Birthday Blessings Bring Reminders to take into the New Year

Celebrating birthdays overseas requires early morning Facetime calls complete with birthday hats on both ends. My mom is great about sending a “birthday in a box” which includes decorations, cakes, and gifts for the birthday boy or girl.

While it is not typical or traditional, this time is treasured. It is special in its own way. The extra planning, financial sacrifice, and intentionality required of the whole thing speaks to my heart in a way that a Wal-mart spree or a more convenient birthday party ever could.

I’m thankful my son’s birthday falls before Christmas, and I got this reminder right as the memories of holidays at home began to weigh heavy on my heart. We do what we can. We make the most of each opportunity to spread cheer across oceans or across the street. And the time is sweet.

We intentionally plan how we might steward this time to reach out to those who are lost and hurting. There are so many without hope. THIS is why we are here. THIS is why we feel worlds away on special days. This work is worthy because our King is worthy.

Whatever God calls us to this year, I pray we would steward it for His glory by His grace. If trial trumps tradition, may He carry us through these days with His mighty love. Whether we are pouring ourselves our for others or find ourselves on the receiving end of acts of service, may we know that we know that we know we are treasured by the Lord.

More photos from Sheppie’s big day

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!

 

 

These Days were Made to Be Enjoyed

 Five Minute Friday: ENJOY

“We have established an after-dinner routine that I quite enjoy. Usually, we are in such a hurry to get to it, we leave the dirty plates on the table and run off to tie shoes and zip jackets. The kids wait on the porch or rush the front gate to start down the hill on our family adventure. The crisp air and view of the mountains takes my breath away in the best of ways.

I gaze at my children whose hands are grasped together and grins are adorned with splattered spaghetti sauce. In our haste to start our stroll, I had forgotten to clean them up. I smile sheepishly at the aunties we pass along the way who signal their disapproval. Nothing could rob me of the joy of this moment.

img_2596

Except maybe when the kids’ smiles cease to join us on our walk. When their feet drag and the pitch of whiny voices reaches as high as the mountain peaks. On these days, we cut the length by a lap and hope for a better run the next time. I remember all the peaceful and wonderful moments we’ve had along these cracked roads and trust we will steal a few more amidst the hurriedness of busy ministry life. I wonder when they’ll start wiping their own faces and racing ahead of us instead of walking hand-in-hand at parents’ pace.

The good and the bad days. The long walks and the short ones. These days, precious and few, were made to be enjoyed. Sometimes, we just have to try harder than others.”

img_1128

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14).