life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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Sometimes Life Isn’t Pretty, but it’s Beautiful

Do you ever have times in your life when you know God is doing something purposeful with you? I know nothing in our lives is an accident, but I’m talking about seasons when you can clearly see God teaching you something.

I am in one of those seasons. I love these seasons because I get so excited about what I’m learning, growing closer to God, and how He is shaping me to be more like Christ. But, from a quick glance from the outside, these seasons can look like a weird time to be thankful.

I liken these seasons in life to our house. Our house is a MAJOR blessing. Does it look straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog or a Pinterest “Dream House” board? No. Do we have any new furniture besides some thrift store items and a $69 IKEA desk? No. Have we finally removed the freaky Dr. Seuss-looking rhododendron from our front yard? No. Am I sitting on a folding chair in front of aforementioned desk right now? Yes. Is one of our spare bedrooms dedicated to cats? Yes. Do we have one room filled with unpacked boxes for the foreseeable future? Yes. And does the dehumidifier sometimes startle me when it runs because it sounds like a flock of crickets? Yes.

However, if you could see the heart behind this house… we LOVE this house. We see a future in this house. We are taking steps to make this house our own piece by piece. We are making memories and growing our family in this house. And the house is already beautiful, we just need to enhance its beauty! It’s a process. Our house still has spiders and stinkbugs and scratches on the hardwood and undesirable paint colors and mess (sometimes smell), but we are going to tenderly take care of it because we love it, we bought it, and we see its potential as our house.

Dayne & I in front of our new house on move-in day.

And that is what God is doing with me and my husband. He’s invested in us, and He’s growing us in Him.

So… what does that look like in this season of our lives?

Well, sometimes it’s kind of funny. Like… we have ringworm. Dayne and I have ringworm. I joked about it when Dayne got what looked like a little bug bite on his arm, like, “haha, you have ringworm!”, but then my doctor told me I have ringworm and therefore Dayne has ringworm and now twice a day we help each other apply Lotrimin to all our “bug bites”. SO sexy.

Other times, it’s not so funny, but there is the opportunity for growth. I am currently going through some undiagnosed pain issues that have caused me to miss lots of work and to stop drinking coffee in the mornings and to otherwise completely revamp my daily routine. I am tempted to feel guilty, and like everyone at work is going to hate me, and to constantly think about all the work I need to get done, and to worry about being fired. But I am realizing – through a lot of prayer, a loving friend, a supportive husband, an overwhelmingly supportive boss, and time in the Psalms – that I don’t need to carry these worries. I have zero control over how I am feeling and I can’t diagnose myself. I can’t force myself to feel better and I can’t do a very good job at work while I’m sick. Jesus is the only solace I have, and He is completely in control of every little detail of my life. If I get fired, I get fired. If I can’t get the work done, I can’t get it done. If I can’t drink coffee, I can’t drink coffee. He will take care of me. He’s using this situation to change my perspective, i.e.: what does this look like from the angle of a sovereign, loving God? I think David and other Godly men of his time asked themselves this question a lot (Psalms 1-150).

Same with our marriage. Guys, marriage is HARD. Like, harder than I ever dreamed or imagined it could be. Like, please tell me someone is going to pay me for all this work I’m putting into our marriage. But the payment is our spiritual & emotional growth. And you better be thankful for that, because you’re gonna be in a tough place if that’s not enough for you.

Other times this season is funny and not so funny at the same time, like the Sump Pump Disaster of 2012. For a couple of days, our sump pump starting mysteriously dumping gallons & gallons of raw sewage into our yard. Where was it coming from? Why was it running through our French drain? How were we going to deal with the smell? Wonderful, yet unanswered questions. Our sump pump hasn’t run for a few weeks. It just suddenly stopped. It’s a mystery. In that, I’m learning to be comfortable with the unknown, and to not have to have everything under control or answers for everything all the time. To let God be God and to let myself be His.

So, even though it’s uncomfortable and I find myself praying for bravery a lot, I’m kind of oddly happy to be in this season. God is close to me. He is shaping me. He is showing me the reward bit by bit. And I’m learning to let go. Freedom in Christ is a beautiful thing.

“[Jesus] is not saying, ‘I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.’ But, in essence, He is saying, ‘I will get you out of bed – out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive.'” – Oswald Chambers


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Things I Learned This Week…

1 ) I am an adult now. I cannot function at work on less than 7 hours of sleep. This means I’m not accomplishing what I’m capable of accomplishing, I’m not loving people the best I can, and I am not being fully available to God. I need to treat my body like a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), which starts with getting. enough. sleep.

2 ) Being picky about what I listen to on the way to work is a good thing. It’s one of the day’s most impressionable times, and what I listen to in the morning can set the tone for my whole day.

3 ) My co-workers are fun. I started taking lunch breaks with the women in the “lunch bunch” this week, and it is one of the best parts of my day. That 20 minutes is full of laughter and joy. I. love. it.

4 ) It’s not that hard to make new friends. All it requires is being around new people and putting yourself out there a little. I think I’m making new friends at work. This makes me incredibly happy.

5 ) Dayne is VERY helpful when I let him help. Note to self: let him help more often; you need breaks.

6 ) I should try to greet Dayne at the door everyday with a hug and a kiss to show appreciation for him. In other words: I should greet Dayne the way I want to be greeted.

7 ) I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for more work when I’ve run out of work to do. Getting more work done (even if it’s somebody else’s) is a better feeling than putzing. Putzing never helped anybody.

8 ) Meal planning is incredible as long as it’s realistic. So I should stay realistic and enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about weeknight meals! p.s. to myself: Don’t plan elaborate dinners for Friday nights unless friends are coming over. Friday nights can be pizza or take-out or date nights forever and ever, amen.

9 ) I’ve been reading the Bible and devotionals and Christian books for inspiration and motivation. It’s amazing what 5 minutes of reading can do for my whole day. Choose it.

10 ) Discussing faith with others opens up doors and encourages me and other people in our spiritual walks; I shouldn’t be afraid of it. Also, I should try to stay away from complaining. I need to be even more bold about giving people encouraging words when I sense that they need them! I shouldn’t worry about appearing lame. Who cares.

11 ) I need to be more open about my family’s spiritual needs (like last Sunday’s blog entry). It turns out that people do care and being open and vulnerable spiritually can lead you to the place where you need to be.

12 ) Know myself, my spouse, and our calendar well enough to know when it’s just better to stay in, pop in a DVD, light a candle or two, and snuggle under a blanket.

13 ) I need to pace myself… in all areas of life. Trying to rush or taking too much time out is detrimental. I need to seek a balance, be kind to myself, and try to always be open to interruptions. I should take time to really listen to people, even if it seems like a waste of time (i.e., don’t rush parents off the phone).

…Make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:5-6


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Letting Go without Feeling Defeated.

There have been so many times in my life when I’ve had to let go of something, and I chose to latch onto anger or cynicism in its place.

Failed relationships, failed friendships, failed plans in life (professional, educational, personal)… fail, fail, fail.

I don’t have an easy time of letting go of something that seems good to me. Especially if it looks pretty good to everybody else. I want to keep up a facade of being at least 95% competent (intelligent & in control) and good (having good intentions, growing positively, and being a loving, compassionate person).

So when something ends or changes and I have to let go of it, I tend to push as many negative opinions and feelings as possible onto the other person or thing. I can’t deal with the fact that maybe it just didn’t work out, and it wasn’t supposed to work out, and it’s in my best interest for it not to work out — instead, I feel like a fool (and am afraid of looking like a fool) for believing it could work out in the first place, or for not heeding the obvious signs.

What made me think of this personality flaw on a random Monday morning?

I don’t think we’re getting our house.

I’ve been slowly letting go of all my plans and dreams for that house and that neighborhood — day by day, I’ve become less and less upset with the possibility of it not working out. I’ve distanced myself more and more emotionally.

However, there’s the tendency to do what I always do: instead of just letting it go as something that God probably didn’t have for us right now, I want to find a way to manage my disappointment. I begin to think about the idea of not looking at houses anymore for a while. I want time to be legitimately frustrated (or to save face).

How come I can’t let go without feeling defeated? Why can’t I see something not working out as impersonal? Could I begin to accept that maybe others aren’t as critical of me as I am of myself?

Do any of you struggle with this?

Perhaps this event will give me the chance to work through a failed plan in a healthy way, now that I recognize this in myself…

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:20-21