Purposeful Praise from Today ’til Forever [Day 4: hope]

Paul and I will have been married for 8 years in April. If you read my last post which revealed my age and you are skilled at kindergarten math, you can figure that we were married young. Real young. I was one month past my 20th birthday when we were wed, and my groom was 21. We knew so little back then, and everyone but us knew it already. For the most part, everyone was kind and shared our joy. As it was on that day, it is my sincerest hope — as I shared with you on day two of this series — that we will share a life-long union and magnify Christ in our marriage. 50 years or bust! I really pray the Lord grants me that wish or whisks us to glory instead. Mainly because I don’t know how to “adult” without him.

Awww…wook at da babies!

As I’ve learned to celebrate small, however, I see that today matters. The big dream of lasting decades and decidedly living for the Lord together through our old age is important, but it isn’t everything. Choosing to love my spouse and to see the good in our marriage every day — especially the hard ones! — is the path we tread to the swarms of grandkids and a jam-packed anniversary party. Today isn’t so glamorous. Rather, it’s nap-time’s-up, baby-boy-wet-the-bed, throw-dinner-together, quick-kiss as he walks in and we walk out to church-kind of day.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and totally miss each other. Resentments can pile up quickly as I’ve unfortunately learned. But all the things that keep us spinning in ministry, family, relationships, and all types of service to the Lord are directly impacted by the health of our marriage. So, yeah, it matters. This is where that thing I’ve been preaching to myself for the last month or so comes into play in a huge way.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:15-17).


No, we don’t float around this house singing hymns to each other — to me that sounds strangely fun but maybe not so much to my dear husband — but we absolutely would benefit from taking the time, thought and effort to encourage ourselves and each other in the Lord. My husband is 100% better at this than me, so I am completely taking responsibility for improving in this area in my own marriage. Big-dreaming-discouragement keeps me from breathing life into our marriage, but celebrating small breathes life back into me.

Purposed Praising Powered by Peace

I can rejuvenate my marriage by celebrating small — by choosing to praise God for blessings he pours out on our marriage even in the daily grind and what feels more menial than missional. I remember that I am completely loved and accepted by God, created to do good work in my marriage. When I operate from this place of peace, I give support to the hope of that long, happy marriage and joy to the journey of getting there. Who we are and how our marriage stands will be important 50 years down the road, we know; we want to leave a legacy. But more than that, we acknowledge that our marriage matters today. It matters to two spunky monkeys that roam the halls of this house, and it matters to all who are touched by our ministry efforts. Above all, it matters because it is a covenant made with King of the Universe.

It seems I could write about this all day. I’m fired up, but my time is up! I’ll be talking about celebrating small in marriage for the next several days, so I do hope you’ll return and join in the conversation while you’re here.

How can you purposefully praise for the health of your marriage?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

The Hard Fought Battle for Contentment [The Mudroom]

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He stared at my back in the queen size bed we share. The inches between us loomed like a brick wall lined with barbed wire. I sobbed. He sighed. He must have felt as helpless as I did.

I suffered under a border blockade which prohibited the entry of petrol, propane, and essential goods in a country I never planned to live in. We faced winter with fewer than four hours of electricity to heat our home each day. It seemed I was at the mercy of an evolving government, the paper-thin houses, and my freezer-burned spirit. I was furious with my cozy Stateside friends who didn’t understand and my husband who couldn’t fix it.

In the morning, as I stood shivering, waiting for the shower to heat up, negative thoughts creeped in and claimed territory in my mind. I wished desperately for the rage to run right down the drain with the hot water. At the time, I wouldn’t have admitted that I was angry at God. I would have said I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I played the victim well because I believed I was absolutely powerless.

We had endured the hardships of an international move followed by natural disaster and economic crisis, but our marriage had now been threatened. Each night, we went to bed with cold hands and struggled to turn up the heat between life-long lovers wrapped up in ice cold sheets. Our intimacy had been killed by the chaos and cold that made up our days. The negative thoughts came around again to tell me what I already knew: I had lost all control.

Continue reading on The Mudroom…

 

linking up:

purposefulfaith.com

#LMMLinkUp,  Monday Musings

 

Shouldering the Weight of God-Sized Dreams

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: SKY

We had been carried by cable car 8,000 feet above the city we’ve spent a year and a half falling in love with.   Removed from the startling sounds of city life, we stood in awe of the beauty of our home abroad.

I chased my children around, avoiding falls down the side of a mountain because I’m a good mom like that. I watched my husband from afar as he gazed across the Valley. I sensed what he was up to. He was praying, strategizing how to reach this country with the gospel.

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Up in the clouds, he was dreaming bigger-than-blue-sky dreams. The God who made the peak we stood on made his heart just big enough to hold them. But the thing about God-sized dreams is they can get rather heavy.

I peer across the Valley, and I see smog and earthquake damage, countless people carrying tremendous burdens. I am overwhelmed at the task ahead and shake my head at these far-fetched plans. It can’t be done.

I remember that Jesus asked His followers to evangelize the whole world. They stood looking into heaven, waiting for Christ’s return when two angels rebuked them to get to work on this impossible task (Acts 1:10-11).

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I can stand here, holding my husband’s hand, admiring his God-sized dream and waiting for the Lord to come relieve the weight of its burden. Or I can keep the pace of feet chasing the impossible, shouldering the weight of the burden as we inch closer to completion.

Living the Golden Rule is simple on this one because, being one with my husband, this dream occupies my heart, too. On my end, there is so much fear and insecurity that threatens the success of these dreams. My heart is so frail, and I think it might burst from the burden of this work. I surrender it to the only One who proved on the Cross his ability to carry it. There’s a peace that this is the best way to help.

I rally my kids and sneak a second next to my man whose brow remains furrowed. I squeeze him around the waist and thank God for the super-size dream we share. We take in the magnitude of it all until my toddler gets that look in his eye. He’s about to stray from the protected path and plummet down this mountain. Better stop staring and get back to my job.

*No children were harmed in the making of this dream.

Do you and your husband have God-sized dreams?
What is your role in seeing them through?

Talk to me in the comment section!

linking up: Coffee for Your Heart , Tell His Story

A “Thank You” That Means Something

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: THANKS

The Didi at the coffee shop giggles and mocks me when I thank her for my caramel latte. The taxi driver shrugs his shoulders when I hop out of his taxi with a cheerful Dhanyavaad and the handful of bills he required. Even my neighbors visibly signal their dislike for my habit of voicing gratitude. After all, aren’t neighbors supposed to look after each other?

Saying “thank you” for every little tiny thing is largely an aspect of American culture. Many times A few times, I have laughed at myself for thanking the officer who so generously gave me a speeding ticket.

In my excessive expressing of gratitude, however, the phrase has lost its meaning. I thank my husband for passing the milk, but so rarely do I say “Thank you for paying the electricity bill” (which is no small feat here) or “Thank you for helping our daughter learn to read.”

Even less do I say, “Thank you for making time for our family, or “Thank you for your faithfulness to me.” Every day, meaningless thanks roll off my tongue but the taste of these words is new and strange.

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I think of the times I have felt overworked and under appreciated after a 12 hour shift with life-sucking toddlers. Arms around my waist and a “thank you” whispered in my ear turn me from stiff and sour to putty in his hands. I leave the work undone to melt into my husband’s side and wind down the day with too many words exchanged on a juice-splattered sofa.

Living the Golden Rule, I express gratitude for the sacrifices he makes. He is constantly balancing the pressures of work/ministry/family. I see his shoulders relax. As a man who relentlessly strives to excel in all areas, he needs reassurance that he’s the only one that thinks he’s dropping the ball.

Sure, he has responsibilities, and he is man enough to do them without a pat on the back. We are family, and appreciation goes without saying. But why should it?

Has “Thank You” lost its meaning in your marriage?
In what special way can you express gratitude to your spouse today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

My Husband Doesn’t Know Me

Day 10, Five Minute Prompt: UNKNOWN

“You don’t even know me!” I screamed at the end of my rope and the top of my lungs.

These vicious words leapt out like an uncaged beast and I immediately wanted to shove them back into their insecure source. But they were already out and wreaking their destruction.

I could see that he was already wounded. There’s so much pain in being unknown and so much grief in expressing it.

We spent every day together studying language We lived in a a fairytale dream world where we went on a date every day. But there was so much I wasn’t telling him, so much I couldn’t express. Earthquakes, essential good shortages, general loneliness, and other calamities had taken a toll on my spirit.

I wanted him to know all this somehow, but I soon realized this was an unreasonable request. Though he knows me better than anyone else, he really doesn’t know me at all.

Not in comparison to the One who knows the numbers of hairs on my head and the number of breaths I have left in my body. I am completely known and completely loved. Nothing inside of my heart scares or surprises the Deity that dwells in that space.

He gave me this man to kind-of know me.

While we should study each other in efforts of knowing, we can rest because we are already known completely. This truth empowers us to serve one another without calculating how much effort is put forth on the other side and reciprocating accordingly.
Living the Golden Rule, I recognize my desire to be known and so seek to know and serve my husband according to his needs.

I’ve heard a marriage can’t be built on secrets, and certainly I strive to maintain an open and honest relationship with my husband. However, I realize his limitations to know and understand me on the deepest levels. We won’t be setting up house on such a shaky foundation.

Feelings are fleeting. Happiness ebbs and flows. But the God that established our foundation is firm and unmoving. We can build our marriage upon it with confidence it will withstand the storms we will weather together.

All because two people are known and loved by a good Father.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27)

Is your marriage foundation set upon the Rock?
How does being known by God empower you in marriage?

Talk to me in the comment section!