Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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. Treat the "older women as mothers, the younger women as sisters, with absolute purity."* In doing so, you will cultivate a habit that you will carry into your own marriage and family. Because there will come a day when the guy or girl you're dating so excitedly now becomes the tired wife or the distant husband later on. There will come a day when the person you get butterflies about will no longer stir up those amazing feelings. And this is when your heart will be tested. You will be able to continue to love and support your spouse through their most difficult moments because you have been doing it for others all along!

The Lord says, here is the sort of fast I want —
sharing your food with the hungry,
taking the homeless poor into your house,
clothing the naked when you see them,
fulfilling your duty to your kinsmen!

Then the Lord will always guide you;
he will satisfy your needs in the desert,
he will renew the strength in your limbs;
so that you will be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
(From the book of Isaiah, chapter 58, verse 6 and 11)

*From the book of First Timothy, chapter 5, verse 2

Friday, April 10, 2015

Good Business

The month of March has always been for us the busiest month of the year. Spring events are in full swing, and we have our daughter's birthday and our anniversary on back-to-back weekends. This year, it was made even more hectic by our own deadline to finish a remodeling project.

The last time Joseph and I tackled a remodeling project, I was too pregnant and sick to help...at all. I couldn't even help with choosing materials and colors for the space. Joe was on his own most of the time, which made me feel so useless. When he did have help, I was honestly jealous of the proud moments when a part of the project would be done and the guys would go out for a drink. All I could do was stay home and sleep. After helping my husband out with everything for the first two years of our marriage, I was suddenly left with nothing to do. As silly as it seems, I really took this hard.

So when this new remodeling project came up last summer, I had already made up my mind that I would not help my husband. After all, he had seemed perfectly happy to just spend time with the guys before, and I couldn't do a lot of the heavy lifting anyway, so what was the point? When he did ask me to do something, I would pout and grumble and make his life miserable. This remodeling was his dream after all, why do I have to be part of it? 

I am ashamed of it now, but I had so many moments over the last few months when I honestly resented my husband for taking on such a huge project. It was cold, dreary, slow, dirty work. I was also trying to keep a toddler happy in the midst of it. I was tired of traveling every weekend to do work. I was tired of not being able to do anything fun or make new friends in our new home. There were a couple of weekends when the mixture of exhaustion and hormones made me want to up and leave my husband completely. This is not the life I had signed up for. Why couldn't he see that I was miserable? Why did I have to follow his dreams and give up mine? 

Something finally happened in my mind that made me run to the Lord for help (I'll talk more about that in a future post) and from that moment, the Lord has been sending more books, and people, and situations my way to encourage me than I had ever dreamed! He sent me a financial mentor, a spiritual mom, and gave me His vision for my marriage. I remember waking up that next morning having made up my mind that no matter what Joe asked me to do that day, I would do it without complaining. That very morning, He gave me an amazing Scripture to share with Joe and reminded him of some beautiful promises from his past. The next few weekends went by much more quickly and peacefully, and just 3 weeks ago, we toasted to a job done and well done! What an amazing feeling!

This is already a long post but bear with me, because the Lord has shown me things these last few months that I had never seen before and some that I needed to be reminded of:

1) When I was miserable, my husband was just as miserable. He wants nothing more than to see me happy. Everything he does is to that end. My complaining only adds to the burdens he carries to provide for me. 

2) There is no more "my dreams" and "his dreams." We are one flesh, and I better step up and support my husband in his dreams and thrive together, or I can follow my own way and watch us fail separately. 

3) My dreams are fulfilled when his are. I'm not putting my life on hold, I'm building a life with him! I need to put away my mentality that I am still a single, independent woman, and take up my identity as a loved and cherished wife. That means more work and more responsibility, but it also means that when my husband succeeds, he will hand me both the material gain and all the accolades! 

4) I am my husband's business partner in life. I mentioned it before, but when my husband succeeds, so do I! After all, who else does he have to share his riches and reputation with than me? I support my husband in the trenches and when his moment in the sun comes, he will pull me up with him. So humbling! 

5) When I took on my husband's name I took on his inheritance. (The Lord told me this clearly one afternoon as I grouted tile on the kitchen floor! Haha!) I had been complaining to the Lord that my earthly father had left me neither wisdom nor wealth; he had just plain left me. He asked me "Do you carry your dad's name anymore?" 
"No sir. I carry my husband's."
"Then it's your husband's inheritance that is yours. And you are working on it right now."

6) All my husband has is mine, and all I have is my husband's. That means all my talents, experiences, skills--they are all mine to use for the betterment of my husband and family. Woah! 

So with fear and trembling, and lots to learn, I am stepping up. I'm asking for help with the things I don't know or understand, and I'm proactively becoming my husband's partner in life. Phew! It's not easy. Some days I get scared and want to run. But the look in his eyes is well worth it! And seeing him succeed and be happy is an amazing feeling! And the best part is that he shares it all with me without my having to ask!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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 realized. 

I can't do married life on my own. I can't do parenthood on my own. I can't even do a whole week of just living on my own!

I find myself calling my mom now at least twice a week, Skyping with her, getting a recipe or home remedy, planning an event, celebrating an accomplishment. She is the first one I call when Joseph is out of town, or when we've moved to a new place, or when Lydia reaches a new milestone. She shares memories with me that I was too little to remember. She shares stories of her childhood that I was not around to see. She teaches lessons from her own mistakes that I will gladly never have to make. 

I haven't been very good at accepting help from my family. Especially when I once thought I would be better off without them. But the Lord is teaching me that although they may not be perfect (see last post) they love me and are trying to show me just how much in the best way possible. When I turn down their offers to help or encourage I dishonor them and discourage them from using their gifts. Even Moses, who was called the friend of God and who led millions of his people out of Egypt, had the support and advice of his father-in-law, Jethro (Exodus 17). And the help of his older brother Aaron (Exodus 18). As I've learned to let go and let my family in, they have brought the depth and richness of their experiences and personalities into my marriage and my new little family. 

With her Uncle 'Miah and Daddy