Showing posts with label life lessons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label life lessons. Show all posts

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It Matters


I've been thinking a lot about encouragement lately.  About how we all need it.  About those who give it freely.  And about those who...don't. 

I received a card in the mail the other day.  Written inside were a few short sentences of encouragement.  Nothing lavish or over the top.  Just simple sentences letting us know they appreciated how God is using us.  And it was one of those moments that hit me me hard.  Like crying outside the post office, hard.  Because it was just so sweet of them to send it.  

And apparently I needed it.  That's how encouragement is.  We all need it.  And we all need to give it.  




Maybe it's harsh to say this, but *oh well* I think most people think they are a fountain, when in fact they more often act like a drain.  Me included.

Some people definitely have the spiritual gift of encouragement.  This lady that sent the card, it's her gift.  It is.  

For others of us, we need to work at it a little.  We need to say the nice thing out loud.  I like to just think it.  Because thinking it in my head still seems like a nice thing to do.  But it needs to come out of my head and go into their heart for it to matter.  

Over the past several years I've learned a few things about encouragement.  One, is that in ministry & life, you will spend a great deal of time just encouraging people.  Over and over and over.  Like a cheerleader...only without the pom poms and short skirt.  Sometimes it will make a difference.  And sometimes it won't.  Cheerleaders don't control the outcome of the game.  They just cheer their little hearts out regardless.

I wasn't quite prepared for that.  I have sort of the exact opposite of a cheerleader personality.  In fact, "not a cheerleader" is on my long list of "Things I'm Not: Why Did God Call Me to be the  Wife of a Pastor?" 

And God, as usual, shows me He's not limited by what I'm not.  It's Him in me.  And so He prompts, and He prompts and He prompts some more.  And I write the email, or the text, or make the phone call.  And tell people *out loud* what I'm already thinking in my head.  Because I  need to hear it as much as they do. 

There's a phrase I find myself saying often when encouraging people: "It matters."  Whatever they are doing, whatever they are struggling with, whoever they are...it matters.  It was only recently that I realized that part of the reason I'm saying it all the time is because in a way, I'm saying it to myself.  When I tell them it matters, I'm reminding my own heart that it matters.




Cheer somebody on today.  Say the nice thing.  Everyone needs some encouragement.  Let them know it matters.  You can do it.  *insert toe touch*  (just kidding, I can't even bend over and touch my toes, let alone jump in the air and do it.  But you get the idea.)






(all images obtained via pinterest, I have no idea who the copyright belongs to, but it's not me)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Decade

The beginning of this month marked T E N years of ministry for us here in Tiny Town.  

A decade.

So much life has happened in ten years.  I can hardly wrap my head and heart around it.  


I've tried over and over to at least compose a post in my head about the past decade.  But I seem to get so far, and then decide that's not something I want to share.  And then I start from a new angle, and end up at the same point.  A bullet-point list of all I've learned seemed totally do-able.  But nothing.  And so I wait for the words to come.  And wait and wait and wait.  

This morning an Internet friend (Tracy) posted a link to a Beth Moore article and as I read it, I suddenly knew what the writers block was.  Me.


"The most basic one-word synonym for “disciple” is “learner.” Maybe you need to know today what I’ve needed to know so many days: learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way.
Or the excruciating way.
Or the embarrassing way.
Or the exasperating way.
Or the explosive, expensive or excessively long way.
If it attached you to the Teacher, if it marked you with Him and caused you at all to imitate Him, that’s the beating heart of discipleship."

I am overwhelmed with what God has done in me, this past decade.  Not through me, or because of me, but in me.  

And here's what God made me realize this morning:  "Learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way."

Early on in ministry, I would have defined "success" for myself as not failing.  I mean, I wouldn't have said that out-loud, but in my head, that would have at least been part of the definition.  In order to succeed, I needed to get most things right in most situations.  I'm the pastor's wife after all.   It only makes logical sense.  And I am, after all, l o g i c a l.  And I operated under this unspoken expectation of mine for many years.  

But God is different.  He works inside and outside of the logical.  

He took my "most things right in most situations" mentality and flipped it on me.   And I wondered why God would go and make a mess of things that I had WORKED SO HARD AT NOT MAKING A MESS OF?!?  And then the mess settled, and it became clear.  Sometimes a mess is required to make room for better.

And I learned something that I should have known logically, but didn't know practically.  God is glorified in the mess.  And He changes me in the mess.  In my mess.  I don't have to get it right all the time.  And it's in my failures that I grow in Him.  And that's all He really desires from me.  To grow closer to Him.  Everything else is an overflow from that.  I knew this to be true of other people, but my expectation for myself in my position had been different.  *God is not limited by me not getting it right all the time.*

Can I tell you something?  If you have a pastors wife in you life...let her mess up.  Allow her to disappoint you.   It's for your good, and your church's good.  When she doesn't say the thing you need to hear.  When she's not the friend you want or need...love her for that.  Because she's as messed up as you are.  And when you can see her that way, you give her freedom to grow into who God wants her to be.  And it's likely not what you want her to be...or what she wants to be (ha!) but it is most definitely what God wants.  I am thankful for people that have loved me in my messy.  

Here's what I've learned.  Successful ministry is not about the church always getting it right.  Or the pastor and his wife being the right people.  It's about disappointing each other and living and loving through it!  When a church can do that, God is glorified...and the impossible becomes possible through the unleashing of His power.  

I am so thankful for the people in our tiny church that have loved us through our learning/failing/loving process and who continue to walk this journey of faith with us.  I'm sure there are times when they've wondered if better options were out there.  I've wondered that for them.  But that's the beauty in it.  The coming and working together that would otherwise be impossible if not for God. 

It is a blessing to have been loved well these past ten years.  My prayer is that He continues to help me to love Him, and love others.  It's that simple.  All the good....that's Him.

John 13:35English Standard Version (ESV)

35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Post-Its



My husband is the romantic in this house.  He has always been the romantic in our relationship, which dates back to me being 15 and him being 17.  So, it's been awhile.  

I'm way to boring and realistic to be romantic.  My brain just doesn't bend that way.  Instead, it bends towards sarcasm and practicality.  *what a lucky guy*

He wrote me poems, and letters, and brought me flowers.   And he never let my head-shaking and eye-rolling and smirky-smile deter him.  Because that's who he is.  He's goofy, and romantic, and willing to be vulnerable...my opposite.  Which is part of what has always made me drawn to him.  Pretty admirable qualities.  

This morning, I woke up to post-it notes on all sorts of objects all over the house.  Quirky little notes.  He leaves me notes fairly often, but today was excessive enough that our boys noticed.




As the boys (14, almost 13, and 10) funneled down the stairs this morning, they couldn't help but notice the yellow post-its.  They laughed and *mocked* a little, but before I knew it they were scrounging around the house gathering all MY notes.  Reading them aloud, and smiling.  Oh the smiling.  

One boy, my sarcastic one, said "Mom, you should do this for Dad" and all of us laughed.  Because they know me.  The thought of me doing it is literally laughable.  

Then that same boy said, "Dad leaves me notes sometimes."  And the others piped in with similar stories.  Notes in their trappers, lunch boxes, electronics.  

And we love those notes.

The youngest boy collected all the notes, and hung them in the door-way.  He even managed to find the one that I *thought* I had snagged before they saw it, because: Semi-inappropriate.  HA.  Cue the grossed-out snickering of boys.

It's funny how some little post-its can make such an impact.  And I won't be surprised at all someday, when they do the very same thing for their wives.  I just hope they have some snickering boys around when they do it. ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Muckity Muck


Every-other Tuesday night I get to be a part of a Bible study with a group of ladies.  I've been able to do it since moving here...and the group dynamics are always changing, which makes it new and unique with each study.  God has used those studies to mold and shape who I am.  It's been a process.  A long, on-going process.

We are currently doing one called Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.


The study itself is really fantastic.  Truly.  What makes it even more significant for me personally, is the place that God has brought me to before starting this study.  All the details and circumstances that fell into place, in life and ministry, so that He could use this study to so speak to my heart.  Making His voice clear.  Resounding.  Confirming.

The past 12 months have been ones that I will go back to over and over and over in my head and in my heart.  Always remembering how He worked out good.  We walked through some murky waters, knowing that things would settle and clear.  Knowing that sometimes things need to be stirred up and mucky so that they can eventually be clearer.  Better.  And even though you know that...walking through the muck:  Is never very enjoyable.  It's still muck, even if there's purpose in it.  And just when you think it will never settle and clear.  It does.

In the midst of the murky waters, God gave me a verse.  Isaiah 43:19 NLT  "For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."

Through His Word, He confirmed for us what He had spoken to our hearts.  He gave us a tiny glimpse into His plan, and it was enough to settle our hearts, and strengthen our spirit to continue in the stirred-up mire until the time He saw fit to make it clear.  

He cleared it.  And day after day, week after week, I stand in awe as I watch Him move and work in the hearts of people around me...including myself.  I will never know why He saw fit for us to be a part of His plan here, but I am so thankful for His grace and strength that makes it possible.  




Monday, October 6, 2014

Loved

We moved to Tiny Town nine years ago.  During the first year here, I met four different ladies through preschool.  We would eventually call ourselves The Fab Five.  It's not something we broadcast...unless you count this.  Ha.  

But they really are fab.  I often think about what it is that makes them...and us...work.  I think it may be the low maintenance that is required.  No drama, no backstabbing.  It's simple really, I get to just be me.  And they get to just be them.  Our kids are friends, and even our husbands have become friends.  It's the best.  

I love how God orchestrates life.  

One of the Fab Five is Steph.  I've blogged about their family before.  Two of her four kids have A-T.  You can read about it here.  Bring kleenex.  Her son Tate, who was also a good friend to my Noah, passed away in 2011.  Their daughter Tessa is 12 years old now, and also has A-T.  Tessa and my son Eli, are "special friends"  aka they love each other.  ;)  

I've learned so much about life, by just watching this family.  They love big.  They laugh, and live because they know pain. And suffering.  And loss.  It doesn't stop them.  It motivates them to just keep going...for Tate, for Tessa, for each of them.  They do not live a life filled with moping, or whining...even though they have every right to do both.  Instead, they walk the difficult line of accepting what is, and praying and hoping and doing for what could be.  

I don't even have words to adequately describe the privilege it is to call them friends.  They have changed who we are, and they have shaped how my kids see people.  Noah saw Tate.  Eli sees Tessa.  Not the genetic disease, or the disability, but straight to the heart of who they are.  It is beautiful to watch.  It's almost impossible for me to talk about Tate and Noah in past-tense.  Noah keeps growing, and getting bigger and older, yet he carries that friendship with Tate as a constant companion.  
Noah & Tate

All this to say:  We went as families, to run a race where the proceeds go to benefit research for a cure/progress in treating A-T.  For this group in purple, it's in honor of Tate & Tessa.  They are loved like crazy.  We (as a family) were finally able to join them this year.  And it was so much fun.  So many memories, tucked away in my heart.  It is a gift to do life with these people.


Click on the pic to see EVERYONE.  My blog layout cuts people out.  Rude.


Also, it turns out that if you enter a small enough race, you have a *pretty* good chance of being a winner.  



That's right.  I got 3rd in my age group.  Sound impressive...until I tell you that I ran/walked while pushing Lucy in the jogger stroller.  There may have only been 3 in my age group.  Do I care?  NO WAY!  3rd place baby.


This picture pretty much sums up Lucy and her attitude about early morning running.  And by running, I mean being pushed in a stroller while covered in a blanket.  That did not, however, stop her from complaining that "she was tired" and the "wind in her face bugs her!"  She's lucky I didn't dump her out of the jogger.  Heh.


Eli hitching a ride with Tessa right before the finish line.



 Oh the stories I could write about these two.  Love them both!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remember the Crazy

Last Wednesday it was about 7:10 PM and I was laying on the couch feeling pretty pleased with myself.  After all,  I'd gotten an email the prior week, from my oldest two boys' baseball coach indicating that our game for the night was rescheduled.  A free night.  *Sigh* They're pretty hard to come by.  So, I'd sent the boys over to prayer meeting with their Pastor/Dad while Lucy and I spent some quiet alone time at home.  

And then I got a text from a number I didn't recognize.

"Are you on your way to the game?" They asked.  Feeling pretty smart, I replied back something like "Nope, game rescheduled."

To which the number replied "That's next weeks game."

My bad.  

The game was scheduled to start in 5 minutes in a town about 10 miles away.  I jumped off the couch, ran the 27 steps to interrupt church in order to grab my 3 boys (2 of which are on the team.  The team functions with only one extra player, they sorta need them)

The boys (and my husband were super confused.)  As they get in the house I'm frantically telling them to get their baseball stuff on because MOM WAS WRONG AND THE GAME IS STARTING NOW!  

From there, chaos ensued.  

Mad dashing from upstairs to downstairs trying to find uniforms and cups and cleats and belts and socks and gloves and hats.  Tears were involved.  We couldn't find one boys jersey, he ended up wearing a blue football t-shirt (close enough) and no belt. 

As we drove down the highway (a leeetle faster than the speed limit) I apologized to the boys and tried to give them a little pep talk that it was going to be fine, no biggie that they were arriving a full inning late.  They weren't exactly convinced, but at least we weren't yelling at each other anymore and we were almost there.

As we pulled into town, I headed down the road that leads to the Little League diamond.  And that's where I passed the cop.  The cop I only noticed as our eyes met as we passed each other on the road.  And I knew.  

He drove a few blocks passed me, and then turned into a driveway.  "He's gonna pull me over," I said to the boys.

Silence. And flashing lights.

I pull over, and by the time the nice officer gets to my window I have my insurance and license ready for him.  I also have one boy who's in tears, and the other one giggling in the back.  If you know them in real life, you know which one is which. ;)  

I quickly confessed that I knew I was going too fast and apologized.  I'm pretty sure I blabbed about forgetting their game and now we were late blah blah blah.  A quick peak inside my messy mini van with four kids must have been enough to garner some sympathy.  

"I'm not giving you a ticket M'am, please slow down next time. I do need to go back to my car and log your information."

As he heads back to his car, I notice/remember that I'm am almost out of gas..unless fumes count.  I had meant to get it the day before and then decided to procrastinate til tomorrow, because I had no where to be "tomorrow."  Pffff. It's at this point that I wonder aloud if I should ask the officer to follow me to the diamond.  My oldest wasn't sure what would be worse, running out of gas or having a police escort.

I decided to gamble and try to make it.  Which we did.  

"We're like an episode of The Middle" one of the boys said.

He's right.  We are.  

As I settled in at the game, I decided to text Ben and let him know what all the chaos was about and to tell him to come (with a gas can) as soon as he could because I was seriously doubtful my trusty van could make it any further.  I couldn't get a hold of him.  Finally he called from our home phone and said he had lost his cell, but he would be coming with gas shortly.

What I didn't know til after I'd hung up my phone was that the game was almost over.  

In the end, we won the game by one run.  And my oldest pitched the last inning and struck all three batters out.  And, with friends following in their vehicles, we made it to the gas station and then home.  And Ben eventually figured out we must have made it home okay. ;)  By the end of the night, we had found his cell phone and all was right with the world.  Out little world anyways.

We learned a few lessons in the crazy.  Mainly, I should pay more attention to details in emails from coaches.  And not put off getting gas.  Or speed.  All of which I'm likely to repeat in the future...but the best part about it was to be able to laugh at it afterwards.  Sometimes the crazy is a good way to bond.  




this picture is not from the crazy day.  just a different day when I was annoying them with selfies.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Winner & A Journey...

Amy H is the winner of the Made to Crave book!  Thanks so much to all of your for commenting!

God made us to crave...only we crave the wrong things so much of the time.  Filling ourselves with any form of meaningless junk that we can get our hands on when instead we could go directly to the One who created us and knows our deepest longings and needs.  

And sometimes the things we crave are good, spiritual things.  But if we crave them, more than we crave Him we end up in the same empty spot.

Learning to crave Him most is hard.  Very hard.  Logically, it shouldn't be so hard.  But sin has no logic.  Ever.  

So the journey continues...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marriage Part Dos

I'm talking marriage again today.  If you missed part uno, you might wanna go back and read that first.  

So many areas of life are not hard in the knowing, but in the doing. There are genuinely times when I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  But most of the time, 99% of the time, I have trouble in doing what I know.   

Marriage is one of them.  Why would I, or any of us, stop doing what we know benefits our marriage and start doing something else?  

Because we're terribly, awfully: Selfish.  And if you say you're not...then you're also a liar.  Because you are.  And so am I.  

And that selfishness is the prime reason we stop doing what we know we should.  And if you're particularly good at selfishness (which I am, so I know this) you've got some super-logical-justified reasons behind doing what you're doing or not doing what you should.   

So I said I'd share my one-and-only-devotional.  Again, that makes me laugh.  I cut/pasted...mostly cutting out my awkward introduction.  

 It's super long by my blog standards.  But in real life Italkprettyfast so...just read really fast, ok?  Or, you could read half and then take a nap and finish later.  I'm super helpful with suggestions today.

The Four Musts of Marriage (I'm kidding, it didn't really have a title)

   We know how hard it is to actually live out some of those good things we know.   And we all know that there’s just some things you only learn by living them out.   But the truth is also that no matter how long we’ve been married, there is always something new to learn, or something we need to be reminded of, or an area where God desires to bring conviction, repentance, and ultimately restoration. 

I came across a question recently that asked  something to the effect of “Who are the married couples in your life that you desire to be like?”  In other words, who in your life are you able to see do –life together and genuinely love each other and enjoy each other in a way that makes you say, Hey!  I want to be like them?  We’re not talking perfection, because that’s not possible when you’re dealing with sinful humans...but we are talking about people that seem to have a love and a one-ness that is supernatural.  It’s a hard question.  It’s one of those lump-in-your-throat questions if we ask it of our own marriage.  What does our own marriage preach of Jesus?   Because our marriages preach.  They do.  First to our children, and then to our extended families, our church families, our communities.  They preach. 

So, in case I haven’t  already made it painfully obvious, what I want to share today is not just for the bride, but for all of us, that we may all examine our lives before God’s biblical standard and His desire for us and see where we are thriving, and where we may need God’s help in improving…which is ultimately for His glory.  And please hear me when I say this isn’t a call for you to try harder and do better, but  rather that we would humbly submit ourselves to what God desires and ask Him to be the one that enables us to accomplish it.

Ok, so I said before that I read.  A lot.  Which pretty much means I’m not sure I ever have an orginal thought anymore.  So the list I’m going to give you is a mish-mash of all the reading…smooshed down and abbreviated into 4 bullet points for your discernment.  It’s not stuff I came up with on my own.  It’s not fluffy or cute…because I’m all about the practical, and what works. 

 It’s common-sense basic stuff.  It’s also mixed in with life, from 15 years of my own marriage as well as the fact that  I’m a pastor’s wife…which means that people often allow me to see into their lives from behind-the-scenes and journey through the mess with them, so to speak.  And what I’ve learned, is that while each marriage is unique…it’s also not unique at the same time.  Same problems – different details. 

   Let’s break it down. 

1 – Know Jesus.  And I mean know Him.  As in Personally.  And make Him #1.  Above you, above your  husband, and above your children (future children).   Have a saving knowledge of Him (and if you’re not sure what I’m talking about ask me or someone later) Know Him with your head, (His Word) and know Him with your heart, and by that I mean have a desire worship Him, follow Him, obey Him.  In a Bible study that I’m doing, I recently heard the speaker say, “If you are comfortable with the amount of Jesus you already have…then you should be concerned.”  Why?  Because the question reveals to us the condition of our heart.  If we are content with having “enough Jesus” then maybe He  is not really our Lord, but rather a pleasing “addition” to our American Dream Life. 

How does this help a marriage?  Well, God created us.  And marriage.  So it only reasons that we would want to know the creator of it and then do what He says works in regards to it.  Marc Driscoll says in his book Real Marriage, “The goal, center, and purpose of marriage is not self, spouse or children.  The ultimate goal of marriage and family is the glory of God.  Only when marriage and family exist for God’s glory – and not serve as replacement idols – are we able to truly love and be loved.”

It really doesn’t have to be complicated.  Are we always going to like what God says to do…like be submissive?  Are we always going to feel like putting our husband above ourselves?  No.  Is it hard?  Yes.   Is it impossible?  Without God, yes.it.is. 

 I’m not sure that anything in life reveals to us how selfish we are like marriage does.  (And parenting reveals how impatient we are, but that’s for a different devotional)  Back to my point.   It is said that Our spouses do not change us, as much as they reveal  us.  

And here’s where the gospel comes in.  We need the Holy Spirits power to overcome ourselves.  In life, and especially in marriage, we cannot possibly hope to live it out the way God has designed by trying to do it on our own.  We cannot muster up enough will power to be a great wife…it has to come from God’s equipping and empowering…which calls for a reliance on Him.  Christ through us.

What does that look like?  How does that play out?  We each, husband and wife need to have our own spiritual life.  No one can increase our faith for us.  It needs to be growing individually and together simultaneously.  Be a student  of God’s word.  Study it and talk about it.   And when you learn from it, ask Him to enable you to act on it.  Do not simply absorb it.  Be a doer of it.  James 1:22 says  But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Place God as priority one.  Don’t squeeze Him out.  Husband’s and wives love each other best when they do not make idols of one another.  Our husbands are created to meet some of our needs, but not all of our needs.   Only one can meet ALL our needs, and that is Christ alone.  Pray for your husband and with your husband.  Worship together.  Serve together.  Tithe together. 

And all of that can sound like a to-do list, and sometimes our inner pharisee wants to make it a to-do list, if I check off all these things then yay for me, I get a good marriage!  But it doesn’t work like that.  God doesn’t work like that…I know, I’ve tried.   All of those are really heart issues…they reveal our hearts and require God’s  power to overcome.

2 – Be friends.  Be best friends.  Like each other.  When we are best friends, we enjoy each other’s company.  We listen.  We speak lovingly and respectfully.  We laugh.  We disagree, but we know whose side we are on.  We take turns doing what the other person wants, even if we think it’s super boring (ie I need to take up golfing) We make light of things, we give grace.  We look at our own sin and weaknesses and plank-filled eyes before scrutinizing our husband.  We laugh at ourselves and gain some perspective.  Friendship makes marriage fun.  Be friends.

3- Build Hedges.  And by that, I mean boundaries.  One of our favorite books  that we use often when counseling is called Hedges, Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect it, by Jerry Jenkins.   And we love it so much because so many couples we come across have no hedges!  And you need them…we’ve seen the tragic results of what happens without them. 

Hedges  are not a sign of a weak marriage, but of a strong one.  Jerry says “I have planted hedges around myself to protect me, my wife, my family, my employer, my church, and supremely, the reputation of Christ.”  So much of life seeks to tear marriages apart, it happens all around us to believers and non-believers alike.  If we think we are in a position that it would never happen to us, then we are also in the position of deceiving ourselves. 

Our marriages are often most vulnerable when our guards are completely down.  Hedges do not mean paranoia, they are wise…they really are loving your marriage enough to protect it.    We need to examine ourselves and our spouses and then set the hedges  in place.  Hedges help us to live above reproach, which in todays society is almost unheard of.  

So what do hedges look like?  Every marriage is going have different hedges, some will be higher and deeper than others.  I’ll give you a personal example…for Ben and I, we have made it a point in our marriage that there are just certain things we do not do.  Neither of us has good friends of the opposite sex, someone we confide in or complain about life to, because that’s what we have each other for ;)   And at different stages our marriages need us  to evaluate to see if the hedges need adjusting.  For example, when Ben became a pastor, we added to our hedges because now ministry was involved.  So, when there is a woman that needs counseling, I do that, or we do it together but never him alone.  Why?  Because it enables him to live above reproach.  It isn’t a trust issue, but a safety issue.  And, your hedges will be tested, because our culture sees them as trivial.  But our culture has also shown us the results of having no hedges.  Protect your marriage against the enemy…because he is seeking to destroy them. 

4- Communication.  It’s a big one.  We all know communication is important.  In fact I heard recently that couples that have divorced site a lack of communication as the primary break down of the relationship.  That’s ironic to me, because communication is something we can do.  Poor communication or a lack of communication does not just “happen” to a couple, it is a deliberate act on the part of both spouses.  

Learn how to communicate with your husband.  There are some basic principles, like being clear on your thoughts and feelings.  Avoid stonewalling, silent treatment, yelling, blaming, etc.  But there are also unique ways that each married couple communicates with one another, take the time to figure those out.  Communication is one of those things (kind of like parenting) where you can read a book, get a bunch of insight on what to do and what not to do and it seems totally do-able and reasonable.  And then real life happens and our husband says something totally insensitive.  Or we disagree with his decision, or we are annoyed at his lack of *fill in the blank* and now our feelings are involved…and our feelings can very easily over-rule any logical thinking we have on communicating effectively and lovingly.   Here’s where the gospel comes in yet again.  In our own strength we will fail miserably at communicating in the heat of the moment, but with Christ’s discernment and strength we can, in fact, control our tongue and listen and get to the root or heart of the issue.

Here’s some verses…

Verse on the tongue (Proverbs in literally chuck full of them): Proverbs 21:23

English Standard Version (ESV)
23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
    keeps himself out of trouble.
Proverbs 18:21
English Standard Version (ESV)
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
    and those who love it will eat its fruits.
We can speak death or life into our marriages…


James 1:19 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  (read it again)

And I want to close today with a passage from Philippians…Paul is intending it for a body of believers, but I think we would be wise to also translate it into our marriages. 

Philippians 2: 1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Then end. :)

Tomorrow I'm gonna post a list of the books that Ben and I have used personally as well as  helped with counseling other couples.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Marriage Part Uno

It seems that lately, I have been talking about marriage with several different people in my life.  And I recently went to a wedding, so there's that.  

Marriage is one of those wonderful and sometimes hard blessings in life. When it's good, it's so good.  And when it's bad...it causes devastation.  It really is a big, big deal.  

This past spring I got to do my first "Bridal Shower Devotional" at a church bridal shower.  I've been a Pastor's wife for 8 years, and that was my first time speaking.  Let that sink in a little bit.  I'm not a speaker.  I talk with my hands waaaay too much (always) and I don't like people watching me, and I sway back and forth.  A lot.  It's all terribly distracting, I'm quite sure.  I'll stick with blogging. ;)


But.  I thought, I would share with you what I shared with them.  As in Copy/Paste right onto my blog. It's like you were there...minus my awkwardness.  You are welcome.


But I want to clarify something first before I get to the actual devotional:  

Contract vs. Covenant

Whenever I hear someone refer to marriage as "Just a piece of paper," as in a legal contract, I can't help but cringe because it indicates to me that they already know there's a fairly simple way out of it, if that's what they choose. 

My cell phone: Contract.  Just a piece of paper.  They give me cell service, I pay my bill and we both live happily ever after.  But guess what's gonna happen if I stop paying my bill?  Legal contract void.  Sure, they'll still want their money, but eventually they'll be done with me.  When marriage is viewed as a contract, then we give ourselves a way out when the other person stops doing what they said they would do.  

Eventually, both of you will not hold up your end of the "contract" in some way. I promise you that.   Because we're all selfish.  And there's a good tendency to think we are always doing our part, while our spouse...not so much.  Right?  

 Marriage is meant to be a covenant.  I said vows.  I didn't say, "If you do this, then I'll do this."  Because, good luck with that.  I made a covenant to do what I said, regardless of my husband upholding his.  Regardless.   And Ben did the same.  Would I have been elated to marry a man that viewed it as contractual?  No. Way.   Because it reveals deeper heart issues going on. A covenant is not the same as a legal contract.  One really is just a piece of paper...marriage however, was never designed to be just that

So, this post has already reached my self-imposed limit of words.  Monday I will post my Four Musts of Marriage (which isn't original, whatever.)

Come back Monday.  But have a super awesome weekend first.



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Barfing Preaches

Hello again!

Christmas in general is craziness around here (just like everywhere else.) Add into that sickness among all of us and..BLEH.  

I didn't drink coffee for four days.  That's how bad.  

But as I sit here, I'm sporting my 20 oz coffee mug and life is good again.  

Being sick does something really important.  It gives me a big-fat-dose of perspective.  It's like God's reminder to me of how weak I really am.  And how little I really do on my own.  Take my health away and I have little to offer as far as accomplishments.  Nothing actually.  

And this bout of sickness taught me something new.  Barfing preaches.  I got sick very late on Christmas night.  I'll spare you the details, sorta, but it was not nice.  I felt gross all night, and then in the morning the barfing finally came.

*and this is a side-note, but DUDE how does that stuff stay in your stomach for so long?!  I hadn't eaten for a good 15 hours and when the barfing started I thought, "Oh good, I haven't eaten much so I don't have very much to throw up" but NO. I was wrong* 

I feel like we need to talk about barfing for a sec.  There's different kinds of barfing.  The kind where you barf fairly soon after you eat and it's super gross because it's mushed up food and you never wanna eat that food again for as long as you live.  But then two days go by and you find yourself eating pizza again.  And then there is the acid-barfing.  Where you haven't eaten for a long time but your stomach is full of acid and bile and other grossness and when you barf that.  Ouch.  It burns like none other and leaves your throat super sore.

So, I had the acid-barfing.  *shudder*  Aren't you glad you stopped by today?  A few hours afterwards, I was super thirsty, but dreaded the thought of drinking anything.  I grabbed a bottled water out of the fridge, twisted the cap off and took a tiny sip.

It was the worst tasting water ever.  

Of course it wasn't really the water that was the problem.  It was perfectly fine and the same water that I always drink and have no problem with.  If my family were to grab a bottle, and give it a swig, they would think it was great.

The water tasted bad because of my circumstances.  My experience.  It tasted bad because of a very real event:  Acid barfing.  

And then it hit me.  A very real truth that sometimes the Gospel, Jesus...tastes very bad to people.  Believers and unbelievers alike.  Sometimes life circumstances or beliefs or whatever distort what really is.  

The water I was tasting was the same water as usual, its taste hadn't changed literally, but my taste for it had.  Someone could have argued with me about the taste of the water, but would that have changed how it tasted to me?  

Absolutely not.

Sometimes, we have to figure out what's distorting our taste.  Sometimes, we need to love people and give them some time to heal from the acid-barfing of their life so they can taste again.


Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8


Because barfing preaches.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Courage

I turned 36 on Monday.  I'm only a few days in to the thirty-six gig, but I gotta say: Lovin' it.

Thirty five was a good year.  It was a time of resetting-back-into-position. And although that's ultimately a good thing, the process of it is sometimes painful...and messy.  

Life has a way of getting out of order.  Suddenly non-important issues work their way up the priority scale.  And people and relationships of value slide down...because there's only room for so many at the top.  

It's amusing for me to look back.  I knew God was leading in the shake-up, but I obeyed so very timidly.  

People pleasing tendencies became exposed.  Unhealthy relationships became exposed.  I learned that dealing with both of  those, once you've allowed them to take root for awhile is...ugly.  I really don't have any other word for it.  Whenever we make changes in our lives, there is fall-out.  And usually it involves a mix of good and bad.  I wasn't quite prepared for the bad to be so bad.   

There were countless times I wanted to flee back into the false-comfort of my familiar old-way of operating.  So very many times.  And in that, God exposed my pride.  Again.  And even as I write this, part of me wants to flee back to the familiar.  To appease. To appease others to make them happier.  To shut them up.  Because it seems like a quick and easy fix.

And God is not into quick and easy.  Because quick and easy is dumb and useless.

So much of my year 35....my timid obedience of 35, was to prepare me for what He's calling me to in my 36th year of life.  And that is courage.

I  managed the obedience to the shake-up that was required, not without many mis-steps on my part, but now....this year, is about the courage to own them.

Courage to live loudly the gospel of Christ that brings hope, rather  than timidly hiding behind meaningless small-talk (which I abhor, by the way)

Courage to speak truth in love in the right moments, rather than nodding my head and smiling.  

Courage to have peace with the fact that in ministry and in life, people will be critical.  And harsh.  I need courage to love them rather than appease them.

Courage to write again.  To write hard instead of over-censoring so that no one reads into something wrongly.  If they do...they do.  Courage.

Courage to obey boldly, rather than timidly or begrudgingly. 

Courage to be me.  The me who God has created, who He wants me to be and not who anyone else thinks I am.  

There's so many other areas I need courage.  I can't begin to know what year 36 will hold...I know that God shows me just a tiny glimpse because it's all my feeble heart and mind can handle.  But I feel that courage He's planted, like a small spark growing.  I'm gonna screw it up sometimes. Without a doubt.  But courage to fail is another area that needs some growth...

Life really is a beautiful mess.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Birth Story Eleven Years Old

My middlest child turns 11 today.  This morning I dug out his baby photo albums, like I do on all their birthdays, and reminisced.  

About how time flies and goes slow all at the same time.  About how young, and naive Ben and I looked in the pictures.  About how 2002 was indeed the year of the overalls, every person in every picture is sporting a pair.

Eli was not "planned" by us.  His older brother was just 6 months old when we found out I was pregnant.  We lived a state away from our family, Ben was still in seminary, money was tight, schedules were tight, and I was not ready to go through the whole pregnancy and delivery thing again just yet.

As my three year old Lucy would say:  I freaked out.

I cried for two weeks.  I simply could not see any way that this was going to work out well.  This was not in my plan.  Only things I could handle were in my plan.  Hello self pity.

I remember being completely annoyed with my husband for not freaking out.  "It will be fine!"  "It's in God's plan!" should have brought comfort...but his blind faith seemed to just annoy me.  Certainly, he only was only being positive because he wasn't considering all the implications (for me) that were involved. Hello self pity.  Again.

I was embarrassed to tell people our news.  I mean, what kind of *idiots* have another baby when they already have a baby!  Us.  That's who.

I could write a thousand pages on the ways, big and itty bitty that God worked out the details for every. single. thing.  God showed me that from where I was, yeah...it looked pretty impossible.  But my view was so tiny, and so limited and so...wrong.  

Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed in a life situation, I've often take my heart back to those early days of finding out I was pregnant.  Because I remember that hopeless feeling.  That overwhelmed feeling.  That hard place.  And now I know, what I didn't really know then...that if I really want to see how big my God is, then I need to look at the impossible things with anticipation.  Because the impossible is right where God works.  And sometimes the hard, impossible stuff, is the best stuff.  Eli was meant to be, and his timing was not wrong...mine was.  He was and everyday is an incredible, amazing gift to our family.  We are not us, without him.  

I'll never forget September 27, 2002. (who doesn't love a  birth story?)

I had gone into my Dr. in the morning, in was a Friday just like today.  She stripped my membranes and said if I didn't go into labor on my own then I was scheduled to be induced on Monday.  I was cool with the Monday thing.  Mostly because then I was sure to get my epidural in time.  (My then 16 month old had been almost 10 pounds...no way I was doing that without drugs.)

The rest of the day went on as usual.  By early evening I started noticing some contractions, and started writing them down...but it didn't seem like "real" labor.  Ben worked until early evenings, so I talked to him around 7ish and asked if he would bring home a take-n-bake pizza.   

At some point the contractions must have gotten close enough together that I called the hospital just to see what they thought.  I remember the nurse saying to just take a warm bath, that it would help me relax and likely stop the contractions.  

Turns out the bath made them worse.  Much worse.  Ben got home and somehow managed to bake the pizza and eat while I got dressed.  My Aunt and Uncle were planning on keeping Noah for us while we were at the hospital.  The hospital was a half hour away from us, so the plan was for them to meet at our apartment to get him.  That night, it just so happened that they were with their family at the circus.  Ha.  They left the circus and met us at our apartment.  I could only walk in between contractions.  I remember the elevator ride in our apartment building seemed like it lasted for.ev.er. I had never experienced full fledged contractions before. 


It felt like a scene from a movie.  Ben drove like a crazy man to the hospital and I remember yelling at him not to do that, and then yelling at him to hurry up and get there.  He couldn't win.

He wheeled me inside and tried to find someone to get me where I needed to be.  It felt like it took days, but it was probably only 10 minutes.  They put me in an exam room to check me.  I kept telling them to call the anestesiologist, because I knew that it sometimes took them awhile to get there.  

The nurse checked me and said she had good news and bad news.  The "good" news was that I was fully dilated, and the baby was coming.  The bad news was no epidural.  

I wanted to die.  I am and never was one who thought experiencing child-birth without drugs seemed like a good idea.  Ever.  

They rushed me to the delivery room, and literally held the Eli's head in until the Dr. could get the scrubs on.  They kept saying "Don't push!" Yeah right.  My body was pushing all on it's own.

And Eli was born!  We had arrived at the hospital at 11:00 PM and he was born at 11:39 PM.  It was a blur.  We didn't know if we should call people and tell them the news, since it was so late.  I think we called our parents and then waited until morning to make the rest of the calls.

And just like that he was here.  And I, in fact, did survive without an epidural. But that was the last time I did it the "natural" way...I'll take the needle in my back any day.  ;)


Story Break:  I finished this part of my post on Friday the 27th, Eli's birthday.  I didn't hit publish before heading out to meet a friend for coffee.  During coffee, my oldest called from school with the flu.  By the time I got to the school, it had hit me too.  And by evening, my husband was knocked out with it too.  So Eli spent his 11th birthday with a bunch of sickies.  And in genuine Eli style, he took it all in stride.  Laid-back, no big deal, roll with the punches.  I love that kid.  I have so much to learn from him. So, it is now October 3rd, and I'm hitting publish.  



 Happy Birthday Buddy! Love you!