Grace


Sometimes in life we stumble upon writing that shines a light on what’s been in progress in us for a long time. If you hope to be married one day, or maybe you are engaged, already married, in the midst of a separation, divorced, newly married again, or single and wondering if it is ever going to happen or perhaps considering never getting married at all - this is a worthwhile read. There was a time in my life when I felt very strongly marriage should be considered a partnership, an equal between two people. I can recall moments in my marriage when I believed we had hit a bump in the road and our commitment to each other and what we brought to this partnership was in need of serious scrutiny. I remember making a list at one point in my mind, and on paper too, of all the things I took care of and all the things he took care of. My mind raced with comparisons, weighing what I thought was fair or not fair, right or wrong. I didn’t understand why he didn’t meet me where I thought he should. I didn’t like that it didn’t equal up to what I had thought it should, what I thought we agreed upon when we started this.

This point in the article hit me and impressed me to write today:

In a partnership, there’s give and take. In a marriage, there is only give.

http://www.sgberman.com/2014/07/10/five-reasons-marriage-equal-partnership/

Consider what the scriptures tell us: And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 AMP)

When God is in it, and you are 100% committed to someone other than yourself, then your marriage will grow, thrive, endure. When your focus starts to lessen toward the one you’ve committed to for any reason or you find yourself questioning that God is even in it, I challenge you right now to stop your mouth from flapping and get on your knees and ask God to break your heart. If you can’t shine the light on yourself first, ask God to examine your heart for anything less than what you committed to your spouse the day you spoke your vows……then find your way there. That’s precisely where you need to be. There is nothing selfish about love. It is in its truest form completely and absolutely selfless.

When Ryan and I were at what I thought was our worst, I remember feeling so incredibly helpless. I remember thinking I don’t know how we are going to get through this. And I sure as hell don’t know if it’s even worth it. It would be so easy to give up and go on by myself. I could do it if I had to. I went into absolute and complete “I am Woman Hear Me Roar!” mode, and I was in no way going to let this stupid sucky season in my life take me down!

But, after the edge of my insanity moment faded, and I could stop the pounding of my heart, the gasping ugly tears subsided, and I could simply breathe again, I was reminded by my great big loving and abundantly good God:

“Grace...”

What am I so deserving of that he is not?

I have been reminded time and time again, through some terrible seasons and some of the most beautiful seasons in my marriage, that I don’t NEED him. But I LOVE him. And what we have together is deserving of what I can GIVE and GIVE SOME MORE, and not dependent upon what I am willing to do as my part. My marriage is NOT a partnership. It is a UNION of two lives into something far greater than either one of us. It is a GIFT from God and something I am willing to fight to the death for and beyond!

I love you, Ryan, and I am so thankful that we have chosen to fight the greatest fight I’ve known in my life. I am thankful God gave me you.



Breaking through....Trust renewed

I was in my junior year at MSU, had come through a difficult season of my life and just kind of bulldozing my way through. I didn’t care how I did it, or how well I did it, I just wanted to get through school and be done. I was both raw and numb emotionally as I was working through so much unfinished stuff in me. I have found therapy/counseling to be very beneficial for myself, for my marriage, and for my oldest child over the years. It’s stupid and incredibly arrogant to think at any point we can weather through life on our own, and I know some will not agree with this-but sometimes God is not enough. Sometimes God’s provision and deliverance for us through a terrible experience, comes in the form of a professional therapist. I was there, more than once, and the mind is a powerful thing. When you reach that point, the point when you are teetering on the edge and starting to lose hope, that’s the point to ask for professional help. I’m really glad I did. It was hard for me to admit God was not enough for me in that season. I was nearly buried by what I had endured and not dealt with. The hurt, the emotional abuse, the guilt, the shame of what I had experienced. I nearly let it define me. I nearly let it defeat me. But I was so weary from it all, and I was struggling to function on some basic level day to day. I knew if I didn’t get help, I’d be miserable for the rest of my life. I would continue to live in the pattern I had created for myself. It was not healthy. I was getting by, I was not living the abundant life God intended for me. I needed to be reminded of who I was in Christ, His greater purpose for me.

I will never forget the method my therapist used to help me visualize who I was in Christ. I had forgotten, but He knew all along I was in there. Underneath all the ick I had experienced and allowed to bury me, He knew the child He created was still in there and ready to be free. But I had to realize it, and accept it, choose it. Free will is a tricky thing. We aren’t puppets. God has so much for us to experience as His. But we have to choose it. He cannot force it, snap us out of it, make us do what He thinks is right. It’s not His nature. He loves us enough to give us that choice. He is a good Father. So my therapist asked me to close my eyes and visualize a chalkboard, and what would I have written on it about myself. That was not easy, was actually very painful. I didn’t like myself, I didn’t have much good to write up there, and honestly I found myself staring at the chalkboard with nothing. Just blank. When it started to flow out of me, it was messy and ugly and awful and gut wrenching…..but necessary and good. As I visualized this, spoke it and tried to find my way to some form of calm, I realized He was there in the room with us. He was there with me in that very moment. He had been there all along. But, somehow I had forgotten Him and become way too comfortable in my misery. That’s no way to live, and I was ready to find my way to stepping out of it. The next thing she asked me to visualize, was Jesus stepping up to the chalkboard. And she asked me what I thought He would write about me. More tears. Yeah, a whole lot more tears. My heart broke, as I found myself seeing for the first time in a long time truly how Jesus sees me. How He knows me. How He loves me. He calls me worthy, loved, beautiful, purposed for great things, blessed beyond measure. I can’t make this stuff up. The mind is a powerful thing. It is all too easy for us to blame satan for the struggles we go through, but we fail to recognize and own up to what we do to ourselves! When we release our grip on ourselves, the control we think we have, and throw off what threatens to define or defeat us, the things of this world, the way others have treated us, the experiences we have had that we think are all that we know to be true of this life…..it is a freedom that cannot be described, or captured outside of personal experience between yourself and God. I could try, but words are not adequate.

Freedom is found when we lay it all down, walk away from it and never pick it back up again. And sometimes it takes some extra help and intervention to get to that place. I am thankful that I found it. I am thankful I had family, friends who saw in me the necessity to dig deeper and said so. I am thankful for the accountability I had and still have to this day not only in family and friends, but in our church community. We cannot do this thing called life and live it to the fullest in Christ, if we are isolated. We need each other. We are better together.

As I am wrapping up this blog entry, a Big Daddy Weave song came to my mind. I love their arrangement of “Trust and Obey”. It is soothing to me. I am a musician at heart, so of course, I find comfort most often in music but it is especially powerful when I know the truth of it is based on the Word of God and His promises to us.

‘…But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
For the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey….’

When we are battered and bruised by the things of this life, it is difficult to put our trust in anything or anyone. But God is faithful. He is the source of our hope and help. Always.

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to GOD! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor GOD with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent GOD’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that GOD corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this. Proverbs 3:5-12 MSG


There is a way....there is ALWAYS a way....


This past weekend we accomplished something of a miracle. Moving. So, to give you the short version:
Monsoon like rains and storms hit Springfield Friday and didn’t let up until early Sunday morning. Moving Day was Saturday. Moving service scheduled weeks ahead to take care of our big, bulky and heavy furniture, and we rented a box truck to move all the boxed stuff, odds and ends, etc.
Moving Day arrived, got the box truck early, and headed to the house while Ryan got ready for it to start at the apartment. Little did we know what was about to go down.

Moving service called and cancelled. Short-handed. I won’t go into specifics here, but you can only imagine the state we were both in at this point. First, when Ryan got the call. Second, when he called to tell me. I was at the house because we had two deliveries coming and I was waiting to coordinate the unload when they arrived with our stuff. So, while my sweet Chloe was outside in our new garage enjoying watching, talking to, attempting to feed crackers to the worms crawling in out of the rain, I was in a minor panic. I took momentary panic and pushed it into high gear, told Ry okay, we gotta go with it, and we both proceeded to get on our phones and contact anyone and everyone we could think of to please come and HELP!

I am still absolutely astounded and overjoyed by how God works in the midst of these momentary panics. He used the unknown, the freakishly stressful unknown, and made it good. I keep rolling it over in my mind, my heart, just so thankful, so thankful, so thankful. We are just so incredibly blessed by the amazing group of people who came to help us from family, to dear friends, to our Story Church family-Wow! Thank you so much! I can’t stop smiling when I think about it. God took a bad thing and made it so very good! This is that moment when we realize once again the invaluable benefit of being part of a community of believers. And it is not the first time. We have watched time and time again, over the years, as our community of believers has come to our aid in both tangible and intangible forms. This is the difference between surviving this life, and choosing to thrive in this life.

Parent moment here: If you have children, then you will appreciate this as much as we do. This whole process, this amazing experience we had this past weekend was such a beautiful lesson for our children. When our children see us react to stress, what will they take away from it? The way we respond in stressful moments will have a lasting impact on our children and influence how they handle stress on their own one day. I am the type that does not shrink to a challenge, and in fact I step up to it and look it over, determine there is a way to get it done. I don’t give up easily. And I don’t want my husband and my children to give up easily. So, my immediate reaction is to evaluate it, figure out a way to take care of it, and then afterwards no matter how it went down consider what I learned from the experience. My husband’s reaction is to get very quiet, look very tense, no real verbal response, and essentially looking like he could either completely shut down or implode at any moment. So, my reaction to him in this state is Ultimate Cheerleader Wife! Game on! We will not back down, we will not give up, we will move on through it! I can come on a bit strong, and I know by the look on Ryan’s face and my children’s faces when I’ve gone overboard and need to tone it down. So, it’s a learning experience all around for all of us. But the point is, keep moving forward and don’t let anything knock you down and keep you down. There is a way. There is always a way.
So, to my amazing, handsome, strong and absolutely wonderful husband Ryan-I am so thankful for you, and so proud of how you handled it all!

Rylee and AJ-Awesome job stepping it up and doing everything without complaint! You worked so hard and made the best of it to help us get moved into our new home-I’m so proud of you both!

Chloe-my sweet girl, you make it all so delightful and fun! You didn’t miss a beat and brought joy to the day!

Bailey-You may have missed out on the move, but you absolutely stepped it up Sunday, my partner in cleaning the apartment and then getting groceries. You are going to make a wonderful husband to a lucky young lady one day!

I can think of no better way to close out this blog entry, than to point to the best thing about this whole experience: the opportunity we have to do the same for someone else. It is a cyclical process, the beauty of this process of being part of a community of believers. We cannot truly appreciate what’s been given for us, until we have chosen to give back. It is in the little things and the big things. We have opportunity daily to give back, and we should give back because there is always a need. I can think of several people in my life that are need right now, and because of what I know has been a blessing to me, I absolutely choose to pour back into their lives so they can know that blessing of being part of a community of believers too. We cannot keep it to ourselves, we cannot be selfish. We are all in this together, and we need a great big God and a community of believers to make the best of this life we have been given!

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16NIV


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