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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Weddings on the Web–Lies Brides Believe and Vows After 20 Years

Today I want to highlight a couple of recent blog posts that should be helpful for couples currently planning or heading toward that stage.

The Wedding Vows–20 Years Later –  First, this post by Steve McCoy is a reflection on the wedding vows he and his wife committed to one another twenty years ago. It’s honest and heartfelt and beautiful, and something you probably only fully understand when you’ve walked through twenty years of marriage. All the same, it’s a truthful look at marriage in a culture that either romanticizes or demeans it.

Lies Women Believe While Wedding Planning – This helpful post by Brittany Lind looks at five common myths about weddings and wedding planning. This is a great one, and as an added bonus it includes a picture from Brittany’s own wedding, which looks like it was spectacularly colorful and super fun.

Happy reading and have a great weekend!

Submission as Weakness

'Holding hands' photo (c) 2009, Quinn Dombrowski - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Erik and I are coming up on our 8 year anniversary and lately I’ve been reflecting on our early days together. When we were engaged, we spent a lot of time talking and praying about our marriage. Much of this time was focused on our personality differences. I am a natural leader—strong, opinionated, capable and confident. Erik is not a natural leader. He is non-confrontational, servant-hearted, gentle and laid-back.

But we believe he is to be the leader in our home, which means he is being forced to do something counter-intuitive. In taking on the role of leading our family, he is repeatedly shoved out of his natural realm of comfort. I, also, am being forced to do something counter-intuitive. In taking on the role of submissive wife, I am continually repressing what comes naturally to me. (Okay, not always. But sometimes.)

It would make much more sense for us to have a marriage in which there is no set hierarchy or structure. Erik would find fulfillment in exercising his gifts without being forced to do something he finds so difficult. I would find fulfillment in exercising my natural leadership. We would be fulfilled in our work for the Lord.

And if we were called to a life of personal fulfillment, that would make sense. But that’s not what we’re called to. We follow Christ, who told His disciples to set aside their personal ambitions to serve one another, just as even He “came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Through His life and death, Christ has taught us life is not about self-fulfillment or our rights. And it isn’t even about what I can offer Him. We see this in Philippians 2 as He did not insist on holding onto His full rights as God, but submitted Himself to the will of His Father and became a humble human.

Rather than self-fulfillment, our lives are meant for the glory of God. And trusting a sovereign God means trusting His plan for our marriage—the good design He laid out from the beginning as a foreshadowing of Christ’s relationship with the church.

Now this does not mean I don’t believe in equality. Erik and I are equal in Christ. We have been given the same gift of salvation. I do not hold a lower position in the Kingdom; nor does he hold a higher one. But equality of standing does not require identical roles of service.

What it comes down to for us is this: it would be far easier to do it another way. Erik would not have to lead if he didn’t want to. I would not have to repress leadership if I didn’t want to.

And yet as we look back on our marriage, it is clear to us both that we are more dependent on Christ because of the structure of our marriage. Erik must depend on Christ to lead our home. I must depend on Him to not demand my way or take control.

This dependence is far sweeter than I could have imagined. It is possible only because Jesus Christ came, lived a perfect life, died in submission to the Father, and was raised again. It is possible because He has proven Himself good and trustworthy. It is possible because He showed how strength is made perfect in weakness.

Therefore, I can be weak and set aside my desire to lead and control, or even to have equal say in all decisions. I can do this because I know strength does not come from me anyway. Real strength comes from abiding in Christ through my weakness.

So I depend on Christ as I submit to my husband. This dependence causes me to stop and pray before speaking. It allows me to rest. It causes me to rejoice at answered prayers. It draws me to Him for comfort when things are not as I wish them to be. And the same One who loves and strengthens me does the same for my husband. What sweet fellowship we have, knowing we are both relying on He who is far greater and more capable than ourselves!

This is not everyone’s story, nor is our marriage perfect. It’s simply my testimony of the way in which God has used my marriage to show me my weakness and His sufficiency. I pray it encourages you today to see Him as sufficient as well.

Missing the Glory

'Kayaks' photo (c) 2005, Daniel Dionne - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
On our recent vacation, my husband and I tried our hands at kayaking in a lagoon off the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. We started at a leisurely pace, paddling our way to a cove where we saw several manatees. Eventually one decided he was hungry and started nibbling on the side of our kayak. This was a little close for comfort, so we paddled out of the cove. Once back in the main waterway we spotted a dolphin, and my pursuit began.

This dolphin was catching some breakfast. We could trace its path under the calm waters until suddenly it came out and snatched a fish into its mouth. Each time it did this, it swam farther upstream. What was initially a 40 yard distance stretched to 60, then 80 and soon we were in opposite end zones.

I was determined not to let the dolphin get away. I had never been this close to one in open waters and I was not going to waste the opportunity. So we paddled–sometimes in sync, much of the time out. We would go hard to the left, then over-correct and find ourselves facing to the right. My shoulders and back were aching, but I would not give up the chase.

Eventually it became clear to me that I was not going to get closer to the dolphin. It eluded me over and over again. My husband, who had given it a good effort on my behalf, was relieved when I finally gave it up.

Unfortunately at this point we only had a few minutes left in the kayak. What might have been a relaxing time for us to get away and enjoy quiet conversation in nature had become a vehicle for me to prove something. I wanted to be able to say, “I was a few feet from a dolphin!” I made it about me.

In Terrence Malick’s film, The Tree of Life, Brad Pitt portrays a somewhat harsh, brooding and disillusioned father. In a poignant scene he reveals his weakness to his eldest son, confessing he has “missed the glory” all around.

My husband teasingly referred to this as we finished our kayaking trip, but it stayed with me for a while after. I fail to see the glory daily, just as I did in the kayak. I pursue what eludes me—a clean home, an empty email inbox, children who don’t repeatedly burp at the table. I focus and plan and paddle away toward these things, all the while missing the glory.

It’s not that a clean home or well-mannered children are something that should not be pursued. Indeed, these are some of the tasks lovingly given me by my Father.

Rather, as I attempt these tasks, I must remember the glory. And this glory is no longer just seen in creation, as amazing as creation may be. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6, ESV)

The glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ. He came, lived a perfect life, died in my place, and rose again. The glory is no longer veiled; the curtain is torn in two.

So as I paddle after the things I pursue, I want to remember this King of glory and rest in Him. May I not miss it. May I know when to let the dolphin go and instead enjoy the beauty all around. And may I invite others into the kayak and point them to the glory as well.

Blog Hiatus…oh wait

We are spending some fun family time for the next week, so I won’t be blogging for several days. The fact that I’m actually posting this is laughable. Let’s be honest–I am frequently on a blog hiatus. But real bloggers let people know when they’re not going to be writing, so I thought I’d do that too. Just to feel official.

In other news, things with the book are moving forward. Currently we’re recruiting people to read it and say they like it. So if you remember what it’s like to (with fear and trembling) ask someone to be your friend in elementary school, that’s pretty much how this feels.

It’s strange to think you’ve worked so hard and so long on something, and then you have to actually let other people read it. I mean, it’s a book, so it’s not like I didn’t see it coming. It’s just more nerve-wracking than I thought it would be.

In the meantime, though, we are enjoying a few more weeks of summer before my oldest starts Kindergarten. Talk about nerve-wracking.

Suburban Treasure

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This post is a sort of journal–just some thoughts I’ve been working through. It might be more for me than for anyone else reading it, a means by which to understand and remind myself of truth. But I post in here in case it’s helpful for others as well.

This week we have been hosting a Backyard Bible Club in our home for our neighborhood. It’s our second year to do this, but this year we did it in conjunction with our church home fellowship group. Let me just tell you, this is the way to go. Our church family has jumped in and done some amazing prep and planning–crafts, snacks, games, testimonies, grilling, etc. We are so thankful for these people who are our local family.

The Club itself has been small. Mostly friends and children of believers, with a couple of neighborhood kids in there as well. I have to keep reminding myself my own children need to hear this message and know the love of the Body. They need to see these friends in our home, devoting their weeknights to spending time with children. They need to know they are loved and their questions are important. They need to be invited to come to Jesus, not to be turned away as if they aren’t important.

And I need to know it’s no mistake that we are where we are. It’s a long road in the suburbs. On our little cul de sac we have neighbors from 3 foreign cultures, as well as diverse spiritual backgrounds. In a garage door culture, it takes a long time to even meet the people living next door, much less to get close enough to call one another “friends.”

We have neighbors who won’t talk to one another. Years of bad blood and perceived prejudice preceded our arrival here. So when, after 4+ years of living here, the neighbors on either side of us meet each other for the first time, it’s huge. The Kingdom of Christ reconciles–us to God, us to one another. This suburban work is long, it takes time, and it is shaking me out of my selfishness and sense of what matters.

One street over, there is a young couple who are loving their neighbors, having them in their homes, hosting Bible studies. A street over from them, another family has the same vision and ministry. What a loving God, to put these people in our neighborhood that we might encourage and support one another. We’re in different local churches, but have the same heart, graciously given by our Father.

My husband was telling me what he wants our neighbors to know–that we are here. If they need a job, we’ll help. If they need someone to talk to or pray, we’re here. In a place where people have worked hard for what they have, stability and safety is everything. My neighbor tells me, “We’ve worked hard for this stuff–we don’t want anyone to take it from us.” She worries someone will break in and steal her things.

So we do something very ordinary. We live here. We play here. We hang out and look for chances to just talk with people. And as we pray for our neighbors, God does something amazing. He causes our hearts to love them.

Because my neighbor is right–her things won’t last. Someone might steal them. Or they might turn to rust. Or the moths might get them.

But we have the real treasure–the one our neighbors are desperate for, even if they don’t realize it yet.

On this topic, I appreciated this post by Michael Criner called “Living on Mission Takes Time.”

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Beach Reading?

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Once again I’m asking you, my friends, for help. It’s amazing to me that anyone even reads this blog, but since a few of you do, I’d love to get your input on a very important topic.

Beach Reading

We are heading to the beach in a couple of weeks and I’m looking for a good book to take with me. Not just any book, however.

See, going to the beach with small children does not allow for extensive reading (or sometimes any reading at all). Thanks to the presence of grandparents I know I can at least accomplish a bit of reading between glances at my son (who may or may not be eating sand) or my daughter (who may or may not be giving her brother a sand makeover).

Now I have plenty of books I could take. I’m actually in the midst of reading 4 right now (which drives my husband crazy…it’s just so exciting to start a new one!). But none of them are light reading.

So my question–can you recommend a book (fiction or non) that will be an easy, light read, but not necessarily a “guilty pleasure read” ? Something easy to read in bits and pieces, but that might still teach me something along the way?

Hope I’m not asking for too much ;).

Thanks, friends, for reading and for your input.