Thursday, February 28, 2013

Because He Said So

"Why, mom?!"

"Because I said so!" I replied. "I don't have to give you a reason. The answer is just NO."

As I walked away the words echoeing in my ear sounded strangely familiar.

Suddenly transported back to a time of curfews and acid washed denim I remembered how often I had asked the same question and was met with the same answer. "No."

"Why not?"

"Because I said so," my mother would respond, "and you'll just have to trust me. One day you will understand."

One day, this day, I understood.

Sometimes there are no words of explanation, 
just a call to obedience.

My heart was pricked and I knew God was speaking to me.

Like a child, I often stomp my feet and demand an answer or reason when God simply whispers, "No."

"But's a good thing!"

"But God...I've waited so long..."

"But God...why?"

I now understand His silence.

Because He said so. That's all. No explanation necessary.

Trust and obey...I wish I could say this is always my natural response - instant obedience and unconditional trust - but you already have a picture of me stomping my feet so I won't even try.

I don't always make the right decisions, but my God is big enough to pick me up and put me back on the path He has chosen for me.

I am not perfect, but I'm growing closer to the One who is.

And to continue my journey sucessfully, I have to trust that He can see the flashing lights ahead, the  bridge that's broken and uncrossable, or the storm that can be avoided by taking a different route.

And I have to obey.

Even if I don't understand why.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, February 25, 2013

Nineteen and Pregnant: Twenty-One Years Later

White walls, hard chairs, forms to fill out, questions to answer, and a small fee if you could afford it. Our state-run health clinic wasn't very busy that day.

I remember sitting, my hands covering my face. A few months ago I graduated third in my high school class. I was in my first semester of college. I was 19. And I was pregnant.

Last week my husband and I celebrated twenty-one years of marriage. Our hearts are bigger, our pride is smaller, and our commitment more resolute than it has ever been.

This journey has not always been easy.

And when your matrimonial bliss begins at nineteen and three months pregnant with child, it takes faith to see a happy ending. It takes courage to keep going and it takes God in all things.

My friend, Warren, wrote a post this week titled "Unnecessary Burdens." In his post, Warren talks about all the things we accumulate and acquire during our marriage, during our lifetime together. But he also commented that a successful marriage "is not just a matter of accumulating; it is a matter of letting go, too."

I know a little about letting go. We both do.

We had to let go of some strange ideas we had about marriage, some crazy expectations we had of each other, and a lot of baggage we both brought into our new life together.

And honestly, there are things we have to let go of and forgive everyday.

Little (and BIG) annoyances, offenses, imperfections, frustrations, unreal expectations, failures, disappointments, mistakes....

There is an idea that things, people, relationships can be perfect.

In this imperfect world, there is an illusion of perfection.
But the truth is, nothing in this world is perfect. No matter how good we are, we can't be perfect.
We mess up, we make mistakes, we fall short. And so do our spouses.

When Shawn and I found out (very quickly) that marriage was hard work we had some decisions to make. We had to decide if we were going to take seriously the vows we spoke before God. We had to decide to ignore the criticism and shame and negative words hurled at us from others because of our imperfect beginning. We had to decide if we were willing to put forth the effort it would take to continue our journey together. We had to decide to forgive. Over and over and over again. And we had to decide daily to put God first.

We've crawled through valleys, slammed bedroom doors, trudged through wildernesses, screamed unkind words, climbed over mountains, cried our eyes out, and even turned our backs on God. But we always ended up on our knees, surrendered to the One whose strength is made perfect in our the One whose blood washes our sins white as snow, to the One who knew us in our darkest places and loved us still.

The secret to our success? It's Him.

He gets all the credit and all the glory for our twenty-one years of marriage. We stand in awe of His mercy and grace. We stand amazed at His unconditional love. And we marvel at His forgiveness.

He never gives up on us, so we choose not to give up on each other.

I look forward to pouring out more of our story here on these pages in the future.

“Love is not self seeking, it’s not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 )

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for each other.” (1 John 3:16)

Matthew 19:4-6 He answered, ”Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,’Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Come to the Well

My friend, Shanda, shared this beautiful song and video by Casting Crowns on her blog today. I pray that God waters your soul as you listen to these words. Allow Him to speak to your heart and show you what YOU need to leave behind. When you're finished, click over and read Shanda's story of "Leaving it All Behind."