are things that you can do to limit contact.  We won’t bore you with all the detail here but we are happy to chat privately about it with anyone who is interested.  The critically important element is not to engage in nonsense and only interact when necessary.  Don’t get drawn into fights.

As Christ followers, we know that the devil is after us.  We know that the devil truly hates that we got married and are growing a family together.  We know the devil despises the fact that we are trying to help others build strong, resilient marriages.  And we know that the devil uses people to pierce us where it hurts most.  John 10:10

Just knowing that doesn’t always help.  But, now that we have strengthened ourselves, we are moving beyond surviving and we are using our experiences to thrive.  This difficult season has helped us come together, understand each other and love even more.  We are very thankful for that blessing and that season.  And we hope you can gain some peace working through this too.

By the way, even if you aren’t being attacked, it is always good to practice the first 3 points above in an effort to get closer to your spouse.  You can never be close enough!

 

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