Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Bedroom Lesson

As I shared in another post, I've been asked to speak at a woman's conference in Minneapolis this September. The REFINE Conference invites women to "Come as you are...and take your next steps with purpose". Topics include Financial, Relationships, Emotional, Spiritual, Health/Wellness, and Professional. My topic is under the Relationship category on Blended Families, a topic near and dear to my heart.

I've outlined 8 key points to share in my breakout session, the first being Adjustments with a Capital A! Ah, you can imagine, there were a few of those! The bonding that took place between our five kids in the first year of our marriage, however, was a blessing that far exceeded our expectations. Here's a little story that explains my own lesson that first year.

From the Refine Conference Website:

The Bedroom Lesson

When my husband and I married in 1988 we brought together five kids between the ages of six and ten. Considering that fact alone, common sense would say we should have entered marriage only after much planning. That was not the case.

John & Barbara, circa 1988

John and I met on August 20th, but we lived three hours apart. Our first “date” happened two weeks later when I traveled from northern Minnesota to Minneapolis with my two daughters for a Twins game. By Thanksgiving we were married. Yup, do the math…a three-month courtship with five kids in tow.

I sold my house—an older Tudor with four spacious bedrooms—and moved into John’s two-bedroom suburban shoebox. My furniture ended up stacked to the ceiling in the garage and unfinished lower level. It also meant all five kids had to share a bedroom. It bugged me because I had three beds in the garage, but no room for them! Meanwhile the kids alternated; two in the bed, three on the floor.
John asked his brother to finish the lower level, which would add a family room and bedroom. “How long?” I asked, noting the sleeping bags on the floor.

        “Three months, I promise.”

Unfortunately John’s brother was in no rush. Three months passed and the studs were up. “Can you tell your brother we really need that bedroom? The kids deserve to sleep on a bed, not the floor!”
His brother showed up for several days and then disappeared for weeks. Meanwhile, my frustrations grew as I tried to make the small house feel like a home. Three more months passed, then six. Although not a handyman, John helped to hurry the process while I painted and sewed curtains.
Finally, the lower level was finished. I was ecstatic! I arranged furniture, put on bedding, hung pictures. The bedroom was perfect!
That evening I told the kids they could divide up however they wished, three in one room, two in the other. A short time later we heard giggles coming from downstairs. John and I went down to say nightly prayers. We opened the door and there were the kids, two on the bed, three on the floor.
“Why are you all in here?” I asked.
“We like it this way,” came their voices.
“Yeah! Can we stay together?”

I held my breath thinking, “No! I waited all year for a proper place for you to sleep!” And then my heart took over, “There is a bond forming…something far more important. Rejoice and be thankful.”

The kids all grown up!

Barbara & John today

NOTE: The full story, In Harmony, appeared in Guideposts, May 2004.


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