For Micaila’s 8th Birthday

My sweet Micaila Elise,
We are a few hours short of the moment 8 years ago when you made my lifelong dream of becoming a mommy come true. We have pretty much had all our parenting firsts with you. We said “I love you sweet girl” to you first. We heard you tell us “I love you mommy” and “I love you daddy” first. We experienced the developmental stages from baby, to toddler, to little girl, to now young lady. We had many laughs as you learned how to walk, talk, dance, and play. I’ll never forget your first favorite book that you would “read” to us from memory, Mice are Nice! Or you running around at 2 years old singing “Racing day it’s racing day!” from your favorite show, the Backyardigans. God chose to make you our first born child. This is a high calling with great privilege and responsibility and he chose you, my dear daughter, for this role. We can see very clearly why. God made you a natural born leader but also poured in you an extra helping of nurturer. When you aren’t pestering your siblings with childlike antics you are tender, patient, generous, and compassionate. You are so very helpful with all the little ones in our life. You are playful like your daddy. You take time to teach and guide the people around you. This is an excellent quality to have. Not only do you have an excellent character but you are smart, athletic, strong, and beautiful. I pray you will allow God to cultivate and grow your gifting’s for the glory of His Name. I pray you would protect your mind from the worlds influence and allow Jesus to shape you, your beliefs, and your choices. I pray you would see all God has generously entrusted to you for what they are; His. Just as he has entrusted you to us, yet ultimately, you are His. All that we are and all that we have come from God. I pray you would understand how much he loves you and one day you would choose to completely trust in Him with every fiber of your being. Your daddy and I love you so much, which is why we pray you would grasp God’s great love for you and embrace how he wants to use you in His story. I know you are still so young but I see in you a maturity beyond your years. One evening recently, after spending time in God’s Word, we had a conversation where you admitted your awareness of the sin nature we are born with. You recognized the difficulty in resisting sin and the desire to “cling to what is good”. You are a critical and deep thinker. 🙂 You also have an excellent memory and a knack for being insightful. God wants to use all your gifts to bring people into relationship with him. Make it your ambition in life, not to be the best or most popular or the winner, but in all humility before God to be used by Him in whatever capacity he sees fitting. I hope you know how proud you make us. I hope you know that there is nothing that will ever take our love for you away. Daddy and I are not perfect parents but we serve the perfect Parent, God, and he teaches and guides us in loving you.

Micaila, We pray that God would do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine in you. (Ephesians 3:20) That he would equip you with everything good for doing His will. (Hebrews 13:21) And that He would enlighten the eyes of your heart that you would know the hope to which He has called you. (Ephesians 1:18) We pray out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And we pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:17-18)

You are cherished and loved. Happy 8th Birthday sweet girl!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_5134

I.Love.You.

I can remember the first time I said those three words. I was sixteen years old and knew little to nothing about love or what it means to truly love someone. Isn’t it amazing how our love transforms? Usually, it begins as this overwhelming, emotional high, driven primarily by attraction and the idea that “I would do anything for this person to stay in my life forever.”

I.Love.You.

By Gods infinite grace and mercy, twelve years later, I say those three words looking into the eyes of the same person. But it’s much different now; in a wonderful, messy, intimate, and sincere way we learn real love daily. As I sought to clean out a storage closet in our upstairs bathroom I coincidentally ran across some old notes and emails exchanged between Jason and myself. It flooded back those memories of being sixteen again and getting butterflies over holding hands, kissing, or saying I love you. I sat there and pondered over whether or not I missed having those feelings. As exhilarating as they were I have to say that I don’t miss the butterflies of infatuation young love. 😉 My love for Jason is growing into something much deeper and more genuine. Every day I learn that love is less about “What can you do for me?” and more about “How can I serve you? [and not expect anything in return]”. The opportunities that God gives me to love unselfishly, when I obey, end up being more fulfilling then all the tummy flutters in the world. When we take hold of the fact that loving sacrificially has eternal purposes and rewards that is something to be excited over.

1 Peter 1:13(b) “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given when Jesus is revealed.”

I love that God chose the eve of Valentine’s day to impress on me that my and Jason’s love is not held together by chocolate, cards, candles, flowers, dinner for two, or if my stomach flips and flutters during a romantic embrace. Though, all those things are nice from time to time. 🙂 Our love is held together by the Author and Creator of love. Who showed us what Love really is and teaches us to be like Him. This Valentine’s Day you may be like me. Your husband is working, you have several children running around, you possibly need a shower, and there is not an ounce of Dove chocolate on the premises. Or maybe it’s just starting off as a typical Saturday and you’re wondering if there are any surprises waiting around the corner. I’m not saying our prince charming won’t come through with a bouquet of roses after a long shift but if he doesn’t… would you like to join me in giving our men a pass this year? This is a challenge for me as a woman because I do like romance and thoughtfulness. But just as the Lord graciously reminded me today, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

There is a lot of hype and pressure on Valentine’s Day and I’m not against enjoying it and having fun with the occasion. But I also think that there is room on this day for grace and remembering that our affections for our husbands should run deeper than Cupid. Let us express “I Love You” to our men despite how we feel, the challenges we may be facing, or how they may respond. Just love, as Christ loved us.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

God’s design and 50 Shades

Hello everyone! I know right now a lot of us are being flooded by 50 Shades of Grey chatter. Oh wont it be so nice when all this hype has played out!? (how many books were there? :-/ ) I wanted to share something though that I heard the other day on my local Christian radio. There are two camps for 50 shades; those who like it and those who are completely revolted by it. Those that dislike like it tend to be very critical and harsh with those who do. The thing that I appreciated about these ladies is they are coming from a very non-judgmental, concerned, and compassionate place. I encourage you to listen to it even if you are confident with your stance in regards to the book. It revealed to me how I need to be praying for my sisters and brothers in Christ and marriages all over the world. They discuss the dangers of pornograpahy, erotica, and romance novels (both in and outside of marriage). They also talk about how we can have healthy, fulfilling, and godly sexual intimacy with our husbands. What marriage can’t benefit from that?! 😉 As they put it, there is a way to honor God with our sexuality. I hope you find it as insightful and encouraging as I did.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/exposing-the-lure-of-romance-and-erotica-pt1

 

Supporting Role

IMG_2805BWMy dad has told me in regards to conflict in relationship “Seek to understand, not to be understood.” I wouldn’t put it past him to be so wise but he could be quoting someone there. 😉

We are in an unending process of learning. Here I thought I would “know it all” after graduating high school. How blissfully ignorant I was. Being a wife specifically is a constant reminder that I still have so much to learn. There are conflicts in my and Jason’s marriage that despite all the time spent together and all that we know about each other we still revisit now and again. One in particular is the roles we play within our marriage and family. We’ve discussed and defined our expectations at length. In short Jason works while I manage our home and care for our children. Essentially our roles have remained the same but with the changes of seasons, jobs, moves, we still have to evaluate little areas here and there so we can best support each other. Each overarching role has many responsibilities and unique challenges to accompany it. There are decisions Jason must make, loads he bears, and pressures he endures that I would implode over. Having said that, he has told me countless times that “I couldn’t do what you do every day.” Even though Jason and I are aware that we could not do what the other one does, satan still manages to trip us up on this matter. It’s easy to get shortsighted and forget how important the other persons role is and what all it entails. Satans method of attack usually begins with one or both of us thinking “I do SO much.” This thought isn’t wrong in itself. The problem for me is when:

1.) That thought turns into an attitude of entitlement. “I do so much so he should do…..”
2.) I take a victim approach. “I do so much and he doesn’t appreciate it.”
3.) I start keeping score.

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head. I’ve done all these things and more. Even in my best efforts when I try to be selfless and ignore my own pettiness, occasionally I struggle with feelings of resentment and bitterness. This morning was such a time. As I drove home from taking the girls to school I could already sense some unwanted feelings. I began to sing along with the radio, hoping the lyrics would reach into the ugly places of my heart and strengthen me through the Spirit. Needless to say music was not enough. When I got home, I immediately went to my quiet place. I had my Bible, my journal, and The Power of the Praying Wife. I meditated over several Psalms and God was gracious to impart these scriptures to me this morning.

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil. Psalm 141:3-4

When my Spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows my way. Psalm 142:3

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift my soul. Psalm 143:8

Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you. Jeremiah 7:23

There again is that word obey 😉

I would like to say that when I finished praying our morning went just swimmingly. The process of growth and change does tend to be slow. God is so good though. He did honor my prayer and “set a guard over my mouth”. Praise Jesus! If you know me, that’s nothing short of a miracle. Sometimes saying nothing is just where the Lord wants us to begin. (Key word being “begin” I do not recommend camping there long.) There is a time for godly communication and it is necessary for a healthy relationship.

Be encouraged wives! God can and will work in your marriage as you seek Him and obey Him. Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I prayed several times (once with a trusted confidant that knows just how ugly I can get!) and God began to not only soften and cleanse my heart but he was also working on Jason’s heart as well. We still have a long way to go but I praise Him for where He has brought us from.

In the book Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas writes this:
“What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and to grow in godliness.”
“Allow your marriage relationship to stretch your love and to enlarge your capacity for love- to teach you to be a Christian.”

My prayer is this- That my marriage would drive me daily to God for grace, demonstrate his beautiful design for family and ultimately point people to Jesus. Are you with me? 🙂