Give It All You’ve Got

Hello Darling,

I hope you’re doing well today. It’s Spring Break and my doc is off vacationing with his family, so I took the whole week off to hang out with the kids. It’s been glorious and I don’t want to go back to work… ever. Haha (butseriously) My mom and younger siblings have been staying at my house this week too, so it’s a little crowded and noisy, but it’s good to get to spend time with them as well. So far this week, we’ve had an awesome Easter celebration followed by a huge family lunch and hanging out all day afterward. We’ve gone to the zoo, the beach, and the movies. There hasn’t been a lot of time to sleep in or just lounge around, but it’s been really great to be able to do fun stuff, make memories and take photos with Flat Stanley, who has been our travel companion (school spring break project for H). I’ve done yard work while wearing cowboy boots and a bandana, drinking craft beer, listening to country music and feeling pretty bada** (thankyouverymuch). I even had a grown up lunch with a friend at a trendy little spot downtown.

Like anything else though, it hasn’t all been peaches and dreams. H was with her dad for Easter again this year and missed the big celebration and family meal. That was a bummer. We had a bit of family drama at my grandmother’s house on Monday. Nothing crazy, just a failure to show grace that ended in tears. It was unfortunate, but I’m so glad that our family gatherings are 98% joyful and drama-free. Could certainly be much worse. The kids and I went to the zoo with my dad and step-mom. I don’t have much to talk to them about because we don’t have much at all in common, so spending more than a couple of hours with them is always a bit awkward. We took separate cars though, so that helped. Anyway, it’s been a good week overall.

It’s easy to look at social media and see snapshots of other people’s lives and think, “Man, they have such a great life. They always look so happy and put together.” You never see pictures of couples arguing or someone sitting on the floor in the bathroom feeling like crap. Most people don’t post much about their fears or failures. It’s easy to think that you must be the only one with any issues. Well, that’s a bunch of hooey because everyone has issues. Every family has problems, no matter how great they are, no matter how much they love the Lord and each other. Every parent feels like a complete failure sometimes. Every person has at some point fallen into the trap of comparing themselves with someone else and feeling inferior. I’ll go ahead and burst the bubble for you: I’m not perfect. I’m hard to live with. I am impatient and stubborn. The house is a wreck sometimes, no matter how much I’d really like it to be neat and tidy. I wish I didn’t yell so much, but I can’t seem to help myself. But despite these and many other faults, I am a good person and I will be a good wife one day. I know this because I know that God will bring me just the right husband (you!) and that our strengths and weaknesses will balance out. I’m under no illusions that marriage will always be easy, but I am excited to spend my life with you. I look forward to trudging through the muck of life with you and skipping through the happy stuff. (I do intend to actually, physically skip, by the way. You’ll have to get over yourself long enough to be silly with me… often 🙂 ) I am excited to know the little things about you that no one else gets to know. I am excited to have inside jokes and exchange knowing looks across crowded rooms. I look forward to holding your hand when we walk and you putting your arm around me when we sit next to each other and feeling your hand on the small of my back as you guide me into a room. I can’t wait to feel safe and warm in your arms and to be able to make our home a refuge from the world for you. I am not perfect, but I will love you well. Until then…

A

The S Word

Darling,

I hope you’re doing well. I have just been sitting here reading (Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian) and thinking…

When intimately connected with another, we are so consumed that we don’t see or hear what’s going on around us, we aren’t thinking about what we look like, we aren’t distracted by things we’ve done or things we need to do. Our focus is entirely on the other person. How much more should we be consumed with our connection to God? Our focus should be so tuned to Him that everything else falls away and our entire consciousness is centered on Him. This kind of intimacy brings about the birth of amazing things.

I think this is one of the reasons God gives us the gift of sex in marriage- so that we can have some frame of reference for the oneness of the Trinity and for what true intimacy is. This is also why sex outside of marriage leads to all sorts of heartbreak and devastation. We are only ever meant to be physically and emotionally connected to our spouse in that way because to separate such an intense union rips us apart. Our culture says it’s ok to have “casual sex” or at least to “try it out” before you get married to make sure that the two of you are compatible. The problem is that there is nothing casual about it. It’s the most intimate act a human can engage in and we’re not equipped to connect and disconnect over and over like Velcro. When we try, we end up feeling disappointed, ashamed, stupid, used and bitter. We wallow in our misery for a time and then, because we are simple creatures, we go right back for more like birds, who after all this time, still haven’t learned not to fly into windows.

There’s a country song that’s popular right now that captures this vicious cycle pretty well.

“A guy walks into a bar, orders a drink, sees a girl who catches his eye, asks her if she wants another, they fall for each other and end up lovers and laugh, cry, hold on tight and make it work for a little while till one night her tail lights fade out into the dark and a guy walks into a bar.”

It’s a catchy tune, but it doesn’t adequately express the devastation that comes as a result of this cycle. The author might go on to describe alcoholism, depression, adultery, broken families, custody battles or any number of other things endured by this poor guy (and girl). The sad part is that no one would bat an eye because these are the stories that we live out, struggle through and make songs, movies and television dramas about. How sad that we have cheapened God’s gift to us and made it into something ugly. Something taboo. Something dirty even. It was never meant to be.

My pastor compared it to fire in a sermon once. In the fireplace where it belongs, it’s awesome! It gives us light and warmth and it’s a good thing. But if we take it out of the fireplace and put it in the middle of the living room, it becomes dangerous and destructive. In the context of marriage, sex is a gift. Outside of that, it only brings pain, despite the culture’s lies that it will satisfy us. It took me a long time to learn that lesson and I learned it the hard way. I am thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness and that by Christ’s blood I have been washed clean of my past. I look forward to being able to enjoy that gift in the way that God intended it and I know that it will ultimately be more fulfilling.

But whether it’s in the context of marriage or not, sex isn’t the real thing. It’s just a picture. The real intimacy, the real fulfillment, the real gift is a deep connection with our Creator. John Piper said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” I want to be satisfied. Not the kind of momentary satisfaction that comes from worldly things, passions and pleasures. I won’t settle for those things anymore. I long for the deep, soul satisfying, thirst quenching, life giving power of connecting deeply with the Creator of the universe. Once you’ve tasted that kind of satisfaction, anything less seems pretty unappealing. Let’s keep reminding each other never to miss out on the true joy that God has in store for us because we were too busy chasing the ephemeral pleasures this world has to offer. Goodnight for now.

taste and see

The Waiting Game

Oh man. It’s a good thing I’m not being graded on how well I keep up with this blog. It’s been more than a year since I posted. I have been carrying on in much the same way as I was the last time I posted. I work… a lot. I am still “taking a break” from school because I am still trying to figure out exactly what direction I am supposed to be taking. I am still certain that God has called me to be a midwife and still certain that that calling will take me to the mission field, but I am not at all certain of which path God wants me to take to get there. You haven’t proposed yet, or asked me on our first date for that matter. My life is in an infuriating holding pattern. I get up, chase the kids around fussing for them to hurry up and not play because we’re late, go to work, scramble out of the office just in time to peel into the parking lot to pick H up by 6, rush home to cook dinner (or grab something on the way home- more and more lately), rush to get kids fed, bathed and ready for bed, kick myself that they are getting in bed so late… again! Once they are in bed, I do dishes and laundry and whatever else needs to be done and collapse, completely exhausted, onto the couch. I walk fast, drive fast, and get frustrated fast when other people, namely my children, don’t move as fast as I’d like them to. In the quiet hours though, I wonder why I’m always rushing. Yes, there are lots of things I need to accomplish each day. Yes, I’m usually running late for something. But I don’t want to just be busy all the time. I don’t want to make my children miserable or miss out on precious moments with them because there is always somewhere else to be. I don’t want to miss out on life because I’m busy rushing to the next thing. It’s like I’m running full steam with no idea where I’m going. You know what I am? An American. And probably a little crazy.  Why do we do that? Why do we commit to so many things and spread ourselves so thin that we don’t enjoy any of it? I think that constant rushing is one thing that makes me want to live abroad. Slower pace. Less crazy.

Speaking of which, I am feeling the call to missions more and more strongly these days. I am willing to go wherever God calls me, even if that means dropping everything and moving to another country to serve Him. I keep praying for him to make it very obvious so that I can’t miss it, but I still wonder if practicality is masking disobedience. I definitely feel called to go, but again, don’t know which direction to point myself. I don’t want to be unwise and I do have children to think of and custody issues and all of that. At the end of the day, I know that God can and will orchestrate all of those details so long as I am willing to go. So I wait and pray and affirm that I’m ready as soon as he gives some direction.

Missions, midwifery, marriage… all in that maddening holding pattern I was telling you about. Of all the hard things God calls us to do, I think waiting is the hardest. We are a nation, a generation, of doers. We don’t do well with waiting on anything, from food to coffee to red lights to gathering information. We want everything to be instant, if not faster. If something isn’t happening fast enough, we must DO something. Click the mouse a few more times. Inch forward at the red light. Buy stuff on credit and get it right now instead of saving up for it. To just stand there and wait patiently without doing anything is unbearable. I’m no good at it either. I feel like I need to research missions organizations or schools. Maybe I should try online dating or let my patient’s crazy mom set me up with the guy she’s been trying to get me to go out with. Maybe I should listen to my sister and uncle and do something to let that certain someone know I like him. Or maybe I should just wait. Wait on God’s timing and till He determines that I’m ready. That seems to be the best course of action. I trust God’s plan. I know that He loves me and wants only the best for me. I know that he works all things for my good, even things that drive me crazy. I know that he uses all kinds of things and people to shape us into what He wants us to be and that most of the time, we aren’t able to see what He was doing until much later – at which point it inevitably makes a lot more sense than what we had in mind. Because God knows what He’s doing and I don’t. So… here’s to waiting. Maybe you’re somewhere spinning in circles right now too. Don’t lose heart, Darling. Worship while you’re waiting. Enjoy the season you’re in right now. Don’t inch forward at the red light. It’ll change soon enough and you’ll be in a different season, looking back and wishing you could go back to one before. I’m gonna keep telling myself those things too. Good luck to both of us! Goodnight!

Pray Like You Mean It!

I had almost, almost convinced myself that that guy (the one I’m hoping might be you) wanted nothing to do with me and that I should stop hoping for it. He didn’t respond to the msg I sent him Friday (that FB told me he saw almost immediately), so obviously he’s not interested. So there I was, minding my own business, gearing up to clean the house and wrap some Christmas presents, when my phone made a sound I wasn’t familiar with. Curious, I picked it up to discover that these were sound effects from Facebook Messenger, which I had recently re-installed on my phone. And wouldn’t you know, it was the very tardy reply to my two-day old message. Gasp! Cleaning was immediately dismissed in favor of this simple, candid conversation that nearly made my heart pound out of my chest. My full attention was riveted to this chat such that my computer screen went into hibernation mode and, as the sun set outside, I found myself laying across my bed in a completely dark room in a completely quiet house. The momentary happiness I felt was big enough to fill up that quiet space. As the conversation came to an end, I found myself hoping those last few sentences would stretch out just a while longer. It was the most engaging and exciting conversation I’ve had in a long time, not because anything important was discussed, but because of who I was discussing life with.

Mark 11 tells us to pray expectantly: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if I pray to win the lottery tomorrow, it’s gonna happen. And I’m not saying that if I pray hard enough, you will show up on my doorstep and propose. What I am saying though, is that too often we pray halfheartedly, not really expecting God to answer in a tangible way. How silly of us. I trust His plan far above my own. I defer to His will. I also fully believe in His absolute power to do whatever-the-heck He wants. Maybe He’s just waiting for me to pray that way. So from now on, my prayers will be a little different. I’m going to pray with the expectation that God just may answer, if that is His will. You are a good man. You love the Lord first and foremost and that is evident from the fruit in your life. I will no longer believe Satan’s lies that I am not good enough to be considered by you. I am not perfect and I have a lot of baggage from my past, but I am a new creation and I will be a good wife one day. Why not yours? Someone told me recently (in a much more eloquent way than I can recall now) that if I wanted something to happen, I should start living as though it already has. Want to have this job? Dress and act the part now. Want to have a fabulous, healthy pregnancy? Start taking prenatal vitamins and treat your body as though you are already pregnant. Want to be in a relationship with a wonderful, smart man? Start acting like you already are, sister (without being a weirdo stalker, obviously). Want your prayers to be answered? Seek God first so that you know you’re heart is in the right place to ask for things, and then pray like you actually believe He can answer. Here goes…

Falalala Lame

Hello Darling,

A bit of an update since my last letter: Thanksgiving lunch at work went well. I just made a big salad since there was not too much healthy stuff to choose from. My last shift at the birth center came and went with no calls. (I decided to follow God’s nudging and take some time off from that so that I can spend more time with the kids and focus on schoolwork. This semester has kind of killed my GPA. 😦 ) Thanksgiving went well at my dad’s house. We saw a lot of his side of the family that we don’t get to see often. He and my brother went to Wal-Mart and watched two women get into a wrestling match over towels and then saw a man punch someone over a $39 sandwich press. Really?? That was enough madness for one trip, so they came back empty handed. Just two more reasons not to shop there. I avoid it whenever possible. Let’s see… then I told you about the company Christmas party. That happened last night. I found a dress and some cute shoes all by myself. My 20 year old sister had to work, so my 18 year old sister went with me instead. She did my hair and make-up. It was a nice gesture for the docs to do for the office. They had a nice dinner, tickets for a couple of drinks from the bar, and all the employees got to choose a gift from under the Christmas tree. I got a really soft blanket. The music was just a playlist on someone’s laptop, which would have been fine if they had just let it play, but people kept messing with it and skipping songs, so as soon as you started singing along to one, it changed. That was kind of annoying. A few people were dancing, but mostly people were just sitting at the tables talking and drinking. It was nice to see some of the doctors relaxing and a couple of them even danced, but there were a lot of people who weren’t able to come this year, who I’m told were very entertaining in years past. My doc is legendary for Christmas party dancing and karaoke, but he wasn’t feeling well, so he didn’t stay long. He only danced to one or two songs and there was no singing. I hope next time we have an event, he’ll be feeling better. It was fun, but I’m pretty sure my sister was bored out of her mind. She said adults are lame. Haha… I’m getting old.

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So what’s going on with you as the holidays are approaching? Christmas parties? Traveling? If you’re the you I’d like you to be, you’ve traveled home to see your family for a whole month. I’m glad you(he) got to go home, but I’ll miss seeing you(him). After church today, my cousin was talking about you(him) regarding why you were going to be gone for a whole month: “He said he wasn’t going home to find a wife, but if he just goes for a week, he might meet someone and want to stay longer to get to know her.” Then he and the other guy standing there laughed about how you(he) are “all about finding a wife.” I wanted to raise my hand and say, “Um hello! I’m right here!!!”  I just stood there with a smile plastered on my face instead. Awkward. At least you(he) weren’t standing there. Oy vey. I’d have turned 10 shades of red.

In reality, I don’t know if you’re him. Or if I’ve ever met you. Or if it’s even in God’s plan for me to get married one day. I hope that it is, but I have seen many times that God’s plan works out better than mine, even when I think my plan is really good. So I’ll wait. I’ll trust His timing and I’ll do my best to be patient and to serve Him while I’m waiting. I am conscious of the fact that getting married could easily become an idol for me, so I’m trying to guard against that. I hope that you’re doing well, whomever and wherever you are. I’ll be praying that you’re safe and that you’re guarding your purity and that you’re growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

Thinking of You

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Darling,

I hope you’re doing well. I was just thinking of you (while trying to convince myself to do some homework) and I thought I’d say hi since it’s been so long. It’s been a good week. I’ve worked really hard, but it’s gone smoothly for the most part. I’m home now and the kids are both gone (H to her dad’s and M to a football game) so I’m hanging out in my pajamas having a glass of wine and some leftover Chinese food while listening to country music on the radio. I realize none of that goes together, but hey, I do what I want! 🙂 I wonder what you’re doing on this fine fall Friday night (hooray for alliteration!). I hope you’re having fun.

The holidays are coming up. We have a Thanksgiving lunch at work next week and I have to figure out what to cook. I think it’s nice that they do things like that. I’m on call the night before Thanksgiving until 9am and then, I guess we’re going to my dad’s house for lunch. There’s a Christmas party for work early next month too. It’s my first real company party and I’m not sure what to expect. I am looking forward to seeing some of my co-workers (and especially my doc) outside of work and relaxing, but I’m kinda bummed that I’ll be going by myself. I may take my little sister (20) with me just for fun. I have to find a dress at some point, which I’m not looking forward to. I’m not much for shopping. My fashionista aunt is excited at the prospect of playing dress-up with me, so I guess I’ll let her do her thing. I have mixed feelings about Christmas this year. Of course, I always look forward to spending time with family and to presents, but this year H will be with her dad, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to enjoy it. It just won’t be the same without her around. My dad said that we can “do Christmas” at his house the day after, when I have her back home, so I guess we’ll do that, but my childhood memories of Christmas center around my mom’s side of the family and H will miss out on that this year. It’s good that her dad wants to spend time with her, but I wish we could split the day and both have her for a little bit. I just keep telling myself that this is only a season. It’s good that she has two parents that love her so very much. I’ll try to focus on that. What are your family’s holiday traditions? I can’t wait to be a part of them.

I really do need to get some homework done now. It’s 10:45 and I have assignments due at midnight :/  Plus, M just got home from the game and I need to get him in bed. I hope you have a great night!

From The Inside Out

“A thousand times I’ve failed
still your mercy remains
and if I stumble again
still I’m caught in your grace
Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame

In my heart, in my soul
I give you control
consume me from the inside out, Lord
let justice and praise
become my embrace
to love you from the inside out

Your will above all else,
my purpose remains
the art of losing myself
in bringing you praise
Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame

In my heart, in my soul
I give you control
consume me from the inside out, Lord
let justice and praise
become my embrace
to love you from the inside out

Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame
and the cry of my heart is to bring you praise
from the inside out
Lord, my soul cries out”
-Hillsong United

This is my prayer today. Thank you, God, for grace. Give me an all-consuming desire to worship you and grow in the knowledge of you. Help me to show others the same grace that you have shown me. Amen.