The Night Before

Yesterday was my three year wedding anniversary.

Every time I repeat that sentence I can’t help but grin.  I’ve been married for three years.  I never even thought I would get married, and now look!  It’s been three years and it feels like it happened just yesterday.  It still amazes me how God brought us together, and how he continually blesses our lives.  Last year we were in a new home, and this year we have a child; it is astounding how much my life has changed!

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Courtesy of NinjaShark Photography

The night before my wedding I wanted to stop time.  Things were changing, moving too fast, and I am not a fan of change.  At home, I called a family meeting to discuss this and that for the following day.  As I stood in my parent’s study with them and my sister (her husband was kind enough to give us time alone) I kept trying to think of things to say.  Issues to resolve.  Problems to fix.  Anything that would keep us in that room together for just a little bit longer.  Anything to have it just be the four of us again.

Eventually, I ran out of things to say, someone had to go to the bathroom, and my moment was gone.  I reluctantly headed off to bed knowing tomorrow was going to change everything.

My mother came into my room to say goodnight, and I looked up at her from the only bed that had ever been mine.  She had slept in this bed as a girl, a teen, a young woman, and she’d given it to me.  It was my last night in that house in that bed.

“Everything is changing,” I whispered, trying not to sob.  I had quit my job a month ago because after the wedding we were moving.  He’d found a job too good to pass up, and while it was a great opportunity, it also meant being a newlywed in a town where I knew no one.  No job, no friends, no family.  Tomorrow I was marrying the love of my life and I was terrified.

“You don’t have to marry him, you know,” Mama said softly, brushing my hair off my forehead.  “But baby, you love him, don’t you?  He’s such a good man.”

I lost my battle with my tears, and recalled how another friend spent the night before her wedding crying into her mother’s lap.  Now, I understood why.

Of course I loved him.  Of course I wanted to marry him.  Marrying him meant moving out and away, it meant leaving and cleaving, it meant my childhood was ending and I was taking one more step into adulthood.  Ultimately, it meant stepping out in faith and trusting God.

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Courtesy of NinjaShark Photography.

You should know: I glowed on my wedding day.  I relished every step down the aisle, every moment on the church stage, and the moment after our first kiss as husband and wife; the day was perfect.  Now, I look back at the night before my wedding and smile, because that night while I was grieving a life-change I know God was smiling, knowing all that was ahead.

It’s been a blessed three years, even when things have not always turned out as I anticipated.  They have been so much better.

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Courtesy of Marissa Jean Photography

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3: 5-6 

When God Speaks

Don’t you love it when you can feel God speaking to you?  You don’t have to guess or wonder – you KNOW He’s speaking to you, right then and there.

It’s simply the best feeling ever.

My relationship with God is constantly evolving, and this past year has really been a test of faith for my family.  Watching things go from seemingly perfect to dashed in just moments has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life.

It’s also made me really examine my faith and my trust in God.  Do I trust Him? Do I believe He’ll honor His Word?  Can I really abandon my worries and fears just because He tells me to do so?

It’s been a rough year.

…but He’s still talking to me.  He’s whispering words of reassurance while I’m at work, doubting myself and my choices.  He’s loving me through my baby boy, who has honestly been the bright spot of this past year, and I’m convinced God sent him to us because He knew we’d need that daily dose of love. Supporting me with encouraging friends and family who always seem to know when I need a kind word or genuinely sweet gesture.

I am so incredibly blessed.

 

Once a Writer

I used to be a writer.  Once upon a time, I was filling every available moment scribbling down character development and plot twists.  I filled journals with tales of far away lands and mystical creatures.  I dreamed of being published, being a well-know young adult lit author, and, most importantly, telling a story that only I could tell.

Once upon a time, I was publishing articles in my local newspaper, conducting interviews, and using my journalism degree to the fullest.  I interned at Walt Disney World, wrote for a Cast Member publication, and got to bring Disney magic to the page.  It was, quite honestly, one of the best times of my life.

Once upon a time, I was a writer.

In fact, if asked, I would still identify myself as one; it’s not exactly something you lose.  But if you have a gift and you don’t use it, build it, and sharpen it, that gift is bound to become dull.

I’m not sure when I “lost” that part of me, but somewhere between my thesis, graduate work, and a thankless job, I just lost that…drive.  I was tired.  I stopped reading as much as I once had, instead zoning out in front of the TV.  I had plenty of opportunity, and even some decent material, but I just never took the time.

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It’s a common mistake – not taking the time.  Getting caught up in the stress of the day, avoiding our personal “To Do” list, mindlessly letting TV take over our precious time.  It’s a mistake, and it’s a sin.

Don’t get me wrong –  watching TV isn’t sinful, but not utilizing our talents properly is; God gave us talents, and we should use them.  We have a limited amount of time on this earth, and personally, I don’t want to stand before His throne and try to explain why I didn’t use what He gave me.

I’ve felt the ache for a long time, and now it’s time to do something about it.

Recently, I attended a Bible Study where we discussed Lysa Terkeurst’s “The Best Yes.”  It’s a fabulous book, and it actually inspired this blog post.  How am I spending my time? How am I spending my soul?

In “The Best Yes”, Terkeurst said, “Writing was in my soul. And it had to come out. I knew it… God had given me a gift of time.  My time.  My choice.  My approach… After all, remember the decisions you make determine the schedule you keep.  The schedule you keep determines the life you live.  And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul” (pg. 26-27).

How much time do I have?  Honestly, not enough.  I’ve got a nine month son, I work, and I’m actively involved in my church.  I do have some time, though, and I need to make use of it.

I have a lot I want to accomplish in my life, but I’ll take it one day at a time.  I hope when I look back at 2016 I’ll be able to say I honored God with my time and my talents.

Christ Crucified (#SheReadsTruth v.6)

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 is so simple, so open. He expresses his weakness, and in his weakness we see a great strength demonstrated. Even though he “did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God” (v.1), he is determined to do God’s will.

My bible, the MacArthur Study Bible, references verse two, stating “Until someone understands and believes the gospel, there is nothing more to say to them.”

How powerful! Until you know and believe Christ died for your sins, everything else is irrelevant. The Bible is a love letter to us, and what greater declaration than Christ’s crucifixion? Verse five reiterates MacArthur statement: “Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

These few verses, whilst riddled with historical evidence of Paul’s situation, I think also prove another point. Paul’s imprisonment aside, I think these verses state we do not have to be the most eloquent to share the gospel. Instead, we should rely solely on the power of God.

There will come a time when we are all asked to speak The Truth, to share The Gospel. We may even be asked to explain or defend our faith. It can be a daunting task, especially if those inquiring are dear to us. Their salvation, their understanding of what Christ did for them, can be a heavy burden to bear. It can feel just as heavy when we are being ridiculed or hated for our beliefs. There is good news: The Holy Spirit resides in each of us who believe, and we are never alone. Cast your fears aside, and be like Paul. Come to them broken, thick-tongued, and trust in the Lord. His conviction alone can change their hearts, and our job is to be a good and faithful servant by sharing the good news.

[This is the last official #SheSharesTruth post. I have thoroughly enjoyed this exercise, and hope to continue blogging. A special thanks to my sweet husband for his support this entire time.]

The Lord’s Commission (#SheReadsTruth v.5)

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“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

– Joshua 1:8-9

It’s funny, you know, how The Lord has His way of calling you back to Him.  Whether you’ve been gone years, or just a few days, it never ceases to amaze me. I haven’t posted the past two weeks because my beautiful husband took me on a long, much needed anniversary vacation.  A Disney cruise and resort stay that left us utterly relaxed.  Yet somehow, when I was in the process of relaxing my thoughts always came back to God.  I’d left my Bible in error, and my phone version wouldn’t pull up without an internet connection – something we were both relieved and distressed to be missing.  Nevertheless, when we came home, I felt pulled back to His Word.  Something had been missing on our trip; not a lack of discussion about our Heavenly Father, or our trust in Him, but my daily quiet time.  Something I’ve come to need badly. 

It’s a good addiction to have, my friends.  But I have to ask: how much time to we devote to His Word? How much time does the most important person in our lives, Jesus Christ, get? Doesn’t the Creator of Heaven and Earth deserve more than the hour I try to put in every day? Should I really be worried about the laundry or the dust bunnies that have once again returned no matter how many times I vacuum daily?  Do my earthly responsibilities outweigh my heavenly ones?

I know the answer to that, and honestly, I’m still learning.  It’s taken me years to figure out devoting my morning to my Bible reading and devotional time, and my evening to prayer and journaling.  I fear when I have children I’ll have to learn all over again, even though I believe it will be a joy to do so. 

This passage may have originally been The Lord’s commission to Joshua, but it speaks right to my heart.  God knows that if I’m reading His Word daily, meditating and researching and lingering on each lesson then it will change my life.  It will make sin uglier and Christ more beautiful day by day.  It will make decisions that are difficult easier, because I know what I’m supposed to do.  It will remind me to love first, not judge.  Most importantly, it will remind me to “be strong and of good courage…not [to] be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (v.9)

Psalm 38: Prayer in a Time of Chastening (#SheReadsTruth v.2)

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“Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!”  – Psalm 38: 21-22

 Poor David. Bless his heart, he was going through a time when he wrote this, wasn’t he? I think we’ve all been there. Done something we shouldn’t have done, and felt like the word was against us while we faced the consequences alone.

Truth is, though, we’re never alone.  God is always with us, and He always knows our troubles.  I remember feeling this way a lot as a teenager – probably because I was a teenager, and teens seem to feel angst and drama on a whole other level.  Looking back at prayer journal passages from college, I can’t help but smile.  The issues I was going through then seem like nothing now, but at the time I grieved over them deeply.  Every single time I came to The Lord with a problem, He had an amazing way of answering my prayer.  Most of the time the answer I received wasn’t the one I was looking for, but His way is always better, and I am so glad I didn’t get the things I asked for back then.  My life would look very, very different if I had. 

During my quiet time this week I read 2 Chronicles 7 – 12.  It is amazing how God uses His Word to speak to His children.  After reading David’s plea for mercy it was so reassuring to see The Lord’s answer through David’s son, Solomon.  Verse after verse reminded me of what David already knew.  While he was on his knees, pleading with God over his sin and the difficulties that faced him, he must have felt these verses, even though they had yet to be written:

  • “‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.'” – 2 Chronicles 7:3
  • “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray to seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
  • “When he humbled himself, the wrath of The Lord turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely.” – 2 Chronicles 12:13

Sin has a cost, and there are consequences, but how blessed are we to have a Father who forgives? The Lord uses these hard times to strengthen our bond with Him, and I am so grateful for those times of learning.  My prayer journals have taught me one very valuable lesson: The issues you have now will pass, and The Lord will be faithful to see you through.

Psalm 130: Waiting for the Redemption of the Lord (#SheReadsTruth v.1)

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“But there is forgiveness with You, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord.”  – Psalm 130:4-6

I have never been a patient woman.

Seriously. Ask my mother. Patience is a virtue I was born without, and to be fair, it is one I got honest.  The women in our family are not a patient lot, but we are learning. 

Not too long ago I used to lie awake at night, constantly pleading with God.  I was ensnared with sin, a specific sin, and it kept me awake at night.  During church services I would feel unworthy to sit in His House, and the desire to run to the alter was sometimes overwhelming.  It took years to overcome that sin.  Years of prayer, restless nights, and too many tears to count.  I felt the weight of my sin pressing down on my chest, and sometimes it was difficult to breath.  Satan loved it, I’m sure.  I was completely miserable, and I felt so far away from my Savior.

Today, I love Him all the more for putting me through that trial.  During that time He taught me humility and patience.  Through two incredibly wise sisters in Christ, I began to grow closer to my Father and learn what it is to really give Him your trial.  I’d like to tell you the change happened quickly – an epiphany after wise words, and my struggle was no more.

Wrong.

It took time.  A LOT of time.  But during that transition, as I sought His will, He began to change my heart.  I grew to understand sin, and the abhorance it truly is.  I am still a sinner; of course I am.  But I’m so much more now.  I am the writer of Psalm 130. I am Isreal.  I know what it’s like to wait on His redemption.  

It’s HARD.

But it is so rewarding. 

I wish I’d known what the author of Psalm 130 knew.  I wish I knew I’d have to be patient; that The Lord’s timing is perfect, and my time table has no place in this tale.  I wish I’d heard Laura Story’s sweet song, “Blessings” then, and understood this trial was “a mercy in disguise.” But there are some things you must learn on your own, and The Lord is faithful.  He took the aching in my soul and used it to draw me closer to Him, to seek and love Him more.  

Psalm 130 echoes of my sorrow all those years ago.  The plea and trust of someone so devastated with sin, clinging to The Lord’s promises.  Knowing that “if You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (v.3), and the blessed relief of knowing He forgives.  He loves. He is merciful. And sometimes, he makes us wait.