twelve

Many, many moons ago a Dixon and a Robinson met. She was young. He was even younger. He was training on a young adult course called YAPS and she was training to be a teacher. They were friends. Good friends. One night as they walked in snow-fall, leaving behind a trail of snow-angels, she realised that this friendship was a little bit more special. A few weeks later he realised the same. He asked her out and in the same breath intimated that they would marry. 6 weeks later they were engaged. One year after that, and twelve years ago today they were married. 20110612-230537.jpg 20110612-224245.jpg 20110612-230552.jpg That was the end of “me” and the beginning of us. Sometimes I have wondered how we will push though. Sometimes we have argued and I have wondered how we will ever find resolution. Even this last week I have felt like that. But those vows were forever-vows. And in that wedding ceremony we asked for the help of God and the help of others as we started out that forever-journey. And so in His grace, by His spirit, and with the help of others we keep going. And as we work through every fall, every misunderstanding, every argument, we come back a little stronger, a little more united.

Sometimes you have driven me insane. Many times I have driven you even more insane. But mostly you have shown me grace.

You have always sought to say sorry first. You have loved me in my stubbornness and in my weakness and in my selfishness. You have praised me, affirmed me, and “bigged” me up (sometimes I’m afraid that the real me isn’t as good as the one you’ve described).

You have a lion-heart; courageous, bold and unswerving.

We all joke when you make reference about how you’re “happy to serve.” But truly: you do serve. You lay down your life for Jesus and for me.

You never keep still. Not for a moment. Even when you’re just sitting your leg is twitching. You have more energy than anyone I’ve ever known (except maybe for our kids who seem to have inherited your bouncy-gene).

You have this passion. And this commitment. And it’s unrelenting. I hear you say it often: that you want to sow into others what God’s sown into you. You know that is the call on your life.  I see you regularly giving out what you’ve only just received. I don’t know anyone more generous than you.

You call out potential. In me. In the kids. In those you love, and those you work with. You look for the good, and overlook the bad.

When you came to faith “Amazing Grace” was playing in the background. I think it’s the soundtrack to your life. You know that you were once lost and now you’re found. And you never forget it. You never assume or forget that grace. You live everyday thankful for what He has done in and through you.

You’re not perfect. But you know that because I tell you (more than I should).

I remember the day, just after we were married, when you came home from work and told me what you thought we should call our son. Nine years ago Josiah Samuel, our first Robinson-bundle arrived and you radiated joy.

Photo   Photo   Photo Photo Photo You are an incredible father. Day-after-day-afer-day you come home from work and put aside the thoughts in your mind and you pick up those chablings and tickle them, rugby tackle them, laugh with them, listen to them and play with them. They know they are loved. They know they are safe. They know their daddy in heaven loves them. You challenge them, with the steadfast love of a father. You call them to something more, something better, something more like the One who made them.

 

And so on this anniversary, and on this father’s day I am doubly thankful for all that you are and all that you give. I am blessed. 

Thank you x

how do married couples partner together in “ministry”

There were times I’d sit beside Rich at the front of church biting my nails and wondering what on earth my role in all this leadership stuff was.

You see, I knew we were called to lead together. And I knew that although I could lead, my gifts weren’t primarily about standing at the front of church and leading services or preaching a sermon. But “the church”, and in particular the Sunday morning version of church,  doesn’t necessarily acknowledge, or understand, leadership as anything other than the ability to lead from the front. There are times when leading at the front is necessary and important, regardless of whether or not we find that a comfortable place to occupy. But what I’ve learnt is that leadership is so much more ………

This week I’ve written a post exploring how Rich and I have learnt to partner together in the things God has called us to do. You can read more of this over on the 3dm Europe blog by clicking here.

8 ways to stay sane when your husband goes away and leaves you with three tinies

“So what’s your strategy with Rich going away?” a friend asked me this week.  I shrugged my shoulders and said “I’m not sure I have one.”

After a bit of reflection I realised that although I’m never going to have a 20-point plan of how to cope when Rich is away there are a few principles I’ve learnt along the way. I’ll admit I’m not the most organised person in the world so batches of pre-cooked frozen meals are never going to be my thing. But I guess over the last few years, as Rich has increasingly travelled away from home, I’ve learnt a thing or two on how to make it work with young kids. I wish there was a magic-formula which would guarantee success every time but it appears there isn’t. Whilst we can manage one trip with apparent ease we can have another one, where I appear to do all the same things, and yet it feels like we’re counting down the minutes to Rich’s return (with a week left to go!) Sometimes it’s plain sailing and sometimes it’s plain tears all the way. Kids are kids (and mums are mums) so there’ll never be a formula. But here are a few things I’ve found helpful:

skype. skype. and more skype

Oh thank the Lord for skype. Actually, when the kids were younger they found it harder to connect over skype as it just made them more aware of Rich’s absence. But as they’ve got a bit older skype means that we can sit and eat tea together or do family prayers together or Rich can consult on our lego-building technique (an important factor in the Robinson household).  But it’s not just important for the kids; it’s important for us as a couple. I’ve heard other people say that there’s a bit of a re-adjustment period when a couple return back to each other, after time away. This is definitely true for us and particularly for me as I find it easy to become overly-independent. This “re-adjustment” aka “arguing” is really minimized if we keep well-connected whilst Rich is away.  Regular skype communication keeps us feeling like we’re still journeying together even if there’s geographical distance.

Be realistic in what you can achieve.

Having a husband away is not the time to prove that you’re superwoman. Simple food, McDonalds, soft-play centres, TV, online supermarket shopping: you are all my trusty friends. And I no longer feel ashamed to call you this.

Work out which are helpful offers of help.

Lots of people offer to help when Rich is away, which is a massive blessing. But there are varying levels of helpfulness. Sometimes it feels like a bit of a discipline to allow others to help. I’m an introvert, so just getting on with looking after the kids on my own can seem like the easiest thing to do.  I try to say “yes” to the things that will either bless me or the kids.

Get people praying

Knowing that other people are praying for us makes a massive difference. I usually give  people specific things to pray for, and update them with prayer needs throughout the trip.

Help the kids become more independent

I think this is one of the major benefits of having Rich away: I’ve had to teach the kids to help around the house and help themselves to the things they need. One pair of hands to three kids is not a particularly even ratio, so the more helping hands the better. Today I came downstairs  to find my eight year old unloading the dishwasher for me #proudmummoment.  There’s a greater awareness that we need to pull together as a team to make life work.  I’ve also had to work harder at getting the kids to solve their own disputes.  I find sibling arguments the most stressful aspect of family life. So I’m increasingly putting disputes back into the kids’ hands: “I know that you two are able to solve this argument so I’m going to do the washing-up and you can come and tell me when you’ve worked out the solution” feels like a much more relaxing and effective alternative to being Robinson referee.

Look for the gain.

There’s always some kind of growth in my life or in the life of our family whilst Rich is away.  It may be spiritual, relational, physical, intellectual or financial. But I can easily miss it if I’m not consciously looking for it. It may be something as simple as remembering the kingdom advancement taking place through the work Rich is doing whilst away or what I’m doing at home. It may be seeing the kids mature a little, or some spiritual revelation that I receive from having a bit of extra time on my own with God. Or it may be just be having a bit of girly-time with one of my friends. Sometimes it’s only after Rich has returned that I’m able to see what the “gain” has been, but it’s really great if I can acknowledge it whilst he’s still away.

Lean in

A place of weakness is always an opportunity to lean into God. This is rarely a pain-free process but a new level of surrender to God brings greater freedom and greater fruitfulness. My weaknesses – my impatience, my insecurities, my inadequacies all float to the surface when Rich is away. So I can either try to stuff them back down or surrender them. Sometimes I manage this. Sometimes I don’t. 🙂

S-l-o-w down

The kids need more of me when Rich is away. I give them more time particularly at bedtime because that’s usually the time when they process how they’re really feeling. Longer snuggles, more stories, more prayer, more conversation. S-L-O-W down.

I know I’m not the only one who has a husband who travels. So how about you: what are some of your coping strategies?

The Source (again!)

I put a link to this post last month. I wrote it for a friend’s blog as part of a series on marriage. If you haven’t already, you can click on this link here to read the rest of the posts in this series as well as some other fantastic posts. 

This week I met someone who told me that they’d read this post and shortly after reading it they’d had a disagreement/argument with their spouse. He told me that they’d made a decision to come before God in worship and prayer as I’d outlined in the post.

So I thought I’d put the post up in full on this blog, in case it’s helpful to anyone else. For those of us that are married, we will have arguments with our spouse and many of us will have times where we wonder if we can keep going. If we haven’t already, we will come to the end of our own resources, our own patience and our own love. God wants our marriages to be strong, deep and rooted in Him – He’s our Source.

The Source

I remember the precise moment when it clicked. The penny dropped. The scales fell from my eyes.

We’d argued. Not one of those slightly- raised- voice type of disagreements.  But one of those red-raw, swollen eyed, puffy cheeked, soul-wrenching arguments.

There was no quick-fix, no easy answers, no forgiveness. And we were stuck.

And so, with resistance, we made a decision. We’d exalt our God. Together.

Sat on separate sofas, with chilled air, the worship music played. At first we just listened, an impervious audience– it was all we could muster.  And Holy Spirit thawing came and slowly, slowly, our offerings of praise were softly whispered in our hearts – heard and received by our Father.  Our small, sweet sacrifices.  Songs sung in our hearts overflowed out of our lips until two broken voices sang one song.

One song.

 And in that moment, where it was about neither him nor me, it became about Him. Him, author of creation. Him, whose love knows no bounds, no limits, no start, no end. Him, who is without sin and does not count our sins against us.  Him, who reached out to us, before we even knew we needed to reach out to Him.  Him, who reconciled Himself to us, and asks us to reconcile with each other. Him, who bled and died on a cross that we might stand free in forgiveness. Him, who defeated death that we might live.

It was Him that we met. And as we gave Him our offering, we received so much more.

So much more.

Truth revealed as we met Him who is truth. Lies exposed as light shone.  Love poured out without measure. And as we received His love we could give and receive love to each other.  As we received His embrace we were able to give and receive the embrace of the other. As we received His forgiveness, we were able to give and receive forgiveness from each other.

And I saw Rich’s heart laid bare. Imperfect, vulnerable, with every pulse beating for Him.  And he saw my heart laid bare. Imperfect, vulnerable, with every pulse beating for Him. And in that moment I saw it afresh, true revelation:

 Two souls laid bare with One heart; woven together as One before God.

As wedding vows flooded through my mind I remembered how we began this journey:

“All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you, within the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

With those words declared before God we’d become One until death. In Christ we are One. Always. Even in the rawness of our disagreements, in the valley, or on the mountain top – wherever we are on our journey – we were, and are, always One.  Joy is no longer my own. It’s Ours. Sorrow is no longer my own. It’s Ours. Victory is no longer my own. It’s Ours. Relationships are no longer my own. They’re Ours.

We walk this Oneness hand-in-hand with Him who makes us One.

He is Our Source: Our God, the three-in-one.

the source

I remember the precise moment when it clicked. The penny dropped. The scales fell from my eyes.

We’d argued. Not one of those slightly- raised- voice type of disagreements.  But one of those red-raw, swollen eyed, puffy cheeked, soul-wrenching arguments.
There was no quick-fix, no easy answers, no forgiveness. And we were stuck.
………………………………………………………………………………………..

Today I’m guest posting on Anna Burgess’s blog. For the whole of February she’s featuring posts written by a variety of writers all focussing on the subject of marriage. Click here to check out my post and have a look at some great posts on marriage.