life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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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Man, have I been learning a lot in the past few days…

First off, I have to mention that Dayne’s mom (Deb) came out for the day on Monday and that was so great. I haven’t gotten to spend much “girl time” with my future mother-in-law (!), so it was really nice to have the whole day to ourselves! I picked her brain about marriage and other relationship/life/God stuff, and she was more than willing to share her wisdom and experiences, which I appreciate so much 🙂 And finally I had someone to kind of go craft crazy with! I got to show her our wedding venue, and we spent some of the afternoon shopping for supplies for the growing list of DIY decorations I want to create. It’s always helpful to have someone to spill all the current wedding details to (besides Dayne), and Deb is fantastic with crafts! Some of her handiwork has actually been an inspiration for our decorations. SO! Our DIY list is now: programs, aisle decorations, centerpieces, escort cards, favors, table numbers & holders, and napkin rings. HA! (Last night I spend $70 in shipping for 168 glass jars to make it to my already-overflowing apartment. God help me.)

Anyway, beyond that… what this post is actually about is what I’ve been learning through/with God the past several days. I mentioned in my last post that Dayne & I have started praying together, and one of the things we were really praying through with the intent of hearing an answer from God was where to live when we first get married. We prayed with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm on Sunday, and then we didn’t talk all day Monday (when I was spending time with Deb) — during this time, we were supposed to spend some time listening for an answer. I felt really solid on the answer I assumed I heard — I even felt like God gave me some reasoning on why I was being led towards Apartment A. I was convinced that Dayne must have heard the same answer, that we were going to get together, and we would both be thrilled when we learned that we received our first answer to prayer together! Well, we got together later on Monday afternoon (with Deb there), and Dayne confidently said Apartment B while I confidently said Apartment A.


We were both kind of confused as to why we “got” different answers. It was more than a little discouraging, especially because we don’t have the world’s longest timetable. So we committed to praying about it for another day. That day I felt like my listener was completely broken, and it only led to more confusion. I called Dayne that night to try to get a read from him on what he thought we should do, and he thought we should look at the experience (praying for an answer) in a positive light as best as possible, and move forward with Apartment A (which we both felt was the most responsible, logical, and still good choice). We agreed to give it another day, and pray for God to stop us if we weren’t supposed to move forward like we thought was reasonable to do. We also prayed about the floorplan (because the location changes with the floorplan we pick). The next day we agreed on the floorplan and went to sign the lease. Everything came together and we are both very happy with our decision (for Apartment A).

Normally, I would be a little turned off to praying and listening for an answer. But I think God didn’t give us an answer on purpose. 1) He may not have cared one way or another; both might have been fine places for us to live, 2) it’s always right to seek Him first, and I think He was pleased to see us choose to do that, and 3) I believe He was teaching us how to work through these kinds of big decisions together. We are getting married and this isn’t the last big “life” decision we are going to have to make! And we will be useless as a couple if we don’t learn how to process them, and how to seek God in the midst of them.

Altogether, I am quite happy with the experience! I think Dayne is still a little discouraged about how it happened, but I fully believe that God answers prayer and I also believe that sometimes He leaves us with the tools to make our own decisions (within His will). We will have to grow (as always) in our faith and obedience, and keep living life and seeking Him first.



I was going to include with this post some other things I’ve been learning through Bible study, but I think that would be too much for one entry, and I think the lesson I learned from the apartment decision deserves to stand alone for a bit — it was a big one! 🙂

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Apartments A vs. B and What We’re Learning about Money.

All is Future-Talk lately in the wedding department. The event-centered stuff is on hold temporarily (there really isn’t much more to do!), so Dayne and I spent some of the past few days apartment-hunting. We visited some very different apartment complexes, and today we narrowed our choices down to two.

It’s a difficult decision to make because we’re going to start house-hunting when we get back from the honeymoon. We have an awesome realtor-friend (shout-out to Kay!), and we want to take advantage of the low interest rates that are characterizing the housing market right now.

So we want to love our apartment, but not too much. We want to settle in, but not settle down. And we need some really flexible lease terms.

One of our prospects – we’ll call it Apartment A – offers a housing addendum where we’d only have to pay $50/month extra to enable us to freely break our lease with 60-days notice. In theory, that means we’d only have to pay $100 or $150 max to break the lease and become home-owners. This apartment complex has some stylish amenities – a fire pit at the pool, a nice gym, free continental breakfast on the weekdays (!), a big “business center” which offers free wireless printing, and gorgeous open floor plans with notably nice refrigerators and bathtubs.

Apartment B offers short-term leases at higher premiums (but how are we going to guess how long it’s going to take us to find a house?), and it has a pretty severe penalty for breaking the lease early — required 60-days notice and 2 months rent penalty. Their rent is a bit cheaper than Apartment A, but they also have a nonrefundable $350 amenity fee for use of the community pool, tennis courts, sauna, gym, and playground. But they have tennis courts, which is a huge plus for me! They also offer a very unique floorplan which I just fell in love with:

Apartment Complex B is also where Dayne used to live when we first started dating, so it holds some special meaning for us. They also have a wood-burning fireplace in the living room and some really nice built-in shelving.

It’s a tough decision and we’re praying through it (although, to be honest, our first instinct was to just make the decision based on our personal wishes & desires). Which brings me to my next piece of news: Dayne and I started praying together this weekend. I’m bolding it because it’s monumental. I think incorporating spiritual beliefs and practices into any relationship is hard work (and kind of unnatural, unfortunately), and while I’ve wanted our faith to characterize and direct our relationship, it’s been much harder to know how to put that into practice. We’ve been going to church together the whole time we’ve been dating, and we’ve done book studies and looked at the Bible together, but we haven’t prayed together or spent any intimate time reading the Bible together. Until now!!

Another thing that we’ve been talking about/hearing about/learning about, especially at church, is our finances.

Tonight’s sermon was incredibly good – about GIVING. I want that to be my first priority with finances, and I truly believe all that I have is God’s, but I am selfish and I struggle with living out what I believe. It’s so sad when I think about all the money I’ve kept and used for stupid things. Tonight Phil (the pastor) taught this order for what to do with your money when your receive it:

1) giving

2) long-term investment

3) fixed costs

4) short-term savings (goals)

5) spending

All of a sudden it clicked for me really clearly that we need to give before we do ANYTHING else. And Dayne and I are planning to start with 10% (scary to write this down and really commit to it, but we could use some accountability anyway!). We’re also going to read Your Money Counts together (our church has been encouraging using Crown Financial Ministries for money-management).

Our pastor made it really clear that the issue is not really about money, but about LIFE. Our culture teaches us that the way to find life is to accrue and hoard and spend. Jesus teaches us something radically different – that we find life by giving ours away. “Freely you have received; freely give.” – Matthew 10:8. God is the Ultimate Giver — and we are created in His image!

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” – 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Bottom line that I’m learning: money doesn’t make the world go ’round, God does.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” – Matthew 13:44

I pray for Dayne & me: that our relationship would be a reflection of our Savior — of His generosity, compassion, and love. I pray that we will be better together than we are alone, knowing that God has brought us together and intends for us to grow and glorify Him. I pray that the way we handle our finances would draw others toward Him, the Ultimate Giver. And I pray that we would really listen to Him when He tells us where He wants us to live!