Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Iron Sharpens Iron

The past few days, I have gotten somewhat off-track. My mind has not been focused on Jesus, trusting Him, striving to grow, seeking to honor Him. Rather, it has been on work, on finances, on how messy my house is. Yesterday, I attempted to make hamburgers for lunch, but after putting them on the grill, I went inside and forgot about them, getting caught up in cleaning my house. I'm not certain how much time passed before I remembered that I was supposed to be cooking lunch, but regardless, it was too much time. The burgers were charcoal. I snapped. The burnt burgers were the last straw and I burst into tears. As my husband attempted to comfort me and tell me that we could have something else for lunch, that it was not a big deal, that he would grill some more burgers for us, the true reason for my breakdown came out. 

"The house is a mess and we have no money," I say as I continue to cry.  

"It's not a big deal that the house is a little messy," he responds, "and I am working so that we will have money." 

But that was not the point. Because it does not matter how much I clean, the house will still be messy again and I will have to clean it again, and although we work and make money, it will all be gone again by the next paycheck. Work and clean and work and clean, and still we are getting nowhere. What is the point of it all? It is meaningless. 

And as I got out my notebook to move on to the next item on my to do list, my husband stopped me and ordered me to read my Bible. I could not really argue, since reading the Bible is important and even I knew that I needed a perspective shift. So I stomped up the stairs, grabbed my Bible, and flipped open to somewhere in the middle and started reading. 

Before too long, I stopped crying. Then my perspective shifted and God reminded me that what was holding my focus was not actually important. He showed me that I had gotten my focus off of Him and onto this world. As I finished Psalm 16, lunch was ready and I had gained some perspective. 

"Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."
Psalm 16:5 (HCSB)

And that is one of the many instances that my husband has helped me to refocus, to grow in my walk with the Lord, or to stretch myself in an aspect of it. 

His example of sharing his testimony with random people, his emphasis on looking at the original languages and learning the historical background when studying the Bible, and his willingness to step out in faith and trust God, even when it is difficult for him all inspire me to do the same. When he is having a bad day and stops to read his Bible, the way that he picks out illustrations for aspects of God's word in movies and books, and his encouragement and prayers for me, all encourage me in my own walk with God. 

While my relationship with Jesus looks different now that I am married, that does not in the least mean that I am not growing or He is not working in my life. God very often uses the cause of my divided interests to encourage growth in my walk with Him. 

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
Proverbs 27:17

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Divided Interests

"The unmarried woman is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband."

1 Corinthians 7:34

Before I was married, I would read that verse and get quite frustrated with Paul for dissing marriage. I am a girl, I would think to myself, Girls are not allowed to be pastors, and I would be much more productive as a missionary if I had a husband. I can serve God just as well married as I can single; probably even better. I did not understand. Paul is not necessarily saying that single people can serve God better than those who are married (although there is that vibe, and those who are single do have a unique opportunity that those who are married do not.) Paul is simply pointing out a simple fact of marriage. We now have (necessarily) divided interests. 

While I was still single and did not have any cares in the world, or at least, no husband to care for, my relationship with God was very spontaneous and time consuming. I spent time in the Scriptures and prayed when I was lonely or depressed or afraid or conflicted. I looked at the world as God's gift to me specifically. When the trees blossomed in the spring I viewed it as God giving me flowers. When the leaves changed color in the fall, I could not help but know that God did that just for me, because I love it so much. Every so often, I would go out to coffee or to the park with the sole purpose of spending time and hanging out with Jesus.

When I got married, things changed. While I still schedule time with God and in His word each morning, the spontaneous prayer walks, the afternoons at the park, and the hours spend poring over the Psalms when I was depressed have largely disappeared. It is not that I no longer want to dedicate long hours to spending time with Christ or that I have replaced Jesus with my husband. Rather, it is because I have "divided interests." 

I would love to spend hours upon end each week studying the scriptures and going on long outings to pray. I would love to read through half of the book of Psalms as I cry my eyes out and ask God for some direction and peace. But I am no longer on my own. I have promised much of my life and affection and energy to a certain man who is my husband. Having a husband takes time, on top of which I also live with him. 

Bedtime is no longer a good time to cry and read the Bible and cry and pray for help and cry and read some more. Having your wife crying in bed with the light on so that she can read is not very conducive to sleep. Plus, my husband is certain to ask what is wrong and want to help make me feel better (which is great, by the way). The middle of the day is no longer a good time to go to a coffee shop or the park for serveral hours to read the Bible and journal and pray. I have work that needs to be done, a house that needs to be cleaned, and dinner that must be made before my husband needs to leave for work at 5:30.

My interests are divided. Christ is always the first and foremost in my life, however, He has called me to love and serve my husband. And so (even aside from the fact that I enjoy being with my husband and talking things over with him), the simple fact that Christ has commanded that I make my husband a priority in my life causes me to be "concerned about the things of the world, how [I] may please [my] husband."

Jesus must be the center, the foundation, and the most important thing in my life, and I must set aside time to simply be with Him. Nevertheless, I also must be faithful to what He has called me to by loving my husband, loving my children (when they come), being sensible and pure, working at home, being kind and submissive to my husband. Husbands take time (as does keeping a home moderately clean and food on the table!). And my time with God now needs to be more scheduled so as to make it a priority. It is not a bad thing, just different. 

I have grown so much in my walk with God since getting married just as a result of sorting through the differences of then and now, as well as the differences between me and my husband. I have been challenged in different ways to rely on God and TRUST Him. The "divided interests" difficulty is not necessarily bad, simply streching, and makes me treasure the time that I do have even more.

So, if you are single, I encourage you to take full advantage of this time! Learn to lean into Christ when you are struggling, take all of your fears and desires to Him, spend a few hours simply reading through His word. It is so beautiful and worth it to simply be with Him. If you are married, tell me what works for you to keep your relationship with God going strong amist your divided interests. I have found that getting up early so that I can schedule in time with God before the day begins works well for me. But I would love to hear your ideas--I am still pretty new at this whole "being married" thing.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Being Amazing

My husband and I went to Portland last week (hence my absence). We had a spectacular time visiting with his grandparent, and had quite a time riding buses throughout the city to check out some of the amazing coffee shops that Portland offers. It was great to see family and spend time together, not to mention the break from the busy-ness of everyday life!

We rode the 700 miles to and from Portland (rain and all) on my husband's motorcycle (a 750 Honda Shadow, for those interested), so I think that makes us pretty hard core. It was a blast, although cold and rainy and windy and painful at times :) What I learned on that motorcycle trip is that it could perhaps be possible that I may be somewhat amazing on occasion. Let me elaborate:

On our way back from Portland, as we were nearing the end of our day, we stopped to fuel up the bike. The weather was cold, and rainy, and I was not feeling super attractive in my five layers and motorcycle pants (which I do not think would look good on anyone). Marshmallow-like would better describe how I was feeling about myself at that moment. Nevertheless, we are riding a motorcycle and layers (as well as motorcycle pants) must be worn for warmth as well as safety, so I was wearing them.

As my husband filled up the gas tank on the motorcycle, I surveyed the gas station and the others fueling up their cars, when I spotted a woman walking across the gas station from the convenient store to her car. And, well, she was rather beautiful. And the outfit she was wearing? Not necessarily immodest, but certainly really attractive. Immediately, I look at my husband to make sure he did not see her. Because, well, I am looking kind of like a marshmallow right now and if he sees her, he might like her better than me. Maybe it was not the most logical train of thought (he did marry me after all), but it was what went through my mind.

Before too long, the bike was done fueling up and we hopped back on the motorcycle for our last hundred miles. As we sped down the freeway, I took up thinking (there is not much else to do on the back of a motorcycle). Thinking about the girl who was more attractive than me (at least at that moment), wondering why I could not look that good while riding a motorcycle. Then a thought struck me: I am the one riding on the back of this man's motorcycle, not her. Profound, I know. But the realization came that, sure, she probably did look better than me at that gas station, but you know what? She was not riding a motorcycle. She was probably really attractive and just as her husband/boyfriend wanted her to be at that moment, but I was the one being amazing to my husband. At that moment, my husband was not wanting me to be super attractive (although I am certain that he would say that I am always beautiful); he was wanting me to ride on the motorcycle with him.

My husband often tells me that I am amazing. The amount of times that I believe him is pretty small. I suppose that in my mind amazing means attractive, sweet, clean house, delicious food, super cute clothes, awesome looking hair, and things like that. What I realized that day as we were motorcycling home, was that to my husband, I was amazing simply because I was up for doing crazy things like riding a motorcycle through the rain, for being smart and willing to not wear cute clothes so that I could be safe and warm instead. Being amazing is more about loving him and hanging out and being up for anything than it is wearing cute clothes. I am amazing to my husband because I am me.

What a thought that is. Someone loves me just for who I am? Mind-bending. Really, however, my husband is one of two (or more, as I am certain that my parents love me that way as well). God does not ask for performance or cuteness or gourmet food as a prerequisite for love, or even to think of me fondly. He created me exactly how I am and loves me. Me specifically. How crazy is that? Certainly He desires to see me grow (as does my husband), but that does not detract from how amazing He sees me as.

"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

Psalm 139:14

Friday, May 17, 2013

How {not} to Prepare for Conflict

Every so often, my husband will do something that frustrates me, which I have heard is pretty normal in married life. When you get two sinners together living in the same house, especially as closely as do husband and wife (you can't get away!), you are bound frustrate, annoy, hurt, and upset each other. We all make mistakes. The disagreements, hurt feelings, and irritations are generally not optional. What is in our control, however, is how we respond to those difficulties.

When handling conflict, I am definitely not the type who yells or gets obviously angry. Instead, I tend to go inward and stew about whatever it is that frustrates me. I am an introspective thinker most of the time, so I will often reflect on things like, "Why does this bother me?" "What was the trigger that caused me to become angry in this situation?" "Is this something that I need to deal with in my own heart or do I need to bring it up with my husband?" And when I stick with asking myself those sorts of questions, things usually go okay. I can either bring up the subject with my husband and explain why I feel the way that I do and what caused me to react how I did, or I can recognize that I am just being nit-picky and I need to let it go.

Things do not always go that way, however. Especially since we got married, I have a tendency to prepare for conflict in a negative way. Rather than contemplate what is wrong and how it can be fixed, think on what frustrated me and how upset I am. If it bothers me that my husband did not put his clothes in the laundry basket, I will think of every possible argument or poor response he could possibly come up with and prepare for it. That way, if he responds with any sort of a sigh or possible sign of frustration at my request (regardless of what his verbal response actually is), I can launch into attack mode. You hardly ever help clean the house. Fine, I will just not wash your clothes. Why can you not just do this one thing for me? I don't know why this is such a big deal to you. My goal with this is obviously not conflict resolution, even though that should be the point of bringing up an issue. I keep doing it, however, and it keeps turning out poorly--generally a long argument, tears (on my end), frustration for both of us, each of us feeling a lack of love and respect. Now, sometimes, his responses may not have been the best or the most conducive to conflict resolution, but my responses certainly do not help.

When a conflict comes up between my husband and I, the goal should be to resolve it, not to have the best response. In light of that, I have found that it matters immensely when I bring something up--if he is stressed with work or I am suffering from a lack of sleep, arguments almost always ensue. That is when I am much more likely to make unkind remarks and he is more likely to respond in a negative manner. The main thing that I need to handle arguments in a proper way, however, is humility and love...aka, help from God, because humility and love do not come naturally unless I am abiding in Christ.

So, preparing properly for conflict does not involve thinking up missles with which to shoot down my husband's response. Rather it involves lots of prayer, some self-evaluation to make sure that my heart is in the right place, and lots of God's grace.

Lord, give me the grace to deal with frustrations in a way that is honoring to You, not searching for faults in my husband or trying to justify myself, but with humility and love, looking out for my husband's interests and truly seeking to resolve conflict, not simply proving my point.

"Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility, consider others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Being the Wife that He Needs

At church last Sunday, there was a special message for Mother's Day on Titus 2:5-7. It was very encouraging and inspiring. One thing that stood out to me was a prayer that my pastor said that his wife would pray every day: "Lord, help me to be the wife that {my husband} needs." Now, I have heard of praying that before, but never did it strike me quite how it did this time.

As I mentioned in "Perfectionism," I have a tendency to get really discouraged when dishes are piling up, the majority of the laundry is dirty, and meals are not done on time. Currently, however, I cannot help the fact that the house is not always clean. Working several jobs, volunteering at church, hosting and attending Bible studies, plus hanging out with family and trying to invest time in my relationship with my husband leaves me very short on time. While I would like to have the time to keep the house clean and have super-fantastic meals all the time, I simply cannot do so with my life being as hectic as it currently is. And this has left me pretty stressed and frustrated. Because in my mind, nice house and tasty food equals good wife. Messy house and mediocre food equals failure. But that prayer, "Lord, help me to be the wife that my husband needs," has caused me to re-evaluate.

Yes, I want the house to be clean, and yes, I would like to be able to make delicious meals for my husband and I. And yes, my husband would appreciate both of those things as well. However, to my husband, a clean house and exceptionally amazing food are not at the top of his list of what makes a good wife. In fact, even when the house is messy and dinner did not get done on time, he tells me what a blessing I am, and that I am a great wife.

Actually, my husband refused to tell me what he thought made a good wife, other than "Maurie Roselaine," and would not tell me what I do that makes him feel loved. Nevertheless, I did manage to get him to tell me what I do that he appreciates. Here is what he metioned: Help, Support, and Respect. He did not metion a clean house or dinner on the table a 6:00pm every evening.

Therefore, instead of stressing out because I am such a failure of a wife, I need to pray that God helps me to be the wife that my husband needs, and not worry so much about the things that he is not concerned about. That is not to say that I should not clean the house or cook food, but if those are things that are not a big deal to my husband, I should place less emphasis on those things and more emphasis on the things that he thinks are important.

"Lord, help me to be the wife that my husband needs, and the woman you have called me to be."

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Finances, an Update

Since I posted Finances, Pride, and Respect a couple weeks ago, sharing some struggles that my husband and I were having with finances and how I had determined to deal with them, I thought I would give you an update.

We have now done our budgeting together twice, and wow. It is so much less stressful than I thought it would be. Simply being on the same page does wonders for our attitudes towards each other regarding money. My husband is really supportive of my thoughts on what we should do with the money that God provides us with, and also has some really good ideas.

Yesterday, after I came up with a preliminary budget, my husband and I talked it over. He thought it looked good, except that I had entirely forgotten that both of our sisters' birthdays are this week and we wanted to do something for each of them. We rearranged the different categories a bit to free up some money for gifts, and the problem was solved. If I had just budgeted and we had not talked it over, however, there would have been conflict. When my husband asked about buying something for his sister, I would have suggested using spending money, which would frustrate my husband because we have other things to spend that on. That would frustrate me because I would feel like he cares too much about spending money and does not appreciate me budgeting. I am so glad that we went over the budget together, and he was able to catch that mistake. Talking things over has helped us immensely in avoiding conflict.

I feel as if we have it easy as far as finance conflicts go. We did have some issues, but (so far) it seems that talking it over and being respectful and willing to listen to my husband's opinions has largely solved most of the conflict. With finances being near the top of the list of conflicts between spouses, I cannot believe that simply talking it over with a humble, respectful attitude could really be all that is needed. For my husband and I, it has worked so far. Whether or not it would work for others, I suppose is up to them to find out. It never hurts to try though, and what if that really is all that is needed to resolve much of the stress related to finances?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Taking the Time

A few days ago, my husband and I had to get up quite early to finish a project that had to be done by 7:00am. Generally, we do things like that in the evening, since my hubby much prefers nights over mornings. We were too tired the night before, however, and had to get it done, so waking up early was the only option. When we finished with the project we were doing, we had a bit more time in our morning that we usually do, so we decided that it would be fun to go to breakfast together. I love going out to breakfast, but since my husband is not much of a morning person, we generally do not, so it was quite a treat for me!

As we were at breakfast, talking and laughing and planning and having a spectacular time, I started to wonder, why do we not do this when we are eating at home? Meals at home are generally fairly quiet and short, without much talking or laughing. My first thought was that it was my husband's fault (way to give him the benefit of the doubt and examine myself before blaming others, right?). I figured that he must not really enjoy talking with me and instead would rather be doing something else, on Facebook or reading the news or something.

So I asked him, "Why do we never talk and hang out this much when we eat at home?" His answer was absolutely unexpected, yet so true. "Because you are always doing something," he says. Wow. I knew that he was right, and was rather humbled by having that pointed out to me. I had not noticed, but most of the time when we are at home, I really am up doing something. As soon as we finish eating, I take the dishes and start cleaning the kitchen while he checks his email or reads the news. I get annoyed when he starts doing something on his phone as soon as we finish eating, but I was not realizing that I am actually the first to check out of our time together by busying myself with things that need to get done.

I love hanging out with my husband, talking and laughing, planning adventures and goofing off. But when we do not do much hanging out, I have a tendency to blame him for caring more about the news or phone calls than me. It turns out that I inhibit time together as much (or even more) than he does by my constant need to be doing something productive.

To have a growing relationship, spending time together is important, but that cannot be done if I am too preoccupied with getting the house clean or being productive to just sit and be together. If I do not take the time to simply be with my husband, even when there are things that could be done, we will be restricted to hanging out only when we are at restaurants or coffee shops. (Which is a bummer when you do not have much spending money.)

I realize now that if I want to spend time with my husband without always spending money and going out to do so, I need to be intentional about taking the time. My relationship with my husband is more important than getting the dishes done, more important than doing laundry, more important than making gourmet meals. If I cannot do it all (which I rarely can), I need to let something else slide--not investing time into my relationship with my husband. Dishes will always be dirty and clothes will always need to be washed, but I only have so much time with my husband. May I be intentional about it and take the time.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


"Love endures all, patiently.
It is committed to trust regardless of how things appear to be.
Love joyfully waits with expectancy.
It has the courage to hold fast no matter what life may bring.
Love never fails, Love never falls, Love never perishes at all
Love never quits, Love is never through, Love is no matter what you do.
No matter what, Love."

Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:7-8a
Based on definitions and implications of the original Greek words.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


“Perfectionist” is not a stereotype that I would label myself, however, there are occasions where I can be pretty insistent that I must get everything perfect. One of those is blogging. I feel like my posts always have to be insightful, profound, and thought-provoking. This is why I have a difficult time sticking with it, and writing a post can be an agonizingly long and painful process. I am working on that and trying to be less insistent that everything be absolutely perfect before I can write or post, but it is a struggle.
Another area in which I tend to have issues with perfectionism is in being a wife.
I love being married. I love being a wife. I love the privileges and responsibilities that come along with that. Nevertheless, I can tend to have too great an emphasis on perfection in that role.

·         Communication: If I have something to say to my husband, I must say it over in my head ten times minimum. I need to know exactly what the point I am trying to get across is and how to best say that so that he will understand where I am coming from. I must not sound like I am accusing him of anything or like I do not appreciate all he does.

·         Clothes: I need to wear clothes that my husband likes. I can never wear anything that does not look good on me or that does not look especially put-together (i.e., no jeans and scoop-neck shirts). This even carries over in to sleepwear—I have cried on occasion when I cannot find some pajamas that I look good in.

·         Housework: It is getting better, but housework is one area that has caused me a lot of stress. When the house is messy, I will quite often have a bit of a break down because I feel like I am failing as a wife. The house must always be clean. Dinner must always be ready on time. Everything  must be organized and in its proper spot.

My tendency towards perfectionism in these areas relating to being a wife (and others), causes me stress and can sometimes make me overwhelmed with my responsibilities.

·         I feel like I cannot properly say what I want to say, so I simply remain quiet. My husband never finds out what was on my mind, I remain frustrated with the situation, or give up, and we do not get a chance to grow in our communication skills.

·         I spend way too much time getting dressed, when I could be doing other things (causing more stress for perfectionism #3), and focus a surplus of time on appearance. This generally causes me to feel like my husband only cares what I look like, and I sometimes even convince myself that he will not love me if I do not look attractive because of what I am wearing.

·         When I get discouraged with how messy the house is, it unmotivates me from any cleaning or straightening up. I feel like I will never get done with everything, so I give up and do not even try. This makes me feel even more like a failure, which sucks the energy right out of me, and causes a vicious cycle of imperfection, feeling like a failure, being overwhelmed, and being unmotivated to do anything.

Obviously this perfectionism is not beneficial to me in any way. My husband does not expect me to be perfect, and often reminds me that it is perfectly alright that the house is somewhat messy, or that I wore a t-shirt and sweatpants to bed. God does not even expect me to be perfect—Jesus is my perfection; I cannot attain it on my own. Instead of trying to be perfect, I need to get my focus off of myself and my inadequacies, and instead keep my eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of my faith.
Grace is a lesson that I am still learning.
“Perfection is not a prerequisite for being used of God. Faithfulness and obedience, albeit imperfect, are what God asks of us.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

Date Ideas

On Saturday, my husband and I had part of the day off, so we spent it together. I still had some produce to buy, and he had a few business-things to take care of, and we did not have much money to spend, but we still had a blast! I thought I would share some of the things that we did to perhaps inspire you with ways that you can go on “dates” and still be productive as well.

The first thing that we did was get some of my husband’s sound equipment ready and loaded up in his truck for a dance he was DJing that evening. Granted, not everyone’s husband is a sound engineer, but the basic idea is tagging along when possible. I went over to his warehouse with him and helped him get things together. Even though it was not just “hanging out,” it was still fun to be together and get the chance to help him out.

After getting his sound equipment dropped off, my husband and I headed over to the farmer’s market. The farmer’s market is, in my opinion, one of the very best multitasking dates ever for a few different reasons. 1) You can buy stuff, and it is all budgeted for under “groceries” rather than “dates,” which means that you get to go on a date at the farmer’s market, and still have date money later in the week. 2) They have samples! 3) You get to buy fresh, local produce and spend time with your man at the same time. 4) If you have extra grocery money after buying everything, you can buy something frivolous and delicious (my husband and I had a bit of extra money, so we bought a loaf of asiago sourdough artisan bread. Yum!)

Eating lunch at home is always a nice, inexpensive thing to do together, and lucky for us, it was a nice day, so we were able to eat outside on the patio. Iced tea, warm sun, and great company made for a very enjoyable lunch, even if it was just bean and cheese nachos.

Our afternoon was off for the most part, so we started out by going to our city’s earth day celebration. Live music, free admission, lots of booths advertising random things, and more samples! City events are great options for free or inexpensive fun.

Great Harvest was not far, so we stopped there to check and see if they had any good day-old bread. (I buy their day old bread because it is fresh, healthy, and 50% off, less expensive than the bread we had been buying at the store.) They did not have any bread that I wanted to buy, however, they still gave us free slices of bread! (Can you tell that I like free food?) Sitting outside in the sun with a fresh slice of free bread, chatting with your husband, is a great way to spend an hour or two.

When we finally went back home, we felt like being productive. My husband is in the process of getting the garage organized so that he can work on projects there. I needed to clean the kitchen because it was a mess and was stressing me out. Therefore, he worked on the garage while I cleaned the kitchen. Because the kitchen has a door to the garage, we left it open, turned on some music and worked “together,” meaning, in the same vicinity. Even though we were not side-by-side or even in the same room, it was fun to be working at the same time, listening to the same music, and occasionally conversing.

There was a bit more to our day (such as work, and hanging out with my husband at the dance he was DJing after I got off work), but I think that is sufficient to be shared right now. I hope that you were inspired to come up with creative ways to spend time with your husband!

Do you and your husband have a creative, inexpensive, or multitasking date that you enjoy doing together? Please share in the comments!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Finances, Pride, and Respect

I have always heard that finances are one of the major points of disagreement and argument among married couples. Never, however, did I think that my husband and I would have disagreements about finances. I am very good at managing money! I do not spend in excess. Not to mention, I have been obsessed with budgeting and other finance-related subjects since I found a "how to get out of debt" book on my parents' shelf at the age of twelve. I am very smart with my money, therefore, there should not be any reason for it to become a source of contention, right?

Wrong. Apparently there is more to finances than living within your means and being adept at budgeting and such. It is not a lack of knowledge or ability to manage money that causes conflict about finances between me and my husband.

I have been managing the money for most of the time we have been married. We have had our share of conflict, the obvious cause of which has been partially due to the fact that we have been quite tight on money through winter, and had close to no money after bills each paycheck.  As the provider, this lack of finances stressed my husband out because he felt like he was not providing for me well enough if we did not have enough money to go out to eat, fill the tanks of both cars, or do something fun such as going to a movie.

His frustration caused me to feel stressed, however, because I did not want him to feel that way, so I tried to budget in such a way that he would not notice that we were short on money. As a result, I skipped the savings and cut corners on groceries in order to free up some extra cash for fuel and fun. This kind of worked, but it caused me to feel even more frustrated when he said something indicating that he was frustrated with our money situation, because I felt unappreciated. I was putting aside what I would like to do with our money and he was still not happy with me...or so it seemed to me.

As a result of my husband's frustration at our lack of money (not intentionally aimed at me in any way), and my frustration at his frustration when I was giving him money to spend, plus the fact that I was not able to put money in savings (none of which I communicated to him), almost anytime we would discuss finances, it would be somewhat tense.

Most of our conflict could have been avoided if we had simply been communicating about finances. If we were to go over the budget together so that he could see how much money we had, and we could discuss together the best use of that. I was somewhat reluctant to do this partially because I did not want him interfering with where the money was going. If he had a different opinion of where the money should go, I did not to have to listen to his opinion and argue about why I was right. He did not want to talk about the budget because of the conflict that came up each time we did. Since the finances were doing alright, he was willing to let me do them and not bring it up (even though he was not entirely happy with not being in the loop), because he wanted to avoid conflict.

As I was reading my Bible this morning (currently through Ephesians), I came across the passage about submitting one to another, and also about wives submitting to their husbands. The devotional I was reading encouraged that I identify areas where I was not submitting or respecting my husband. First thing that came to mind? Finances. I was not necessarily a submission issue, but more of a respect issue. I was being prideful and disrespectful at the same time by thinking that I was better at managing finances than my husband, and did not want to hear his concerns or requests. I was not really listening to his concerns--I discounted them in my mind before he ever brought anything up. That is prideful, disrespectful, and not loving. Conviction.

Today is budgeting day. And today, we are going to do things different. We are going to talk about the finances, where the money is going, and what is important to each of us. I will be open-minded to his suggestions and concerns. When it is feasible to take action on his suggestions and concerns, I will go for it. When I disagree, I will respectfully explain why it is that I disagree and we can dialogue about it. If I continue to disagree, but he still wants to go forward, I will submit.

Such is my determination, but only God can bring that to life.

Lord, help me to be loving, humble, and respectful to my husband in this area of finances. Especially as we go over the budget today, help me to not write off his ideas before he speaks, but to listen with an open mind and not insist on my own way.

"Do nothing out of rivalry or conciet, but in humility consider others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
Philippians 2:3-4

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I have been rather absent from my blog for the past few weeks. I have no good excuse, no traumatic event that might make up for it. The reason simply is that I was discouraged. I was discouraged that my blog was not good enough, not like so-and-so's, too personal, and people would not want to read it. Honestly, the biggest thing for me was that I did not feel like my husband liked it. Not much else really truly mattered to me, just what he thought. So when I felt like I was writing my heart out and he seemed to be only giving me pointers for making it better, I assumed that he hated it and I should just quit. So I did for a time.

We talked about it, and it turns out that he does not in fact hate my blog, and had not realized that I was feeling that way. It seems that things usually go like that. I am not confident in how I look, so when he fails to give me a compliment, I immediately assume that he thinks I look bad and become discouraged and mope-y. I am insecure about my personality, so when he either mentions that someone else has a great personality or gives me some friendly advice on how to be more friendly or outgoing, I tell myself that he would rather be married to a better conversationalist, and get angry at him, while feeling like a failure because “I am not good enough.” My thoughts, however, are rarely accurate, especially when I am trying to determine what he is thinking.

Sometimes it just does not cross his mind that he should compliment me on something. It does not mean that he does not think I look nice. Sometimes {often} people are more outgoing than me, better at conversation, or more friendly, but just because my husband mentions that someone is good at conversing while talking with me does not mean that he would rather have married someone stronger in that area. In fact, I rarely talked when we were together in the first three or four months of our relationship and it has not been until almost half a year after we got married that I finally began to talk and joke like I normally would with my family or close friends. So, he knew exactly what he was getting into and certainly could have not asked me to marry him if he wanted someone different. My husband loves me just as I am and when he gives me advice on improving something, it does not mean that he despises me for it; it simply means that he desires to see me grow. He loves me just the same.

And so, with the encouraging realization that my husband does not hate my blog, and the fact that it really does not matter what others think if it is something that God has called me to do, I will continue to write. As one of my pastors said in a sermon not long ago, “If God has called you to do something, do not let anyone tell you that you are unqualified.” …including yourself, I would add.

While I am not at the point of saying that I know for certain that God has called me to write a blog, I would not want to miss out on an opportunity that he has given me, because of my fear. Following Jonathan’s example in 1 Samuel 14, I will go forward on a perhaps. When Jonathan said, “Perhaps the Lord will work for us,” and took a step in that direction, God blessed his faith. He and his armor-bearer killed twenty Philistines, God sent an earthquake, and the rest of the Philistines were thrown into panic. It did not happen because Jonathan was an amazing warrior (even amazing warriors cannot single-handedly cause an entire army to freak out). It was because he was willing to take a step and God blessed him through it. Jonathan had to step out on a maybe for the Lord to work through him. And I will do the same. Perhaps the Lord is in it, but I will never find out unless I step out.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Keeping Score

Easter is approaching. And with my husband, that means hectic days and late nights working. Our church puts on an Easter production every year, and my husband is one of the core people who make that happen (being a sound engineer and all). He is great at what he does, and I really do appreciate that he is such a hard worker. He does not complain about the long hours or the lack of sleep, and still tries to bless me in whatever way he can. He does sometimes get a bit irritable, with the lack of sleep and such, but even so, he amazes me with how much he can handle without totally breaking down.

As a result of my husband working so much, this time of year can be difficult for me. One reason is that, because he generally works 8:30am-10:30pm, I do not get to see him or hang out with him much. Another reason would be the lack of sleep that comes with a long work day. And finally, I have a really difficult time working such long hours for any extended period of time. Then the question comes, “I thought you said that he was working long hours, not you.” It is true, and the fact that I feel a need to be working at least as long as he is reveals my problem: I have a tendency to keep score of how much we each do, and I am determined to be ahead.

I keep track of our respective amounts of awesomeness, and therefore constantly feel the need to be doing more. I need to work more, be more godly, and get less sleep than he does, not because I am pursuing productivity or godliness in themselves, but because I want to be more productive and more godly than he is, saving up “points” so that I am perfectly justified in taking a break or even having a crappy attitude once in a while.

The other day, my husband woke up feeling sick. As a result, he decided that instead of doing some extra contracting work that he had been planning to do, he would sleep in and rest so that he would {hopefully} be less-sick during the Easter production. I, on the other hand, got up early so that I could lead worship at our church’s Jr. High/High School. It did not bother me that my husband decided to sleep in or that I was up early. I actually encouraged him to get some rest. I did, however, unconsciously make a mental note of the fact that he got more sleep than me. So, later in the day when I was in a bad mood, I felt as if I had “earned” the right to be in a bad mood because he had gotten more sleep than I had. But that is a warped view that is of life in Christ, and of marriage specifically.

Keeping score may work fine for tennis and soccer and basketball, but not marriage. Keeping score implies an “us and them” mentality. When playing soccer, score is not kept between players on the same team, but between the opposing teams. Did you catch that (did I catch it?) —opposing teams. Marriage is a team “sport,” but it is not wife against husband. It is not me against him. It is not seeing how much better than him I can be, how far ahead I can get so that I can take it easy for a while. It is US (God, my husband, and me), against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Instead of trying to score lots of points for myself, I need to focus on the team—building up my husband and relying on God’s strength.

No matter how hard I try, I can earn “enough” points. There will always be days where my husband works longer hours, where he is sweet and I am being a brat, where he is laying down his life and I am struggling to take care of myself. And on the flip side, there will be days where I work all day and he stays home, where I am being extra kind and he is being a jerk, where I am laying down my life and he does not seem to care about me at all. But that is why marriage is a promise, and that is why God gives us grace.

If we did not have bad days, if there was never a time when one of us was being rude, if marriage did not require love and sacrifice, we would not as desperately feel our need for God. But when my husband is having a bad day and I want so badly to be angry at him, I need God’s grace to be kind. When I work all day and upon arriving at home, the house is still messy and my husband seems to have done nothing productive all day, I need God’s grace to not give him the cold shoulder. When I waste a lot of time on Facebook or Pinterest while my husband is working and I feel like such a failure at time management and being a good wife, I need God’s grace. When I am angry with my husband when he has not done anything wrong, but simply because I have not been taking captive my fearful thoughts, I need God’s grace.

Marriage is not about getting ahead. It is not about being better than my spouse. It is not about keeping score. Marriage is about loving unconditionally and being transformed—by God—into the person He has created me to be. When I keep score in my marriage, I overlook God’s grace. Instead of relying on Him for strength, I look to myself to be strong enough. Although I would like to believe that I am strong enough to make life work on my own, I know by now that it is futile trying to do it on my own. My good days can never stack up to my failures, and I am constantly left feeling defeated by my own shortcomings.

Lord, keep my eyes on You, rather than on the score. Remind me of your grace when I am tempted to stack my good deeds against my husband’s bad, or vice versa. Help me to live constantly with the goal of knowing you more and honoring you through loving my husband as You have loved me. Thank you for Your grace that covers me.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Feeling Married

Every year as my birthday approached, I would be so excited to be another year older. I anticipated greatly that day when I would finally be a teenager or sixteen or eighteen, always expecting that something would change. "I will be so cool once I turn thirteen! I will feel so grown up." "I am going to be so mature once I am 16. I can't wait!" And every year when the question came, "Do you feel different now that you are sixteen?" but the answer was always no. Sure, I would feel excited that it was my birthday and you cannot help but feel a bit different at your own birthday party when people are there to celebrate the face that you are older. A few years I even felt a greater responsibility to be mature and responsible, but the day comes and goes, and in the end, I have never felt different, just like myself with a different age.
A similar phenomenon occurred when I got married. 

Prior to getting married, my mindset was that after the wedding marriage would come naturally. I would somehow feel different. Communication would not be so hard for me. Fear would not be present. I would be absolutely at ease because the decision had been made and I had no need to wonder about who I would marry anymore. I would feel married. 

Despite my ideas, however, getting married turned out to be more like a birthday. The wedding was wonderful, and I did feel a greater responsibility to be mature and responsible in this new endeavor. And with three hundred people at the wedding to celebrate the beginning of our marriage I could not help but feel a bit different. Nevertheless, when the festivities were all over and tomorrow came, I felt surprisingly...normal. 

After the wedding, I did not suddenly become an excellent communicator (as evidenced by some of my struggles on the honeymoon). My fears did not go away, they were simply changed (Love and Fear). And the combination of those factors, plus several more, I was not completely at ease. In fact, even the wondering who I was going to marry did not go away as automatically as I thought it would because I did not feel married. Instead of marriage coming naturally right from the start, I had to remind myself that I was married every so often because I still felt single. 

After the wedding, it seemed that there had not been a change. We had a piece of paper saying that we were legally married in the eyes of the law, we trusted that we were properly married before God, and we could honorably live together, but none of it felt. I did not suddenly learn how to solve world hunger, how to cure cancer, or even how to be a wife. There was no visible change, and I certainly did not feel any different. 

But as I consider marriage in light of its similarity with our walk with God (An Introduction), I am reminded that the wedding, as with salvation, does not often come with visible change, only a promise and hope. The promise that my husband and I made before God to be committed to each other regardless of circumstances. The hope that God, who has ordained this marriage, will take it and make it into something beautiful and will transform us in the process. 

I was not suddenly changed into a more godly, more patient, more courageous woman because I got married. Yet while getting married did not transform me, I am confident that as God works in my life and in my marriage, being married will. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Love and Fear.

Fear. How prevelant it can be in our lives--especially in mine. 

I have no idea why I struggle so much with fear. In fact, I never realized that I was fearful until after getting married, at which point it hit me like a ton of bricks. Not that I was not fearful before getting married; there were just more important things to deal with at that point. Now that the struggle of "what does God want me to do for the rest of my life?" is over (that is to say, God has taught me to trust him with that, rather than try to figure out what His will is before he cares to reveal it to me), I suppose fear is the next thing on the list that God wants to deal with in me.

Although my fears are many and quite varied in subject matter, one biggie--that is made especially apparent in marriage--is my fear of being left. 

The popular breakup song, "Breakeven," by The Script, is about a breakup where the girl leaves the guy she was with and has no regrets or grief. Meanwhile, the guy she left is heartbroken over her absence, mourning his pain and heartache, especially in light of his ex's lack of feeling over the incident. He asks, "What am I supposed to do when the best part of me was always you? And what am I supposed to say when I'm all choked up and you're okay?" Those lines so perfectly illustrate my fear.

I do not want to be the one who gives their all to a relationship, just to have the other walk out, not caring at all. I do not want to be left crying, while he goes out emotionless. I do not want to care if he hurts me. I do not want to sympathize with that song. I refuse to allow my heart to be broken. 

Now, I am aware that I am married. My husband did in fact participate in that covenent before God that both of us made to stay by each other, no matter how good or bad things are. And I know, in my head, that my husband would NEVER walk out on me. Loyalty is an integral part of who he is. I noticed that before we were even friends, which is part of what attracted me to him. Nevertheless, fears are not required to be based in reality or to be rational at all. 

Despite my husband's loyalty, I fear him leaving. I fear that he will radically change and decide to move on. I fear that someday, I will not be enough for him.

Honestly, I do not know how to resolve this fear. My rationale cannot say with one hundred percent certainty that he will never leave; sometims people do. I can say that it would be logical to assume that he will not leave. I can say that, morally, he would not leave. I can say that God is able to sustain us. But I cannot predict the future or decide what God has determined. (But God would never allow that to happen, I argue. And then myself reminds me that it has happened to others, so why not me?)

This fear does not stop with making me afraid. It continues to affect how I act and how vulnerable I allow myself to be. It brings out the perfectionist in me, in an attempt to keep him. It brings out insecurities about my appearance and my personality. It encourages jealousy and envy of others. It causes me to be overprotective. It encourages me to keep quiet about things that bother me. It makes me frustrated with him when he is not guilty of anything worthy of frustration. It causes me to hold him at arms length, because I do not want to be hurt.

The Bible says that "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Perhaps my struggle then, is not so much about fear, but rather about my inability to love. Perhaps I am not fighting a battle between fear and reason, but instead between fear and love. Perhaps I cannot conquer my fears with logic because fear is not something to be rationalized away. Perhaps fear cannot have a hold on me if love is present.

The problem then becomes my lack of love. I have never been able to measure up to 1 Corinthians 13. I cannot banish my fear by loving more out of my own volition, because I have none. I am incapable of loving the way that God has commanded.

What if, by sitting at the feet of Christ, I could soak up His love. And what if, by being rooted and grounded in His love, fear would have no room to remain? What if it does not matter who my husband is or what he does, but solely depends on an understanding of God's love, and His love flowing through me? What if it is not about my husband at all, but simply about my lack of understanding of the love of my Creator?

Who do I want to be? The first word that comes to mind is radient. Not simply physical beauty, but radience that comes from the inside, as in Psalm 34:5--Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed (HCSB). 

Is fear radiant? No. 
Is insecurity beautiful? No. 
Frustration, jealosy, distancing myself, distrust, overprotectiveness, a refusal to be vulnerable, are those things radient and beautiful? Do they speak of love and joy and trust? NO!

I want to be radiant. I want to trust, even in the midst of trial. I want to give all I am to the man that God has given me to. I want to love with abandon, whether or not it is returned. I want to be vulnerable even if my heart is broken. Beautiful women are not those who held back for fear of the unknown. Beautiful women are those who loved even when they were betrayed. And although I do not want the betrayal, and pray that God may spare me from that, I do want to love--not fearing what the result will be. If my heart is broken, God has a plan for it, but if that were to happen, I do not want to be filled with regret and wonder what would have happened if I had given my all.

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."  --CS Lewis

Lord, I need you. I cannot love. I cannot trust. I cannot be radient. I am filled with fear. With selfishness. With pride. I need you to come in and fill me with your love. I need you to make me rooted and grounded in love. I need you to help me to understand what is the length and width, height and depth of Your love that surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled with your fullness. Lord, love through me. Enable me to let go of this fear and replace it with Your love. May I be willing to be open and vulnerable to love, as You have loved me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Six Months

As of two days ago, my wonderful husband and I have been married for six months. SIX WHOLE MONTHS! I have no idea how time went by so quickly. It has been quite lovely, although riddled with lots of learning about him, myself, and who we are together. 

To celebrate such a momentous occasion, the husband and I took a short trip to my family's cabin in Montana. We had taken part of our honeymoon there six months ago. The difference between the two experiences was astronomical. While we had a great time on our honeymoon, our short stay yesterday was so much more relaxed. I felt like the experience was closer to what a stereotypical honeymoon is like. The difference is that on the honeymoon, we really did not know each other very well (plus all of the factors I mentioned in The Honeymoon), but on this trip, although we still have a lot more to learn about each other and marriage in general, we have lived with each other for six months and worked through many conflicts in that time, besides the fact that we have not been planning and stressing over a wedding for the past six months. Spectacular.

The trip was kind of like a mini marriage retreat with just the two of us. We brought along a book that we have been going through in the marriage small group that we are a part of, and spent lots of time getting to know each other better. We went through a lot of questions that I found on Pinterest, from lists like 26 questions to get a marriage talking and 50 questions to ask your spouse. We learned so much about each other and had an awesome time talking about a ton of things that usually do not come up in conversation. 

Thankfully, I was not in one of my "I will bite your head off if you do anything wrong" moods, as the trip certainly did not go according to plan. Our plans of going to dinner at a nice restaurant and soaking at some hot springs were thwarted by our truck getting stuck in a snowdrift. We took about two hours unsuccessfully trying to get it out ourselves and another two hours trying to find someone to tow us out without charging an arm and a leg. Waiting for the tow truck and getting pulled out took half an hour, and by then everything was closed except for a pizza place forty-five minutes away. While on our way there, the truck spun out on the highway and we very easily could have died if there had been anyone else on the road. But that is pretty typical for us. Things rarely go according to plan.

The whole trip was supposed to cost only $50 for fuel, because the cabin was free since my family owns it, and someone gave us a $100 Visa gift card for the wedding that we were going to use on food and fun. It turned out to be a $250 trip because of the towing and the extra fuel that we used trying to get unstuck.

I mention this because (as long as you do not have to pay for a tow truck) this is a fairly inexpensive trip and was so worth it that I highly recommend a six month anniversary trip for newlywed couples. An inexpensive hotel can be had for under $80 and camping is free. It is not necessary to go far. The main point is to spend time together. Save some money from your wedding gifts. Pack lunches and dinner. Bring a marriage book that someone gave you and some cards or a game. Spend time together. Get to know each other better.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."  -Genesis 2:24 (ESV)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Honeymoon

I love planning. In my life, I have planned somewhere near twelve themed trips to Europe (complete with accommodations, transportation, and schedule), two trips to Hawaii, and a trip around the United States in 52 weeks. No, I have never gone on any of the trips, but just planning them was a blast, and I am certain that if I was someday able to go on one, it would be incredible.

We did not have $3,000 or so to go on a honeymoon to Europe, nor did we have 52 weeks to take a trip around the United States (and neither of us really wanted to go to Hawaii). Nevertheless, we were able to take a honeymoon to Glacier National Park in Montana. Not very far from home, but quite adventuresome and not terribly expensive either. Planning the trip was so much fun. We bought a book about the park, picked places that we wanted to go and see, activities that we wanted to do. We decided on camping sites and a couple bed and breakfasts, as well as a super expensive hotel in Waterton National Park. (Everyone needs to stay at an expensive hotel once in their life, right?) We planned out the schedule and made reservations. All was well.

And then we actually went on our honeymoon. Now, it really was fun, and we had a great time, however, things did not always go according to plan, ideas that I thought would be fun turned out to be lame or too expensive, and I did not realize how much emotion had been hiding behind all of the wedding preparations--positive and negative. 

The actual trip was great. We stayed at a bed and breakfast moderately close to home, then went up to a cabin that my dad's family owns for a few days. On our way to Glacier we stayed at a mansion in Butte, Montana, and in Glacier we stayed at an average bed and breakfast with the nicest hosts, plus we camped a couple nights. We stumbled upon some small cabins to stay at when the campground we had planned on staying at was full, and went to an expensive hotel for our one night stay in Waterton. On our way back, we came upon a quaint motel/bed and breakfast and stayed our last couple nights at my family's cabin again. 

Emotionally, however, the trip was very up and down, for me anyway. I suppose I never took into account that such a big decision--getting married--would cause my emotions to be rather out of whack, especially after the stress of planning a wedding. The second night of our honeymoon, I had a breakdown. I was tired and nervous and homesick, of all things. I did not realize how final marriage would feel. I had been away from my family before, but this was different. Instead of simply going away for the honeymoon and then coming back home, I was leaving for good. The family aspect of my life, which had been so important to me before getting married, would never be the same. And it caused some anxiety and sadness and regret--not of getting married, but of not having made the most of the time I did have with my family. 

In addition to family concerns, there was a bit of fear that now that my husband and I were married, he would treat me differently or would lose interest in me. I had felt quite confident that he loved me before we got married, but once we tied the knot, how could I know that he would continue to love me? Unfortunately, trusting him and trusting God are the only ways of getting past that fear, and I have an incredibly difficult time with trust. 

Once we got up to Glacier, a huge frustration for me was that my husband would get on Facebook while I was in the shower or when we were not interacting. Looking back on it now, I have no idea why I did not simply bring up the fact that it bothered me, but he had said before we got married that he was going to take a month off of Facebook and I was determined that he was going to remember his promise and uphold it without being reminded. He did not, however, remember that he had said that, and for whatever reason was not able to read my mind to find out why I was upset. Therefore, I was quite mad at him for a much larger portion of our honeymoon than I would have liked, and he had no idea why.

This frustration with my husband led to more frustration, because I felt like the honeymoon was supposed to be one of the best times of my life, but being upset with my husband all the time, on top of missing my family, and being afraid that he would stop loving me did not lead to being happy and excited to be married all of the time. I felt all of this pressure to make the trip the very best two weeks of my life, which caused more anxiety and stress. I felt bad that I was upset with my husband and that I was afraid and that I missed my family. Basically, I felt guilty for not having the time of my life, but I was unable to change it because I could not let go of my frustration and fear and sadness, or even the expectation that was causing me grief. 

All of these struggles made for an emotionally difficult two weeks and caused me to be short of breath and nauseous for a good portion of the time (which also did not help my already spinning emotions). Essentially, I was a wreck for a good part of our honeymoon.

While a good portion of what I learned from that experience, I cannot use, because it relates to going on a honeymoon, which I do not anticipate doing again, I hope that it can help someone else who is getting married. At the same time, there are things that I still need to be reminded of from that time.

1. Anticipate roller coaster emotions.
You have just made a huge commitment, your life is changed forever, things will never be the same. While some people may be able to go through that without major emotional challenges, I would still keep in mind the possibility that it is a big change, and it very well may include some tears. And that is okay. I beat myself up over it quite a bit, but I do not recommend that route, being mad at yourself for being a wreck only makes things worse.

2. Talk about things that bother you.
Looking back, it seems absolutely ridiculous that I did not talk with my husband about the fact that it bothered me and hurt my feelings when he was on Facebook. Yet that continued to be a struggle and frustration even into the first few months of marriage. I am pretty certain that I did not bring it up until almost two months after the fact, with it having upset me that entire time. Do not expect him to read your mind, I felt like it was completely obvious why I was upset, but he had absolutely no idea.

3. Talk in general.
If you are afraid, talk with your husband, and with God. (I largely ceased from meaningful communication with God during the honeymoon. Bad idea.) If you are homesick, let your husband know why you are sad, pray. (Perhaps together?) Try to talk about things at opportune times and in kindness and love, not accusing or attacking. Communication is still something I struggle with, but life is so much better when you do.

4. No expectations.
Do not set yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations for your honeymoon. It is an amazing time to get to know each other better and have fun hanging out. Do not make that difficult by trying to make it the best time of your life. It very well may turn out to be, but having a goal like that only causes stress. 

After all this talk about emotions, it may not seem like the honeymoon was very good. Lie. I simply decided to talk about the difficulties because that is the part you do not normally hear about. I was not aware that honeymoons are not always perfect, which caused a lot of stress when it was not perfect. We did have a great time though.

A few of my very favorite memories (not even close to an exhaustive list, but these were the ones that stand out the most in my mind):
Dinner at Uptown Cafe in Butte, MT. Really expensive, fancy restaurant, with the best food ever. Talking over dinner, getting my husband to try the clam dish that came with both of our meals (he has an aversion to sea food). Being amazed at how good the coffee was for a restaurant, and how great the service was.
Night at the mansion in Butte, MT. Very historical, getting moved to the master suite because the owner found out we were on our honeymoon. Yummy breakfast. Staying really late talking, just like a sleepover. 
Day in East Glacier. Train ride to get there and back. Walking around trying to find the non-existant railroad station. Sitting outside a Mexican restaurant eating our PB & Js and talking. Playing cards at the lodge. 
Getting ice cream in Waterton. Really lame day for me, but seeing my husband's care and patience with me was so sweet. Sitting on a bench watching people taking wedding photos while eating ice cream. Being close.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

He Brings Out {the best in} Me

"Hold onto someone who will make you the most 'YOU' that you can possibly be."

People often talk about how your spouse/boyfriend/fiance should bring out the best in you. I wholeheartedly agree. Why would you not marry someone who will build you up and encourage you to be the best you can be? My husband certainly does (and I am very blessed in that). Nevertheless, I do not believe that a spouse's purpose is simply to bring out the best in you.

I believe that one of the purposes of marriage--as I have outlined in An Introduction--is becoming more unified and more like Christ. It is learning to die to self and look out for the needs of someone else. It is trusting that God is working in both of our lives through the good and the bad. It is being completely open and vulnerable, trusting someone, and in turn trusting God that no matter what happens, He will sustain you. It is reflecting Christ more and more. It is growing.

It is not enough for someone to bring out the best in you. If only the very best part of you comes out when you are with your spouse, where does the growth come from? How can I become more like Christ if only the parts that already are like Him come to the surface? What growth is needed if I appear to be perfect right now?

As is apparent from my previous posts, the marriage between my husband and I is not perfect. We both have flaws, and those come out in our day to day interactions. Sometimes we are able to overlook the other's faults and love unconditionally. Other times...not so much. In the short time that we have been married, I feel like I have learned more about myself than I ever had before. I have seen super cool aspects of my personality that I had not noticed before. Likewise, I have seen what a horrible, selfish person I can be. I have become more confident, as well as more humble (the work is most definitely NOT done, however). I have grown. I have not grown simply because my husband brings out the best in me, however. I have grown because he brings out ME. All of me, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

For example, before we got married, I had no idea that I had the ability to get angry with someone so often and to be unkind and rude as a result of it. On the other hand, before we got married, I had no idea that I was outgoing (it was hiding behind my shyness, but now that I know it is there, I can work on coaxing it out). And as we continue to be married, I am certain that more things that I had never seen before--good and bad--will show themselves. The good to be encouraged and to grow in; the bad to be addressed and worked through.

We are married for growth, for transformation, for bringing God glory. My husband brings out the best in me, but more than that, he brings out me. And as God reveals bits and pieces of me through my relationship with my husband, He will bring growth; He will transform; and He will be glorified because it is only through Him that those things can happen.

"His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."  --1 Peter 1:3

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is My Love Unconditional?

"[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  --1 Corinthians 13:7 (NASB)

Unconditional love. Such is what Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 13. A love that is patient (long-suffering) and (after all vexation) is kind. A love that is not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude. A love that looks out for the interests of others; love that does not become provoked, even with repetition; a love that refuses to keep an account of wrongs done. This love never rejoices in wrong, but always rejoices in that which is true. And at the end of it all? This love endures all, patiently. It is committed to trust regardless of how things appear to be. This love joyfully waits with expectancy, and has the courage to hold fast, no matter what life may bring. Love. Never. Fails.

I am pretty good at being polite and kind to strangers. When someone cuts me off in traffic, I hardly even notice. If a store clerk is being rude, I try to be extra nice and not make their day worse. Accidents like someone bumping into me, spilling hot coffee on my new dress, or bringing me the wrong meal at a restaurant hardly even phase me. But that is not unconditional love. That is called being polite and not making a scene.

But what happens at home when I am not in public and not required to keep up my reputation? Am I still kind? Well, that depends. Generally, yes. If my day is going alright and occurrences that frustrate me are not too common, I do a pretty good job of being kind and loving. If things are not going well and my hormones are out of whack, one small thing could push me over to sullenness, frustration, short responses, and rudeness.

My husband and I got into an argument about a week ago. Actually, it wasn't so much of an argument as I was frustrated with myself and was taking it out on him. Then, when he handled the situation differently than I wanted him to, I got more upset at him and he got upset at me for getting upset at him for no good reason. We were at work (cleaning an office building with no people around), and when we finished, I left and walked home without him. (Stormed home might be more appropriate.) About a block away, I texted him to let him know I was walking home and would not be riding home in the car with him. Yes, it was quite rude and entirely uncalled for, but I felt justified at the time. 

Most of the entire situation could have been avoided had I not been basing my love on his. When I was taking my frustration at myself out on him, I expected him to love me unconditionally. I was almost trying to bother him in order to prove that he loved me. And for the first hour or so, he actually was doing a great job, but I felt the need to push his patience, to make sure that he loved me unconditionally so that I could love him in the same way. I expected him to not let it provoke him, to be kind, to look out for my interests, and patiently try to figure out what was really going on. And after all that, I would be able to love him unconditionally, because I would not feel like I was the only one being patient or kind or thoughtful. But what kind of love is that? How is that unconditional?

I cannot base my love of my husband off of his love for me. Yes, he loves me. And most of the time, he makes sure that I know it without a doubt. But what if that is not always the case? What if he forgets? What if he changes his mind? These are continual fears in my mind that try to drag me down. What if? is such an awful question to ask yourself. Nevertheless, what if my fears were to come true? What if he were to mentally check out? Would I still love him? Or would my love be shallow?

Is my love unconditional? Far from it. Try as I may, I seem to be incapable of being patient (suffering long) and still being kind. I am easily provoked. Record of wrongs? I have one. I can be terribly selfish and self-centered. I am rude on a regular basis. When he acts in an unloving manner towards me I almost always respond in kind. This cannot go on. His unconditional love cannot be a prerequisite for mine. Regardless of what he says or what he does or his attitude, I must love. Jesus is my example. Even in the face of total rejection (so much worse than anything I have ever gone through), His love NEVER ends. 

The truth is, neither I nor my husband will ever be able to love one another unconditionally. We can grow together in that area, we can pray for grace, we can try our hardest, but in this life, we cannot love entirely unconditionally all of the time. But our inadequacies and failures from time to time must not deter us from trying. Because although I have not enough strength to love, the One who called me to this is faithful, and he is able to give me the love and the grace I need so that I can love my husband. Unconditionally.