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Showing posts from 2015

Lessons from a Jeep

My husband has been restoring an old Willy's jeep for the last couple years. It's a very slow, messy, and expensive process. But he loves it.

When this 70 year old Jeep and I first met, I couldn't believe my husband had actually spent money on the old thing. Then he asked me to join him for a ride in it. Are you crazy, honey?  I mean this thing rattled and shook and smoked and had some parts taped together. I was worried it'd fall apart in a very cartoon-esque style and leave us sitting on the bare road with Joe holding nothing but a steering wheel! 


At the moment the Jeep is not ride-able. It's sitting in various pieces in the garage while Joe painstakingly works on each individual one. I'm honestly a little awed at how much goes into this little Jeep. How many parts there are to something that I normally just turn a key for! I really have no idea sometimes just how intricately and creatively even the simplest machine is put together!

And then one day this week I…

Skills

My husband came home early today and started working on changing out the water lines in our new place (it's an old house and they desperately needed it.) I watch him pull out the p-trap. I listen to the familiar buzzing of the reciprocating saw under the house. I smell the primer being brushed onto the PVC fittings. I can tell at what point in the process he'll need me to hold something and be ready for it. I've seen and heard it all dozens of times...and frankly I have started taking it for granted. 

I started thinking about how lucky I am that my husband knows exactly where to turn the water off and how, which tools and supplies he'll need, and about how long it will take him to finish. So out of curiosity, I asked him...

"Honey, how much would someone charge to come out and do this to a house?"

"Anywhere between $800 and $1200."

I was floored. I figured it would be a lot, but that was about twice as much as I was expecting him to say.

Then I realized …

What's in a Name?

I love roasted marshmallows. But this one was particularly good. It was somehow more gooey and more sweet and more delicious than any marshmallow I had before. Normally, I just grab the cheapest bag of marshmallows I can find. I mean, it’s just a marshmallow, right? But in my hurry to get back home in time for company to arrive, I just grabbed the first bag I saw…and it happened to be a $3 brand-name bag. But could a name on a bag make that much of a difference? It had to be. I had bought generic marshmallows in many cities and from many stores and gas stations, and none of them had ever been this good.

“A good name is to be desired more than riches”
I clearly heard that verse in my mind as I enjoyed my second and third brand-name marshmallow. 

A good name…

Like my husband’s…

Everywhere I go, I meet someone who has worked with or knows my husband. And I have never heard anyone speak anything negative about him. It’s amazing really. Everyone knows him as hardworking, fun-loving, generous, a…

First Day of Love

Among all the encouraging comments I've get on my blog there is always that one that likes to throw me off balance. They are negative and while not rude, they do make me wonder why I even bother to keep writing. When I first read them, I get angry and defensive. Why are these people reading my blog anyway?! But then I realize, they come from a woman's heart who has lost all hope of ever regaining friendliness much less romance in her marriage. My heart weeps for these women. I am a child of such a marriage and I know first-hand the effects of living in a home with a loveless marriage. 

It's to you dear woman that I write today. 
You deserve more. You deserve to be loved and cherished because you were made by One who loves and cherishes you.
But you cannot do it alone. You cannot suffer in your self-made cage of bitterness and remorse. There is no encouragement there. There is no healing there. There is no changing anything in there.
If you have resigned yourself to "nothi…

Guilty as Charged

A couple of friends and I have had conversations this week about the thing that seems to plague all women most of the time...guilt.

I feel guilty about standing my ground when I know I'm right. What if I hurt the other person's feelings? 
I feel guilty about honestly saying no when I don't want to do something.  What if I'm just being selfish?
I feel guilty about not attending every function I'm invited too. Or accepting every friend request on FB. Or smiling to every person I meet on my walks. 
I feel guilty about buying myself a new shirt. Or a new book. Shouldn't that money be used for something better?
I feel guilty for just wanting to be alone--a lot--instead of out partying it up with people. 
I feel guilty for sitting my kid in front of the TV for a few minutes while I write this. 
I feel guilty for just wanting a foot rub at the end of the day, and not a steamy evening of romance.
One of the Bible's name for our Enemy is "The Accuser"...boy does t…

I Need You

"It's taken us a long time to get here, but I've enjoyed the journey with you."

In just a few precious words, my husband summed up all the ups and downs of our past few years together. We were sharing a quiet moment cuddled close, and I could hear his heartbeat. Why, oh why, were moments like these not more common with us? It felt just like it did when we were first dating. As if our marriage had come full circle in some way. I could feel my heart and mind rest in that moment, not worried about the next. This is how it should always be. I had lost sight of that somewhere along the way. We both had.

I need my husband. And it wasn't until I came to that realization in my heart that I was able to open up to him and be vulnerable. I'm such an independent person. I am the one who anyone can call to be there for them. But in being that person with my husband, I was robbing him of being there for me. 

I need my husband. Not in a co-dependent way, but in a he-makes-me-a…

Stranger in a Strange Land

I went home to visit last month. My dear, southern hometown filled with the sound of cicadas and the sweet smell of pine. It was good to see familiar faces and visit old stomping grounds. The time spent there with old friends and family is never long enough. 

But for the first time since I had left home, I felt like a visitor coming back. Maybe it was the fact that so many of my friends are living life, and getting married, and raising babies without me. Maybe it's the fact that I had gotten used to the cooler weather up north. Whatever it was, my life in Ohio felt more like home than my life in South Carolina...and I couldn't believe it. 

Something in my heart felt released at that moment. As if I had been grieving the loss of my home for the last two years, and had just now come to terms with it. I will always have my sweet friends and my family and part of my heart there, but here and now is where my home is. Where the Lord has us. With my husband and my little girl. Geograph…

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

I fell on the bed exhausted. Thoughts I had never dreamed I'd have had been bombarding me for months. And for the first time in years I felt the pangs of an old foe...guilt. I turned on some worship music and cried. I told the Lord how awful and dirty I felt. I lay there arms outstretched and let his love flow over me until I fell asleep. 
This was the turning point for me.
You see, I absolutely adore my husband. For the first four years of our marriage, no matter what financial problem, personal tragedy, or health issue came up, we were a team!  
But this past year I found myself thinking about another guy while I was with him...
Yeah, this was not like me. 
Yeah, I was completely ashamed of it. 
And it didn't just suddenly happen one day. It was far more subtle than that.
It started with something Joe would fail to do or something rude he would say, and immediately I'd hear the lie...he doesn't think you're lovable anymore.
And then he'd be too tired to do anything w…

Woman to Woman

Your hair is so healthy.
You’re such a good mom. So attentive.
I love seeing you interact with your family.
You’re such an inspiration to me!
Sweet, life-giving words spoken to me this past week by some very good friends. They cannot even know how I replay these over and over in my heart or how much they mean to me. It is partly because they were words spoken from loyal hearts, partly because I very rarely hear such words spoken to me, and partly because they speak straight to the least confident parts of who I am.
As a woman, there is nothing more life-giving to me than to be encouraged by another woman. Do you know what I mean? It’s one thing to be complimented by a man or by a husband…something in the back of my mind wonders if it’s just the testosterone talking. But to be complimented by a woman is a little unsettling at first and yet so amazing. Sadly, because as women we very rarely encourage each other. We gossip. We cut each other down. We size each other up. So a sincere, encoura…

The Dance

My husband and I took swing dance lessons before our wedding. He had never really danced and I had never danced with a partner, so we thought we should at least have some basics before we had to dance in front of a crowd at our wedding.
The first couple of classes were miserable. He lacked confidence and I lacked the ability to follow. I kept trying to guess where he was going to go and kept ruining the flow. He was trying to get the moves down right and make it look good. We were having no fun at all and wanted to quit a few times. But with each class, he got better at moving and I got better at letting go and following. Now we love to dance around in the kitchen all the time!
I was talking to a recently married friend a few weeks ago about the difficulties of adjusting to married life after being single for so long. Yeah, it’s hard. It’s frustrating. It makes you wonder if maybe this was a bad idea and if maybe you should quit. Cut yourself some slack. Cut your husband some slack. Yo…

Back to the Future

I wrote this article over a year ago on my Wordpress blog, and came across it again while preparing for today's post. It's perfect. It's right where my heart is today. May you be encouraged by it.

“We are being changed into his very image, from one degree of glory to the next”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Yesterday morning I was writing a recommendation for a friend who is going to start working on his doctorate soon. I was blown away by how much time has passed since we were college classmates. We are now both married and live on different coasts. And while I'm proud at what he has accomplished and excited about where I am in my life as well, part of me longs to go back to our college days. Back to the days when studying was the biggest worry in our lives. Back when we served the poor on our missions trips and fed the hungry on Friday nights. Back when we naively thought we were invincible and were going to single-handedly save the world. 
I finished the email, pressed the “send” b…

Do Unto Others

I recently read an article about all the sweet things a guy did for a girl in order to get her attention. In the end they got married and now live happily ever after.  Awesome! Totally happy for them!

When I was in Bible college, I would watch many young unmarried guys hold doors and carry heavy items for the girls they liked, hoping to catch the eye of one of them. And we single girls would go out of our way to do something for a guy we liked:  helping him study for a test or baking a batch of his favorite kind of cookie. 

But what about doing stuff for a guy or girl you can't marry?

What about helping a young mother load groceries while she gets her children into the car?

Or baking cookies for the weird guy at work no one talks to?

My dear single brothers and sisters, don't let your attention fall only on the young men or women whom you can get a date out of, but use your strength also for those who can give you nothing in return: the too-old, the too-young, the already-married.…

It Takes a Village

When I was a preteen, a teenager, and a young adult, all I wanted to do was be anywhere except where my family was. I wanted to spend as much time as possible away from them. They drove me nuts and didn't let me do any of the things I wanted to do. I wanted to travel, I wanted to see the world, I wanted to do something big with my life. And the only thing that stood between me and adventure was...my boring family.

Then I got married and I was so relieved to leave the family I grew up with and embark on an adventure with my new husband...just the two of us, taking on the world! But life has a way of knocking you back into reality. It was only 2 months into our marriage that we discovered we were pregnant, and nothing brings your family to your door faster than a baby announcement...whether you want them at your door or not!

My super-independent self wanted no help or advice from my family. I could do this on my own! Until we lost the baby, and I needed more help and support than I re…

Everything I Thought I Knew

My mom was raised by nuns in a Catholic all-girls school. Literally, by nuns. Her grandmothers and great-aunts were women brought up during the Victorian Era. She is one of 7 daughters with an absent father. Needless to say, she is a very conservative woman... and completely clueless about men.  But everything I learned about men, I learned from my mom. And I unknowingly brought those things into my marriage. Here's just a few of the things I had to relearn...

1) As long as you're a good cook and keep a clean home, your husband will be happy. (Ok, there's sex too, but she never said it, and I'll talk about it later) How totally wrong this is! A few dirty dishes which to me are the end of the world, aren't even on my husband's radar! He'd rather me sit with him and watch a movie or work on a project together.

2) You're too fat, you forgot to shave, your tan lines are showing, your breasts are too small, your butt is too big, your hair is too flat. Do you k…

Happy Anniversary!

My husband and I will be celebrating 5 years of marriage in just a few days. Wow. Five years. It doesn't seem that long, and yet it seems much longer at the same time.

As we look back on our newlywed years, I know both Joseph and I never wish to re-live them. There was a lot of pain in those first few years. Pain unlike anything we've ever felt before. It was the pain of losing friends, financial dreams, and our first child. We saw everything we thought our marriage was going to be crumble and fall away, and I think we're just now starting to pick up the pieces. 

But no matter what has come at us, we knew we could figure it out together. Every hurdle and loss has only worked to teach us how much we need each other.

But that's where this past year was different. At least for me. I have been waging a silent war in my heart and mind that I never thought I would be fighting. And since we start our sixth year in a few days, I think it's time to talk about some of the deepe…

Making Room

Today I was sitting in my living room, watching my little one coloring at her table, and realizing she has a spot in every level of the house to play in. I have my things in every level of the house as well. But my husband has very little that is actually his.  Most of Joe's manly things are gathering dust in a closet, or crammed into a box in the basement, or rusting on the porch or garage. This is terrible! I would never treat my own things this way! What kind of message am I sending my husband when all my pictures and books are prominently displayed while his things lay in a heap?

I know on the one hand, he doesn't mind. He's not naturally a super-organized individual, and he's not really into trinkets or nostalgic items. But on the other hand, this is his home too. The man works hard all day. His home should be his castle. What an awesome opportunity to show my husband the respect I really feel toward him! 

So with the Lord's leading, and lots of practical advice…

All I Need

"All I Need is You, Jesus!"

I used to sing it passionately in church. I used to pray it fervently in my quiet times.

But I don't believe it anymore.

Yep. That's right. Jesus is not all I need.

Before I get stoned, let me explain. 

By saying, "Jesus is not all I need," I'm not saying "I don't need Jesus." I'm not saying that I've lost faith in Him. I'm not saying that I don't need Him first and foremost. I am saying that Scripture shows that this "All I need is You" culture was not the Lord's intent.

Even in Eden, the first man was lonely. He had unhindered, face-to-face contact with the Creator, and he was lonely! There was no sin, no shame, no ugliness of any kind, and he was lonely! He was so lonely, that the Lord in his compassion said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." And then when He created the first woman, He told them to "be fruitful and multiply.&quo…

Words of Life

I was on a video chat earlier this week with my mom back home. After a few glitches were figured out and we could finally both hear and see each other clearly, my mom's first words were "Oh, you look so pretty! Your hair is so nice and your complexion looks so clear!"

I stood speechless for a moment. In my head I thought, "Who are you and what have you done with my mother?" But in my heart I was singing and twirling the way Julie Andrews does in The Sound of Music.

I love my mom and I know she loves me, but we are as different as night and day and that has led to more than one misunderstanding between us. We now have a pleasant relationship chattering on about the latest recipe, or sale, or book we love, but it hasn't always been so. It's only in the last couple of years that we have truly learned to accept one another. 

So imagine, my surprise when my mom's usual criticism of the way I look, or dress, or raise my child was replaced by a compliment. An…

Something New

My husband and I are close to finishing another big remodeling project on a house. I think about all the things I've learned during each process, and I chuckle out loud...

I remember the extremely frustrating moments when I felt like punching my husband in the face. No exaggeration there. Like when he tosses me a post-hole digger and points to a pre-marked spot on the ground...um, excuse me? You want me to do what?! Heck, no! I'm a lady! And one-hour later, I'm angry and sweating, but the hole is finally dug (meanwhile, he's done 3).  
And I remember the extremely fun moments, like picking out the plants and flowers for the garden or drinking coffee in the new back porch. 
I've learned to chop firewood, use a knife without injuring myself, cut tile like a pro, and paint a ceiling without spilling a drop. I have to admit, some of it (okay, a lot of it) I've learned against my will, kicking and screaming the whole way. 
But I also have to admit that with each new ski…

Agape

The past couple weeks I have shared with one friend one of the deepest losses in life and with another one, one of the greatest joys. And I find that it is a privilege to know and be known so deeply. To love another human being so much that my heart either breaks or soars with theirs. 
I have also had the privilege in our marriage to know a handful of people who have sat with us in tragedy and cheered us on in our moments of triumph. There were no words spoken; there didn't have to be. A long, firm hug or an "I'm so proud of you" look were all that was needed. And as I think back on my marriage and life, it is those moments I still treasure. 


We are so afraid of emotion, aren't we? As a culture, we freak out when someone is in deep pain or in happy celebration. We want everything to be okay again and "back to business as usual."

Jesus was a deeply emotional guy. We see him literally crying and sobbing over the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11). We see …

Becoming a Woman

Every time I stretch for my workout... Every time I hear the familiar hum of the bread machine... Every time I sit to read a Spanish book with Lydia... Every time I pick up a paint brush and canvas...
...I remember the woman who introduced me to the skill in the first place.  And I smile. I have been made a stronger, deeper woman because of those that have poured their love and life into me.
In the book "Wild at Heart," John Eldredge explains how femininity (i.e. mom) cannot bestow masculinity (i.e. her son). A young man without a father cannot grow to be a man just by watching mom. A young man can only become a man by watching and learning from other men. 
I believe the opposite is also true:  femininity cannot be bestowed by masculinity. No matter how much my daddy-less heart longed to be seen by a man, my inner sense of worth and confidence in being a woman has come from other women. Sadly, it's only in the past few years that I've really allowed women to speak i…

Soul Food

Last week I was fighting depression for no reason, and it was so good to stumble upon an old post of mine. I thought sharing it would be good for all of you feeling the same way this time of year...

(originally published Sept 2013)

What is it about doing something we love that so energizes and refreshes us? What is it about seeing something beautiful that deeply touches us and makes us stand in wonder or break down in joyful tears? 
Over the summer I've been reading Kris Valloton's Spirit Wars. It was very refreshing to be reminded that who I am is made up of three interwoven parts: my spirit, my soul, and my body. When one part is being affected negatively, every part reacts. I know that when I spend too much time indoors, my body aches for fresh air and exercise and that when I eat too much or too little, my body reminds me with tummy upset or dizziness. I can feel in my spirit when I've gone a day or two without being in the Lord's presence because I start craving that…

The One

"How did you know Joseph was the one?"

This is the question I get from my single girlfriends. The answer is both simple and complicated. 

One simple answer is "I didn't know." Nowhere in life do we get a 100% dud-free guarantee. Especially not in marriage. No woman ever knows if her beloved is going to be a completely different man after the wedding. 

The other simple answer is "I don't believe in 'The One'." Love is a choice, and I could have chosen to spend my life with any of half a dozen great guys. 

The more complicated answer is:

1.) He loved the Lord. And not in a lip-service way. He had had an encounter with Jesus that had changed his life and he loved telling people about it. 
2.) He loved his Mama, but not in a co-dependent, mama's boy way. He spoke well about her and shared his favorite memories of her. And my Mama always says that the way a man treats his mom is the way he will treat his future wife. 
3.) He had a steady job, owne…