I Thought I Loved My Husband

We stood hand in hand in front of 350 guests and vowed richer, poorer, sickness, health, til death do us part.  Through the vows, the celebration, the cutting of the cake, the hours of dancing, I didn’t think I could ever love him deeper than that moment.

While love increased over time, like a slow, gradual, hand in hand walk up an inclined path, there were also moments where I specifically remember thinking: My gosh, I really love him differently today.

The day of my first miscarriage.  I called Ed on the phone at work. A bit of panic had settled into my voice.  A few moments later he was sitting beside me on the couch, holding me. The doctors insisted that over-the-counter pain meds would control my pain. Ed called the doctor and explained that ibuprofen would not be enough relief.  He sternly, yet kindly said: “Where would you like to call in some stronger medicine?” My calm-natured husband was a strong-care-giver and I was wild about him.

That evening he never left my side. I loved him deeper that day.

The day I drove up in the drive-way and he was holding our 80-year-old neighbor on her front lawn while she was so sick and throwing up in the grass. He gently rubbed her back while reassuring her, “It’s going to be okay Ms. Mary… the paramedics will be here soon.”  Mary continued to apologize for getting sick on Ed.  “Ms. Mary, these things can be washed.  It’s going to be okay”. He motioned for our son to go get a blanket.

We covered her up, her head resting on Ed’s shoulder. The love I had for him seemed to grow deep roots.

The evening we had a massive argument. We were arguing over something nonsensical.  Honestly, I can’t even recall the topic.  Primarily my memory is blank because Ed’s reaction forced my focus off of the topic.  “We will not go to bed angry. I love us too much for that.” And I begrudgingly sat and worked out our words and actions until after midnight.

After I finished my only-child-tantrum I came to the reality that his love for us was wide and deep. He fought for us. I loved him dearly for that fight.

The day my kids were being particularly siblingish in their interactions with each other. I was losing every ounce of my mind as my sweet kiddos were standing on the one final nerve I had remaining. Ed entered from work, placed his briefcase down and looked at the three of them and proclaimed: Listen, we will not be known as Me-First people. We will be known for how we serve one another. Get yourselves under control right now. Go serve your siblings. Do you understand?

I was wildly in love with him.

The day we arrived home from Ethiopia to a sea of family and friends. They cheered, cried and smooched all over the five of us.  As we began to exit the International Arrivals area at Dulles and walk to our car, I saw the back of my husband, carrying an adidas backpack on his back and our youngest child in his arms. My golly I wanted to jump up and give him the biggest, longest, most passionate kiss I’d ever laid on his lips. I could’ve blamed the emotion on 48 hours of travel and pure exhaustion.  But I knew it was something else.  He was now a Daddy. I had never known him with that title before. And it looked so lovely on him.

I was absolutely head over heals in love with my man.

Are all of our moments made for fairytales? No way. Far from it. There are seasons where we don’t jive as well.  Arguing seems to overtake rational behavior.

As this September marks ten years of marriage, we know there is good, bad, hard, lovely, and ugly wrapped inside this package of matrimony. 

Yet, all of it together creates this relationship that is ours alone.

The hard parts produce perseverance while the joyful parts breathe life.

I thought I loved my husband on Day One.  The truth is, our love was in the diaper wearing infant stage. Cute and cuddly.  Now, we are in real-life.  We still cuddle, but we have to be more strategic in those snuggle-sessions because life has a way of taking over.  We wake up with morning breath to kids who need attention, jobs that need action, meals that need to be prepared and relationships that need to be cultivated.

I’m so grateful for the slow incline of love.  It’s in the those daily, mundane moments that love grows and becomes ours. I’m also wildly thankful for the wow-moments that stop me in my tracks and remind me over and over that love never fails. 

To Christians Who Love The Donald, Cheer On Hillary or Are Feeling The Bern.

Christians disagree. I know that may be a newsflash for some, but tis true. We don’t always hold hands around a camp fire and sing 80’s choruses.

Sometimes the banters are:

  • mild: seriously? What is UP with the new carpeting?
  • medium: Why are we switching from hymn books and a choir to jeans and a band?
  • moderate: Are we going to decide to minister only within our walls or are we going to love the community and the outsider?
  • just awful: Who are you voting for?

All levels of banter may cause stress in us-humans.

Depending on your personality, the new carpeting in the hallway could be enough to pull out the sword of your tongue and slice your opponent up nicely.

For others, it takes getting to the just-awful stage before your weapon is wielded.

One thing I know for sure: People like Comebacks. 

Not comebacks like a Comeback-Kid. More of a quick-witted-reprimand-comeback from a hard topic debate point.

"...and then I said this to them..." 

"... Ooooh that's good... How did they respond?"

“…well, they had nothing to say, I clearly was right…” (and humble, apparently)

For the non-quick-witted person, you think of your Comeback when you arrive home an hour later: MAN! I shoulda said THIS! UGH… I might just text them that thought!

We tend to view the "other side" as our enemy and their opposite view is complete persecution to our existence. Bless our hearts.

Reminder: God is still in charge and is not panicking about: carpet, choir robes, jeans or Donald Trump.

Jesus had something to say about all of this: Love our enemies and pray for them.

This doesn’t mean we are silent on issues we find important (and culture-changing)

.

Everyone has opinions and convictions that can (and need) to be heard in a manner worthy of our new name. 

And as hard as it is to hold my own sharp, brattish, frustrated tongue, I know we can have a wise, convicting, and necessary exchange about hot topics without losing our ever-lovin-minds. (I too have a hard time living by this code.)

Truth be told: we need opinions! We need to hear each other. There are points that need to be discussed within Churches that need not remain silent.

Some bodies of believers are changing Cultures for the better and I believe most of that happened through open, honest, level-headed dialogue.

Now about the political climate: I. Am. Stumped. (Don’t get that confused with Trumped)

Personally, I am baffled by the current situation in politics. I have so many thoughts, questions and nervousness that I need to talk about or I am going to burst.

But I am certain: I have opinions, you have opinions and somehow we can navigate these waters civilly.

So as a reminder to us all: If Donald-Lovers or Hillary-Cheerers are driving you absolutely nuts or you may not be feeling the Bern at all, lets live out the words in Romans: Bless and Do Not Curse.

And at the end of the day, may we all remember, we have been given a Kingdom mandate: Love God, Love Others.

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MultiSite Church Is Changing My Kids

In August my family and I took the plunge with our Church and became One Church in Multiple Locations.

  We have

 been a part of the newest campus of Mount Ararat for the last six months.

I can rattle off to you the incredible ways multisite Churches are affective in reaching communities with the gospel.

I can tell you story after story of how people are reached with the gospel because of these spunky little campus-plants. 

However, there is one aspect I wasn’t aware would take place: Our new Campus launch has greatly impacted my kids.  

And by greatly, I mean WE LOVE IT. Its producing something in them that I did not foresee.

1                  

ONE:

They are becoming Initiative-Seekers.

They are learning to see what needs to be done, step up and do it. 

                                Chairs need to be set up? On it!

                                Carpets rolled out? I got it!

                                Tableclothes put on? Lemme help!

TWO:

They are learning that waking up at 5AM to get to the high school to help set up Church is a good thing. (A weekly Starbucks Chai is also a nice incentive.)

3                 

THREE:

 Mulit-Site has 

made them appreciate a small church feel.

There are about 400 people at our new campus… and my kids feel like Norm entering Cheers every single Sunday. They love feeling valued and wanted. And as their Mama, I love that.

4                 

FOUR:

 There is something special and unique about our Church meeting in a High School. Our kids are learning that The Church truly is a group of people, not a building. 

5                

FIVE:

Community Ownership is forming in the hearts of my kids. At the local Christmas parade, the High School Marching Bands of all the local high schools marched through the main streets of Fredericksburg while we sipped our Hot Cocoa.

Upon site of our Campus High School Marching Band, my youngest squealed: “Look Mama! It’s our Church Band!"

They feel ownership of all of Colonial Forge High School and its peeps.

Being a part of a Multi-Site Church makes you scrappy!

  Our Multi-Site Campus people

 are early to rise, late to leave, quick to serve and consistent to cheer (LOUDLY) when a guest arrives for the very first time. You take nothing for granted and every WIN is overly celebrated.

I stand back on Sunday morning and watch our Set-Up-Tear-Down-Ninjas (young, old and in between) working like maniacs to get our High School ready and I realize: we are a part of something exciting. 

Because of the vision & pioneering attitude of Multi-Site-Men-And-Women, this next generation coming up behind us knows that The Church will do whatever it takes to reach people with the the love of Jesus. Love our neighbors, hand out hot chocolate, serve our community, get up early, stay later, hug a grieving parent, high five a toddler, hang pipe and drape, take out the trash, rock a baby, set up tables, tear down chairs, unload trailers, etc…

I am grateful beyond grateful that my kids are bearing witness to hundreds of men and women who are an example of service within this Multi-Site movement.  

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Teenagers, You Have Followers Beyond Instagram

Teenagers, Youth, Young-Ones, Students, Millennials…whatever this generation is called right now… this letter is to you.

You matter in the plan of discipleship in the life of my children.

You more-than-matter.  You are a strategic part of guiding their hearts towards Christ… with the hope that they will love Jesus and love others well.

You see, we are counting on you and are so very thankful for you and the role you play. We are holding your potential influence in high regard.

You are more than your title may explain.

“Student Volunteer” should be renamed:

Weekly Engager who escorts my child’s imagination, learning and understanding to the feet of Jesus where she learns a little bit more about her role in God’s greater story and plan.

I have two beautiful, life-loving girls who are watching you and want to be like you.

They are watching how you interact with other teens, your temperament with your parents, your relationship with school and work… but most importantly, they are watching what you do with Jesus and how well you love others.

Some might say this is way too much pressure to put upon a teenager… but here is what I know: teenagers grow to be leaders and leaders have followers.

And, sweet friend, there is no waiting to be a leader: you are leading now.

How do I know this?

Because my daughter is following you.

As her mother, my most sincere wish and request I have of you… invest well in our girls.

You aren’t in this alone, when the time comes that you don’t know the choice to make or the way to lead my girl, ask me. We don’t expect perfection at all.

That’s the beauty of grace.

Our daughter will get to watch the One who helps you when this life is hard.

She will get to see just how Jesus carries you during all the seasons of this life: wise, unwise, good, bad, hard and lovely.

I am so thankful for this partnership with you. You have NO idea. Especially during the Tween years for my girls. They will soon be eye-rolling me while following you so closely they could trip on your shadow.

I love that we will both be able to speak influence over their hearts.

And I appreciate that in the coming years, your voice will be cooler to their ears than my voice.

We will stand with each other during times of uncertainty. You are holding our parental arms up by loving on our girls. We will most certainly walk this life with you and hold your arms up also during difficult seasons.

This life is hard. We need you.

We need you to take our energetic-girls for a hot chocolate at Starbucks (Tall Size but at the Kids Cup Temperature), to cheer them on at a basketball game (whistle extra loud… it will not embarrass them AT ALL) and to give them a thumbs-up from across the room to show them they are seen and valued.

That’s community. That’s the Body of Christ. 

You are loved. You are valued. You are needed as we grow our girls into young women.

Multiple-voices speaking truth over their lives… can you imagine the impact of that beautiful-layered-discipleship?

We want to also be these things for you. We know that being a teenager is not an easy task in this world. We understand because we are walking the teenager-road with our son.

We have seen the value in others investing in him and reminding him: you are valuable, you have a purpose, you have a story that will be used for God’s glory and the good of His people.

You will mess up. We will mess up. Thank goodness for the grace of Jesus that covers up our mess ups. During your major milestones, our family of five will cheer you on, squeal loudly, make tacky signs and celebrate BIG as God’s plans unfold for your life. We can also be the ones holding the softest Kleenex, providing a sturdy shoulder and offering the yummiest of chocolates during the sad and hard times of your journey.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for investing in our girls. Thank you for seeing the value of your leadership over their lives. Thank you for being a part of the young women they will become. We absolutely, whole-heartedly adore you.

I fully believe and am confident in this fact: your investment will be experienced for generations.

Our girls will one day become women… and possibly wives and Moms and working-women.

You are helping to impact entire generations by investing in our girls now.

For that, we deeply, with full gratitude, say thank you.

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Creating a Circle of Influence

I'm blogging today over at Fredericksburg Parent and Family... check out the teaser below, then click the link to take you to the full story. Join the conversation and share with a friend!

We mamas adore other adults pouring, speaking, encouraging, loving, engaging and spurring on our kids. Additional adults who speak truth over our babies are as sweet as nectar and as valuable as fine gold or an evening of binge-watching Netflix without disruption (now THAT is a rare gem).

The few pre-selected folk that we eagerly allow our children to be engaged with reach far beyond one moment.

These individuals say the same things we are saying, but they say it differently/cooler/more non-parent and without the nag of a mom or dad....

The rest of the story is 

here

, over at Fredericksburg Parent and Family.  

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Contact

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You may contact me by email at susanhwanderer (at) gmail (dot) com

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I look forward to connecting with you soon!

I Made A Destructive Choice

“Hi, my name is Susan Wanderer and I am so tired of being fat.”

I stood in front of my mirror yesterday and in a sarcastic-tone with hands on my hips repeated those words, rolled my eyes, blinked the burning tears away and leaned down to grab my Asics and head out the door to meet my trainer.

If you have ever read my blog in the last year you know the weight-loss journey I’ve been on. God has been gracious and my trainer, Clarence, has been consistently patient to motivate me to get rid of 65 pounds.  I still have so much farther to go.

Beginning the morning of July 27 I strayed.  I made a destructive choice.

This particular week was very busy… full of activity.  
  • We hosted Summer Camp at our Church for the community each day from 7:45am-5:00pm. It was basically Camp on Steroids. It was amazing and awesome and TOO MUCH FUN.
  • During Camp, I ran a carpool to pick up kiddos beginning at 6:30am. After my last drop off in the afternoons, I came home to my family at 7:30pm.
  • During this particular week, Ed and I also decided it would be a grand week to move from one home to a new one. So in the evenings, we packed boxes and took loads to the new house.

Bottom Line: It was an INSANE week.

Let’s add one more level of crazy: Chick-Fil-A partnered with us to sponsor our Summer Camp… and each day that I arrived with my car-load of kiddos, chicken biscuits were handed out. PLEASE FEEL THAT WITH ME.  DO YOU SEE WHERE I AM GOING WITH THIS?

It’s like you are watching a horror movie where you know the killer is behind the bedroom door and you are watching the ignorant teenager WALK INTO THE BEDROOM.

You are screaming to the TV Screen: DON’T GO INTO THE BEDROOM! DON’T DO IT!

And thus begins the devastation.

Here I sit, six weeks later and I am a hot mess. 

Carbs are the crack of the obese-world. There is no such thing as a “simple-taste”.

Sure, in the last six weeks, I still showed up to my training sessions (for the most part, ahem), but my eating was not changing.  My food was controlling me.

C O N T R O L L I N G my thoughts and my actions.

When I arrived to see Clarence yesterday, he had two chairs facing each other. As I entered, I saw the chairs and wondered if this was some new exercise to torture me back onto the wagon.

“Susan… have a seat.”

He sat across from me in the other chair. I swallowed hard and a I could feel tears beginning to arrive.

Clarence began this speech to me: "Excuses are the tools of the weak and incompetent. Used to build monuments of nothingness. Those who excel in it seldom excel in anything else but excuses. Susan, you are not weak nor incompetent. Let's stop this mess and get back on the plan.

You think you are fooling people. You are fooling no one. You were becoming an inspiration; you were making people believe they too could do this.

Susan, other people think they can hide sin… but your sin shows up ON YOU… on your face, on your hips, on your stomach. You are not running from anything. You need to get in a room, talk with Jesus through this and get back on the plan. "

I sat in that cold metal chair and sobbed. Like, tears-wouldn’t-stop-flowing-the-entire-time. Throughout the rest of Thursday, each time I thought about his words, I burst back into tears.  The rest of the day I was in a complete contact-fog.

Sometimes the harder, tougher workout comes in the form of accountability. 

One thing I’m learning through this weight-loss-journey... accountability is not about ease, nor is it about drinking coffee and constantly continuing to talk through my shortcomings.  Its acknowledging the shortcomings and putting together a plan to produce action. AND THEN DOING IT.

Riding down 95 last night, with just Dib, my iPhone was on shuffle and Overcomer came on.  The song that began my weight loss journey one year ago.  The song I would declare as my anthem when I didn’t want to go to one of my workouts.

I grabbed the knob and cranked the volume up as loud as humanly possible without damaging Dib’s eardrums. I sang that song like I have never sung it before.  LOUD, OFF-KEY, TEARS with a completely cracking voice.
I declared my anthem:
You’re an Overcomer!
Stay in the fight til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for the moment
Feeling like its hopeless
That’s when He reminds you
That YOU’RE AN OVERCOMER!

My hands wanted to go taller through the roof, my voice wanted to be louder than my vocal cords would permit, my anthem wanted to be stronger and more majestic, my tears wanted to be offerings of confession. 

I needed forgiveness and my soul needed restoration.

Strong-holds are no joke, man.

The father of lies knows my weaknesses and tries selling me a product of fulfillment and then laughs and mocks me when I consume it.

Today, the answer is NO. 

NO WAY AT ALL.  

Today, I will live in victory over this stronghold. I will swing that kettlebell, I will eat my protein and veggies and I will watch that scale move from my current 65 pounds to 75 pounds to 85 pounds GONE.

Today, I will embrace the Freedom-Giver, His Word and fight til the final round.

I’m off to lace up my Asics!