Tag Archives: God

Intentionally May

4 Jun

Happy June everyone! May was a pretty good month for A and I; I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of the spirit of my one little word for 2012: intentional, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

If you want to see how 2012 is going so far, January’s wrap-up is hereFebruary, March, and April.

Pursuing the Lord’s heart like I did when I first loved Him.

I think I’m happiest with my progress on this one this month. The more work on my relationship with God, the more I realize hom unquantifiable this goal is. With other intentional goals I san say, “Yes, I had three friends over for dinner, two friends without food dates, four…” You can’t really do that with something as intangible as growing close to the Lord. All I know is that I feel closer to Him, I’m more actively aware of His presence in my life, and I’m feeling the quiet security that comes from being in the word more often. Thank God that He is always there when we decide we want to come back to Him.

Moving into a season of greater spiritual and emotional intimacy with my husband.

We’ve done a devotional almost every night for the last month and a half. This obviously helps our spiritual intimacy, but it’s also slowly but surely building our emotional intimacy. We’ve been using Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott’s Just the Two of Us, a small book that my mom bought us for an engagement present (I think). It’s sweet. A little cheesy at times, which is par for the corse for the Parrotts, but great stories that make us think and are eminently applicable for our marriage.

We also celebrated our six-year anniversary on the 28th. Yay, us!

Making the most of the relationships I have, and taking time to nurture them.

I’ve had some great girlfriend time this month. Lunch dates with my bff, champagne evenings with a purpose, lunch dates with former high school students, grabbing Jamba Juice after a Saturday morning workout with the girls. It’s been a great month for relationships.

Tackling some of the harder things on The List, especially the ones that scare me.

I don’t know about scaring me, but accomplishing #16, planting my container garden, has definitely been a process. Now that they’re in the ground I’m scared…scared that all my plants are going to die without producing. Especially since some of my tomatoes are getting white spots on their leaves. 😦 A tomato-savvy friend told me yesterday to let my tomatoes dry out a bit and not over-water, and it’s raining today! What are the odds? Rain in June in northern California. Arrrrgggghhhh!

Having more people over for dinner, and not letting time/stress/money get in the way of my love of being a hostess.

My buddy Kedrick finally made it back over for dinner, and we had a couple over that we’ve grown to know and love as individuals and have decided we need to hang out more as couples. Considering that this month has been crazy for me, I think two hostess days is pretty good.

Buying locally as much as possible.

So much good produce out right now! It’s super easy to eat locally at this time of year in California. Done and done.

Reading challenging, empowering, quality books instead of solely feeding my brain a mental fast food diet of chick-lit.

I’ve read so many gardening books this month it’s not even funny. All of them are from You Grow Girl, and are wonderful.

Putting my health first and making the time to exercise

No problem. Even being crazy busy I made time for exercise. The only weeks I had trouble was when I was having another terrible bout of insomnia, and I had zero energy for two weeks. I still worked out, but not as much, and definitely not at my full potential.

After several months of trying I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like step class. I’ve given it the old college try, and the only thing I really like about it is doing it with my girlfriends. All in all I’ve decided that I’d really rather spend the hour running. Speaking of which, this month I’m going to be trying to get back into running. I’ve worked on strength training for months, and have been LOVING it, but I miss running. And my stamina isn’t there anymore for running, so I’d like to see that come back up.

If you had a resolution or a word for 2012, how’s it going? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment or link to a blog post you’ve written on this below.

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What’s Saving My Life Right Now

9 May

Last night our worship service was on Romans and The Gravity of Grace. My favorite book from the Bible. I know it so well, and yet sometimes I am surprised by how new the words can sound when I need them most.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

My friend Katie wrote on her blog this week about what is saving her life right now. It’s a great read, go over and take a look. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Wasn’t that great? What would the world be like if we asked “what is saving your life?” instead of “how are you?” It got me thinking about how I would answer. How would I answer, now, when I need a little bit of saving?

Right now I’m holding onto hope, which we are promised does not disappoint. God promises that going through suffering will produce perseverance, which produces character, which leads to hope, which will not put us to shame. I’ve been through this before, all four stages, time and time again. So I know that His promise is good, just like Him. So when I find myself in one of those states, I can have hope. Because I know it is coming. Suffering produced hope, as promised, and that’s what I hold on to when the struggle still has hold of me.

His word is good, just as He is good.

“And we boast in the hope   of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,   because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope   does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay  and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,   groan   inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all.   Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God   and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God  that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Amen.

It Made All the Difference

21 Mar

image from jungyunjae on wordpress.com

Where is he? Where is he where is he? It’s two thirty and she’s coming at three and he’s not picking up his phone which means he hasn’t left yet which means he won’t be on time and, dear God, where is he? Whereishewhereishewhereishe?

Me: “Honey? Where are you? Why weren’t you picking up your phone?”

A: “I’m leaving now. I’ll be home in a bit. What’s wrong?”

Me: (Said in increasing tones of agitation and desperation) “You’re leaving now? It’s two-thirty. We’re not going to have any time before she gets here. We need to talk, we need to plan. We need to pray. What were you thinking? You set up the times, for your appointment and with her, why aren’t you here? This isn’t ok, I’m not ok. I need you here now.”

A: “I was planning on calling you on my way home so we could talk about things. This is important to me too, I want to plan this out, I want to pray with you. I’m with you…I’m sorry, I didn’t know I had to be home now. I’m heading out the door, I’ll call you when I’m on my way. Love you.”

Me: “……(sullen silence)……”

*click*

Not often, but every now and then I have to have a Very Important Conversation with someone. By this I mean a conversation that I anticipate will be difficult, emotionally taxing, with high risk if it doesn’t go well. I never embark on having that kind of talk without a lot of prayer and outside wisdom to make sure I’m not overstepping or overreacting. In short, a conversation that creates a perfect storm for one Christy A. being seriously stressed out. Usually I’m on my own as far as the stakes go, but in this case A was in it as well. In this case, we were both hurt, both feeling misunderstood, and both far more invested in making sure both parties came out of this talk maintaining a strong relationship with each other than in being right.

It’s taken me a long time to get there.

I grew up in a family who would scream at each other at the slightest offense. The offended party would come at the offending family member with both barrels blazing. Guilt, blame, hurt, anything but vulnerability were used to try to make the person feel badly that they’d hurt them. In turn, the offending party would look for any reason that the offended deserved what they got, had earned their hurt, and would endeavor to beat the other down with words and emotional blackmail. Nothing is my fault, everything is yours. We would yell until we were hoarse, no one hearing the other, and break apart at an opportune time hoping that the other would change and actually hear us and care about our point of view. Needless to say, it never happened.

The way I was brought up to fight was broken, dysfunctional, and poison to healthy, mutually beneficial relationships. Thank the Lord that A, avoider of conflict though he is, called me on my crap early in our dating relationship and told me that the way I fought made me a bully. I was a broken person. He was too. Neither of us came from families that equipped us to handle real-world relationships in a way that put our marriage before the self. But we are called to be better, to be less ‘me’ and more ‘we’, and we learned.

Here’s how our conversation went when A called me back,while on his way home:

A: “Hey, Baby.”

Me: “…..Hi…..”

A: “Before you say anything, I called and asked if she would come over at three-thirty. I’m sorry that my appointment ran long. I want to be there for you, and I’m sorry we mis-communicated about when you needed me to be home. We’ve got time now, and I’m happy to talk to you now, or when I’m home in a bit.”

Me: “………………………….”

In one simple swoop, he completely disarmed me. Took the wind of indignation out of my sails.

I was already stressed about the upcoming Very Important Conversation, and when he wasn’t home when I needed him I freaked out. But instead of hearing my anger, he heard my hurt. Instead of hearing my frustration, he heard my need. Instead of hearing my bitterness, he heard my fear. And that made all the difference.

Emmerson Eggerichs once said (I’m paraphrasing, it’s been awhile) that all the marriage advice he offered in his study Love and Respect is assuming that you have a good-intentioned spouse in your home, who wants better for you than they want for themselves. I chose well, and as far as our marriage is concerned, this is generally true for us. We (mostly) want better for the other than we do for ourselves, and we definitely work to put the heath and viability of our marriage above being right, above feeling self-righteous, above the illusion of being infallible.

And that’s what A showed me when he called me and said, “Before you say anything, I wanted to let you know that I called her and asked if she would come over at three-thirty.” That he heard me, he loved me, and he put me first. He knew that he would be dealing with a pissed off and defensive wife when he called me back, so he preempted me with love. He knew that I was hurting and needed him, even though I came at him with pain and disappointment.

The man I was married to a year ago wouldn’t have realized that. But the man I’m married to today does.

In my house growing up, you never said, “I’m sorry.” It was an admission of weakness, an admission of failure, and our home was not a safe place to be fallible. What we never realized, church-going family that we were, is that we all fall short of the glory of God. Which means that we are fallible. Learning to say, “I’m sorry, I messed up,” was the most grown-up thing I’ve ever learned to do. And, as I often say to my high school kids, if I hadn’t learned to admit to my fallibility and married a man who would do the same, our marriage wouldn’t have made it a month. Really. If I’d had a recorder and could replay our arguments from our honeymoon and that first month you’d know what I mean. But we learned, together. Which brings me back to my story…

A year ago A would have had a very different response to me in that second phone call after the way I’d talked to him in the first. Then he would have heard my hurt, the implied failure on his part, the accusatory tone. Though I’m sure he still heard all that, this time – to my amazed surprise – he heard the panic, the worry, the hurt at feeling like I was facing a Very Important Conversation alone. And he took care of it without me asking. Throughout our relationship, I’ve been the one to instigate change. I’m always looking for the next great marriage book we should read, to seek out the next small group, to suggest prayer topics and call us to look at the bigger picture. But the man I married is willing to grow. He’s willing to not be right if it means keeping us close. He knows how to say, “I’m sorry.” And it makes all the difference.

“Before you say anything, I called her and asked if she would come over at three thirty…”

No, he didn’t understand my need from the beginning. But with those words he showed me that he heard me through my fear, through my accusations. He heard me, and he fixed the problem. Without me asking. Because I would have found a way to make it work, even though I was stressed, even though I was scared. But he made it all go away, because he heard me.

It’s moments like this that show me that despite the dysfunction we are born into, despite the human tendency to never admit when you’re wrong, when we love each other (and I’m talking sacrificial love, the kind that puts the other’s daily well-being above your own,) we can choose to put your needs second when our partner is hurting. A could have been defensive, self-righteous even, given how I reacted. Instead he chose to act in love. And it was beautiful.

You have many choices in marriage. The greatest choice you can make is to put the health of the marriage above yourself. Even with both of our backgrounds working against us, we’ve learned to choose marriage. And I believe that if we can learn, anyone can. Which will make the world a more beautiful place.

Friday Five: Gratitude

9 Mar

image from askorbinka on pinterest

Given that A landed in the hospital this week and came home with a fistful of prescriptions, I feel it’s a fitting time to list what and who I am grateful for this week. I’m so grateful, in fact, that I’m cheating and listing more than one thing as my number three. Because it’s my blog, and I do what I want. Boo yah.

1. Texting
I left the house Tuesday morning with A saying he didn’t feel well and was going to stay home. He was running a slight fever (99.2°) and was going to call our doctor when they opened. He called me at 8:45 to tell me he had a doctor’s appointment at 11:30. At 12:30 I got out of class because I’d gotten no less than four texts from A and people from church telling me he’d been sent to the hospital with a 104.4° fever, severe dehydration, dizziness, and severe mystery abdominal pain. I was an hour away, without traffic, and since there are ten school campuses I could be at on any given day, A had no idea how to contact me except by cell. If it weren’t for texting, I’d never have known until way later, as I can’t check voicemail in class.

2. Shane
One of the texts was from Shane, our new Young Adult minister who A has become quite close to in the short time he’s been at our church. There were two men A thought to call when he couldn’t get in touch with me and didn’t want to be alone, and Shane was closest to the hospital. A told me later that Shane arrived at the hospital ten minutes after he’d called him. Shane sent me texts letting me know he was with A through triage, through his first doctor’s examination, and to tell me that A was in good spirits and joking. I didn’t tell Shane that his words were little comfort to me, as A would have done that even if he was dying just to make Shane feel more comfortable, but it was a huge comfort to me knowing that he was there. That A had a friend he was close enough to reach out to, and that he showed up.

3.1 Elaine
Another text I got at 12:30 was from my friend Elaine. She works with Shane, and not only was the second one to tell me A was on his way to the hospital, she let me know she was praying. Then she let me know others were praying, and checked in periodically to get updates on how my love was doing. In short, she made me feel very loved, and much less stressed and alone while we waited for the results from his CT scan.
3.2 Molly
I had plans with Molly on Tuesday. Not only was she completely understanding and concerned for us both, (A loves her like a little sister, after all) but she texted me that day to see how things were going and for two days after to see if we needed anything and if she could help. Even though I told her A was ok, and she’s got more than enough worry on her plate to last her the rest of the year, she kept reaching out. Again, I felt very loved and not alone.
3.3 Cara
I’ve never even met Cara in person, but she’s a kindred spirit I’ve been blessed to meet through my blog. She wrote a comment in response to my Mondays post that I didn’t see until I was sitting with A in the hospital. It was so sweet, so endearing, so heartfelt that it made me tear up. I emailed her back that night after A was home and safe and just poured it all out. She’s been going thorough her own stuff lately and we’ve been holding each other up in prayer. But when she got my email she sent back such a heartfelt response, I felt her prayers and love through her words. Again, one more person I’ve been blessed with who made me feel loved in a time of need.

4. Mom
My mother gets up at four in the morning almost every day. She’s usually in bed by seven. I called her because she was the first person I thought of who might be willing to take me back to the hospital to pick up my car after I’d taken A home in his. She picked me up after six, completely disrupting her schedule and sleep, without hesitation. She’s a great mother, and I’m glad I’m hers.

5. Aaron coming home
More than anything, I can’t express how grateful I am that A came home within a few hours, with nothing more serious (although still very, very painful) than good prescription drugs could cure. When the ER doc ordered a CT scan, every episode of Grey’s Anatomy came rushing back to me, and all I could do is watch and pray as I saw his insides scanned, hoping I wouldn’t see an abnormal growth or something that would require emergency surgery. (Because I SO would have been able to tell.) Especially considering how much crap I gave him that morning because I didn’t think he was serious enough about going to see the doctor. I was so scared and worried, and I am so glad that he is home, almost healthy, and on the mend. Thank you Lord.

What are you grateful for this week?

Choice

7 Mar

I don’t consider myself a poet. Sometimes, though, I sit down and words just come out. This came out a little while ago, and I thought I’d share.

image from fyeahtattoos on tumblr

Before there was time
You stood.
The right hand of God
The One
who was God
who was
and is
and is to come.

Before I knew You
You knew me.
Before I knew You
You loved me.

You who breathed
and light became day
and darkness night
blew breath into my lungs
and filled me with
new life.

You, who shaped the heavens
deigned to come
to lowly Earth.
You wrote your fingerprints
into creation
into prophesy
into our bones
so men would be
without excuse.

…but still, we never knew you.

Your own refused
to recognize
the glory of
Your birth
and life.

You knew they would.

Your own chose sin
and sent you to
atone in blood
and still You came.

You knew.

You and God
brought form to void
and spoke the heavens into being.
You knew that when
You gave free will
that we might not
choose You.

And so You came.
A God so just cannot abide,
wages earned must be paid.
And so by coming into flesh
You cried to God,
“Take me instead!”
because you’d rather
die than live
eternity
apart
from us.

From me.

You who made the Earth and seas
and all creation,
called it good,
came to us
to be The Light
and shine among
a darkened world.

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

What choice is left
but to put to death
anything in me
that takes me
from You?

May Your light shine
in my dark world
so that through me,
not because of me,
they might find You
and know
eternity.

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