Categories
Marriage

Stay Together With Leather

Our third anniversary was a couple of weeks ago. We always tend to stick to tradition and buy gifts based on the theme for our specific year. Except this year, the theme was leather.

All I could think was: What in the world am I supposed to buy for my husband? He prides himself in picking out his own unique, compact wallet, and he has plenty of belts and shoes already.

While searching for a gift for my darling husband, I stumbled upon the meaning behind leather as a third anniversary gift. Leather represents strength and durability. How poetic!

That snippet I read about the reason behind leather inspired me to write this post. In my quest, I discovered how leather was used in the Bible and how leather is made today by tanners. Of course, I also connected the Biblical references of leather and the process of making leather to caring for our marriages.

How to Make Leather

Much preparation goes into the making of leather. Even before the cow or other animal is slaughtered, tanners do what they can do to make the quality of the leather strong. They make sure the animal is well-fed and is not exposed to insects.

On that fateful day, a cow sacrifices its life in order to make this fine material. In every part of the process, the tanner uses care and precision to clean, salt, and prepare the leather. If the tanner delays in any way, the leather could become too dry too quickly.

Leather in the Bible

Generally, in the Bible, leather is used to make clothes and for writing. Leather is also called “skin” or “hide” in some translations.

Leather Used as Clothes

The Israelites wore leather in the form of belts and shoes. In fact, the first clothes ever created were made of leather.

  • Genesis 3:21. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
  • 2 Kings 1:8. They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
  • Matthew 3:4. Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
  • Mark 1:6. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.

Leather Made by a Tanner

Tanners are not mentioned in the Bible that often because the Jews considered them unclean. The trade of the tanner was probably learned in Egypt. In one instance, Peter stayed with a tanner named Simon, demonstrating the shift of what (and who) was considered unclean.

  • Acts 9:43. And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.
  • Acts 10:6. “…he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.”

Leather in Old Testament Sacrifice

Leather was part of the sacrifice price given to the priest.

  • Leviticus 7:8. Also the priest who presents any man’s burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has presented.

Leather Used as a Writing Medium

Leather was a popular medium for writing during Old Testament times, even though it was not specifically mentioned in the Bible. The remnants we have of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written on leather.

The Bible mentions writing to remember what has happened and to anticipate what will happen (see Revelation 1:19). The LORD instructs the people of Israel to have the written law all over their homes, so that they may remember what He has done (see Deuteronomy 6:8-9).

Why Do We Celebrate Our Third Anniversary With Leather?

Leather reminds us of the sacrifice we make in our marriages. Its fragility in the formation, yet its strength and durability as a result, is a perfect symbol of our marriage.

Before we even met, we made sure we lived a quality life instead of waiting until marriage for our lives to finally begin. When preparing for marriage and starting our marriage, we cleaned up our marriage by going to pre-marital counseling, joining a couples Bible study, and practicing open communication with one another. The seasons of hardship and the dry seasons we’ve endured so far have only made us stronger.

With the symbol of leather in mind, we can adhere to these resolutions:

  • We remember the faithfulness of God and will make memories to remind ourselves of His presence in our marriage and beyond.
  • The love we share protects us from whatever storms we will face in the future.
  • We recognize the sensitivity of this beautiful gift, but we trust God’s process for our lives together.

From the very beginning, our marriage has been an adventure. I’m thankful that we’ve been through so much so early on in our marriage. Now, whatever we face, we are together with our eyes fixed on God.

Gifts for Our Third Anniversary

So, what did I gift my husband for our third anniversary? I was creative and bought him a different type of leather: beef jerky! He had never tried it before, so it was fun to experience our first impressions of beef jerky together.

Lenny bought me a beautiful leather journal. The journal part is replaceable, so even when I finish the journal, I can still use the leather cover for my future journals. Now, I can write down all that God is doing in our lives to remind us of His faithfulness over the years.

You could give your spouse a leather gift, such as a leather-bound book or an autographed baseball. Whatever you give, may your gift remind you both of the strength of your marriage and all that you have accomplished so far.


Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Afraid of Success

In the beginning of the summer, I started my career as a freelance writer and editor. I didn’t sign a contract, nor did I get any sort of salary or benefits. My husband and I made the decision to start my business up from the ground.

Over these last couple of months, I’ve had plenty of doubts. What if my book never gets published? What if no one ever gives me business? What if people hear my pitch, see my passion, and still reject me? What if I never make another dime in my life?

As Sophie writes in Letters to Juliet: “‘What’ and ‘If’ are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: What… if? What, if? What if…?”

To be honest with you, I’m not pursuing this career path for the money. I’m doing this because I love to write, and you can’t put a price tag on what you love. On a laborious commute home about a year ago, I heard a sermon from Craig Groeschel, during his series “Divine Direction.” His intro wasn’t related to his sermon (it was more of an announcement), but what he said stuck with me. He asked the congregation if they would be willing to keep their current jobs if they were guaranteed $10,000 more. Then he asked if they were guaranteed $20,000, then $100,000, then $1 million. Some people would violently nod their heads in agreement, but to me, the money isn’t worth it if you don’t like what you do. Time is also a valuable resource, and if you spend 40+ hours a week doing something you don’t like (in addition to the hours you spend thinking and talking about your job), you’re wasting your time. I thank God for the opportunity to do what I love, without looking at my salary.

Although my fear of failure is slowly dissipating, these last couple of weeks, I’ve realized that I have a fear even deeper than my fear of failure. I have a fear of success.

I’ve dreamed of staying at home as a writer since I was six years old, before I even knew it was possible. All I knew was that I loved sitting on my computer all day and typing stories. I loved to write, and as God came into my life and changed my heart, I started to love encouraging the hopeless with my writing as well. Given all the enemy threw at me to make me unsuccessful, here I am, in the battle arena, waiting to mount onto the victor’s pedestal.

What if all the hopes and dreams that I’ve wanted to see come to fruition, aren’t as great as I think they’re going to be?

Despite what Shia LaBeouf may say, it often is better for your dreams to be dreams. Dreams can be whatever you want them to be, with no interruptions. Once your dream is voiced, it suddenly clashes with reality, and now you have to deal with the rubber meeting the road, the flying car crashing onto the paved road on the ground.

That is the same for my writing. My dream is to be a published author with tons of books, traveling and spreading hope to my adoring readers, for the glory of God. I want to make a living as a writer. I totally believe that’s possible, but what if it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be? What if my dream isn’t as beautiful and wonderful as I had always hoped?

The joy in this message is that our success is never going to be as satisfying as we expect. God has given us a passion for Him and for His kingdom, for Heaven. While we can enjoy a taste of the blessings He has for us in the next life, nothing on Earth is ever going to satisfy us apart from God. All we can do is work as hard as we can for God, and to pursue the dreams that He has birthed in us. Through prayer and wise counsel, you can find that dream job, and you can be successful, no matter what you do. And you don’t have to be afraid of success or failure.


Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Write Down to Calm Down

It’s no coincidence that I have anxiety and I love to write. When I’m anxious, I could spend hours writing in my journal, processing my thoughts, making sense of the world around me. I can articulate my emotions and better communicate them to people when I write. As a result, I’m able to maintain my anxiety. I’ve noticed that when I don’t make time to journal, I’m more restless and I’m not as in tune with my emotions.

Truthfully, I haven’t journaled in the past couple of days, so I’m finding it hard to sit still as I’m typing this. My mind is also swimming with ideas to a point where I don’t know what’s going on up there. So maybe this advice is just as important for me in this moment as it is for you.

Make Time to Write
The #1 response I hear to why people don’t journal is, “I don’t have time.” The truth is: We don’t have time for everything. Life is busy, but I believe it’s because we want to be at all places at all times, but we can’t. God gave us twenty-four hours in a day, no more and no less. If journaling is something you want to try, you should make it a priority to carve any amount of time out for your day.

Think about the things that consume your time. You say you don’t have time, but you unwind by watching Netflix or scrolling any one of your social media sites. You make time to spectate other people’s lives, and yet you don’t make time to process your own. If you want a better life, make time to assess where you are now and make measurable goals of where you want to be later. Journaling is the perfect first step for that.

Face Your Fear of Yourself
Before I had a dishwasher, I used to dread washing the dishes. Days would go by and my dishes would pile up. At the end of the week, I wouldn’t want to know what disgusting crusts and smells would arise when I would finally turn on the hot water and start rinsing off my old plates. Although the process was nauseating and painful (I would often burn my hands in the hot water), I would get through washing the dishes and would have sparkling clean dishes.

Similarly, I don’t want to journal when I know I’ll be confronted with my depression or anxiety. I have this fear that I’ll process my feelings for hours only to find out that I’m overreacting and that, overall, I’m a mess. I’m comforted by the fact that God doesn’t look at me that way. God does not despise my broken and contrite heart. He accepts me with my mess, and He helps me sort through the murky waters of my emotions.

If you are afraid of what you will find when you journal, start by affirming yourself with Scripture. God has a lot of great things to say about you in His word. Psalm 139 has been my anthem lately as I’ve struggled with truly feeling beautiful in God’s eyes. God had me in mind before I was even born, and He crafted me to beautifully reflect His glory. Knowing this, I feel less disgusting as I search the depths of my heart.

Journaling Prompts
Pinterest has plenty of prompts to help you start your journaling journey. I’ve taken a few and created my own list. Keep in mind that I assume you’re journaling in the morning when you first wake up, because that’s when I normally do so. If you journal at night before bed, replace “yesterday” with “today,” and “today” with “tomorrow.” Let me know which prompt resonated most with you, and which one you want to try! I think I’m going to try a few of these!

  1. Where did you see God show up in your life yesterday? How are you expecting Him to meet you today?
  2. What success happened yesterday that you would want to achieve again today?
  3. What makes you feel most loved? When was that need met/not met recently?
  4. If you knew God would give you whatever you requested, what would you pray? (Forget what you’re not “allowed” to pray for, like a million dollars or for your ex-boyfriend to break up with his girlfriend. This is your journal, and if the desire of your heart is to win a million dollars or to see your ex-boyfriend suffer, God wants you to be honest with Him. I’m not saying He’ll answer your prayer, but He will give you clarity in how to align your desires with His will).
  5. Write a letter to your past self (at any age, or at a point during a traumatic experience in your life).

Your turn:
-If you’ve never tried journaling, what is stopping you from trying? Is it intimidating or boring?
-What prompts would you try from this list?
-What prompts would you add?


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