Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sanctifying Marriage

Book Club chapter 8Charlotte is already, at 5 years old, anticipating being married. She adores weddings, she always wants to pray for her husband, and at one point in the past year, she told me that she's glad that she is so tall because when she gets really tall, she can get married. Ha! Some people look at her and look at me and say that this means that she is going to be a handful when she gets older. But I am glad for her elevated view of marriage; I am glad that she looks forward to marriage as part of a normal life, and I am pleased that what she sees in Adam's and my marriage is something that she wants to mimic today and fulfill in the future. At least she is longing for the right type of affection.

That being said, remember back to before you were married. Think back to the time when you were excited about getting married. For different people, that is at different points during your life/courtship experience. Maybe it started when you first started getting to know your future spouse. It could have started when you first got engaged. Maybe the wedding planning process was too stressful and consuming to be exciting. But dig deep to remember what it was like to be excited about getting married.

And now look at your life now. Are you still excited to be married?
The world we live in is not really about marriage; this is not a shocking statement, I know. Sure, we are excited when celebs get married, but we as a public are equally excited when they are unfaithful, split up unexpectedly or engage in some big scandal. We can be happy for their marriage as long as they're popping out kids, but aside from that, the tabloid business has very little to make money on until these couples break up.  Unlike Charlotte, our world has a very base acknowledgement of marriage; it's something people do, and if they feel like undoing it, that's fine. It's a hassle, hurts your credit score and means you have to buy new furniture, but there are no long-lasting repercussions. 

I feel ill-equipped to write about marriage because Adam and I just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Nine years. In the scope of this lifetime, I feel like I have very little wisdom to offer in this realm. I am still learning, crafting the art of being a better wife. I still fall short, sometimes extremely short, in caring for my husband first and making him my first priority. Often, this is a fight, and sometimes I don't win it. I'll be honest, I am not the perfect wife. There are days that I put all my effort into my job, picking up the kids, fixing dinner so that we can eat together, bathing kids and throwing them into bed so that I can make a quiz or powerpoint for the next day before falling asleep. Sound familiar (except for maybe the quiz or powerpoint part)?

Sometimes, I don't just ignore my husband; sometimes, I wind up being critical of him, criticizing him, even in my head for not doing something to make my life easier. I'll overlook the sweet things that he actually does for me only to grumble and complain about what he has left undone. This should be extremely difficult to do with our husbands, our grooms, our princes, happily-ever-afters. But the truth is that it is extremely easy because we are sinners and so are they. The other truth is that they are to be our first earthly priority. 

Often, whether I am ignoring my husband in a blur or silently complaining about what he hasn't done, the reason that my marriage is not smooth, lovely and intimate is because of me.  How? Here are some examples:

  • I have organized my time and schedule poorly so that not everything will get done.
  • I have put my job or children or personal comfort above HIS job or personal comfort. Not that his job is more important than mine; we both have important jobs. But sometimes, I get so wrapped up in what is going on at my job, I forget that he has just the same demands as I do.
  • I have failed to use my time wisely during the day so that when I get to see him, I need to make up for what I haven't done all day.
  • I have tried to reinvent the wheel instead of using my resources (i.e. just googling to find a powerpoint of poetic devices). This is usually due to pride because I know mine will be so much better.
  • I have forgotten to think of my husband during the day, to miss him, to pray for him, to wonder what he's doing, to look forward to his call, to drop everything to talk to him instead of simply exchanging logistics.
Dear friends, these are some of the ways I fall short in the marriage department. I hope that this list (and post) helps you to evaluate the wife that you are to your husband today. I know that we want to make excuses about our shortcomings as a wife (i.e. If he would just ___, I would be a perfect wife.) but honestly, our tone and contentment with our life (and our God!!) can change much about our marriage and our home.

Soli Deo Gloria, y'all.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Quiet Time"

I have a confession: I've never really established a pattern or routine for quiet time. It's like everyone along my spiritual journey throughout middle and high school, college and young adulthood just assumed that I knew what to do with this ambiguous term "quiet time."

Don't misunderstand me; I read the Bible. In fact, even in the midst of a super-busy first half of the school year, I managed to read the Bible most days. All I managed to do were short devotions, and there's not anything wrong with that. Most days, I would read from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening which, don't get me wrong, is quite a bit to chew on for devotions, but I was feeling like I needed more from the Word than just that.

This is stupid: I had begun to think that I didn't need Bible studies. For some reason, I thought that I could just read the Bible on my own and the Holy Spirit would instruct me. Which is true! BUT I had completely forgotten about other basic Bible studying disciplines: journaling, observing, applying the Word, meditating on it and praying it. Duh.

Here's the other thing...I needed to get up earlier in order to fit this discipline into my life. UGH. I have ALWAYS struggled with getting up early. I'm the kind of girl who stays in bed until the last possible second, then get up and get ready really fast. This makes everyone cranky and rushed every single morning, but for some reason, until about a week ago, I was completely oblivious to this. (You know what has really convicted me? This quote by John Piper.)  I've tried to get up early in the past, but it never stuck, life happened, and I wound up where I was a week ago: overwhelmed, overburdened and wondering when everything would ever get done, ever. But I have been working on getting up early to study the Word, write down some stuff about it and pray about it and the people I love. And you know what? God has blessed it and given me the grace to continue. It's not easy, but it's getting easier.

So what do I do? Here's what I do; it's not magical, but it's working for me. It takes about a half hour.
  • I wake up! (See what I did there?) I literally get out of bed and I sometimes make coffee.
  • I go downstairs to our guest bedroom and turn on the lights. There I can be alone and isolated. I sit on the guest bed and even have an extra blanket to wrap around myself in case it's cold.
  • Right now, I am reading a chapter of Proverbs a day. I jot down observations and applications from the chapter. I also have my eye out for scriptures that 1) I need or 2) my kids need.
  • Then I meditate on what to pray for, write down prayers and praises, and pray.
  • By then, Jonah is usually babbling in his room and it's time to get everybody ready for school!!
So what's the point? Right now, if you have never had a quiet time routine, I want to encourage you to make one up. Try something out. Be alone for a little bit to study and pray. Try the S.O.A.P method underneath the video here. Here's some inspiration for journaling, and here's some encouragement to rise early. What are y'all doing in your quiet times? Do you need to re-establish a routine? Feel free to share in the comments; let's encourage each other in this! Soli Deo Gloria, y'all.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's a Cheap Menu Week

And here's what that looks like! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Giving Into My Career, Part 2

The last post I wrote, here, is about how, when I made this decision, it was a huge step for me. For the first time since I had kids, I wasn't fighting with my calling to my career. I was (as the title suggests) giving into my career, and it was freeing. Finally, I wasn't constantly fighting with my own bitterness and jealousy about wanting to stay at home. Instead, this school year, I have embraced my place at my school. I have served the members in my department, been kind to my students and told them that I love them as they leave for the day. I may be the only person in some of my students' lives that says that to them, and God has placed me in my school for a reason. Now that I have stopped fighting this calling, God is doing amazing things through my teaching.

At the beginning of this school year, I decided that I was going to take a Master's level English class. For me, this would take care of a recertification requirement, and at the time, would put me one step closer to getting my Master's. The idea was opening up doors for the future, giving myself more options and a way out of public high school whenever I got tired of it.

I was wrong. I was so wrong.

Well, here it is; deciding to get my Master's degree was a big, fat mistake. Why? I'm not saying that women shouldn't get advanced degrees. Good gracious, if I were famous like Candace Cameron Bure, I would be all over the news tomorrow for saying that. But I was wrong, and here is a list of reasons why:
  1.  I was motivated by unbelief. Seriously. I was looking for a way out of where I currently am, harboring discontentment and grumbling about the work God had appointed me to do. I didn't believe that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Surely, God needed my help to get me to where I should be. This is the biblical definition of foolish (Pr. 3:5-7)
  2. I didn't pray about it. Ever. It made sense to me, and I decided to do it. All of it looked good on paper, and it was very logical and noble and worthy of being done. So I sidestepped praying about it. That was a massive mistake.
  3. I didn't count the cost of it. The class was three hours a week on Tuesday night. That added up to much more than three hours a week. I had to leave school on time to pick up my kids, only to leave my house as Adam walked in so that I could be on time. I left Adam alone on Tuesday nights to feed, bathe and put my kids to bed without me. I sacrificed time on the weekends when I could be catching up on home or schoolwork on assignments for the class. This was so much more detrimental than I could have imagined, and left me burned out by October. I forgot my place in my little world, and I forgot that so much depends on me every day. I lost my priorities, and everyone in my home bore the brunt of this three hours a week.
It sounds very gloomy and dismal, but it's not; this realization is very freeing. It is also pretty darn sanctifying - knowing that I made this awful, but ultimately not really permanent or long-term decision. Seeing why I made it, and (hopefully) learning from it as I move on from here.

The other sweetness in this situation is that the contentment that I had in July when I wrote the last post still stands; I am content in my job. In my mind, there is no reason not to be: I am doing something meaningful that uses my gifts and talents. That is something so many people never get to do. And for the past five years, I haven't been able to say that. Or "Love you guys" to my kids as they leave my classroom. And for that, I will praise the Lord's holy name. Soli Deo Gloria, y'all.

P.S. I am currently reading (i.e. devouring) the book Women Living Well by's blogger Courtney Joseph. For the next couple of weeks, hopefully, I am going to be posting about the book and linking up on her blog. Feel free to join me!