How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

[For the record, I totally stole this idea from my friend Tasha.  Just wanted to give credit where credit was due.]

So, today is my husband’s birthday.  His 34th birthday, to be exact.  I’ve decided to list the Top 20* reasons why I love my husband.  Mushy?  Maybe.  Too bad. :)

1. He loves Jesus. I love knowing that he desires to be the best Christ follower he can be and is also willing to admit that he’ll always fall short.

2. He’s a musician. What can I say?  I’m not the only girl with a thing for musicians. ;)

3. He follows his heart, even when it’s not easy. He left a good-paying job in ATL to start playing music full time, and last year stepped out in faith by leaving his church job to tour more.  Tough decisions that didn’t make sense to the world, but what he felt God was leading him to do.

4. He does his own laundry. All the time.  Even the ironing.  Enough said.

5. He can cook. Not just that, but he can cook well.  It’s so nice to come home on the days I have late lessons and walk in to dinner being ready.

6. He’ll watch “girly” TV shows with me. I hope this doesn’t revoke his man card, but he’s just as interested in Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice as I am.

7. He makes me laugh. It’s usually about the stupidest stuff, but I’m not sure anyone laughs as much as we do together.

8. He has a great hairstyle. Or lack thereof.  I’m a fan of the bald look. :)

9. He lets me know that he appreciates me. He’s always thanking me for the things I do, even when they’re not really a big deal.

10. He speaks with kindness. No one is perfect, the two of us included, but we try very intentionally to communicate kindly around our house, which is something he initiated.  We can both be hurt easily by words, so we make an effort to avoid that as much as possible.  We disagree about things but we’ve never had a screaming match (yet – haha).  I’m thankful that he brought up our communication while we were still dating and established healthy boundaries.

11. He guards his heart. I’m not naive to the struggles most guys go through, and he has placed safeguards in his life to help him resist temptation.  We use a computer software called Covenant Eyes and it’s awesome.  I’m so thankful he trusted me enough to open up to me about this and take the steps necessary to fight it.

12.  He cares immensely for other people. He has a heart for hurting people and wants to help wherever he can.

13.  He loves our pets. In fact, we wouldn’t even have our chihuahua Cash if he wasn’t such a softie to animals.  One look at that little buddy and he knew we had to bring him home.

14. He likes low key days. Sometimes Date Day involves all-day jammies and The Office marathons.  And it’s bliss.

15.  He’s good with kids. Whether they call him Mr. Scott, Scottie, or Burrito (ahem…don’t ask), he’s always great with them.

16.  He loves learning. He’s always up for reading a good book or listening to NPR.  Even if I make fun of him because I think the subject matter is boring I love that he wants to continually learn.  Which is why it was perfect that…

17.  He took me to Washington, D.C. for our honeymoon. It was the perfect place for broke nerds like us who wouldn’t have wanted to lay on the beach for a whole week even if we could have afforded a plane ticket.  Free museums?  Yes, please!

18.  He thinks of my little sister as his little sister. She actually had her boyfriend pretty scared of us before we met him because he knew he needed our approval.  He passed the test. :)

19.  He’s a good friend. If you need someone to walk through a hard time with you, this is the guy.  He’ll cry with you and offer advice and ask the tough questions.

20.  He puts up with me! I am a slob (which I am working on) and a nerd (which I don’t think there’s any hope for).  I pretty much always look disheveled and I clam up around new people because I am awful at small talk.  Whenever I do something particularly quirky, he just smiles and shakes his head (and sometimes calls me a nerd, which I can’t deny).  He knew what he was getting into when he married me. :)

I love you, babe.  You’re my best friend and I’m so thankful to be your wife.  I hope your birthday is wonderful. :)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

* I realize 20 is a random number.  10 reasons just didn’t feel like enough, and I was going to go all the way to 34 but I realized that I would probably end up boring people more than I already was.  So, 20 it is. :)

2 Comments

Filed under blessings

Restoration…

Most “churched” folk have heard the story of Nebuchadnezzar and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego at some point in time.  I’m a tad ashamed to admit that my first exposure to the story was watching the Veggie Tales video with my pastor’s kids while I was baby-sitting. (Does anyone else picture Nebuchadnezzar as a big zucchini?  Anyone?  Just me?  Ahem…moving along now.)

This week I’ve been reading the book of Daniel.  I’ve read the book of Daniel before, but it’s been quite awhile and I either wasn’t paying attention the first time or I’m in a different place spiritually and I was just struck differently this time around.  I’ve always had an idea of Nebuchadnezzar in my mind as this arrogant man who created an idol and threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire when they wouldn’t worship the idol.  I knew that when they weren’t consumed by the fire and Nebuchadnezzar saw an angel with them in the furnace that he acknowledged that they served a mighty God.  He even prohibited anyone from speaking badly about their God, but that’s not exactly choosing to follow God or acknowledging that He is the one true God.

Then I got to chapter four.  The king had a dream, which Daniel later interpreted, where he learned that he was going to lose everything and be humbled until he knew ”that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will (verse 25).”  And it happened.  Nebuchadnezzar lost his kingdom, and in verse 33 we read “He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.”

God brought him, a king used to splendor and riches, to a breaking point.  So what did he do?  He praised God.

“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation…

…At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
(Daniel 4:34,36-37 ESV)

Wow.

I was so struck.  At a time when most people would be cursing God and blaming Him for all of the bad things happening to them, Nebuchadnezzar finally honored God as the one true God.  I love the line “my reason returned to me.”  I’ve been there.  I’ve been in those times where things are so bleak and I know that it’s just a low time and that God will bring me through it, and even though my heart may not feel it, my mind — my reason — knows that this is not an abandonment by God, but a learning experience from God.

Nebuchadnezzar was restored.  It was a terrible process, but he was confronted with his own sin and humanity and it humbled him and brought him closer to God.

No one is so far into their own sin that God cannot restore them.   Nebuchadnezzar was throwing believers into a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t turn away from God and worship a statue, and God restored him.

I think this story resonated with me because in the past few weeks DH and I have been walking through some friends’ restorations with them.  When we talk to them, there’s a brokenness there, but a peace at the same time.  They’ve finally acknowledged that things are in God’s hands.  They’ve been brought to the same point as Nebuchadnezzar, where everything else has proved futile and the only thing left to do is cry out to God, admit that you need Him, and begin the restoration process through Him.

I’m so thankful for restoration stories in the Bible.  When I read the stories about Nebuchadnezzar, King David, Paul, and so many others, I see that God really does want us to acknowledge Him, pursue Him, and follow Him, and that even though we mess up over and over and over again,  He desires our restoration.

Praise Him.

1 Comment

Filed under grace, life

Pity parties…

Lately I’ve been having little pity parties for myself.  Nothing big or major, just a little discontentment and restlessness that I can’t quite seem to overcome.  I know my husband has been the same way.  We both sense that there are changes on the horizon but we get frustrated that we can’t see the whole picture, even though we are totally confident that Someone DOES know the whole picture and He will show us the pieces of it when we’re ready.

To be honest, this feeling of discontent has always made me feel a little guilty.  I have zero reason to be upset.  When I think about the journey that DH and I have been on the last year and where God has brought us and the infinite blessings He has lavished upon us, I am so overwhelmed with His grace and mercy that I feel ashamed that I would ever feel anything other than gratitude.

But still, I drift back into my pity parties.

This week, my heart has been wrecked.  For some reason, right now DH and I are surrounded by hurting people…people who are dealing with things that I can’t even imagine dealing with.  I pray that I never have to face some of the problems that our loved ones are facing.

I want to fix the problems.  I’m sitting here crying thinking about the things our friends are going through and I want to fix it.  I want to be able to present them with a concrete solution that will solve everything.  I want to give them all neat little solutions tied up like presents, but I can’t.

I want to take their hurt away and make it all better.  But I can’t.

All DH and I can do is listen and be there for them and pray.  So we do.  I feel like my life this week has been one constant prayer for people that I care about.  Prayers for mercy, softening of hearts, peace, intervention, you name it.

My heart is so heavy but so hopeful at the same time.

And I feel selfish because my problems seem so miniscule in comparison.

I’ve been struggling with not wanting to seem ungrateful but still giving my desires over to God.  I am so thankful for this life, and I never want to take it for granted, but at the same time I have hopes and desires for our life that I want to pray about.

Yesterday I was reading in Colossians, and in verse 4:2 it says “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

It’s okay to pray for things, as long as it’s done with thanksgiving for what we’ve already been given.  The notes on my study Bible say “Thanksgiving leavens prayer, so that it does not become merely a selfish pleading to have one’s desires fulfilled.”

I’ll continue to pray for things, because I truly believe He has placed certain desires on my heart for the future, but I want to be sure to offer up prayers of thanks along with my petitions.  I’ve been given so much, and I don’t want to cannot forget to be grateful.

1 Comment

Filed under life, Uncategorized

A Nerfy Life…

This is my entry into Donald Miller’s Living a Better Story Blog Contest.  You can find more information here: http://donmilleris.com/conference/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“This is shenanigans, foolishness.  Nerf ball.  You live a sweet little Nerfy life.  Sittin’ on your biscuit.  Never havin’ to risk it.”

That’s a quote from one of my favorite television shows, The Office.  Darryl, who works in the warehouse, is trying to tell Michael Scott, the inept office manager, why his job is more dangerous.  Michael thinks his safety training is just as important as Darryl’s, even though it focuses on carpal tunnel syndrome and season affective disorder rather than the crushing equipment in the warehouse.

Now, even though it’s about as much of a comparison as I’d like to make between Michael Scott and myself, I am prone to living a Nerfy life.  I grew up in a very small Midwestern town, got good grades, was a model student, and never took a single risk.  I went to college that was close by and still attended the same church every Sunday.  I was embarrassed in a theatre class when we had to share the worst thing we had ever done and the best I could come up with was cheating on a test in high school.  All of the other students were telling stories about pouring vodka in their rommates’ water bottles and torturing ex-boyfriends.  My scene partner looked at me like I was an alien.

I didn’t take a major risk until I was twenty-three years old and I moved halfway across the country to be with my then-boyfriend (now husband).  I got my own apartment in a strange town and started a new life that was a twelve hour car ride away from the only home I had ever known.

It was amazing.

I’ve never been happier.

The five years since I moved away have been an adventure.  I got married, moved again, and helped plant the church where my husband was hired as the worship pastor.  A couple of years later, it was becoming clear that God was leading us in another direction.  I was not happy about this.  I liked my Nerfy life.  Things were safe and sure and I wasn’t ready to step out yet.

After awhile of praying about when the right time to take that step of faith would be, God smacked us in the face and woke us up.  My husband resigned from his job, walking away from a full time salary to pursue a freelance career as a musician.

Good-bye, Nerfy life.

It’s been nine months, and now that we’re on the other side I’m so thankful we took that step.  We needed to.  God has blessed us more than we ever thought possible, and it’s overwhelming sometimes.

But the other times?  I want my Nerfy life back.

I mean, I don’t really want my Nerfy life back.  Yes, it was easier, for sure.  But I am so much happier and I find myself relying so much more on God now than I ever was before.  Stepping away from the cushy, comfortable world that I knew allowed me to experience Providence in a way I never imagined could be real.

When I think about the kind of life I want to live, I think I tend to think about the kind of life I don’t want to live.  I don’t want to crave comfort more than adventure.  I don’t want to crave financial security more than the opportunity for God to bless us.

I don’t want to live a Nerfy life.

Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years was so eye-opening about not being content with a humdrum, Nerfy life.  I feel like his seminar will inspire those who attend to always pursue an interesting life story and to not settle for anything less.

If you had told me that I’d be saying that when I was still that girl who never took a risk, I would have laughed and probably gotten very nervous.  I still slip back into that mentality sometimes.

Then I remember that life has so much more to offer, and sometimes you need a little fear to experience the really great stuff.  And that is worth abandoning a Nerfy life.

Leave a comment

Filed under life

Bliss…

Today is a blissful day.

We got up around 8:00 this morning (which is definitely sleeping in when compared to a typical Sunday for us).

We went to a friend’s house and let her dogs out (we were dog sitting for the weekend), came back and each had a piece of pinto bean pie (don’t judge — it’s DH’s granny’s recipe and it’s ah-mazing) for breakfast.

We had a leisurely time of getting ready and then left to stop by my favorite coffee place where I lucked out and they had my favorite flavor of iced coffee — snickerdoodle.  Yum.

Then we — wait for it — went to church together.

[I’ll give you a second to recover from the shock. ;) ]

We haven’t actually gone to church together where one of us (usually DH) wasn’t playing or working with kids or doing something for two years.  And even then we helped tear down after that service.  We walked into church five minutes before the service started and worshiped together.  We had no responsibilities in the service.  We didn’t have to be alert to our next cue.  We were able to worship and just soak in what was going on.

We had lunch with amazing friends who know us and have seen us at our worst and still choose to be our friends.  We ate yummy food and relaxed and laughed and just hung out.

We braved the tax-free weekend crowds and shopped for a bit and I found $5 flip flops.

Now we get to relax at home together.

I know all days can’t be this good, but I’m going to bask in the enjoyment of this one for awhile.

This day is bliss.

2 Comments

Filed under blessings, life

Displacing worry…

My heart is burdened lately.  There’s nothing major, just little things here and there that are piling up.

I’m stressed out about money, even though I know there’s no need to.  I’m heartbroken for friends who are going through painful experiences and I know I can’t help.  I’m missing people who I used to see so often and now I haven’t talked to in months.  I’m anxious because I am the type of person who likes to know what’s around the corner and even though most of the time I love the adventurous side of my life every once in awhile I get overwhelmed by the unpredictability.

The other day I did what I should actually do when I get stressed out and I turned to God. (I’m ashamed to admit how infrequently that is my first response.)  I’ve been reading through 1 Kings lately but decided I needed a change and went to Philippians.

A verse that is constantly quoted from Philippians is 4:6-7.  Here it is in the ESV:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I’ve heard this verse hundreds of times.  I wanted a fresh perspective on it, so I went to The Message translation:

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

What do you need for Christ to displace in the center of your life?  For me (right now), it’s worry.  Next week, it could be something else.  Insecurity.  Gossip.  Arrogance.  Entitlement.  Take your pick.  We all have something, and I’m sure as soon as worry is displaced for me that something else will come along that I will need to hand over to God.

Despite my anxiety I know that God is completely unwavering in His love for me.  I’m thankful for that assurance.  For now, that will get me through my worrying while I shape my worries into prayers and wait for that sense of God’s wholeness to settle me down.

Leave a comment

Filed under life

Rules, rules, rules…

I am a rule follower.

I can’t help it.  I really suffer from anxiety when I don’t do things the way I should.  If we don’t clean up our dogs’ poop immediately I am sure the HOA will send us a letter.  We went into a state park one time that had a $2 admission with an honor system box; we only had a $20 bill so we went on in and I was fairly certain that a park ranger would see us on a (probably non-existent) security camera and arrest us.  Once, when we were dating, my husband and I went to the dollar theater to see a movie and when it was over we snuck into another theater to see a second movie and I worried for the entire time that an usher would storm in and bust us.  Over a dollar movie.

Yes, it gets ridiculous at times.  Yes, my husband laughed at all of those examples while they were happening.  He is constantly saying “You’re such a rule follower.”

Like that’s a bad thing.  Sheesh.

Because I’m a rule follower, I get very irritated when other people don’t follow the rules and still avoid consequences.  I see co-workers slacking and get frustrated that they don’t get into trouble.  I talk with friends about how (sometimes high-profile) people (often in ministry!) have treated them badly and I’m so upset that no one is seeing them for who they really are.  I have conflict with people and feel like I’ve been wronged and I can’t stand that they get away with it.

It’s not fair, I think.  Why do the rest of us have to follow the rules and they don’t?

Rules can be good.  They keep us safe and provide boundaries that we desperately need.

Rules can also be bad.  Rule-following can easily, easily, easily lead to self-righteousness, and therein lies my struggle.

I have no right to harbor ill feelings toward people who don’t get anxiety from breaking the rules like I do.  This does not mean that I think everyone has the right to disregard the rules, but rather that I have no right to harbor that ill will in my heart.

You see, even though I may be a “rule follower,” I can be a pretty crummy Christ follower.  I fall easily into gossip.  I worry and fret about things completely out of my control.  I don’t always put others first.  I lose my patience.  I lack self-control in so many areas.  I don’t always choose joy and peace.

I fall short yet I’m forgiven.

If I consistently fall short of God’s standards, how do I have the right to expect others to live up to God’s standards?

If I need the grace of God in my life, how can I not offer that same grace that I’ve been given to others?

If I am incapable of living a sinless life, how can I hold other people to that impossible standard?

I don’t want my rule following to turn me into a self-righteous person.  I’ll probably never be a person who completely disregards the rules.  I’ll continue to drive right around the speed limit and I’ll make sure my library books are returned on time.  I’ll keep wearing my retainer every night (embarrassing but true…sigh…) and I’ll worry when we have a few people over that we’re taking up too many parking spots and we might get into trouble.

But while I’m following all of those manmade rules I’ll remember that there’s dozens of other rules that I’m breaking on a consistent basis without even thinking about it.  I’ll try to remember and appreciate the grace that has been bestowed on me, and I’ll strive a little harder to extend that grace to others.  If I can’t make it through life without messing up and doing wrong, how can I get frustrated when others can’t either?

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” — James 4:10

Leave a comment

Filed under grace, life