Thoughts on Kindness

I don’t know why but I’ve been thinking of an encounter I had a few months ago.  I had taken my dog to the dog park and there was no one else there but an older lady and her Korean rescue dog.

So our dogs ended up playing together and she opened up to me about why she had gotten the dog.  The night of the presidential election she had been very, very upset about the results.  Out of her grief she had decided to get this amazing little rescue dog who likely would’ve ended up on someone’s menu in Korea.

Now, I’m 100% conservative and was pretty thrilled the night of the election.  No, I’m not in love with Trump but I’m hopeful that he can turn some things around in our country. But I’m a human being first and I just listened empathetically to this woman.  We had a really great talk and that wouldn’t have happened if I had labeled her because she had different political opinions.

People are people and we all need Jesus.  Yes, politics matter.  Knowing what you believe matters.  But our eternal destination matters so much more.  Jesus’ love is not constrained like ours, he doesn’t take sides.

“Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13

 

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Marital Madness

By all accounts we shouldn’t have made it.

He was divorced.  I was 20, freaking 20.  I had baggage and a toddler.  He was a Virginian (no, not virgin, lol) who didn’t know the correct term for a sweet carbonated beverage.  It’s POP, people.  We got married in a little court house ceremony in just under two months of meeting.

Yeah, it’s kind of nuts.

But ten and a half years later we are still here. 22780297_10159486090470427_6193062110503901663_n

This morning as I was drinking my motor oil-esque coffee I read a slide show about celebs speaking out about divorce.  Aside from the glitz, money and fame they are people too.  Common themes emerged- comparing divorce to a death and also this sense that they found marriage didn’t meet their needs like they had anticipated.

I’m not trying to be callous here.  Of course we all get married with the hope of getting some very real needs met.  But along the way the trials of life will bring out the best and (more likely) the worst in people.  Being inherently selfish creatures, when we get hurt we tend to go into self-protection mode. kategorisiz3-1 Over time, if forgiveness isn’t happening, we harden our hearts and start to see our s.o. as the source of the problems in our life.  At a certain point we think it’d be best to cut our losses and move on and be happier.

But still, divorce is like a death.

Why?

I believe it all goes back to the fact that we are created in the image of God.  God is a covenant-making God.  He is a covenant-keeping God.  He designed marriage (yes, it was HIS idea) to be a reflection of this covenant he made to his people.

He could have washed us all away in the flood and scrapped the whole mess.

He could have viewed Adam and Eve as failed prototypes and scrapped the “human experiment”.

He could have looked away and left us to fend for ourselves as we thumbed our collective noses at him.

But he didn’t.

See, a covenant is more than a contract.  It’s a promise.

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”

2 Timothy 2:13

Since we are created by a God and for a God that completely embodies true love we yearn for this love all our lives.  We yearn for a covenant keeping love that will never abandon us, even when we are less than lovable.

No human being could possibly meet or fulfill that deep soul need for that kind of love at the level that we need.

So many expectations are dashed, many marriages end… as we are all on this quest, whether we realize it or not.

The 5th Chapter in Ephesians addresses how spouses are supposed to love and serve one another because marriage is really an illustration (or is supposed to be!) of the covenant between Christ and his Church.  That’s why marriage is so very important.  A marriage is more then a contract, it’s a covenant.

I know my husband’s weaknesses and frailties and shortcomings.  But you’ll never hear me badmouthing him when my girlfriends start in on their husbands.  I feel pretty confident in saying we will never get divorced.  If things happen, we’ll work through it.  Just like we always have.  Divorce is not an option.

Because while of course marriage is for companionship, laughter, joy, intimacy and baby-making, memories…all wonderful things, but it is also for representing a working model of grace and forgiveness.  Your spouse is, in essence, a fellow fallen human being that needs a savior just as much as you do.  They aren’t always going to meet your needs.  Sometimes you’re going to get irritated and have to grit your teeth to keep from saying mean things.  Sometimes you’ll roll your eyes.  Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re giving more than getting.  Sometimes you may not talk for two days.

There are no magic formulas or guarantees but I’ve found that seeking Christ together has led to a strong and healthy marriage.  It’s enabled both of us to extend grace and forgiveness as needed.  Very practically, it’s been a source of joy and strength.

Every night, he reaches his hand for mine under the covers.  We pray together.  We are two humans that are far from perfect (certainly, no glitz or glam here, people) but we are on this journey together.  Having been joined together in a beautiful model of the eternal covenant God made to us.  That supercedes whatever might come against us.

Marriages aren’t supposed to end.  Love is supposed to endure.  And that is why divorce is always a sad thing and likened to a death…even if it’s dressed up in fondant and a trip to Vegas.

Regardless of your marital status you can have this great love that your heart longs for.  If you are single, you can prepare yourself to be a better future spouse.  If your marriage is struggling, it can get better as you consistently get your needs met, your “bucket” filled, and are able to love your spouse supernaturally.

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”  Song of Solomon 8:6

That love is only found in the covenant making God and his son, Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Conviction vs. Condemnation

Last Sunday I had a really great day.  My daughter and I met up with my mom and her husband at the Mall of America.  I have so much fun with them.  We walk around and giggle and act silly.

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Shiloh had my mom in a death grip!

We bought chocolate at Lindt and had fresh guacamole and chips.  It was just a really great day and a much needed break from the daily grind.

As I lay in bed that night thinking about the day, I started feeling guilty.  Why?  No good reason.  I just felt almost like the day had been so fun and easy that I must be missing something.

As I lay there thinking, I felt like the Holy Spirit reminded me that God is the source of every good and perfect gift.  I shouldn’t feel some weird, misplaced guilt over having a light-hearted day.  “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17

Yes we should be fighting the good fight and fight against the desires of the flesh.  But it’s ok to laugh and have fun and enjoy the gifts that God richly provides.

I was folding laundry the other night when condemnation struck again.  I dump all my family’s laundry on my bed and sort and fold my way through the giant pile every night.  For whatever reason my mind always wanders to dumb things I’ve said and done in the past.  I was going over those same stupid mistakes and feeling the familiar waves of condemnation rolling over me and weighing down on me.  So much so that I just layed my head, somewhat pathetically, on my bed and buried my face in the clean laundry.

The voice of the Holy Spirit interrupted this little condemnation sesh with an abrupt, “You could have joy right now.”  Like, HELLO, you need to reclaim this time.  Stop falling into the old trash heap and letting the enemy beat you down.

The condemnation I was feeling was not from God at all.

Another instance happened today.  I had responded a bit snippily to a woman on my TSW support page.  It was a post from a woman who was only a week or so into topical steroid withdrawal and wailing about “when will this end?!?!?!  Give me at time frame and it better be days!!!”  I was incredulous and irritated because most of the people in the group have been suffering horribly for a long time and yet maintain a positive attitude.  Then she promptly responded even more snippity-ish (yes, I’m making up a word!) and back and forth it went.

Later that day when I was singing worship songs when I got the feeling I needed to apologize to this woman.  “Hmm….  That’s an interesting thought.  noooLet me file that away for later.”  Then later then day when I sat down to read my Bible and pray, I closed my eyes and BAM! “You need to apologize to her.”

I knew it was conviction from the Holy Spirit.

Did I want to apologize?  No.  Is it something God would want me to do?- Humble myself and be gracious..?  Yes.

I sucked it up and wrote her a quick message to apologize for being harsh and that I wished her well on her TSW journey.  I let it go and went back to praying.

When God convicts it is not to bury us alive in feelings of shame and worthlessness.  It is always quick and to the point and it comes with a solution to make it right.  In this case I just needed to apologize for my part.  Because that’s what I responsible for.

The good news is that when we do respond quickly to conviction it brings us closer to the heart of God.  Conversely, when we recieve the spirit of condemnation from the enemy, it does absolutely nothing to help us become more Christ-like.

We all need to be aware of the thought patterns we have in our lives that may be building us up or bringing us down.

       “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

Proverbs 23:7

Spring, Sadness, Hope

I watched this video yesterday and broke down crying.  It pulled on my heart strings because I know exactly how each of the moms feel.  You struggle privately and have to put on a brave face for your kiddo.

Going through TSW is incredibly isolating because it isn’t a well known condition.  People have never heard of it.  Whenever I post updates or pictures I always get people saying things like, “OMG!  That’s an allergic reaction!”  or “coconut oil took care of my small patch of eczema!”  Insert head-slap here.

Also not particularly helpful is reaching out to the mother of a sick child….trying to sell them something as a MLM distributer.  We’ve tried every lotion on the planet at this point, I’m sure yours isn’t going to be the magic bullet that will end his suffering.  But….um thanks for offering??

Or posting progress pictures.  I always point out that’s he still has a long way to go.  But still people “be like” Hallelujah!  He’s finally healed!!  Um…slow down.  He’s still very much suffering and going through this.  I just like to post pictures when there is any progress to encourage myself and let everyone else know how he is doing.

Speaking of that, he has come a long way.  When you deal with something like this it is easy to fall into hopelessness because it just goes on….and on.  He’ll make major progress and then flare again.  Our hopes will rise, then get squelched.  But I know every single day we weather brings us one day closer to him being healed.

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This was about 1 1/2 months ago.  Yep, RSS is that horrific.
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That’s him now.  Not healed but making progress!

At the moment he is flaring on his face pretty badly.  He doesn’t want to leave the house, because he is so embarrassed.  He’s lost weight off of his already very skinny little body.  In spite of seemingly eating 24/7 he is very thin and his clothes hang off of him.

I also believe he is healing on the inside too.  His organs became steroid dependent as well.  Every morning he has a hard time getting going.  We need to carry him out of bed, get him breakfast, and then bathe him.  I still need to wash all his bedding every single day.  Because every night it gets bloody and crusty and covered in his dead skin.

We are hitting this thing from every possible angle.  Probiotics, vitamins, homeopathy, bone broth, garlic, sea salt….just every thing we can do to help him.

That’s been our focus and it’s really brought us all together.  I feel closer to my husband than ever.  I thank God for our solid marriage.  He has been my partner in this 100% and is so quick to sacrifice for his family.

Most days we are doing pretty good considering.  When you’re going through a long term crisis everything else get’s backburnered.  We barely celebrated Easter.  We haven’t really been able to go to church in ages because it takes so long to get Gabe going in the morning.  I was ok with that until I drove past a cross with ribbons billowing in the wind the Monday after Easter.  I felt an unexpected tidal wave of sadness at not being able to celebrate my favorite holiday the way I would have liked.  It threw me into a bit of a depression for the rest of the week.

But I know that next year will be totally different.  Next year we will go all out for Easter.  Next year we will properly celebrate our Anniversary.

We know that our faith has carried us through this and also all the many prayers offered up for Gabe.  Thank you everyone for your continued support and prayers!!

A Quiet Sort of Romance

I quit my job at Starbucks so I could be home full time.  Gabe is still struggling daily with TSW.  Half the time we have to carry him around.  There is loads of laundry to be washed daily.  Lots of skin to be vacuumed.  And of course he just needs a lot of care and attention.

We are 2 months in to this journey and it has been a huge drain on us- in every way.  My husband said at one point, “we are just going to have to give each other extra grace right now.”  As sleep deprivation piled up and emotions ran high we have gotten in to petty arguments and snapped at each other…. but more than that we have loved and supported each other through this.

Our 10 year anniversary is this Friday and it will likely pass without much fanfare.  We wanted to go on a trip together and I was hoping for some anniversary “bling”…. but that was back before TSW took over our lives.

That’s mostly ok with us.  We’ve never really done things conventionally anyways.

The real gift is ten years of happy marriage to the man I love.  You get married hoping that that person will love you and stand with you through the good and tough times.  You get married so that you have a partner in life, that you never have to face the difficult things alone.  You get married hoping to create a family and a lifetime of memories.

I’ve found that in my marriage and that is enough.  A quiet sort of romance.  An enduring love.  Ten years in and I still enjoy his company.  He’s still amused at my antics.  I still don’t want to let go when we hug.

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Our first Easter as a Family, 9 years ago

When I met Tim I was 20 and a single mom to a toddler.  I had been dating without much luck.  When I met Tim, I knew from the first date, that he was “the one”.

The INFJ in me loved his humility and lack of pretense.  That first date I saw the true him.  He was authentic, honest and kind.  He is truly honest to a fault.  He is just a good person.  He didn’t hesitate to take on a step son.  When we went through a difficult custody battle two years into our marriage he sold his beloved truck (that he had just finished paying off!) so we could hire a good lawyer.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” James 1:17

I know Tim is just that to me; a good and perfect gift.  17951693_10158638684060074_7487367056105280349_n

Honey, I love you and I am so blessed to be your wife.  Through good times and bad, there isn’t anyone else I would have by my side.

I know things will get better but until then, I am just happy to have you by my side.

I love you so.

Faithfulness

There is this middle-aged couple I really like that I talk to at work.  They first visited Caribou and now I see them frequently at Starbucks.  The are so cute together.  He brings her lunch and eats with her on her break.  I saw her leaving (she also works at Target) with a bouquet.  I asked how long they’ve been together (you know, expecting something like ’25 years!’) she said less than two.

That isn’t the first time I’ve asked (yes, I’m nosey, ok?!) a lovey-dovey, middle-aged couple how long they’ve been together, hoping that they are still that in love after decades- and been disappointed.  No, there isn’t anything wrong with a 2nd chance at love.  I’m happy for those couples, I am.  But we all know there is something so special about a couple that has been faithful over the course of decades and is still deeply in love.

I remember praying and seeking a couple years ago and the one word I got from God, over and over again, was just to be faithful.  I wanted a ministry.  I wanted to kick down some demonic doors.  I wanted the miraculous.

God wants all that too.  But do you know what is more important than zeal?  Perseverance.  What is more important that extraordinary miracles?  The every day miracle of being steadfast and faithful- not only to God but to the people he has called us to love.  The hearts that have been entrusted to our care.

I think God cares far more about the way we love the people close to us, than anything big and extravagant we could do for him on the public stage.

In a world where the divorce rate is 40-50%, we are called to be faithful.  When 1/3 of children are being raised by a single mother, God wants us to invest in our families.

God wants us to do big things.  But not to the neglect of the little things.  Our most important ministry is to our own family.

In a world where divorce is almost celebrated and affairs are glorified in secular entertainment- let’s stand out as the exception.  Let’s be steadfastly faithful.

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Puppy Love

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I haven’t blogged in a bit because I have been busy with our new puppy, Copper.  Our kids have been begging for a dog for years.  Last year we went the chintzy route and got a couple pet rats.  About the fourth time they bit one of the kids they went back to the store!  SO I finally twisted my husbands arm- er, talked him into- a real live puppy.  Not just any puppy.  A golden retriever.  Like and 90’s kid I grew up watching movies that featured talking golden retrievers and have always wanted one.

Right now he is super cute and super annoying!  He is really mouthy, which I guess is common for a hunting breed.  He is also sweet and follows me around the house.  He’s only had a few accidents and seems to be doing well so far with the training.  I can’t wait till he is grown and calm and the famously easy going, happy family dog.

So here are some purely gratuitously cute pics for your enjoyment… 🙂

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