Saturday, October 31, 2015
Eric Ludy preached a sermon called "The Wages of Love." I have listened to it multiple times, especially when I feel myself becoming lackadaisical in my relationship with the Lord or with the people closest to me. It's a powerful message, and one that I highly recommend.
Different things always pop out to me each time I listen to it, but one thing that I always remember is how he talks about his wife. He says, "As far as the world is concerned, my wife is flawless." He goes on to talk about he never says anything bad about his wife in public, or tear her down with words. He is her biggest fan in all areas.
That was my prayer before I was married (before Jon was even in my life) that I would never be a wife (or even a girlfriend or a fiancé) that complained about my man when he wasn't around. I tried to start this habit by watching the way I talked about my family members in public. When I started dating, I practiced this as best I could, but it was easy, because while we were dating, he even appeared to me to be almost flawless. (This is not to say we were not honest and transparent with each other about shortcomings, but even his shortcomings looked like heroic and humble displays of God's grace, or something like that. He truly could do no wrong. *Cue the eye-roll*)
However, when we got married, this became much harder. Not because much changed, but because you see the person you married in a more complete way than you were ever able to in the dating atmosphere.
And don't get me wrong, I love it!! I love Jon more every day, and I can't believe how blessed I am, or how I ever happened to catch his attention. He is an incredible man of God, but also super goofy, spontaneous, and thoughtful. While we were dating, I was only able to scratch the surface in discovering the incredible gift God gave me when he put this man in my life.
-- Side-note: I do not want to adopt these ways because I don't want the world to know "the real Jon" or something like that. I want our relationship to be real and for the people in our lives to see us - our victories and our shortcomings - as a testament of God's grace. The reason I want to only talk highly of him in all circumstances is because I only want the world to see the man God is forming him to be. And if they see his flaws, I do not want it to be because his wife put them on display by speaking negatively about him, or even implying that there are flaws to find. --
But even thought this has been my goal, I am still a sinful person. I often get so caught up in my wants and needs that I can focus entirely on the ones that aren't being met (because, for some reason, I expect him to know that I want him to help me clean the kitchen when I say, "Don't worry about it, babe; I'll get it." Shouldn't he be able to read my girl brain by now???) And even more often than that, I am a pro at keeping track of everything I do for Jon and forgetting about what he has done for me. For example, do you know how many times I did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen without him offering help? But I completely forget the times he chooses to stay home with me instead of go out with his friends, or the nights when dinner doesn't work out so he takes me out for GF pizza instead of fussing at me for not having a meal together. Even now, Jon is outside playing with the siblings we're watching so that I can write a quick blog post.
(Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Happiness Project (another recommendation) coins the clever term "unconscious overclaiming": "the phenomenon in which we unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people.")
Jesus said (in Matthew 7), "seek, and you will find." This statement is placed in a string of instructions and encouragements from His Sermon on the Mount, each sentence giving us clues into seeking the Kingdom of Heaven. This seeking and finding refers to salvation, but I had another thought this morning... What if He is also encouraging us to seek the Kingdom of Heaven in our day and in the people around us?
When I am seeking the Kingdom of Heaven in my day, I'm looking for the tiny displays of God's goodness and faithfulness and beauty in the world.
When I am seeking the Kingdom of Heaven in the people around me, I'm looking for the little, over-lookable ways that Christ's characteristics are displayed in them, maybe in ways they aren't even trying.
And when I'm seeking these things, I'm finding them. Not because they start popping up out of thin air, but because they're already there. The only difference is, now I have eyes to see them.
Another point Pastor Ludy makes in his sermon, is that we have been given "gold mines" in our relationships with 1) Christ, 2) our spouse, and 3) our children. But here's the catch: we have to mine the gold. If we want to experience the riches of these relationships, we have to get our hands dirty, be visionaries, and mine the gold that He has hidden in secret places. We have to seek it out.
This is my new mission.
I don't want to become lazy in my relationships and assume that I have discovered all there is to discover.
My walk with the Lord may be years old, but I have not even begun to know the vast riches of His mercy or the unending bounds of His grace, because I so often let myself get comfortable with a casual pursuit.
And there is no way that I know all the great things there are to know about my new husband of only three months.... I have a lifetime of gold to discover! Our relationship is the best earthly relationship I have ever known - and probably ever will now. How could I take it for granted?
I'm going to set out to seek His face in the ways He has hidden Himself in my every day. Not only that, I'm going to seek His face in the ways He is quietly but radiantly being displayed in my husband, so that it will be easy to commend him in the presence of others as flawless.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
It is not unusual that I greet this month with open arms. Growing up, it was always my mom's favorite month (and, coincidentally, her birthday month). She would go all-out to decorate the house with fall leaves and pumpkins (more than the normal person would) and saw it as our duty as Virginians to go north and experience the colorful mountains at least once within that beautiful month. She really did make fall magical.
So it shouldn't surprise anyone that I find myself wanting to greet October with a similar attitude, now that I am married and the "woman of the house" in my new home.
I obviously don't have many fall decorations, due to the fact that I didn't have any when I got married, but I've decided to welcome fall in forms other than decking the halls with orange and red. Specifically, I've made some "in-order-to-enjoy-October" list of goals.
Disclaimer: I am not a goals person. Some love goals and love conquering them. I never seem to reach them and then I just feel guilty and horrible about myself. SO. I've tried to make this list as fun and attainable as possible, focusing on these categories:
3. Young Life/Ministry
7. Marriage/Quality time with Jon
9. Personal Improvement
Another beautiful take-away from my mother (maybe I should have called this post "Lessons from Mama Heard"?) is that goals need need NEED to be attainable. Same with to-do lists; don't write down "read, clean, and pray" on your to-do list, write "read 2 chapters, clean such-and-such room, and pray intentionally for 20 minutes" or something like that. So I also tried to make each goal very attainable.
1. Physical - Cook THM once/week
My mom has been eating according to the "Trim Healthy Mama" diet (THM) and not only does she look fabulous-ER, but she feels great, too. When I lived at home, it was easy to mooch off her healthy food, but it's harder to do now that I have to be the creative mind behind it. (While a tempting and unreasonable goal would be to eat according to this diet completely, I decided it would be enough of a stretch to begin the transition to eat THM for dinner once a week.)
2. Spiritual - Focus on one book of the Bible
I've gotten into the habit of "pop-corning" around the Bible the past few months, but I've noticed that it is causing me to take a more surface-level study approach. I've decided to focus on Hebrews because it only has 13 chapters, but those 13 chapters are power-packed. I may complete it in one month, or I may drag it into November, depending on how in-depth I take it. Completing the book doesn't matter, as long as I am investing time in it (which makes this attainable).
3. Young Life/Ministry - Girl's night
Because of the way Young Life is designed, I get a lot of time with high schoolers and a community of young adults. But that is different than opening up our home to spending time with these friends outside of Young Life programs and high school events. (I may even be able to combine this goal with goal #5!)
4. Home-making - Buy mums and pumpkins!
Ok, I know I said I wasn't going to go all-out on the decorating this year, but c'mon, a mum or two on the front porch never hurt anybody;)
(Buying these two specific things makes this goal attainable and easy to check off)
5. Baking - Bake something pumpkin at least twice
Who doesn't get the craving for pumpkin-spice-anything during this time of year? I want to branch out and try something new in this arena, like explore some gluten-free, dairy-free and possibly sugar-free goodies. (Again, because I put a number on the amount of times I wanted to try this one, it makes it attainable and able to be completed.)
6. Academic - NO MORE LATE ASSIGNMENTS
I know this should be a given, and I've already done pretty well in this area this semester, BUT I have the tendency to slip up on these things because I don't plan well, or I choose to spend time with people instead. (The reason this one is attainable, is because it is a never-ever achievement.)
7. Marriage - Take at least one hiking/camping trip
Jon loves spontaneous trips (like our random one-night trip to NYC this past weekend), so this one should be pretty easy;) But being intentional about it being a camping trip should be pretty fun.
8. Post-wedding - Order printed wedding pictures AND Finish thank-you's to send
This one is going to be a hard one. My grades, health, marriage, and home are not dependent on these two goals, which makes the motivation a whole lot lower. However, I know that if I do not complete these two very soon, they will not be accomplished, which is why they need to be done in October.
9. Personal Improvement - Practice guitar twice a week AND finish one book
Again, because these things are not time-dependent, they will also be difficult to accomplish. These only contribute to my happiness and sense of accomplishment, so it will be a challenge to make these a priority. But I'm hoping my goal of practicing only twice a week is practical. I'm a professional at leaving books unfinished too, so I have plenty of books to choose from that only have a few chapters left.
And there you have it! I'll let you know how I did when November comes...;)
What plans/goals do ya'll have for October?
HAPPY FALL <3 - Case