Categories
anxiety

God Is

Well, after a crazy couple of months, I’m back. This season has been incredibly hard for me. I know it’s been hard for a lot of you, but just because we’ve all gone through it, doesn’t mean it’s any easier for me. My story is valid because it’s my story.

At the beginning of March, before I knew the extent of all COVID would be for our world, I was thriving. Alone time was amazing. I could finally write and do everything I was pushing off. I could finally prove that God IS hope in the midst of hopeless situations.

Suddenly, the phrase “new normal” came into our vocabulary, and I realized that this wasn’t a temporary blip in history. This was a life-changing, catastrophic event that would affect every person on the planet. And suddenly, I didn’t have all the answers. I didn’t have the perfect Instagram post or Tweet to comfort anyone. I could barely comfort myself.

But I know the One who knows the future. I know the One who WRITES the future. And I realized just this week, after hitting a wall at the end of April, that I literally had the weight of the world on my shoulders instead of trusting God to fight my battles for me.

It’s been hard to open up WordPress and write anything public. My journal has been FILLED with my prayers, thoughts, feelings…the good, bad, and ugly. And after looking back at my journal entries from a few months ago, I realize that God has been faithful to comfort me and equip me for this very moment.

This past Sunday, I listened to a sermon by Pastor Robert Madu, who was guest speaking at Life Church. At the beginning of the message, he confessed that he was telling God that he didn’t ask for any of this. God reminded him that in the beginning of the year, Pastor Robert asked for more of God, whatever it takes to get closer to Him. Well, God answered his prayer, but not in the way that he expected.

That line spoke to me. What did I ask God for in the beginning of this year? God’s word for me this year was “holy.” I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t a trendy word, like “adventure” or “success.” It was something I couldn’t do on my own, something that forced me to rely on Him. After all that’s happened this year, I’ve learned that God is the ONLY one I can rely on.

I wanted to share some of what I learned and prayed for at the beginning of 2020. My hope in sharing is that you would be encouraged that life will go on after COVID is over. Sure, we’ll have to face “a new normal,” but were we even happy with the “old” normal? (I know I wasn’t). What is normal, anyway?

So, without further ado, here are some lines from my journal for each day of January (except for some days where I didn’t write). If you all like it, I’ll share my journal entries from February and March:

January 1st: “God is a dreamer.”

January 2nd: “God is leading me, and this is the year when my faith in Him will grow…He’s calling the body back to Himself, and I’m included.”

January 3rd: “God is the God of the plains. We crave mountaintop experiences and fear valley experiences, but most of our lives are in the middle” (inspired by a YouVersion plan about holiness).

January 4th: “God is holy, pure, ‘other.’ When you come in contact with a holy person or thing, you can defile him if you are unclean. But Jesus was able to touch sick people and make them clean” (inspired by the Bible Project’s video on kadash).

January 5th: “God grows me in the season of waiting. And in the year where all my dreams are coming true, I want to even see God work in my everyday life.”

January 7th: “To be holy means to be set apart from sin for the purpose of serving and/or bringing glory to God” (inspired by notes from the Zondervan NIV Study Bible).

January 8th: “God loves us too much to leave us as we are” (inspired by a sermon preached by Pastor Steve at LFCC’s Young Adult Ministry)

January 11th: “God will prove Himself holy” (based on Ezekiel 36:23).

January 12th: “The waiting period is an opportunity to learn what God says and what we need to do” (inspired by a sermon preached by Pastor Ed at LFCC).

January 14th: “Thanks be to God that we can be holy by His grace. Amen!”

January 16th: “GOD IS SO GOOD! I’m trusting Him for the battles bigger than me” (inspired by a sermon preached by Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church).

January 19th: “Let God show you the potential of what you have. When God calls you to do something, He provides the resources” (inspired by a sermon from Pastor Ed at LFCC).

January 20th: “It amazes me that God calls us holy people, but we’ll never be perfect until we die. I guess God sees us from an eternal perspective. He sees us how we were destined to be.”

January 21st: “We are a dwelling place for God.”

January 22nd: “Never doubt in the dark what God has told you in the light” (inspired by a sermon preached by Pastor Steve at LFCC).

January 23rd: “God will take your greatest hurt and make it your greatest ministry.”

January 25th: “I know this is hard but I can’t take the way we’ve been over the years. Our schedules are consuming us and I really hope something changes when we get a house” (to say the least, being in quarantine has allowed Lenny and I to get some wonderful quality time together!).

January 26th: “Don’t have a short memory when it comes to what God has done” (inspired by a sermon preached by Pastor Ed at LFCC).

January 27th: “Holy humans are set apart by God for His special use. While He owns everything, some people and places He reserves in a special way” (inspired by notes from the Zondervan NIV Study Bible).

January 28th: “I’m trusting God to heal and restore me. Whatever that looks like” (I started 2020 with some health challenges. Thank God that He got all of them out of the way before New York became a hot spot for COVID or else I wouldn’t have been able to go to the doctor as often as I did).

January 30th: “We need the support of others to wake us up.”

January 31st: “God is telling me to be still and focus on the present. To be thankful for what I have now. At one point, I considered the things that annoy me now as blessings from God, and I prayed for them.”

On that note, I encourage you to be thankful even for this season. It’s hard, but it will bring you closer to God. If you need help, please reach out. I may not have all the answers, but I know what it’s like to handle scary situations alone. Let me tell you, it’s much better with help!

God bless!


Your turn:

What has God taught YOU during this season? (Comment below!)

Categories
Marriage

3 Ways to Help Your Spouse Who Has Anxiety

Almost everyone I know has an anxiety disorder or at least has had a panic attack at least once in his or her life. With this in mind, I am astounded that people exist who have never had a panic attack or even understand what it’s like to have anxiety. One of these people may be your spouse.

Anxiety is like another language. Those of us who have anxiety understand it completely, but those who don’t have anxiety are oblivious to what we feel. If you have a spouse with anxiety, and somehow you’ve managed to live on this planet thus far without any panicky experiences, you need to show your spouse you understand somehow.

Based on my own experience with a man who has no anxious bone in his body, here are some ways to help your spouse overcome their own anxiety. For the sake of saving word count, I’m using the “she” pronoun. This is based on my own experience anyway, and I am in fact a woman.

1. Tell her (and show her) you care

Anxiety is a very isolating disorder. When you have a panic attack, you feel alone. You feel like no one understands you.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety, you definitely do not understand why your spouse is acting the way she is or thinking what she’s thinking. Anxiety is irrational sometimes, but to your spouse, those anxious thoughts are as real as ever. Instead of trying to fix her, show her you care.

In the medical drama New Amsterdam, Max Goodwin, the Medical Director of the hospital, always asks his team and his patients, “How can I help?” Be like Max Goodwin to your spouse. When she feels alone, take a hold of her hand and ask her, “How can I help?”

She may know the answer, but sometimes she won’t. Sometimes she just needs you to sit there with her and listen to her talk. Sometimes she feels uncomfortable and may need to leave a situation. Always show her that you are on her side, even when her anxiety confuses you.

2. If you need more information, ask questions

I had a friend in high school who was afraid of pennies. Seriously? At first, I thought she was just seeking attention, but when I asked her about it, her answer made sense.

It turns out that she believed pennies were dirty and was afraid of the germs on the penny, not the penny itself. Why she was only afraid of pennies and not other coins, I don’t know, but instead of judging her, I accepted her and met her where she was.

Fears like going to parties, taking public transportation, and even going to work can make absolutely no sense to others. On the other hand, those who have social anxiety, PTSD, or work anxiety are totally gripped with fear at the thought of any of these activities. If you’re wondering why your spouse is anxious about a good thing, all you have to do is ask.

For me personally, I’m happy to answer questions about my anxiety. It doesn’t embarrass me to explain my fears, unless you make me feel like an idiot for having them. Truthfully, I don’t open up to you or listen to your advice unless I know you’re on my side.

3. Take her mind off of the problem

Since I have OCD, sometimes the best way to help me is to distract me from my anxiety. My panic attacks dissipate when I’m no longer thinking about whatever makes me anxious. If your spouse has OCD or an extreme phobia, help her take her mind off of the experience.

While you will need to help her deal with the root cause of her anxiety in the long run, if you’re out with your family or on vacation and her anxiety acts up, you need to distract her and help her as fast as you can.

4. Remember that your spouse is not a project who needs to be fixed

Anxiety is a mental disorder, but that does not mean that your spouse is a project. Your spouse is a person. Your spouse needs you to love her, care for her, and walk with her through this.

Now that you are one, this anxiety is yours, too. I’m still a newlywed, but I’ve heard that over time, you start to feel what your spouse is feeling and think what your spouse is thinking. I’m sorry if you feel your spouse’s anxiety, but instead of fixing her, show her you’re on her side.

You can show her you’re on her side by:

  • listening to her without judgment
  • praying for her on a daily basis
  • pulling her out of a situation when she is uncomfortable
  • standing up for her when others don’t understand

Pray for your spouse with anxiety

Ultimately, the only people who could heal your spouse with anxiety are her and God.

When you don’t understand, pray. When you want to be there for her but don’t know how, pray. When you’ve done everything you could to fix her and she’s still struggling, pray.

I believe God will give you the words. I believe God will give you the wisdom to help her. I believe God will ultimately heal your spouse from anxiety.

On behalf of all those who struggle with anxiety, thank you for taking the first step toward understanding your spouse and her deepest struggle.


Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

“If you can’t love me at my worst…”

“…You don’t deserve me at my best.” This saying was popular when I was in high school. In the days before memes, we had AIM icons, away messages, and MySpace graphics. The context in which this phrase was used when I was younger is for friends and relationships. It’s hard being a teenager. If you are having a bad day, people don’t want to hang out with you. But when you’re all dolled up and you have a smile on your face, everyone wants to be your friend.

After I did a quick Google search, I realized that this phrase is still popular. The memes aren’t quite appropriate for this blog post, but you can make the decision for yourself how funny they are!

Unfortunately, there have been people in my life who could not love me at my worst. I’m not perfect, but I enjoy helping people, almost to a fault, when they are broken. But when it was my turn to be depressed, bitter, anxious, and broken, they decided I was too much work. When I needed them most, they turned their backs on me.

Then, when I would figure it out (generally on my own, but sometimes with friends and family I had allowed to speak into my life), suddenly they were back in the picture. And guess what? They would want me to fix their problems. When they would hear about my struggle with depression, anxiety, etc., they would act shocked. “Oh no! Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you reach out to me? I would’ve helped you.”

Yeah, right.

It turns out that, while there were some good people in my life who have supported me through tough times, there is only one person in my life who has truly loved me at my worst.

Before I knew Jesus, I literally was at my worst. Anxiety and chaos defined me. Sure, I looked happy, but that was just my shell. I was sitting in silence, plotting my next move, preparing myself for the unknown. As a result, I wanted nothing to do with God. But, as Romans 5:8 says, Jesus died for me anyway, knowing that I didn’t love Him, so that He could give me a better life.

I wish I could say that I came to God on my own, but His Spirit literally dragged me by the heels to youth group one night. And that’s where I found love. That’s where I found acceptance. That’s where I found Him.

And that’s when I knew that Jesus truly loved me at my worst.

My youth pastor told me that Jesus wanted to be my best friend. I have never heard it so eloquently put since then, probably because those were the words that the Holy Spirit used to tug at my heart and invite me into a relationship with Jesus. Although I couldn’t phrase it this way at the time, in that moment, God was inviting me to have a different life. He was inviting me to surrender my old way of doing things so that I could do things His way.

He was willing to give me His best. Now, only He is worthy of my best.

What does it look like to give God my best? For me, it’s being intentional about spending time with Him every day. It’s inviting Him into every aspect of my life, from the time I wake up to the time my head hits the pillow. It’s honoring Him at work. It’s writing the books He has called me to write. It’s treating my friends and family with respect.

When I’m at my worst, God still loves me. I’ve learned that my friends and family cannot fully love me at my worst, because they are all broken. We are all broken. But we can try. We can encourage each other, and point to the One who truly loves us at our worst, and wants to give us our best.

What are you willing to give Him in exchange?


Photo by Tiago Bandeira on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

appreciating your spouse

In the midst of all we have to do, it’s often tempting to neglect the aspects of your spouse that you appreciate. It’s even possible to complain about the things your spouse isn’t doing (like helping you clean up the house or making enough money or letting you have “me” time). But we all need a reminder that our spouses are from God, ordained by God to walk through life with us and share in our ups and downs. We need to make time to appreciate what our spouses do on a regular basis, as thanks to God for blessing us with our life partners.

This past weekend, I asked my friends on Facebook one thing they appreciated about their spouses. Multiple people struggled to share just one thing they appreciated about their spouses. It warms my heart to see people who have been married ranging from one year to multiple decades find a plethora of reasons to thank their spouses for what they do. In a world that is so quick to complain, there are people out there who have the good things their spouses do at the forefront of their minds and tongues.

I also appreciate through that there was no competition, comparison, or griping (talking about what our spouses don’t do for us, or complaining that our spouses aren’t like another person’s). We truly came together, as a community, to affirm each other’s positive comments. Positivity and encouragement can truly help us see our spouses as the blessings that they are. Focusing on what we appreciate our spouse, as one woman commented, can even help us love our spouses even more.

The original post is here.

  • I appreciate that my spouse always helps out around the house in every area! Laundry, cooking, cleaning and more ❤️
  • My husband helps readily and willingly without complaint and I’m so grateful!
  • She respects and recognizes me for taking responsibility as a husband and father,
  • She likes me and that makes my day
  • She wakes up early every day of the week and prepares me a complete and delicious breakfast
  • She’s a good administrator of our financial resources
  • She did not have an outside job so she could raise our two kids from when they were born up to middle school
  • She has fully supported me all these years as I serve the Lord in different ministries
  • He knows how to bring out the best in me
  • He loves me for who I am
  • He supports me and believes in me
  • He is my best friend
  • I can tell him anything without judgement
  • He makes me laugh even at myself when I need to
  • He makes me coffee every morning which starts off my day feeling loved
  • Having someone who can challenge me on anything but from a place of love
  • Someone who knows who I really am so after a long day of “saving face,” I can tell him how I was really feeling
  • Carrying the load of children together
  • Being able to deal with financial burdens together
  • My favorite part of the day is getting into bed and just laying there both of us being able to understand how exhausted each other is but still wanting to talk about the day and then argue over who is getting up to go put the fan on 🙂
  • I appreciate that [my husband] volunteers his time in helping others. I had only known [him] a short time when I saw how he was involved in helping in his church with the young people, various church committees, involved with community service groups. Because of his willingness to help others both of our children also enjoy helping others. [We] have the same motto we live by:”Happiness is thinking of others first,yourself last and God all the time.”
  • I am truly a blessed woman to have been given such a wonderful man. He’s my anchor that allows me to soar. He is an incredible listener and wise with his words. He cherishes me. I appreciate everything he does for me and his family. He recognizes God first and honors all He does on our lives. His prayers are mighty and powerful and the praise reports are incredible to hear. I appreciate so many things about him, it cannot be limited to just one. 💖
  • Is caring and understanding beyond anything I thought humanly possible
  • Encourages me everyday to remember to include God is all matters.
  • Is undefinably the most honest and transparent man I could ever ask for
  • Brings smile to my face and a shoulder to cry on when I need it the most
  • Being each other’s best friend 💕
  • Praying for one another
  • Lo que mas me gusta de el, es que siempre da gracias a Dios cuando lo bendice de alguna manera. [What I love most about him, is that he always gives thanks to God for every blessing].
  • Many of these wonderful comments are echoed sentiments for many of our marriages including ours. But first and foremost is putting God first in all that we do. HE is the rock that’s gets us through bad times and good times. I love my husband, my best friend who has helped me grow in my journey and reminds me to love the Lord first then him. I do the same. It’s an incredible journey indeed ! 💕
  • My husband and I are United and focused on running our race together for Christ
  • I’m a rule follower so here’s my one thing unique to my hubby- he keeps me on task!
  • My husband lets me be me. He doesn’t try to change me or put me down.
  • His willingness to stand by me through thick and thin. To continue loving me faults and all. And to agree to disagree when needed.
  • The most important thing is I’m so grateful He is a man of God. He leads our family and me to know Christ more and leads our family in a Godly manner.
  • I love that he is an incredible father to our kids. He is the fun one and cares for our children in ways I never will be able to.
  • He often “talks me off the ledge” in life. There are many times I get inside my head and feel overwhelmed or lose perspective of the blessings God has given us. Instead of scolding me or making me feel worse about it he helps talk me through it, reminding me to focus on Christ and taking a step back to see it really isn’t as bad as I think it is.
  • I appreciate that he lets me be who I am unapologetically. I do not have to put on airs, make excuses, try harder, or be someone else. He lets me be me, and loves me gracefully.
  • She carries the burden of our family (3 kids and me) very well

As you read through these comments, maybe you’ll resonate with one of them. Does your spouse do the same? Today, stop and thank your spouse for doing what he or she does. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day, all you have to do is thank them.


Photo by Cerys Lowe on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation

Sin separates us from God. When we sin, going against what the Bible says, we are actually telling God that we don’t want to do things His way. We are insulting Him. In order to atone for our sins, Jesus died for us. He died for a people that didn’t accept Him. They mocked Him and beat Him, and yet He chose to forgive them. He chose to die for their sins, for our sins, so that we could have a restored relationship with God.

Knowing what I’ve done to my Lord and Savior brings me to tears. The ways I mocked Him and willingly disobeyed Him form a rock in my stomach at the thought of them. Yet He still chose to forgive me. He chose to seek reconciliation in our relationship. Now I am able to have a restored relationship.

I also have a new power: have the power, through Christ, to forgive others. I no longer have to hold grudges. I no longer have to let the bitterness of what others have done to me cloud the vision of the abundant life God has for me.

Forgiveness is a choice. In reality, forgiveness has almost nothing to do with the other person, but everything to do with how you respond to it. How do you respond to it? You process how you feel, surrender the pain to God, remember how God forgave us through the sacrifice of Christ, and choose to love that person. Then, you do whatever you can to make peace with the person.

But what if your offender is unrepentant? What if the pain is so intense, that you can’t move on from it?

Well, forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice. The more you surrender it to God, the more you will be able to find freedom from the hurt that your offender caused you. But you have another choice, a choice to be made after forgiveness.

That choice is called reconciliation.

This article shares some great steps to take to reconcile a broken relationship. Forgiveness is always possible, but reconciliation isn’t always necessarily possible. Reconciliation is a restored relationship. It requires two people to come together and discuss what happened, and it requires trust to be established again.

In your marriage, reconciliation is necessary for your marriage to work. You need to forgive your spouse for the little offenses that he commits on a regular basis, and you need to bring these offenses to his attention so that you can continue to have a relationship together. And when someone outside of the marital relationship hurts you, your spouse can be a support to you in helping forgive and to possibly make reconciliation a possibility.

While some argue that true reconciliation is not possible, I believe it is possible to try. I believe that, as ministers of reconciliation, that seeking to restore a relationship should be our default answer. You may not have the exact same relationship you had before the offense happened, but you can seek peace with your offender if you want it. But, if you don’t want it, you don’t have to enter into that relationship again. For example, if you’ve been hurt severely, whether through divorce, abuse, or adultery, you may not want to restore that relationship.

Unfortunately, however, you may still have to interact with your offender. If you’re divorced, and you have kids with your ex-spouse, you still have to keep him or her involved in your children’s lives. If a family member sexually abused you but the family doesn’t know about it (or any other complicated circumstances), your abuser may still be invited to parties. In order to still be civil with these people you are required to see, you have to implement boundaries. You cannot ever enter that same intimacy, whether physical or emotional, you had with the person that hurt you. Don’t share too much personal information with him. Don’t spend prolonged (or any) time alone with her. Make sure you bring a trusted friend or family member with you when you have to interact with him.

No matter if you choose to reconcile the relationship or not, seek peace. Pray for your offender. Wouldn’t it be amazing if God worked in his or her life and actually changed his or her life because of what happened? God’s grace and mercy are not too weak to forgive and redeem the people who hurt us. He can soften their hearts and help them to see the error of their ways.

Who do you need to forgive today? With whom is God nudging you to reconcile?

Categories
Marriage

Prayers for Eyes to See

Marriage is hard. It’s not impossible, and it’s definitely worthy of fighting for, but marriage really is a fight. It’s a fight against our own will, against our spouse’s idiosyncrasies, and against what society expects of us.

The hardest part of marriage is that you realize that your Prince Charming, or your Queen, is a human. A human who burps, says the wrong thing sometimes, and leaves his socks on the floor (in all seriousness, left my socks on the floor yesterday!). A human who talks too much, nags sometimes, and leaves her hair ties everywhere.

We need to pray for eyes to see our spouses the way that God sees them.

God made man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27). When God created us and put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He called His creation “very good” (v. 31). In light of that knowledge, doesn’t that make our spouse a little more valuable in our eyes? But instead of focusing on that, we tend to focus on their flaws, slip-ups, and imperfections.

Since the Fall of man, it is true that we are not perfect. We have been stained by sin, and the image of God has been distorted in us. But by the grace of Jesus, and what He did for us on the cross 2,000 years ago, we now wear the righteousness of Christ when we accept Jesus as our Master. Now, when God looks at us, He looks at us with grace. We are no longer marred with sin in His eyes; instead, we are His precious, beloved children.

Are you viewing your spouse with grace, or with judgment? Are you nitpicking his every mistake, or are you choosing to look past his imperfections? Choose today to pray for eyes to see your spouse the way that God sees him.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some Biblical tips to help you pray:

Search your own heart. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus tells us to remove the plank in our own eyes before we judge the speck in our brother’s eye. Before you say a word about the faults in your spouse, think about your own faults. As I mentioned before, God looks at you with grace. Forgive your spouse as the Lord has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). When you realize how much God loves you and how much He has forgiven you, it makes it easier to overlook your spouse’s shortcomings.

Make a list of what you love about your spouse. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perspective. Your spouse may seem like a loser, but that’s only because you’re focusing on his flaws. Focus on what makes him a winner. Write down a list of things you love about your spouse. Think especially back to why you first married him. Thank God for this person that He has given you, the one who will be doing life with you from now until the day you die.

Surrender your idiosyncrasies to God. Admittedly, I’m a control freak, and I often want to fix everything about my spouse (truthfully, there isn’t much to fix!). But I’ve realized in the twenty-six months we’ve been married that I can’t fix him, nor can I control him. What I can control is how I respond to his shortcomings. If I find some flaws more difficult to overlook than others, I need to let them go and surrender them to God. You can tell God how you feel about your spouse, but ultimately, you need to get to a place where you put the issue in God’s hands.

Choose grace for your spouse. Grace is a choice, and it’s a choice more easily made when the God of grace is with you. In light of all that we have discussed, choose to have grace-colored glasses when you look at your spouse. You’ll find that whatever bothered you about him is no longer as apparent.


Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Intimacy with God

Intimacy with God is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are able to draw near to God when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice as truth, because we now have the righteousness of Christ.

A couple of weeks ago, I read Tauren Wells’ devotional on the YouVersion app called “Known,” based on his song of the same title. He said something on Day 3 that has stuck with me for about a week: “Access to information and an invitation to intimacy are two very different things.” Basically, God knows everything about us, but He doesn’t just want to know about us; He wants to be invited into those details.

As much as I hate to admit it, anxiety reminds me to invite God into my day.

Yesterday at work, I had a mini panic attack where I felt nauseous and dizzy. I looked down at the plaque on my desk: “Pray more. Worry less.” Taking a few deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth, I prayed that God would meet me in the office.

I hate to admit that my anxiety reminds me to invite God into my day, because without anxiety, sometimes I forget to invite God into my day. I feel like I don’t need God unless something is wrong with me. But the point of intimacy with God is, God doesn’t just want us to need Him. He wants us to want Him.

I’ve struggled with writing about this topic for several reasons, the most prominent being that I struggle with this topic in general. I’m a practical, to-do list kind of person, and intimacy is just not that easy. I wish I could give you a step-by-step guide to help you grow in intimacy with God, but there is none. I wish I could tell you exactly what to do to have the perfect relationship with God, but we’re all different.

All I can tell you is to be.

Unless we micromanage the other relationships in our lives, we can’t expect that micromanaging our relationship with God will work. While we should be intentional about spending time with Him, instead of squeezing Him into our schedules, we shouldn’t think that if we follow a magic formula, we can expect God to act a certain way. God is faithful, but He does not fit into the box we’ve created.

So, the point of this post is to tell you that intimacy with God is important. We were created for relationship, and that’s starts with a relationship with God. God is the only One who can fully know us and love us. When humans fall short, God reaches into the depths of us and pulls out things we didn’t even know were in there!

In Christ, there are multiple ways to experience God. Whether you enjoy music, journaling, dancing, meeting with other believers, studying the Bible, or taking a long walk outside, God can meet you when you invite Him into what you love. (As a side note: All of those things are necessary! You still have to read the Bible if you want to encounter God, even if you don’t like it).

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” While it’s not easy, it is simple. When we make time for God, when we invite Him into our day, He miraculously comes to meet us. Today, invite Him into your day, and begin that journey of intimacy with Him.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

One of Us is Irrelevant…

I heard a quote from someone a few months ago: “If I was just like my wife, one of us would be irrelevant!”

The number one reason why couples fight is because of their differences in opinion. Whether it’s finances, how to raise kids, how to decorate the house, or whatever, sometimes we don’t see eye to eye. I like balance. I like when we agree. But that’s not the way the world works. We are all different; there is not a single person that is like us. That’s why we need to be around a community so we can learn from each other, and teach others what we know.

Here are some ways Lenny and I are different, and how they’ve affected our marriage. What differences would you add from your marriage?

Differences in memory. For the life of me, I cannot get Lenny to empty his lunch bag until I have to pack it the next morning. If you do the chores in your house, you can laugh at this. I can’t sleep at night if there are dishes in the sink or socks on the floor, but my husband doesn’t give it a second thought! By me saying this, I hope you don’t hear that I’m perfect. My husband always remembers things that I don’t, and I honestly can’t even remember what they are to tell you! Well, what he remembers stuff is just as important as him leaving his dirty Tupperware in his bag overnight. For example, I had a job interview today, and my husband reminded me to print out my resume and cover letter and bring a list of questions to ask. Our minds were only meant to think about what is needed, and if we both remember things, one of us is irrelevant. Maybe God chose my brain to focus on the cleaning while he chose my husband’s brain to focus on how to prepare for an interview! Although Lenny’s not too stupid to know how to clean and I’m not too stupid to know how to apply for jobs, we can use our strengths to help each other out instead of both having to be experts at everything.

Differences in personality. While I tend to be anxious and energetic, my husband is relaxed and mellow. This has worked out in favor of both of us. When I struggle with anxiety, my husband helps me see that there’s no point in worrying. He is my go-to person on a plane; when I’m normally paralyzed, he’s squeezing my hand and reminding me to breathe. However, when Lenny gets too comfortable, I challenge him to go beyond his comfort zone. I actually encouraged him to apply for his first job, and I coached him on how to prepare for his first ever interview (see how the tables have turned!). We tend to think that differences bring us apart, but when we learn to appreciate our differences, we can use them to propel our marriage in the right direction.

Differences in experiences. Without going into detail, my husband and I have almost the exact opposite childhood. Although we grew up about twenty minutes from each other, and even visited the same places when we were kids, it was like we’re from different planets sometimes! While I wish I had some of what Lenny had as a kid, and while he wishes that he had some of what I had as a kid, we can learn from both of our experiences. What we’ve endured throughout our lifetime has shaped us into who we are today, and God has allowed us to have the lives we’ve had so that we could reflect His glory. The fun part of marriage is trying to figure out how God has weaved our stories together to bring glory to His name.

What differences do you see in your marriage? How have they made your marriage more enriching? How have they hindered your connection to your spouse?


Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Categories
Books

All the Feels of “Redeeming Love”

*WARNING: If you have PTSD due to sexual abuse, this post may be difficult for you to read. Proceed with caution.

If, for some reason, your emotions have been on the fritz, try reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It’s not like I have any trouble tapping into my emotions, but after reading this book, I’m pretty sure I’ve managed to feel every single emotion that the human heart could fathom.

Although this book was published in 1997, several people recommended this book to me because they know I’m writing Christian fiction. Each one of them told me it was a “good” book. Good? You all tricked me! It was exceptionally wonderful and altogether awful wrapped in five-hundred pages of an emotional roller coaster. But yeah, I guess you can describe that as “good.”

Some people did warn me that it was heavy, and I thank you for that. I just about lost my cookies on page 185.

Redeeming Love tells the story of Sarah, who was later named Angel when she was sold into prostitution at the age of eight. She finds herself in California during the California Gold Rush about ten years later, as the highest-prized prostitute in the Pair-a-Dice brothel. Through her experience dealing with customers and horrible bosses, she learns that she has no worth except what she could give to men, and that men want nothing from her except for her body. All that would change when Michael Hosea walks into her life and makes her his wife.

Without spoiling too much, the book is an example of the book of Hosea from the Bible. In that story, Hosea marries a prostitute as a means to show the people of Israel God’s love for them. When I look at Redeeming Love in that light, my heart breaks. It forces me to examine my own sin and pride, and remember how many times I have run from God and how many times I probably will still run from Him. I couldn’t help but think while reading this book that my heart is not any softer than Angel’s is.

The key in this book is the relentless love of Michael, who seeks in every moment to demonstrate God’s love to his wife. Even when she runs away, even when she commits the worst sins against him and exposes her past sins to him, he does not give up. When it is difficult for him, he turns to God and begs Him for help. His example of redeeming love helps to heal her soul. It is also obvious that God’s love is compelling him to love her, so that Angel could see the love of God and put her faith in Him.

Whenever I read a book, I like to think of my overall takeaway. So far, in the last month, two books from decades ago have made their way into my lap. Why am I reading A Handmaid’s Tale when it was written in the ’80s? Why am I reading Redeeming Love when it was written in the late ’90s? Well, I truly believe that God is challenging me to look at how much we have (or haven’t) progressed. In the ’80s, some people believed that they were one step away from a dystopia. Do we still feel that way, and if so, what can we do to change that?

Redeeming Love reminds me not to give up on those I love, even when they push me away, even when they do everything imaginable to make me angry. It also reminds me to continue to support and pray for ministries that are rescuing men, women, and children from prostitution around the world. I believe we have come a long way to show women their true worth, but I also believe that we have a long way to go. May God reveal His redeeming love to us, and help us to share that love with those around us. Amen.

Categories
Marriage

Love is…

The internet has fallen in love with those cute comics that describe what love is. Too often I find one on social media and instantly share it with my husband with the message, “This is SO us!” What these comics have taught me is that love can be defined by various actions, feelings, and circumstances.

Love may look different in my marriage from the way it looks in yours. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it means that we cannot compare our levels of love with our displays of love. Your husband may show love to you by surprising you with flowers, but I shouldn’t say my husband doesn’t love me because he doesn’t buy me flowers. My husband shows love to me by crafting the perfect date night for us.

Lately, I’ve discovered that love is defined differently not only in each couple, but also in each season of marriage. Here is a tribute to my 22 months of marriage using the “love is…” phrases that have described each season we’ve spent together:

When we started dating
Love is telling me that I make everything better
Love is buying me a smoothie when I have my wisdom teeth pulled
Love is walking around Burns Park
Love is unintentionally matching when we both decide to wear orange
Love is sitting and talking in Starbucks until the manager kicks us out at closing
Love is surprising each other with the perfect date night
Love is saying everything through our kisses
Love is being comfortable enough to completely and totally be myself with you

When we got engaged
Love is in the simple things
Love is juggling our time with each side of the family
Love is racing to my side when I tell you I feel like I’m going to throw up
Love is sitting with me and holding me through a panic attack
Love is counting down the hours until I see you again
Love is getting over my ginormous fear of flying when you needed me the most
Love is letting you cry on my shoulder when you hear the news that Papa died
Love is working on our future marriage together

Our first year of marriage
Love is holding your hand and praying on our wedding day
Love is seeing you at the other end of the aisle waiting for me
Love is being surrounded by people but only having eyes for you
Love is forgetting every guy who has ever hurt me, because only you matter now
Love is making room for discomfort
Love is becoming one
Love is cooking dinner together
Love is holding nothing back
Love is listening to me complain
Love is showing me off to your friends
Love is counting down the hours until we can go home from work and be together again

Our second year of marriage
Love is providing for me
Love is making my priorities your priorities
Love is letting me vent and express myself
Love is working overtime so we can take a vacation next year
Love is respecting me and listening to me, even if it doesn’t make sense to you
Love is encouraging me to pursue my dreams
Love is building the foundation for our future together
Love is working toward goals that we have established as a couple

In conclusion, it would be unwise to compare how Lenny shows me love now to how he showed it to me when we first started dating. Ultimately, his feelings for me haven’t changed, and our love is truly based on providing for one another’s needs and helping each other be more of who God wants us to be. We have both grown tremendously, and we’ve learned how to love in different ways.

How do you show love in this season? Is it different from how you were when you were dating or in another season of your relationship?


Photo by Elena Taranenko on Unsplash