Private Practice Isn’t for the Weak

Hello everyone! Sorry that it’s been a while since I’ve made a post. I’ve been working on some business things lately and I’ve been on vacation, so I haven’t really had the opportunity to write. Today I want to talk with you about private practice.

You all know that I officially started my Private Practice back in February, and it has been a really slow process. After I started my practice, I heard all of these people saying that it isn’t for the weak, and it terrified me. Why? Well I am the weak. I’m not the type of person that people would think of when they think “business owner”. I’m an introvert, I’m a pushover, I’m not the most organized, and I’m not good with finances. Being a business owner consists of being extroverted, sticking to your guns, being organized, and having an understanding of finances. So why did I keep going? Because when I started this journey, God put Hebrews 11 on my heart, and this passage keeps me going in those moments when my personality lacks.

Hebrews 11:1 says that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” You see, I hoped and prayed for this private practice. When I first started, it was a whirlwind. I quickly picked up a few clients, but then it stopped. I went from people responding to me and being willing to meet with me to having no responses and no meetings. It’s in those moments that this verse really kept me going. I constantly got discouraged and questioned the path that I has been called to, and the minute I did that, God would open a door to reassure me that this was the right path. So then I was struck with conviction because of my lack of faith. Hebrews 11 tells of all of God’s promises to people and how he carried those out because of their faith.  So this journey to a private practice has also been a story of the growth of faith.

As my faith has grown, so has my personality. I can make phone calls more easily. I’m not afraid to talk money. I feel more confident with each meeting that I go into. It has been a long road full of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it. When I first started this journey I wanted to work with children, and then that got more specific with me wanting to work with children with Autism. Anyone who went to college with me will probably laugh at this because I did about 80% of all of my practicums with adults, but this was where I felt that God was calling me.

I made connections with nursing homes when I first started because memory care is what started me on this journey, but then I started looking into the Autism facilities in the area. When I did this, I realized that the facilities’ websites didn’t really look inviting. It can be intimidating to reach out to other therapists because there can be a lot of tension with music therapy, because people don’t understand it. I never reached out to these facilities because I didn’t feel like they would be open to music therapy. So a month or two goes by, and I haven’t had luck in making any new connections, but then it happens.

I started working with someone new and they told me to contact a state facility to become a provider to work with children. I sent my paperwork in to Atlanta thinking that I would never be approved because I am completely under-qualified. They wanted people with at least five years of experience and I have only been practicing music therapy for about six months. It was a long shot, but I went through with it anyway. Then I got a call a few days later and found out that I have been approved. This has been such a blessing because this contract could potentially fill my entire schedule, and the best part is that it’s working with children with autism.

God has been so faithful to me in this endeavor, and it has exceeded all of my expectations. I’m excited to see my business grow in the coming months. Private practice is hard. It would have been a lot easier to just apply for a job and move to a different state, but I have learned so much on this journey ,and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Private Practice isn’t for the weak, but when God is on your side you can’t be weak. Hebrews 11: 39-40 “ These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” -Tabatha

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Why we left our “perfect” church

I think there’s a lot of tension around the idea of a “perfect” church. Obviously, we’re humans and only Christ is perfect (so we shouldn’t expect our churches to be perfect), but I think that there’s different kind of “perfect” that pertains to the church, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I firmly believe that there is a “perfect” church for each individual person, and this perfect church will look different for everyone.  Everyone looks for different things in a church, so the “perfect” church would have the things that you want while also being life giving to you.

About a year ago Kaleb and I left our “perfect” church. It was really heartbreaking for us, and we haven’t really talked about it much. So, I think today I’m finally read to do that. Leading up to our marriage, Kaleb was attending Thomson First United Methodist, and once I got back from school I started attending the church too! We loved it.

The pastor of the church was John Barnes, and to this day he’s the best pastor I’ve ever had the privilege of listening to.  You see, John was a very, very humble man and this quality showed in his preaching. With every sermon that John preached, you could see the preparation he put into the sermon. John set aside a few hours every day to work on his sermon. He prayed about his sermon and he made sure that the message he preached was really what God wanted for his congregation. His sermons were life giving. They had stories, but he never strayed from his scripture. John also used bullet points and always made sure to start with the bullet and come back to it at the end of that section to tie everything together. He made his sermons so easy to follow, but he also added points into his sermon for people that are further in their walks than others. I loved the stories and the bullet points, but Kaleb loved the historical context that he would add to his sermons. Every time John would preach he preached from a different place than most preachers. He had this understanding that he wasn’t good enough to be up there, but he was so humbled that God equipped him to be up there.

The people at Thomson First were the sweetest. Everyone was so welcoming to us. They always made a point to check in on Kaleb and I and to see how we were doing. It was a church where everyone loved everyone. This also followed into what the church did. The church was always taking up collections to bless and minister to different people. Thomson First was always trying to find good ways to help those in their community. I also loved this church because they realized that you don’t always have to go on a mission trip overseas to make a difference. Thomson first did a lot of missions in our city, state, and country. These are areas that a lot of churches tend to overlook because it sounds better to say I’ve sent x amount of mission teams to Africa. There was always something going on at Thomson First to help others.

I also really loved that Thomson First had three different services. The early service was small and just hymnal singing,  the second service was a contemporary service, and the third service was a traditional service with a choir. The music in each service was executed so beautifully. I’ve never been to the early service, but I know it was more of a low-key service. Kaleb played electric guitar for the contemporary service. They practiced once during the week and then again right before the service. The band always asked questions to make sure that they were playing their part to the best of their ability, and they always loved being up on stage to worship God. Thomson’s tradition service was led by Brian Woods-Lusting, and he did an amazing job with that choir. He picked beautiful music that went with the service and he challenged his choir to do more complicated music than they were used to. To this day I can honestly say that the choir at Thomson First was one of the best I’ve heard. It was just such a nice church to go to when you’re a trained musician because you knew that these people put in as much time as you would have.

I could go on and on about TFUMC, but I’ll leave it there. I know at this point you’re probably wondering why we left, and the truth is that we left because things change, and they don’t always change for the better. You see, because this was a Methodist church, John had to leave. His time was up and it was time for him to go to his next church. When the new pastor came, Kaleb and I realized that his preaching style didn’t really speak to us like John’s style did. Before we left, Kaleb and I just started going to the young adults ministry and we loved that community, but it was time to go. In our opinion fellowship, ministry, and music are great, but those life changing messages from the pastor are what we crave the most. Around this time, Kaleb heard that he got a job working in Thomson, so we decided to head back to Augusta to find a church, so that Kaleb wasn’t having to drive to Thomson six out of seven days of the week.

After we left, Kaleb and I jumped around to different churches, but we never stayed at one for more than threeish months. It has been hard because everywhere we go, we compare the churches to TFUMC. People think we’re ridiculous for doing this, but we’ve seen that there are churches that are “perfect” for us. I was even able to find a “perfect” church in Milledgeville.  The first couple of months at a new church are always great, but we always tend to find things that don’t sit well with us after a few months. We’re at a church now that we like, but we’ll have to see if it holds up to the test of time.  -Tabatha

Coping

So last week we talked about the importance of building rapport with others, and this week I wanted to talk about coping. Dictionary.com defines coping as “facing and dealing with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties, especially successfully or in a calm or adequate manner.” Now before we really dig into coping, I think there are some things that need to be discussed.

People have a need to cope when things in their life catch them off guard. Some examples of this are death, disappointment, stress, and sometimes people even need help handling the good things in their life that happen. When these things happen, it’s important for people to find a healthy way to handle them. Before this can happen though, these feelings need to run their course. If someone is experiencing grief, they need to actually grieve whatever it is before they can find a way to cope with this grief. Once you’ve grieved whatever you’ve lost, only then can you find a way to make the grief bearable to live with.

This leads me to say that everyone copes with things differently. Some people grieve the life of a loved one for a day and they’re done, while others could take weeks or month. When my grandmother died, I was really upset and I would always find myself crying over it. I can honestly say that it took me a few years to truly grieve her death. The reason it took so long was because through her death I lost a lot. Not only was I grieving my grandmother, but I was also grieving the moments that my dad’s entire family got together. Grandmother had us over for dinner every summer. I was grieving that my last memories of her weren’t good ones dues to the progression of her Alzheimer’s disease. That was a lot to grieve, but it also took a long time to really work through why I was so upset. I typically have a difficult time identifying the roots of my feelings.

Once I finished grieving, I had to learn how to cope. I will always miss everything I lost, but I had to find a way to live my life without them. This led me to finding my favorite coping tool: songwriting. I wrote a song about grandmother and it helped me cope so much. I was able to put my feelings on paper and to music and it helped me to let go. This is typically my go-to anytime I need to cope with anything. Songwriting is so freeing to me and if for some reason I can’t get a song out of my feelings, then I usually just write a blog about it so that my feelings can come out.

Now obviously, everyone copes differently. I’ll list a few different ways people cope: journaling, exercise, talking it out, being alone, music, art, and distracting themselves. These are just a few, but I think it’s very important for people to identify something that makes them feel better and helps them go work through their feelings. If you don’t have a coping tool, I highly recommend finding one. It might take a while, but it will be worth it. Also remember, everyone works through emotions at a different rate. Don’t compare yourself to others that have been through the same situation as you. Also know that it isn’t helpful to ask someone why they aren’t over something yet. I’ve heard this happen many times and it just puts people if a bad place. If you or anyone you know has something that they need to cope with, just know that the best role you can take is a supportive one. You can’t force someone to work through something faster than they’re ready for, so don’t assume that you know where they should be or what they need. -Tabatha

Rapport: I Don’t Trust You, and That’s Okay

Hello everyone! Today I wanted to share some music therapy knowledge that has not only helped me in the workforce, but it has also helped me in life in general. Today’s we’re going to talk about rapport. Building rapport is something that music therapy students start hearing about from their very first music therapy class, and it’s basically the foundation to any sort of therapy actually being able to work.

According to Dictionary.com, Rapport is a relation; connection, especially harmonious or sympathetic relation. The concept behind this is that in order to actually work on things with a client, you first need to form a connection with them. The therapist has to build trust with that person. I’ve found that music makes rapport so much easier to build because connecting through music is such a powerful thing. It begins with something as simple as listening to the preferred music of those that you’re working with. Once you find that common ground it’s a lot easier to get to know them, because the music breaks down a barrier. From there, it just takes the therapist being open with those that they’re working with and not trying to force anything.  The key is to be warm and unintimidating.

So we’ve covered the first half of the title of this blog, but let’s look at the second half of it. Some clients are really hard to build rapport with. It’s ok not to trust your therapist. Some people begin trusting a therapist within the first month of working with them, while others might take a few months to warm up to a therapist or could perhaps never even warm up to the therapist. I want to stress that this is okay. It is possible to work with a therapist and have them give you some tips to help your life, or work with you on specific goals, without every actually trusting them to share your deepest issues. I hope that most people can get to a point where they can share things, but it’s okay if they can’t.

For example: If someone, let’s call her Petunia, is dealing with stress, a music therapist can work on stress management in music therapy sessions. A music therapist can use music to work through some of her stress in the session, but a music therapist can also help Petunia come up with some coping mechanisms to help with her stress. These are the things that a music therapist can do without Petunia actually telling the music therapist what the root of the stress is. If Petunia were to tell the music therapist what the root of the stress was, then the music therapist would have the chance to better cater the treatment to Petunia’s needs, but if that rapport isn’t building quickly, the music therapist can still help until it does.

Now, I also want to explain how this carries over into our everyday life. You see, in life you’ll meet some very open people that will tell you their entire life story from the moment they meet you, and you’ll also meet some people who might not tell you anything super important about them until after knowing them for about three months. It’s the same concept as a therapist building rapport. When you’re getting to know people, you can’t expect them to bear their soul with you from the moment you meet them. Some people take longer to warm up to than others. There are a lot of people that don’t get this. Rapport can make or break relationships with others. If I don’t trust you/have a close relationship with you, and you try to ask me personal questions about my life that I don’t think you have any business knowing, then I’m probably going to shy away from you. It’s important to build trust with those that you are getting to know and not try to step over any boundaries until you feel like you and that person have a good relationship established.

Has anyone every had an instance where someone tried to talk to them about stuff that you just didn’t feel like you had the established rapport to talk about? I know I have! This is key to really understanding friendships/work relationships. It seems like a no brainer, but it’s something that we really do tend to struggle with at times. Anyway, feel free to drop a comment or ask me any questions about this topic. Thanks, Tabatha

 

Music Therapy with Dementia

As many of you know I recently began my private practice. God has been so faithful in giving me facilities to work with. I don’t have a full schedule, but I’m slowly gaining more facilities to work with! I am working with a lot of facilities that care with individuals with dementia. I began my music therapy journey because I saw the impact that music had on my grandmother when she was battling Alzheimer’s disease. I always thought that this population was my calling because I have such a passion for it, but I’ve recently realized that it isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

You see Dementia is an overarching term that describes different symptoms in relation to a decline in cognitive functioning. Dementia is like any other disease or disorder in that it doesn’t look the same on every person that has it. You can read tons of books on a disorder and it still won’t prepare you for the moment that you actually encounter someone with that. I’ve always know this, but now I am really witnessing this first hand.

Every person and group of individuals with a memory disorder have different needs, so it can be hard to coordinate a music therapy group that meets everyone’s needs. As dementia progresses, it becomes harder and harder to engage those that you are working with. When you’re working with a group week after week, you can actually see the progression of the Dementia. One week a person is active and following you without any hesitation, but as the weeks go on they stop playing along and you’re having to go over to them and help them play along to the music.

It can be very sad to watch a loved one go through this, but that is why I think it is so so so important for individuals with memory problems to have music therapy. When people begin to digress in their cognitive functioning a lot of people think that they become unable to do things, but music changes this. In working with dementia, I have taught them a new song that they have been able to retain from week to week. I have found ways to engage individuals that at the beginning weren’t engaging. Sometimes this means I have to stand in front of them and help them, while other times it just means finding an instrument that they are particularly fond of and making sure that they have that every time we play. Something that I can always count on is that songs of their youth will always bring bring a response. They can’t help but sing along. When I plan my session, I try to find different ways to engage and challenge those that I’m working with. We work on motor skills, cognitive abilities, communication, and so much more. The more we work these areas of the brain, the longer they get to hold onto to them. You can’t stop the progression of the disease, but there are some ways to slow it down.

If you or a loved one suffers from Dementia or Alzheimer’s, I highly recommend looking into a music therapists. If you have questions about Alzheimer’s or Dementia, I highly recommend checking out the http://www.alz.org. I would love to answer any questions that you have, so please feel free to drop a comment below. -Tabatha

The Beauty in No’s

The other day, I finally hit the point in my business that I’ve been fearing all along: someone told me “no.” I was expecting sadness and disappointment to wash over me in this moment, but it didn’t. I was actually relived to finally hear that from someone. Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much there is in a “no”.

You’re probably wondering what I’m going on about, and I’m going to tell you. There is so much that goes into a “no.” This facility I contacted didn’t say no because they didn’t like what I had to offer. They said no because it’s hard to find funding for extra programming. When you apply for that job or that college and they tell you that you didn’t get in, you have to realize why this happens. I promise you that if a company or school could, they would accept everyone that applied, but the truth is that they can’t. No one, and I mean no one, wants to tell anyone “no.”

I firmly believe that every human tries to be the best person that they can be. We all have this desire to help others and do all that we can for them. If someone tells you no or if someone fires you, I promise that they don’t take joy in that. No one does. Do these things suck? Yes, they absolutely do, but we need to realize that there can be so much good that can come from this.

When I was told no, my first response was to be thankful. I was so thankful that these people took time out of their busy schedule to meet with me! I was also very thankful for the opportunity that they gave me to share my passion with them. The music therapy field is growing, and I’m thankful for every ear that is willing to let me tell them about music therapy, because the more people that know then the more our field can grow. I was also thankful that these people were upfront with me, and that even after telling me they didn’t have the funding, they still wanted to ask questions and learn about my field. The most beautiful thing about this experience though was that they gave me some other ideas for facilities to contact. They couldn’t help me, but they really want me to succeed, and this is what I have seen from most of the facilities and people that I’ve contacted. Even if they don’t help me by hiring me, they will at least try to help me by giving me some contacts to help me build my network.

This is my experience. I know that further down the road, I’ll probably run into some people that aren’t as kind, but I hope to remember the things above if I do. I’m a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. I’ve actually decided to work with this organization on a volunteer basis, because I love their mission, and I’ve been telling my husband that I wanted to volunteer my time. I know God sent me to this facility for a reason, and I think this is it. I just wanted to write this to remind you that God has a plan. Even when things don’t go our way, there is always some good that can be found in the situation.

Honestly,  my last blog post spoke about growth and this kind of related. I hate it when things don’t go my way, and I normally have such a sour attitude, but I am so thankful that God is working in to to help me find joy during those moments that things don’t go my way. I’ve had points in my life where I’ve constantly been sour and felt like there was a huge weight on my shoulders, but that’s not the life we’re meant to live. We shouldn’t let experiences take our joy and our peace. If we can find a way to be grateful for experiences and recognize that growth comes with every situation, then we can live a much more productive life. -Tabatha

Growth In Marriage

Welcome to my fourth and final blog on marriage for the time being. As Kaleb and I come up on our first wedding anniversary, we’ve been talking a lot about the growth that we’ve experienced. As we moved through our first year being married, we didn’t see this growth occurring, but when we think back to when we were first married, we’re amazed at what kind of growth our relationship has had. So today I’m going to talk about some areas in your relationship in which you should see growth, and I’ll share what kind of growth Kaleb and I have seen through this time.

  1. Tolerance for one another. I think everyone who is married can understand this one. When you first move in with someone, it can be very difficult adjusting to sharing that space. I used to get so frustrated with Kaleb when we first got married. I would get upset with him for not putting his clothes in the hamper or for something as minuscule as not closing the shower curtain after he finished his shower. The worst thing was that Kaleb is a big klutz, and he used to spill things all the time. I would get so angry with him and make him feel worse than he already did, but now I just laugh it off and tell him that we’re all human and accidents happen. This has done so much good, because I spend more time encouraging him now and I can see our marriage thriving more, because he isn’t spending most of his time trying not to do things that could upset me.
  2. Maturity. Maturity is key to a marriage because it’s the only way to work on issues that you face with your spouse. I don’t really feel like Kaleb and I were very immature to begin with, but marriage definitely brings growth in maturity. Once you’re married, you’re suddenly faced with bills and caring for another person, so you have to mature pretty quickly. We learned to budget. We learned to think through our options before making a decision. We also learned to have difficult conversations with one another. This was probably our top area of growth in maturity. When we first got married, Kaleb and I would avoid saying things to one another if we thought it might hurt each other’s feelings. We had to learn how to bring up and maneuver our way through these talks so that we got our point across without hurting one another.
  3. Communication. Communication is key to a marriage, because if you don’t communicate well when things are going well, then there isn’t any hope when things are going bad. When Kaleb and I first got married, we would often let problems build up. I wouldn’t tell Kaleb that I was upset about something, but I would get upset if he didn’t realize it. On the reverse end, Kaleb often didn’t even realize that he was upset. I was able to read Kaleb’s nonverbal communication to know that something was off, but I had to learn to ask the right questions to get him to realize he was upset and talk to me about it. Kaleb, on the other hand, had to learn to read my nonverbal communication and ask the right questions to get me to talk. Once we got better at this, there wasn’t as much walking out on each other or shutting down and not talking things out.
  4. Support Each Other. It’s important to make sure that your spouse knows that you’re always there supporting them no matter what. TV shows always show men wanting to fix things when women want to listen, and that was an accurate issue that Kaleb and I had at the beginning of our relationship. I just wanted him to listen to me and show me support, but he’s more of an action man. We’ve also had to learn how to let the other person make their own decisions and support them through that. On top of this, we also got more active in our supporting each other. Kaleb loves to make videos, so I learned how to edit videos and pictures so that I could support him in these things. Kaleb has also supported me by trying to get involved in my planning music therapy sessions and trying to help me come up with ideas or letting me use him as a guinea pig.

These are just four small examples of how much you grow during marriage. Kaleb and I are just finishing up our first year, but we’ve learned so much. I look forward to seeing how much we grow over the years to come. Marriage has been such a fun journey and I really hope it never stops. People say that you’ll get tired of your spouse eventually or grow out of this phase of always being happy, but we don’t think that’ll ever happen. Just remember the key to a good marriage is just spending time with one another and making sure that you’re being the best spouse that you can be! If you have any questions or thoughts feel free to drop a comment below.- Tabatha

Dear Teacher: I See You

Dear Teacher,

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I know that this should be the best week of the year for you, but it probably isn’t. This week you should be showered in notes, gifts, and words of affirmation, but this week will probably be just like any other week. You might get some candy from your principal, but that’s it. I’m sorry. I was the kid whose mom made sure to give the teachers gifts throughout the year to let them know that they were appreciated. My mom would send me to school with gift bags, Bath and Body Works gifts, and gift cards just for you, but people don’t do that anymore. I am thankful that during this week businesses will step up to try and show you how appreciated you are. Businesses give teacher discounts to help carry the burden and I love that.

The other day I saw that Cheeseburger Bobby’s is giving a free entree to teachers during teacher appreciation week on May 1st and 2nd. I went to comment on the photo to tell my mom about it and I saw some comments that didn’t sit well with me. A bus driver commented and asked if bus drivers were included. A home school mom also commented and asked if home school teachers counted. A nurse asked why they don’t do things like this for nursing appreciation week. These comments just continue to show the lack of appreciation for true teachers and people just don’t understand the struggle of being a teacher. So I’ve decided to write this so that we can tell them why businesses do so much for you.

Teachers go through four years of college and get bachelor’s degree to teach. This can put them anywhere from 30-50,000 in debt and then they’ll get a job where they only make a little over 30,000 a year. Teachers are stuck in a classroom with anywhere from 15-32 students and on top of that teachers are supposed to differentiate the learning for the different levels of cognitive abilities that their students have. Teachers don’t get to take breaks whenever they want, most of the time they’re lucky to even get a break. Teachers can’t discipline kids. When teachers send students to the office most of the time they’re sent back to the classroom without any sort of repercussions for what they’ve done. Teachers show up to work around 7:15 so that they can be there for all of the kids whose parents drop them off early. Teachers don’t leave the school until about 3:30. Some teachers have to stay even later if they’re doing bus duty or having to sit with the kids whose parents never showed up to pick them up. My mom usually doesn’t leave school until 5:00 because she’s always the teacher waiting with the kids. Then once the teachers finally get home, their nights are full of documentation, grading papers, and lesson plans because there isn’t any time to get all of this done while they’re at school. Then on top of this teachers are evaluated based of test scores. No one pays attention to the culture that our students are living in. No one cares that the students don’t try. No one cares that teachers talk until they’re blue in the face and the students still won’t listen. No one cares because at the end of the day everything is always the teachers fault even if they’ve done everything they can to help and make a change. When you take a teacher’s salary, divide it by teaching days and then divide that by the amount of kids in a class students make less than 40 cents per child per hour. School is the cheapest form of childcare that a parent will ever be able to find.

Bus drivers we appreciate you, but you only have to deal with students for a few hours in the morning and a few hours after school. You don’t have them consistently for 8 hours. You don’t have to keep their attention and make sure that they all meet the standards at the end of the year. Nurses: businesses don’t do things during your week of appreciation because you get paid a lot more money than most jobs. Home school moms: I think it’s awesome that you choose to stay home and care for your kids all day, but you can do so much that school teachers can’t. You can discipline your kids, you can start school early or late, you don’t have to stay after school, you don’t have to deal with parents and standardized testing.

We live in a society where we think we deserve everything that other’s get. If businesses did an appreciation week for every profession, then they would never make any money. When something says teacher appreciation it’s usually talking about school teachers because they’re the ones who need that boost to keep them going. Teachers are some of the most important people that touch the lives of all. They are the key to a child’s future and they deserve so much more than what they get. So many people wonder why teachers put up with this and it comes down to them loving kids. They stay in the profession for those moments that they truly make a difference because that’s what matters. That moment when one of you IEP students does something that they weren’t able to do, those moments when the concept finally clicks, those moments when the kids actually show you that they’re paying attention. This is what teaching is all about and it makes everything that teachers put with with worth it.

Sincerely,

A Teacher’s Daughter

Marriage is Serving

This is the third of four blog posts that I’m doing in my marriage series. When Kaleb and I were dating and engaged I heard a lot of people talking about marriage. The most common concept that people connected to marriage was serving. When you marry someone, you promise to serve them for the rest of your life, and they’re doing the same for you. So throughout my engagement to Kaleb, I started asking myself what serving my spouse would look like. Below, I’m going to list some of the ways that Kaleb and I serve each other, but before I do, I want you to know that serving your spouse will look different from relationship to relationship.

  1. I cook Kaleb breakfast and make his lunch every morning. I love to cook, and in my mind this was the easiest way for me to serve my spouse. Kaleb works in Thomson so he has an 30-45 minute drive to work every day. We wake up around 6:00 and while Kaleb gets ready for work, I make breakfast and make/pack a lunch. Sometimes I make things for his lunch the day before and sometimes I make it in the morning while I make breakfast. Kaleb doesn’t like sandwiches, so I’m always trying to find different things for his lunch. So many people told me that I would get tired of doing this, but after almost a year it’s still something I do every day.
  2. Kaleb serves me by working. When we first got married, I was two months away from starting my six month internship where I worked M-F, 8-4:40 unpaid. Kaleb worked really hard to get a job that would pay the bills, so that I didn’t have to work a job on top of my internship. He continues to do this and be supportive while I slowly gain music therapy contracts to work with.
  3. We serve each other by  communicating. We’re honest with each other. We hold each other accountable. If we feel that one of us is lacking in some way, then we won’t hesitate to talk to them about it. We tell each other everything. When we first got married, we were afraid to say things that might hurt the other person’s feelings, but once we discussed the best way to breech these topics, it became a lot easier. Communication is the key to any relationship – especially one consisting of serving one another – because you can’t tell your spouse how to serve you if you can’t communicate with them.
  4. We serve each other by making sacrifices. Sometimes in a marriage you don’t always agree on the same things, so sometimes you have to sacrifice your view in order to serve your spouse. An example of this is the fact that Kaleb and I are living in Augusta. I wanted to stay in my hometown and he sacrificed his career to do that. He studied mass communications and there aren’t many of those jobs in Augusta, so he took a job as a tech guy at a school so that we could stay in Augusta.
  5. We serve each other by being there for one another. Kaleb and I are best friends. I honestly think our marriage reflects a friendship more than an actual romantic relationship. Kaleb and I pretty much spend all of out time together. We don’t often spend  time apart besides him being at work, and we love that. We’re there for each other when we’ve had bad days. We’re there to accompany each other when we want to play music. He’s there to help me plan my sessions and I’m there to help him edit videos and pictures.

These are just a handful of ways that Kaleb and I serve each other in our marriage. Service is so crucial to a marriage. Before Kaleb and I got married, I read a lot on why people get divorce because I think it’s very important to learn from the mistakes of others. So for those newly married or getting married, I’m going to share the three things I learned.

One: Money. Money is probably one of the biggest causes of divorce. Make sure that you budget and talk openly with your spouse about money, because it can be a big stressor in life.

Two: You stop trying. This goes back to serving. When you’re dating, you constantly invest and pursue in you significant other, but once people get married, they stop, and it leaves them feeling unloved. Remember that serving your spouse is your main job, and as a long as you constantly serve your spouse, this shouldn’t be an issue. Remember that marriage is just a small glance into our relationship with Christ, and we constantly try to find ways to serve Christ, so we should do the same for our spouse.

Three, Children. Children is another cause of broken marriages. When people have children, they often neglect their spouse to take care of the children, and this isn’t the intention. Your spouse will be by your side forever while your children will one day leave you to form a family of their own. Kaleb and I don’t have kids, so we don’t have any experience with this, but I think it’s an important concept to keep in mind if you plan on having children in future.

Well, I hope this helps you with wherever you are in your relationship with your special person. I would love to hear the different ways that you love and serve your spouse. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know how you do that. Also if you have any questions or thoughts I’d love to hear them.-Tabatha

Marriage: Stop waiting for things to “Get Better”

Welcome to the second of four blog posts about marriage. Today, we’re going to talk about something that I’ve seen a lot in my relationship and in the relationships around me. One of the worst things that you can do in your marriage, or even in your relationship with your significant other, is compare your relationship to those around you. Every relationship is different, and comparison can bring a lot of discontent which will cause strife down the road.

I had a big struggle with comparison when Kaleb and I first got married. There were a few people that we went to college with that got married at the same time as us, and everything seemed to be going so easy for them. When Kaleb and I got married, he was still hunting for a new job, and we had to stay with my parents for a week until our duplex was ready for us to move in. Everyone I knew seemed to find and move into a place very easily, and I couldn’t imagine that they had any struggle finding jobs. It just seemed so unfair. We eventually moved into our place and Kaleb found a new job, but I was really miserable until we got there.

There are so many areas in my marriage in which I struggled with comparison. Kaleb and I didn’t travel much during our marriage, but we had so many friends that seemed to go somewhere every weekend. People seemed to find a church to go to really easily while Kaleb and I church-hopped for most of our first year of marriage. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Through this phase I constantly told myself things like “Once you get a job you’ll be able to do more,” and “once you finish school you’ll have more time.” I think it’s good to encourage yourself through hard points in your life, but I don’t think that it’s a good idea to plan these milestones in your life and then just hope that things get better when these milestones hit.

Why is it bad to set milestones? Well, when you set milestones, often you aren’t finding joy in where you are right now. Let’s be honest life is hard and it’s even harder when you have to coordinate your life with another person. Setting milestones doesn’t seem bad, but what happens when these milestones don’t bring you the joy that you were looking for? You grow more and more discontent and you start thinking that the problem is your marriage, which is why we have a divorce rate of almost 50%. So how do I avoid setting milestones and discontentment?

  1. Know and Love yourself. If you aren’t happy with who you are, then you won’t be happy in any other aspect of your life, especially your marriage. You need to know yourself so that you can be aware of when you’re feeling discontent and find a way to be content in your life.
  2. Communicate. When you’re feeling like your life isn’t where you want it to be, then talk to your spouse about it. You can either make a plan to change your life to incorporate some fun things, or maybe your spouse will be able to point out things that you have done that were fun so you can see that maybe it’s just a fleeting moment that you’re feeling discontent.
  3. Get involved. One of the biggest ruts that we can get into is doing the same thing day after day. If you’re feeling that way, do something to change your schedule . Rather than having dinner at home every night, choose a night to go out for a change of scenery.  Join a church and attend church functions. Go to a paint class or do something as simple as setting aside time to go walking.

These are just three things that I found really helpful. Kaleb and I always have the best time together, so when I found myself comparing my life to someone else’s then I would look at things in my life that I’ve done. Kaleb and I bake yummy desserts, we go walking almost every day, we joined a small group, and we try to find fun activities in the area to do. It also helped for me to remind myself that most people’s Instagrams and Facebooks don’t show an accurate representation of their life. We don’t know what goes on outside of those few activities that look really fun. Anyway, if you’re married I’d love to hear if you have ever had any issues with comparison or setting milestones. If you are having some of these problems and want to talk more about it, then please feel free to contact me! -Tabatha