caroline holzberger

Keepin' it real about motherhood, Jesus, life, and everything in between.

no gifts, please

i am all about gift giving. i mean it. i love it!!

have you ever read “the five love languages” by gary chapman? if not, i highly recommend it. it is one of the books that has helped save our marriage from ryan and i flat out screwing it up. anyway – in the book you are looking for how you tell people you love them. how you “speak” to them in love. the options are: physical touch, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts and words of affirmation. the theory is that, however you love others (what you do for them) is generally how you like to receive love as wel.

well, ryan and i read this book, took the survey and in true “us” fashion weren’t surprised by the results one bit. once you tally up your score, you place your love languages in order from those most important to you, all the way down to those least important. and then you can generally categorize yourself by your top two love languages. well, ladies and gents – you guessed it…my numbers #1,2,3,4,5 in order were ryan’s #5,4,3,2,1 and vise versa. i mean it…we were the exact polar opposites. of course, by this time in our marriage we didn’t need a survey to prove this, but it was, shall we say, interesting to see on paper. the two most important ways that i say “i love you” were his bottom two – by far….and the same for me. man, oh man God had a sense of humor by pairing us up, huh? or maybe He just knows what’s good for us. 🙂

ya see, my sweet ryan is for sure, 100% an acts of service person. no doubt about it. he doesn’t write poems or buy flowers or shower me with hugs, kisses and compliments. he will, instead, clean up the kitchen, fold the laundry, handle all the bills, wash my car, clean up dishes after dinner, etc. that is how he says “i love you”.

but, friend, that ain’t how i hear it. that is by far #5 on my list. by far. i am for sure, 100% a words of affirmation and receiving gifts person. (i was kind of a tie…shocking to you? probably not.) i was a little embarrassed by this at first because i thought, “i don’t care about big expensive gifts at all, that isn’t me!” but that isn’t what it means. a “gift” can be leaving a little note on my bathroom mirror or picking up my favorite ice cream and surprising me with it in the freezer when i open it up. and the words of affirmation part is pretty self-explanatory. and boy oh boy do i crave that. probably to a fault. but, that, my friend, is another blog altogether.

anyway – many of the arguments—i would even venture to say most of the arguments that ryan and i have had over the last 13 years of being together, and especially the 9 years living under the same roof as man and wife – can be linked back to how we do not at all match up on these core love styles.

i know, i know…wives around the world think i am a bloomin’ idiot that i am not jumping up and down that my man is willing, and even enjoys, doing stuff around the house for me. i can’t tell you how many friends i’ve had who just stare at me bug-eyed and with jaws dropped that say “no, sorry – you don’t get to complain about your husband. nope, sorry!” and don’t get me wrong, i am thankful for what ryan does. i am. and i really don’t complain about ryan like i used to. i am thankful God taught me years ago that going to my girlfriends with anything negative about my husband doesn’t honor anyone, anytime, anywhere. but, i do go to God about it. i have been known to pray the popular little three word wives prayer, “change him, Lord!” because although i appreciate what he does, it doesn’t tell me he loves me. it isn’t what i need to “hear”.

but, God knows exactly where ryan and i are. He knows exactly what we need. and what i have been learning even more so recently is that He is working on each of us exactly how He needs to for each of us, right now.

which leads me to the point of this blog. this weekend marks the one year “anniversary” of when all this medical drama started back up for me. yes, it really began three years ago, and the side effects have been going on since then, but life was still “ok” for the most part. but, really – it was a year ago that i went into the hospital with a spinal fluid leak (again) and came out with no answers. and i haven’t…been…the…same…since. for the last year- i have had not one pain free day. not one. i haven’t felt like me. my life hasn’t been “back to normal” since. not since one year ago. so, i guess, it is the “anniversary”…but, no gifts, please.

and this, coming from me. because i love gifts, remember!?! i love getting them, giving them…i love even when other people are getting or giving them to others and i’m not even involved! i just love it! and i love celebrating events about it! in fact..poor ryan, when we were dating and first married, too, actually….he had so much to keep up with…because i loved birthdays and anniversaries. i would blissfully walk up to him and hug him and grin and say “baaabe, do you know what todaaay is?” and then he would have to stop and think…”hmmm…ok, if it is the 15th, then it is six months ’til your birthday….if it is the 1st, then it is 2 months until my birthday….if it is the 25th, then it is our dating anniversary…if it is the 11th, then it is our wedding anniversary….poor guy. 🙂 but it is true, i love celebrating anniversaries. i love remembering the joy and the fun and re-living all of it. and birthdays are really just anniversaries of our birth – so, for me, it’s really all about anniversaries.

but, i have thought about this, quite a bit….and there really needs to be another word for when you are faced with the date again of something that you really don’t want to celebrate. an occasion that occurred that maybe wasn’t fun or full of joy. my cousin has faced this a lot of her life, because her birthday is november 22nd. now, this date might not mean a lot to people from my generation, but whenever she has told her birthday to anyone around our folks’ age, they generally reply with, “ooh, bummer of a birthday, that was the day john f kennedy was shot” ok, thanks, people, that is also my birthday…is how i would reply, at least. but, these people remember where they were when they heard the news, what they were wearing, all of it. i never really understood this…how people could recall something so vividly….that is, until september 11th 2001. then, i got it. in fact, that day was ryan and i’s one month wedding anniversary. we got married august 11th, 2001 and i vividly remember that one month anniversary day, where i was, what i was wearing…all of it. that day started with me being so giddy because it was our first real anniversary as a grown up couple with a grown up anniversary as mr. and mrs. but the day ended with a whole different emotion. and every year when that day comes around, we remember that day and honor it. but, there really should be another word than the “anniversary” of something that doesn’t bring us joy. maybe un-iversary. myabe we should say un-happy anniversary. i don’t know. something.

but, here i was, i knew this weekend was approaching. my dad reminded me, too. because, for him, it is one of his favorite weekends of the year – opening weekend for deer season. yes, grandpa is gone this weekend “feeding the deer”. we haven’t told the kiddos exactly what grandpa does there yet. we’ll drop that bomb at some point, not yet though, they’re still little. for now, they just think he must really like to feed them. and he does. he likes them fat. we’ll just leave it at that. but, anyway, last year my dad got the call at his cabin that i was in the hospital again and he had to rush back to see how his little girl was. he smiled and hugged me thursday and said “alright, toots, let’s not do like we did last year, ok?” he was teasing of course, he would gladly rush back anytime. but, that was when it hit me. wow, a full year had passed. a year. whoa. not-so-happy anniversary to me. and no gifts, please.

i tried not to think too much about it because i just didn’t want to get too down about it. a full year of my life has been so looong, and sooo full of pain and ya know what..still not over yet.

i still type this too you from my couch. still no answers. still in pain. still not sure this last procedure worked.

but, ya know what?? i did get an anniversary gift this weekend. that’s right. from my God.

this weekend i felt good enough (and determined enough) to tough out the pain and get out of my house. i put on real clothes (i.e. non sweat pants, no elastic waist, no sports bra) and somewhat straightened my hair and put on makeup and went to TWO stores. that’s right TWO stores. granted, i only spent about 15 minutes in each store, but who cares? that is the first time i have been out in public like that in THREE MONTHS!! three months, people. can you even imagine that!?! that is also the first time i have put on real clothes like that in three months. when you lie on your couch all day, it is pretty much pointless to be in clothes that aren’t comfy.

and that wasn’t all. i got to go to church too! wahoooooo!!!!! for the first time in three months, i was able to go to church. my mom was here for the weekend and able to help. (ryan had to cover a football game for his asst. principal duties) my dear friends at church took care of me and met me at the door with a wheelchair and i lied down at the back of the sanctuary, as to not cause a disruption. i brought my pillow (i actually forgot my ice packs, major bummer, but i still made it!) and it was awesome! we actually got there before the praise and worship began (a first for me) and so i was able to take part in the whole deal. what a blessing. and you know what?? they played my song. chris tomlin’s “our God” is kinda my anthem right now…it rocks!! (if you don’t know it, look it up online and rock out – it is such a praise-full song!) and i loooove the build up to the chorus that says:

and if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
and if Our God is with us, then what can stand against?

so true. (romans 8:31)

so, here i was on the one year un-iversary of the weekend this all went from bad to worse. but, God…knowing me better than anyone (psalm 139)…..knowing that a clean kitchen, folded laundry and a washed car wouldn’t mean as much to me…He got me a gift instead.

He gave me a glimpse.

i got a glimpse back of the life that He has waiting for me. a life full and abundant that He came for me to have. (john 10:10) and i got this glimpse in faith, because i do not lie here healed. in fact, i feel worse today that i have in a while. but, i lie here hopeful. hebrews 11:1 says that “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” i am certain He gave me this glimpse.

and honestly friend, He might as well have put a big fat red bow on it. i knew it was just from Him to me. i lied there and cried and worshiped at my home church. i tooted around Target on my hover-round. and i sort of smiled at the gal i recognized in the mirror wearing the cuter clothes.

so….happy “whatever you wanna call it” day to me. but, remember….no, gifts please.

i already got mine. 🙂

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One thought on “no gifts, please

  1. tori wagnon on said:

    Oh, Caroline! You always make me cry! What a gift to have a glimpse! I pray that God will give you the normalcy one day – a FULL day of church and Target and wearing nice clothes. I so want Him to hand it to you on a silver platter, dear one! You are PRECIOUS to HIM!
    Love and Hugs,

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