{Marriage Journal} Why Can’t He Just Remember?

Towel_Rack_1This morning, Caleb was napping and I was working on apartment management items, when Andrew called to me from the other room, “Hey Hon, could you grab me a towel?”

I sighed as I set my laptop aside and got up to retrieve the item that I seemed to deliver quite often. Why can’t he just remember to grab a towel before he gets in the shower? I grumbled in my head.

The thought was barely finished when I realized how many dozens of times I’ve sat down to nurse Caleb and then realized I forgot to pour myself a tall glass of water first. (I am always parched during feedings!) “Hey Babe, could you bring me some water?” Andrew never complains that I don’t prepare better for nursing sessions.

It’s funny how easy it is to notice my husband’s quirks and minor shortcomings without ever stopping to look at my own. If we both picked at each little mistake or got annoyed every time the other’s forgetfulness made a little extra work for us, we’d be at each other constantly. This is everyday life together. This is being married. It means smiling when Andrew forgets the towel or I forget the water. It means laughing when I pick up the dirty laundry that ended up exactly next to the hamper instead of inside it. It means Andrew kissing me on the cheek when he discovers that his earbuds have grown legs and wound up in my nightstand. Sometimes it is in a million of these tiny decisions that a happy or frustrating marriage is made. (There are plenty of bigger factors, too…but small things often become the big things!)

Next time I hear the Towel Summons, I hope I smile instead of grumbling. I hope I say something sweet as I toss it to him. I hope I thank God that He gave me a husband.

And hey–I should be grateful to be married to a guy who showers! ;)

Photo taken from imgkid.com.

{Mommy Journal} I Knew I Was a Mom When

pic2-001Life is so very different since November 15. I’ve found myself doing or thinking things that have made it hit me in afresh: I’m a mom now. It’s a strange and wonderful “new normal”.

I knew I was a mom when…

  • I suddenly enjoyed being up almost every morning by 6 AM.
  • I nearly cried when my baby outgrew his newborn clothes.
  • I found myself brushing my hair for the first time that day while walking into a doctor appointment.
  • I got to board the airplane ahead of “normal” people.
  • My nice sweater got spit up on while in public and I didn’t even care.
  • When remembering the worst pain of my life, I knew I would do it all again in a heartbeat for my little man.
  • I had to start emptying my phone’s storage regularly due to photo overload.
  • I stopped using an alarm clock and started waking to my baby’s hunger cues instead.
  • Just making the bed made me feel proud.
  • I qualified for the carpool lane without having someone ride shotgun.
  • I found myself thinking, “the days are going by too fast” just a few days after Caleb’s birth.
  • I stared at a sleeping baby for hours without getting bored.
  • A humorous yet sentimental three-minute YouTube video about motherhood made me cry.
  • I lost my hairbrush and my mother-in-law found it in a Pampers diaper box.
  • I found myself watching movies of my baby while holding him.
  • A solo trip to the laundromat sounded like a relaxing little “outing”.
  • I went all day desperately needing and wanting a shower but never got one.

Likely to be continued…

Captive Thoughts

Lately it seems like I’ve had more opportunity to dwell on the wrong things and to let my thinking get out of line with the truth. For one thing, feeling nauseous constantly makes it really easy to slip into self-pity and ungratefulness. I’ve realized in fresh ways that it takes hard work and conscious effort to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). This is always true, but the issue of selfish thinking is more glaring when I’m faced with something difficult. 

For the past few weeks, I’ve been loving 1 John and 1 Peter for my quiet times. I like being able to grab one verse or passage that I try to take with me throughoutshoes the day. It’s what I go back to when I catch my thoughts drifting in a direction that does not bring glory to God.

I’ve also appreciated solid Christian music to fill my mind with truth. For a year or so now, I’ve listened to far less secular music because I find the uplifting, Scripture-filled quality of worship music to be so much more beneficial. (I haven’t gone cold turkey. I still enjoy Taylor Swift and others, but in moderation.) Earlier this morning I was struggling with a situation I am currently working through, and I was so thankful that the Lord brought Fernando Ortega’s musical rendition of Psalm 19:14 to my mind, which I sang as a prayer while I worked in the kitchen.

Let the words of my mouth
Be pleasing to You, pleasing to You
The meditation of my heart
Be pleasing to you, pleasing to You
Oh Lord, my strength
And my Redeemer

Right thinking does not come naturally to me, but it is so worth the effort to drag myself back to the Lord for the mind-makeover I need at every moment. When I draw near to Him, He is faithful to use His Word to encourage my heart and correct my thinking.

“I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” (Ps. 119:11)

{Marriage Journal} Resetting

1613976_10152374377448109_1231145455_nAndrew and I have been married a little over three years now and it has been an amazing, rewarding, and fun journey together. As every  human does, we’ve encountered some valleys, varying in “categories” and levels of difficulty.

A few weeks ago, we hit a trial of a new genre. I hesitate to even call it a trial, because on the scale of difficulties, it ranked pretty low. But often whatever challenges God gives us feel very big in the moment, even if we know in our heads that they are comparatively trivial.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post, in the middle of the semester, we moved to our new apartment and immediately started functioning as the managers, taking care of the property, fielding dozens and dozens of phone calls and emails, and giving tours of our vacancy. We weren’t settled into our new home yet, I was extremely nauseous and exhausted almost 24/7, and Andrew was getting increasingly behind on his homework.

Tension started to build. Every time the phone rang, we’d exchange glances, hoping the other would offer to get it. Every “failed” tour left us more frustrated. Every new wave of nausea increased my stress levels. Every buzz at the door broke Andrew’s concentration. We began getting short with each other, feeling on edge and cracking under the pressures and exhaustion. Our edginess continued for about two days. We weren’t even really arguing, we just felt at odds and annoyed with one another, and we didn’t talk about anything but work.

The next morning, I happened to read a chapter in a book claiming that love is truly tested in times of trial. I was immediately convicted as I realized that this season was a new “hard” for us, and we were letting it pull us apart instead of coming together and growing stronger in our commitment to and love for one another. At a time when we needed each other, we were functioning independently. Talk about a humbling eye-opener!

I came home and poured out my heart to Andrew. We talked for a good long while about the various frustrations and pressures we were feeling. We asked and granted forgiveness for the ways we had sinned against each other. We promised to choose to make this new season of life draw us closer together as a team instead of letting it distance us. We discussed our need for one other’s support. Most importantly, we acknowledged our need for our Savior and His sustaining grace at every turn. Ultimately we’d gotten our eyes off of Him in the midst of the craziness.

What a change this conversation brought about. It sort of “reset” our relationship and helped us head into the following days with zeal and different perspective and goals. We’ve learned how to work together, give and take in the responsibilities, and communicate clearly our expectations/desires so that we can work out a plan instead of just guessing each other’s thoughts. We’ve been happier, more efficient and successful, and grown closer as we work as a couple in brand new ways. The challenges haven’t disappeared, but how we face them has changed.

If you are in the midst of a day or a week or a month of being at odds with your husband, don’t wait. Stop and communicate, humbly acknowledging your part in the tension and asking him to help you work out a “plan of attack” going forward that will keep you playing on the same team and keep lines of communication open. It’s miserable to waste hours disgruntled with your best friend; it robs you both of joy and accomplishes nothing good.

I’m grateful for a husband who is willing to listen, talk, and implement change, and for a God who always forgives and lets me start over when I have failed. It is deeply encouraging that we can totally blow it but start fresh the next day, going forward in the grace of Jesus Christ. We are never beyond His reach and it is never too late to repent and begin anew!

Choosing Gratitude Challenge

Would you like to join me in a 30-Day Choosing Gratitude Challenge?

I’m so excited to be sharing this project with my sem wives discipleship group and I’d love for you to hop on the band wagon, too! Each day includes a passage of Scripture (usually quite short), a few devotional thoughts, and a specific challenge or prayer prompt. For example, today’s suggestion is:

Ask the Lord to cultivate in you a more grateful heart over these next thirty days. If you have realized that your “Gratitude Quotient” is not what it should be, confess your ungrateful spirit to the Lord. Ask Him to forgive you and to transform you into a truly thankful person.

What could come of this but good? Additional reading from God’s Word and encouragement in the area of gratitude to Him. Sign this ungrateful heart up!

Here’s the link: Growing In Gratitude 30 Day Challenge

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I’ll kick off this challenge with a public thank you to the Lord for providing Andrew as my life partner. Recently I have been working through a handful of challenging circumstances and Andrew has been right there next to me in each one, encouraging, counseling, listening, and gently correcting me as I stumble along. He chooses to take the time I need to talk through issues that arise even though the demands of the semester are expanding rapidly as December draws near. He’s making the conscious decision to prioritize me and my emotional and spiritual needs above homework and other responsibilities. That’s love in action. And that’s just one of the gazillion reasons I’m grateful for him.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for matching me up with a man perfectly suited to do life with me! I am blessed far beyond what I deserve!

Your turn. What are you thankful for? Direct your gratitude to the One Who deserves it all!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)

Toward a Joyful, Prayerful Life

Maryland Renaissance Festival

Ostrich or Chicken?

When it comes to focusing on the good things God is doing in and around me, and being aware of, informed about, and prayerful for bigger issues further removed from my immediate life and circumstances, I seem to bounce back and forth between two extremes.

I’m an ostrich with its head happily buried in the sand, thriving in my bubble, ignoring the turmoil that’s at large in our nation, the greater church of America, and beyond.

Or I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off, forgetting my blessings, freaking out, and trying to fix propaganda, defend honest people, and save babies.

Deep breath.

Both approaches alone are wrong.

Finding Balance

Like pretty much everything in life, I need to find a God-honoring balance.

God wants me to be excited about what’s happening in my sphere. It’s where He’s placed me, and there are good things going on here that I should support, participate in, celebrate, and enjoy. That’s kind of a no-brainer.

But my little world isn’t where life starts and stops.  Awareness of what is taking place elsewhere does a few things:

  1. Wards off tunnel vision and inspires broader perspective.
  2. Humbles me.
  3. Encourages me with good things occurring apart from “my world”.
  4. Incites thankfulness for “how good I’ve got it” here.
  5. Reminds me that this life is temporary.

I believe God wants to help me find that joyful balance between contentment with where I’m at and concern for people elsewhere. Rather than fret, I should bring all issues (both personal and widespread) to God in prayer. Freaking out is never a healthy or productive approach. It distracts me from the gospel, which then causes friction and negativity with the people around me.

The more I’m aware of my tendency toward the extremes, the more I can seek God’s grace in fine-tuning me and fashioning me into the joyful, prayerful Christian I desire to be. I don’t want to be the ostrich, with its head buried in the sand, or the chicken, running around with its head cut off. I want to serve with gladness where God places me, without becoming indifferent to the world around me. And when the population’s problems and decline feel too depressing to bear, I want to be encouraged and take heart in all the good that God is bringing about in the seemingly little ways.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

{Reading Report} When I Don’t Desire God

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Several months ago I promised to post about When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy by John Piper (available on Kindle for $6.99). This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It opened my eyes in new ways to what it means to be a follower of Jesus and how to pursue a relationship with Him and delight in Who He is. If you struggle with wanting to desire God and His ways but feeling stuck in a carnal mindset, I’d encourage you to pick up this book. You won’t regret it. If you only read one chapter, I recommend “Fighting for Joy Like a Justified Sinner: Learning the Secret of Gutsy Guilt”. My very favorite quotes are in bold.

“Conversion is the creation of new desires, not just new duties; new delights, not just new deeds; new treasures, not just new tasks.”

“Our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value.” – Jonathan Edwards

“The key to endurance in the cause of self-sacrificing love is not heroic willpower, but deep, unshakable confidence that the joy we have tasted in fellowship with Christ will not disappoint us in death.”

“Christ will be glorified in the world when Christians are so satisfied in Him that they let goods and kindred go and lay down their lives for others in mercy, missions, and, if necessary, martyrdom. He will be magnified most amont the nations when, at the moment Christians lose everything on earth, they say, ‘To live is Christ, to die is gain’ (Phil. 1:21).”

“Not to see and savor Christ is an insult to the beauty and worth of His character. Preferring anything above Christ is the very essence of sin. It must be fought.”

“When Jesus said, ‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments’ (John 14:15), He was describing the effect of love, not the essence of love.”

“Believing means trusting Jesus not only as our all-sovereign Lord and all-sufficient Savior, but also as our all-surpassing Treasure.”

“Fight for joy, not by doing things that establish your identity with God, but by becoming what your identity already is with God in Christ. Become what you are.”

“The great gospel weapon in the fight for joy is the rock-solid reality that we are counted righteous in Christ by faith alone.”

“This is what we must learn to do in our darkness–even the darkness we have brought on ourselves because of our sin. Yes, I am under the gloom of failure. Yes, God has put me here in His displeasure. But no, I am not abandoned, and God is not against me. He is for me. Even in the darkness that He imposes, He will sustain me. He will not let me go. Though He slay me, He will save me.”

“Through the cross, God purchased and secured every possible blessing that could ever be needed to make us happy forever…God will–signed in blood–give us all things with Christ, because of the death of His son. That is, He will give us all things that are truly good for us. We must preach this to ourselves every day, because Satan is preaching the opposite.”

“The key to praying with power is to become the kind of persons who do not use God for our ends but are utterly devoted to being used for His ends.”

“The goal of brokenhearted repentance is the blessing of humble, Christ-exalting joy.”

“The plants of spontaneous communion grow in the well-tended garden of disciplined Bible-reading and memorization…The plants of ceaseless prayer grow in the garden of persistent discipline.”

Some of the oher books I’m reading or hope to start soon:

          

{Seminary Journal} One-Month Expectations

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Photo by Rv Sun. A hike I took with our Bible study this week.

This is the 100th post here on Anchored! We’ve been here for a month as of yesterday. Last night at a small fellowship group with fellow sem wives, my friend Tia asked everyone a few questions related to what we’d expected to encounter down here, and how those expectations have been fulfilled or turned out differently. It was a good question. I thought about it a lot more when I got home and decided to blog some of those expectations.

  1. I expected our apartment to be tiny and cramped, but it’s not. There’s far more space than I’d even hoped for and pretty much everything we brought fits, with a little wiggle room.
  2. I expected church to feel big and overwhelming, and it does. But joining a fellowship group makes a big church get small really fast. I’m surprised that we run into people we know every Sunday, in a church of thousands.
  3. I did not expect to feel lonely, but I do. It’s not the homesickness I’d anticipated, it’s different. There are moments, after my work and responsibilities are done and Andrew is still doing homework, when not having my best friend or a family member to call for coffee or a game night hits me really hard and I feel very alone.
  4. I expected there to be many young married couples without kids in seminary, but there aren’t. There are tons of young families and a lot of single guys.
  5. I expected Andrew to be swamped with homework, and he is. God prepared me to be fully ready for evenings and Saturdays to be for homework. I’m encouraging Andrew to study and not making him feel bad about being busy. This week he got 105% on his first Hebrew vocab quiz! When I texted that I was proud of him, Andrew replied, “It’s a victory for both of us ’cause the time I spent studying was time I didn’t spend with you…but it paid off!”
  6. I expected it to be hot, and it is. It’s been around 100 or more all week. As I write this, it’s 101 and supposed to reach 103 this afternoon. The apartment is stuffy and cooking is a drag. But that’s no surprise and I’m learning to get used to it.
  7. I expected it to take awhile to make close friends, and it does. But we’ve already been so blessed to meet a number of amazing people who love Jesus and have a heart for people and ministry. I know there are very special friendships in store, likely with some of the people we’ve already met but haven’t spent much time with yet.
  8. I expected to be hard to find gluten free food, and it is. Until yesterday. I discovered Sprouts on the recommendation of friends. It is like our co-op back home, maybe better! It’s in Burbank but so worth the extra jaunt! Thank You, Lord!

Yes, there are a lot of good and hard things about this new season of life. It’s stretching, and Jesus’ presence and love are becoming more dear to my heart. Despite the tearful moments and the ache in my heart that sometimes doesn’t want to fade, I am very content and completely confident that today I am exactly where God wants me to be. No second thoughts, regrets, or misgivings. God’s work in my life is an encouragement to me, and I know He has so much more in store for my spiritual growth as the weeks roll on. Thank you for your prayers…there is no doubt He is answering them!

Cubed 07/11/13

The past week-and-a-half, cubed.

Fairhaven outing.

Fairhaven outing.

Don't take my bag.

Don’t take my bag.

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A relaxing Saturday afternoon on the water.

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A game of Wizard with friends.

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4th of July baseball

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Early morning coffee and catch-up date.

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Despicable Me 2 birthday outing. (Go see it.)

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Soaking up this  rare Pacific NW sunshine.

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Fresh plums and goat cheese for breakfast.

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Two of my favorite people.

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Stud.

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Fifth year of fireworks with my love.

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Sisters pedicure date.

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Coffee pick-up for four.