Family Anniversary

January 1996

January 1996

Confession…it’s our family anniversary. Today my family celebrates its 19th year. John and I were married and began our family on this day, nineteen years ago. Today’s post is dedicated to my best friend.

John,

Nineteen years! Can you believe it? Can you believe we still love each other? I think sometimes people look at us and think that it’s always been this easy. I think they assume we were married and we’ve been in love like this all this time. Do you remember, when it wasn’t like this? Do you remember when you were married to a girl who didn’t know how to love? Do you remember when I was married to the guy who didn’t know how to trust? Those were hard years. Do you remember how we both thought it would always be that way? Do you remember how we both prayed that God would intervene somehow? Boy did He answer that prayer! I know it’s not perfect and I know that we still have so much to learn, but how much fun it has been to learn it with you. I never thought you would be my best friend. I never thought I would love you this much after all that time. Oh and thanks for the kids, because they’re awesome! I love you and I can’t believe I can finally say that I have loved you for half of my life. Happy Anniversary!

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The Allegory

Let me tell you a story about a piece of pottery. It had heard the Potter speak about how useful and stunning it was. It was destined to be important. It longed for the day it would realize its dreams of greatness. However, as the days melted into weeks, the weeks moved to months. Then slowly the months became years. Of course the piece began to feel betrayed. Wasn’t it meant for more than this shelf? Wasn’t it meant to be used for something important? Wasn’t it meant to be on display? It was dark here and difficult to see.

“I don’t like this place!” shouted the piece. “Surely, I am destined to be more. Instead, I am on a shelf, abandoned and forgotten.”

In the first days, it had repeatedly cried out and complained. As its voice grew hoarse, it began to create schemes to get off the shelf. Surely, there was someplace better. The piece would find that place and be there. The piece was never quite successful at this attempt. It could go nowhere, without the Potters hands. So on the shelf it sat.  A beautiful piece of pottery, wasted; on the shelf; in the dark; abandoned and forgotten.

I interrupt this allegory to bring a mirror to the scene, much like God has interrupted my week to bring a mirror to my life scene. As I gazed into this mirror, I realized, I am not a beautiful piece of pottery. I am a lump of clay, in the dark, waiting to be molded.

Clay-ss-2005 (2)

The past few years have been difficult. I’ve been frustrated at the thought of being on the shelf and abandoned. I’ve been wounded, each time a cut has come to my heart. I’ve been humbled as my pride has been assaulted. In my arrogance, I have believed myself to be a completed piece of beautiful pottery left on a shelf to waste away. When in reality, I am a lump of clay being kneaded, wedged, and cut in preparation for the creation the great Potter has in mind. I am stiff, stubborn, and have air bubbles of pride and arrogance that needed to be worked out of my heart before God can do anything with me. I am a lump of clay. It brings a strange excitement to my heart. I am not yet, what I am supposed to be, but surely I am not, what I once was.

What has made my heart full is the thought that while we are stills lump of clay, God sees in us what He will accomplish and how He will gain the glory from His work in our hearts. He does not see the cold, dark, formless shape that we are. He sees beyond that, to what He has in mind for us. He sees us as beautiful. So, you realize, I cannot finish the allegory yet, because it has just started. We are in the process of being wedged, cut, and debubbled and soon  will be ready for molding.

Three Things

In order to stay married to your spouse it’s really important that you share respect, trust, and love.

I get to listen to lots of conversations lately. I don’t know if people don’t realize I’m sitting there, or if they just don’t care that everyone can hear what they’re discussing but WOW! Sometimes I just feel awkward. Recently, I sat next to a conversation between a young married woman and her friends. She was talking through a major decision regarding their finances while sitting at a coffee table. When one of her friends suggested the young woman call her husband and talk through the issue with him, she sidestepped the suggestion and continued with her list of pros and cons.

I’m going to stop right here and acknowledge that I am not any sort of professional on relational topics. I have no degrees. I have no training. I’m in no way qualified by the world’s standards. I am, however, a wife of almost 19 years to an amazing man. I’ve been married for 19 years and I feel like that gives me a little bit of right to make the following comments. So, please read knowing I’m just a simple woman with opinions and experience.

If you want to stay married you need three things, in my opinion. You need respect, trust, and love…in that order.

Respect

:a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.

:a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way

: a particular way of thinking about or looking at something

In my experience, respect for your spouse is crucial. It’s crucial, even before you’re married. It is important to choose a spouse whom you admire, value and deem important. It is important to choose a spouse and not a project. Yes, ladies, don’t go for the fixer upper and think that will go in your favor. It often doesn’t and leaves one or both parties feeling cheated.

I believe that when you marry someone, with the hopes that they will change, you both are cheated out of a good relationship. You both are cheated out of an honest relationship. Let’s be honest with ourselves, it is difficult to respect someone you don’t find value in. It’s difficult to treat someone as important and valuable if you think they need to be altered, because they aren’t good enough for you as they are.

The best example I can offer, is the one that God offers us. He chooses to love us, just as we are. He doesn’t make us meet a set of goals in order to earn His love. He offers it freely. His love does change us and motivate us to grow, but His love isn’t a condition of our performance. Now that said, don’t mistake me to be saying that your love will change someone. Remember, you are not God. Don’t put all that pressure on yourself. Just choose wisely.

Trust

:belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.

In my experience, good marriages happen between two people who trust each other. I can depend on my husband. I hope he can depend on me. If we can’t trust each other, then we will spend most of our time seeking to protect our interests and very little time serving each other.

Now keep in mind, this trust comes from respect. If you don’t respect your spouse, chances are you won’t trust them. Now let me turn the tables. If your spouse senses that you feel they need improvement, they will hesitate to trust you. After all, you said you loved them and then began a full on mission to change them. It makes it hard to trust someone who thinks you need a massive overhaul. You don’t have to agree with me on this one, but I do ask you to think about it.

Here’s an example. If I told you that I loved the chocolate chips cookies you made for me, but then went on to tell you how you could improve on the recipe for next time, wouldn’t you start to doubt my initial declaration of love for your cookies? Something to ponder.

Trust is a choice. You use the information you have a make a decision to trust. Please, make a wise decision.

Love (for this definition, I go to the Bible)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful: it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ~ I Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is a choice. Often it is mistaken for a feeling, but it is a choice. The kind of love you need for marriage is not the kind of love we read about in magazines or see on the screen.  This love is strong and wise. We’ve all heard it said…Love makes you do stupid things…in one’s attempt to excuse a truly stupid decision.  I disagree. Love is strong.  Love gives you the power to move forward when you want to quit.  Love helps you get up after you’ve been gut-punched.  Love gives you the strength to walk away from something you really want to keep, in order to keep your commitment.  AND love opens you up to be hurt.  It makes you vulnerable.

My best example on this point is Jesus. He loved us so much. His love for us, caused His death. He knew it would kill Him, and He chose to love us anyway. He loved us so perfectly! Now, I’m not saying you should die for your spouse, but shouldn’t we be willing to sacrifice? In my experience, there have been times when I have needed to let go of something I really wanted in order to keep my commitment to our family. Many of those desires are born out of selfishness and vain ambition. Those things I willingly give up for my family. But truth be told, sometimes it feels like death to me. However, I do it for love.

As your respect for your spouse grows, and you learn to trust them, love is a natural byproduct. These things are so very important to marriage. These are lessons I learn consistently. I have not mastered any of them, but I do work to grow in my skills.

I don’t know what will happen for that young woman. I pray all good things for her. I hope she’s reading. I do know that you’re reading. And I hope I’ve got you thinking. These are my opinions and experiences, but I hope you can learn from them.

Until another confession…

No More Waiting

My life ambition is to inspire people to run head long into the love of God and allow that love to transform their lives and regenerate their hearts.

I want to motivate people to believe that life can be different. I want to inspire people to dream of a life free of fear and insecurity. I want to challenge people to pursue the love of God in a life changing way. I keep waiting for a platform to arrive so I can start speaking to these issues. I keep waiting for someone to give me permission to speak, encourage, and write words of hope and truth. I keep making excuses why I need to wait to pursue my ambitions. I need to stop waiting.

This is a short post but it needs to be here so that the posts that follow will make sense. The waiting needs to stop right now and I’m a firm believer in taking steps when they are in front of you. This is a step in front of me right now that just can’t wait any longer.

You need to know that your life matters. Your seemingly small and insignificant life matters. Without you, our world would be different. I don’t know how it would be different. I honestly don’t know, but I do know that God put you here for a reason. You are on purpose. You are no accident. You are on purpose. God made you on purpose and with intention. Make a choice to believe that truth and let it change your perspective.

Until another confession…

The Year Reflected

Every year, I reflect on the year past and look toward the new year in hopes of improvement and growth. If I’m honest, and you all know I work hard to be transparent and honest here, I will admit that this year was full of changes. I quit a job I thought I would do forever. I took a job that took me away from my family. I sent my firstborn off to high school. I said goodbye to friends. I stepped out of positions I had been in for years. I wrestled with my identity and finding it in God rather than man. So much for one year.

I would love to say that the changes made this year have been for the good, but I am still in the aftermath of some of the transitions. I’m not sure what is going to happen next. I’ve experienced some deep cuts this year and I’m still licking wounds that haven’t quite yet healed. They are all growing pains, so I know that there is good on the other side, but how those growing pains have made me want to quit.

Last week, I almost succumbed to the urge to quit. I considered giving up on dreaming…hoping…believing. I wanted quit it all. I looked at life without creativity, writing, and expression and worked hard to convince myself that the world would be a better place if I could just be normal, bland, and quiet. If I could find some way to hide and be silent, wouldn’t that just be better for everyone? I allowed myself to believe some old lies that I had not embraced for a long time. I listened to a voice that I had learned to silence. I bought the lie that God made me wrong and I needed to hide who I was to protect those who love me most. What I was really trying to do was hide from some hard decisions we need to make soon. I was trying to hide from discovering what God has for me in this new season.

My husband and mother were a blessing this last week. Their voices shouted louder than the voices that were lying to me. Their voices spoke truth and love. Their voices called God to come and fight for me. Then God reminded me how much He loved me. God reminded me that He didn’t make mistakes. He still didn’t fill me in on what is next in this season, but He reminded me that I’m not alone.

So, here I am. Writing and sharing this experience because I know I am not the only one who struggles with these kinds of moments. And as long as there is just one of you out there who might be encouraged by my chronicling of the weeks events, then I will continue to share my stories. You’re not alone.

Until another confession…

What I Feel vs What I Believe

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God ~Philippians 4:6

Honestly, I’ve been guilty of living the exact opposite of this verse. If I were to speak my truth on this piece it would read more like this:

Be anxious about everything, and in every situation, with worrying, scheming, and grumbling, whine to everyone who will listen.

Really, it’s gotten bad. So bad that, I don’t even like to hear myself talk anymore. I realize God is trying to teach me something in this season, but I feel like this lesson is long and impossible to master. I feel like I don’t have the capacity to understand the lesson. I feel like quitting. I feel like I can’t do this. I feel like I don’t want to do this. And there is my problem. I am depending on how I feel to get through this lesson.

Here’s the thing I’m learning folks: When my feelings don’t match what I believe, then maybe it’s time to stop working from my feelings and start working from what I believe.

What I believe is that God doesn’t make mistakes. I believe that the Holy Spirit helps me in my weakness. I believe is that the Holy Spirit can help me even when I don’t know what kind of help I need. What I believe is that God is working all things for good of those who love Him. I KNOW I love Him. If I don’t know anything else, I know I love God and I want my life to be an evidence of what His love can do in one little person like me.

Until another confession…

Too Much…Too Little

Confession…sometimes being a woman of faith means I go to work with a good attitude on my day off.

This thought struck me a few weeks ago, as I traveled to work on a Sunday, which is typically my day to attend church with my friends in faith. I vividly remember the anger that settled in my heart on that drive. I was livid. I had even purposed to be angry all day to prove to my superiors how dedicated I was to my faith and God. Yeah, as I say read that now I realize what a ridiculous statement that is, but I really meant it at the time. Do you ever do that? Do you ever get angry with the people around you? The very same people that maybe God has called you to love on. The same people you wish would hurry up and find God so He could fix their lives. What a way to point them to Him….by being distant and cold.

I’ve learned an important lesson over the past few months. If I claim to be a woman of faith, all I do and say then become a reflection of those associated with faith. I am sad to say that I haven’t been reflecting well. I’ve been angry, withdrawn, sad, and passively hostile. God’s been talking to me about that. It’s wrong. I have many excuses, but none are good enough to make me right. I have been challenged to see those around me as people who are loved by God. It’s changing the way I behave at work. Our Pastorman challenged us with the following statement with regard to our workplace: “You’re a light that wasn’t there before”. This made me sad, because I realized the quality of light that I bring is tainted.

We, as Christians, spend too much time talking about what we don’t do and what we don’t tolerate and we spend too little time loving on those around us. We spend too little time praying for our peers. We spend too little time being interested in their lives without trying to solve all their problems. We spend too much time trying to have all the answers. We spend too much time trying to change them. We spend too little time accepting them as they are. We spend too little time remembering that we are also in need of the saving love of God which makes us all in need of a hero. We have got to remember that they are loved by God just as we are. Maybe then, we can be effective lights in our world. It’s God’s love they need, not our judgement. God invites us to be tangible examples of that life changing love to them. Are you up for the challenge?

Until another confession…