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Posted on Aug 28, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Spiritual Life | 0 comments

Alone

Bored and lonely…  That’s how I feel these days when I’m at home.  I used to really enjoy being alone, living alone, having no one around to mess with my stuff.  I liked knowing that no one would leave the toilet seat up, put their stuff where I wanted to put my stuff, or make a racket when I wanted things to be quiet.  I adored the quiet.  I didn’t feel afraid or vulnerable.  Everything was neat, clean, orderly, and perfect.

What happened?  Why do I wish that someone else was there, making noise, moving my perfectly organized stuff around, creating dirty laundry and sticky floors?  Why do I go to bed alone and wish for someone to be snoring beside me, crawling all over me whispering, “Mommy, I don’t want to sleep in my bed tonight.” and sticking their tiny toes in my nose?

I think about my married friends with all their kids running around, writing on the walls, shoving half-eaten bananas under the couch, using their lipstick to decorate dolls, and covering the dog in pink yogurt; meanwhile, their husbands can’t seem to put their clothes in the hamper even when it’s sitting right next to where he chronically drops his clothes.  Is that really what I want?

YES!  I think it’s a very good sign that I’m ready to be married.  I am bored, lonely, and tired of cleaning up after no one but me and the cat.  There’s a certain pleasure to living in a house that is never messy, where everything is right where you put it, and where no one gets in your way.  But I am looking forward to the messiness of having other people around.  I’m looking forward to sharing my space, my thoughts, my frustrations and fears, and getting so much in return.  I understand that having a husband and children means that life will be messy.  There may come a day when my child takes one bite out each apple in the fruit bowl, then put them all back to perfectly hide the bites – and I will scratch my head in wonder at what would provoke such an odd action.  I may wake up one morning to find black Sharpie drawn all over my hardwood floors.  Much worse things may happen, bringing up fears and doubts and making me confront sides of myself that I didn’t know existed.

I’m ready for it.  At least I will be at the center of something wonderful – a family.

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Posted on Aug 1, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Spiritual Life | 0 comments

Life Is Messy, Part Two

I’m a bit of a neat-nic.  I like things orderly and calm.  I like shoes to go where the shoes go, trash thrown away before it draws flies, and pens to mark on paper.  When it’s just one person living alone, shoes may “go” in a pile in front of the door until I feel like putting them all away.  But when there are eight people, six of them very little people, letting the shoes land where they come off the feet makes for an entirely different scenario.  When it’s just one person living alone, a pen left on the coffee table doesn’t automatically mean I’ll be trying to clean pen marks off the walls the next day…  You get my drift?

And yet, I want a large family.  My mother and sister chuckle, promising me that once I have one child, I will change my mind.  The mess and loudness and lack of calm will get to me and I’ll decide that a small family is better.  I will choose neat, compartmentalized, controlled living over the choas of many sets of little feet who leave their muddy shoes on my freshly washed floors and pick their noses and eat their boogers and can’t ever seem to remember to put their night time pull ups in the diaper genie!  I mean, seriously!?

But my God, my adoring Heavenly Father, is allowing me to learn some very valuable lessons these days.  I sincerely hope that my future children receive some of the benefit from my mistakes with the gorgeous, imaginative, uanble-to-remember-to-put-their-shoes-in-their-own-basket-beautifully-provided-for-them-right-by-the-door children I am helping to care for these days.  I’m trying really hard to relax, pick the shoes up, and place them in the basket.  Or at least calmly call the children and ask them to take care of their shoes (rather than screaming until the veins in my neck pop out.)

A few days ago the little one got really sick and wailed in pain, eyes begging me to make it better.  Before I could make it better, I had to make it worse.  We were both crying as I begged for her forgiveness, telling her over and over how sorry I was.  When I finally was able to make it better, she was so happy.  She hugged me tightly, as if to say “I know you were trying to help me.  t’s okay now.”  Then she toddled off to pick up a yogurt container that had been left out and proceeded to spill pink goo all over the shiny-clean floor and all over her freshly washed body.  But she was so happy, giggling as she proudly displayed her skill at getting some of the yogurt into her little mouth.  Relieved and incredibly thankful for that delightful smile and giggle, I sat down on the floor next to her and helped her finish the yogurt.  Then I wiped up the mess, put her in fresh pajamas, and rocked her to sleep.

The life of my friends with the six children could never be described as neat, compartmentalized, or controlled.  But it is a rich life, full of sparkly eyes, bright smiles, and lots of cuddles.  The kids are each a challenge in their own way, but they are also precious and delightful.  As much of a challenge as each one presents, they also give the gift of their amazing talents and individual opinions.  Even when they copy one another, they do it in their own way.  Which one would they choose not to have?  Each one is such a joy, such a wonderful creation.

I realize that it’s possible that I will change my mind about having a large family when I experience pregnancy, when I meet the very real challenges of parenthood and can’t go home to sleep alone in my quiet bed, and when the reality of the chaos fully hits me.  But I can’t help thinking that the pure joy of this gift God has given us – the ability to bring lives into the world and have a hand in forming and shaping those lives – will outweigh the challenges and difficulties that come with the responsibility.

I can’t guarantee that I’ll always be the patient and kind mother who calmly discusses problems with her children and never ever yells, but I would like the opportunity to give it my best try.  And maybe I will learn to relax when I see a used pull-up on the floor…  (Yeah, right!)

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Posted on Jul 29, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Love | 4 comments

Working It Out

Working It Out

Rick laughs and tells me everything I write about him makes it seem like our relationship has been smooth sailing from day one, the stuff of romance novels.  That’s not exactly true, I say.  Anyone with a brain will know that two people in a relationship have struggles.  And my sweet farmer-fiancé just smiles.

He apologizes to me for making me cry on a semi-regular basis.  I laugh and tell him, we’re just working it out.  I cry.  I cry when doing the laundry of the beautiful and frustrating children whose parents I now help out.  Those tiny little clothes are getting bigger.  I will miss their sparkly eyes and their unruly hair and the frightfully intelligent smart-aleck comments.  And when I realize how much I’ll miss them, I get weepy for my own unborn (un-conceived!) children who will also grow up and change and not be babies forever.  I get teary when I see the wedding of anyone else these days.  Reading the poetic blog of a young farmer’s wife leaves me wiping my eyes.  So, sweet man, there is no need to apologize.  I cry.

The emotional roller-coaster I was on during the first few months of our relationship left me wondering if I needed some kind of medication.  I swung between feelings of total assurance that this amazing man was the one for me to equal certainty that it would never work and I was giving a kind and gracious man false hope.  I mean, seriously, ME?  A farmer’s wife???  I asked him if he was still single at his age because he had some kind of weird perversion and watched like a hawk for months, looking in vain for any sign of addiction or character-flaw.   I didn’t talk to him for an entire weekend because I thought he had called me fat.  He had no idea the comment he thought was encouraging hit a raw and exposed nerve and sent me reeling.  He went to another country for six weeks and called me twice a week.  After talking several times a day every day for the previous six months, I felt like I’d been totally abandoned.  He says he was thinking about me the entire time and thought calling that often while he was on a mission trip was going above and beyond.

We are a real couple with real challenges.  After so many years of singleness, we are learning what it means to be a couple.  We are learning to change our thinking from “me and my friends/family/church” to “us and our future together”.  It doesn’t always come easy.  When the sales lady at the department store told me the total on some makeup I purchased during his recent visit, his jaw hit the floor.  Is that how much that stuff always costs?  I’m
learning what it means to have someone else look at how I spend my money.
  Um, er, our money…  Ouch.

But how can two people learn to meld their separate lives into one any other way?  We have to learn to navigate one another’s currents.  We work together to figure each other out, and we try to be gracious through the challenges.  We laugh a lot – maybe not at the moment we realize how very differently we think about something – but eventually.  We are learning to compromise.  I’m learning that I am right a lot less often than I thought.

Through the challenges, we are learning what it means to be loved.  Acceptance, right where we are, for who we are, is a daily practice.  And it’s worth it.  When I look into his brilliant blue eyes, kindness oozing from every
part of him, I see the glory of God.
I see just how much God loves me and wants what’s best for me.

I am so thankful for this man who fixes my broken furniture, loads dozens of heavy boxes into his truck for their journey north, and never loses his temper.  Gratitude fills my heart for this generous man who wants to give me the honeymoon of my dreams.  I am deeply in love.  His precious soul is becoming intertwined with mine.

And yet…  I still have to remind myself that he isn’t getting off the phone early with me tonight because he doesn’t want to talk to me. He is hanging up because I asked him to help me get to bed earlier by ending our conversations earlier.  It feels like he doesn’t want to talk, but he is simply honoring my request for adequate rest.  So I give myself a little pep talk, thank him for being so responsible, and (because I have time) sit down and write a blog.

We are working it out. 

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Posted on Jun 27, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Spiritual Life | 0 comments

The Bride Wore White

The Bride Wore White

How well I remember my hot, flushed face when my former babysitter, a bride that day, caught me making crazy kissy faces at my friends while she and her new husband kissed on command at their reception.  She had seen me first, then pointed me out to her new husband, and they were giggling at us as my friends joined in the silliness.  For some unremembered reason, getting caught mortified me.  

A few years earlier, I’d been a flower girl for my uncle’s wedding, and stood in awe as my beautiful new aunt greeted me in a veil that was edged with lace and was so pretty I’ve never forgotten it all these years.  On both of those day, the brides wore a big, white dresses and looked like princesses.  And so a young girl’s heart began to dream…

luxury-white-ivory-1-layers-3-meters-bridalWearing a big, white dress on her wedding day is something that most little girls dream of, and I was no exception.  I wanted to walk down the aisle and know that I was loved and chosen.  I wanted my dad to lift the veil so I could see my groom’s face as we looked into each other’s eyes and made all those promises.  After our wedding, I dreamed of my new husband escorting me to the finest hotel where we would fall into each others arms on a bed of rose petals.

Can you imagine if my dream had been more like this:  “I’m going to grow up, meet a handsome guy, have sex with him to be sure he knows what he’s doing, if he’s good at it (and he thinks I’m good at it too), then I’ll move in with him to be sure I can live with him (and he can live with me), and then if it all works out, we’ll get married!”?

A good friend recently wrote a blog about her decision not to have sex again until she is married and reading it got me stirred up.  When did we (I’m speaking to Christians here) give up our dreams of romance and the right way to do things?  When did we decide that it’s okay to wear a big, white dress (symbolizing purity) when we’re already living together “as man and wife” (as Prince William and Kate so openly did)? 

Or maybe the better question is – When did we start believing the lie that the love we have to give isn’t worth that one person who will pledge everything to us BEFORE they “test out” the merchandise?  I don’t want to be taken out for a test drive before a man can decide if I’m worthy!

I know of a couple who decided it would be a good idea to go through pre-marriage counseling before they got engaged.  They thought they were being proactive.  They thought they were super-smart, making sure they were compatible before they announced to the whole world they were getting married.  They bared their souls to one another, sharing the depths of their hearts, their finances, and their most carefully-guarded secrets (or at least one of them did).  

The one who shared so much remembers the feeling of being totally exposed, raw, and terrified, wondering why they had chosen to reveal so much to someone who hadn’t given them any type of commitment.  Although glaring problems had surfaced in pre-marriage counseling, they felt tremendous pressure to get married because they’d shared such intimacy.  I believe that type of intimacy is similar to what happens with sexual intimacy (and is almost as dangerous).

I find it hard to believe that God would ask us to maintain this standard of purity just to be mean.  He is, in fact, attempting to protect us from that terrible, vulnerable place.  He wants us to wait until the day we are sealed in holy covenant before Him because then we are protected.  When we bare that most private part of ourselves to one another, there is security and comfort and safety.  On that day we become family; not before.  

We stand before one another truly naked and not ashamed.

I want to walk down the aisle on my wedding day in a big, white dress because it means something.  Does it mean we’re perfect?  Does it mean we’ve never been taken advantage of or believed Satan’s lies?  No.  But it does mean that between the two of us there is purity.  We have not “taken” our pleasure in one another.  On our wedding night, we will give ourselves to one another and stand before the Lord, innocent.

I don’t write any of this to bring shame or condemnation on another.  We all have our reasons for what we have done.  Jesus is able to offer forgiveness because He understands our reasons and His heart is full of compassion.  I just want to encourage anyone who reads this post that it is possible to wait. 

It is still done. 

And we don’t have to buy into the lies that society tries to make us believe.  There is great freedom in obedience to God’s word.

When Rick and I share that most intimate part of ourselves with each other, we will do so within the safety and security of our marriage.  We will do so without fear that we somehow won’t measure up or might be rejected.  We’ll be stuck at that point and it will be our responsibility to find a way to make things work, even if it takes a while to get it all figured out.  Oh, and divorce is not an option.  We’ve already committed to one another that we will never threaten that word.

As my dreams continue on these days, a new dream has surfaced.  I truly hope that there is a little girl at my wedding who sees my big, white dress, who experiences the joy of a wedding, and in whose heart a new dream is sparked.  And Lord, may she value herself enough to know that she is worth the wait.

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Posted on Jun 17, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Spiritual Life | 4 comments

Don’t Poke the Bear

Don’t Poke the Bear

I’ve had a hard time giving in to love.  Holding myself back, watching for inconsistencies, and handling disappointment have been my history.  Things have been different with Rick.  As I look back on my life and evaluate things, I realize that I’m different too. 

Within the last few years, I’ve finally come to see God has “my husband.”  I always thought people who said that were totally cuckoo.  I couldn’t understand it.  But as I’ve begun to understand God as my provider, comfort, joy, strength, and the only one who can love me perfectly, the role of husband has become clear.  The role of husband isn’t for him to be my everything. but to be my partner as we look together to Christ to be our provider, comfort, joy, strength, and One who loves us perfectly.  I am The Bride of Christ – a part of His church and special to Him. And understanding His love for me makes me realize that all other human love is just a shadow of the way He loves. 

How has this changed me in relationships?  Well, for starters, I don’t expect Rick to be God.  He is wonderful, but he isn’t perfect.  He is so very, very good, but he isn’t the answer to my every need or desire.  When I try to place that burden on him, it’s too much for him to bear.  Any man would crumble under the weight of that load.  When I recognize that God is working out His plan for my life and trust Him in it, then I can let Rick be who he is.  I can relax when things don’t go the way that seems right to me and realize that God is still taking care of me.  I don’t have to fight and fuss and get uptight.  (Er, uh, ahem…)

Do I ever fight and fuss and get uptight?  Well, the things is, I’m not perfect either.  And I’m really thankful that Rick doesn’t expect me to be God.  When I get my eyes off Jesus and start looking at the waves around me, I can get scared and start sinking when I could be walking on the water.  A good friend who knows me well has a most annoyingly accurate phrase she uses at times:  Don’t poke the bear!  Yes, she’s referring to me when I get out of sorts.  (Not exactly the most flattering description…)  But God sent me a kind, patient, understanding man who is strong enough to handle me.  I feel such security with him.  When I keep my eyes on Jesus, I can relax and let Rick be Rick and God be God. 

It’s a much better deal all around.

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Posted on Jun 14, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Just Goofing Around | 22 comments

A Farmer’s Wife?

A Farmer’s Wife?

It’s been shocking to many, many people (including ME) that I am marrying a farmer and moving to the rural midwest to live in the land of cornfields and barns.  I’ve been asked how I can leave the bustling, fabulous city of Nashville for country life.  Won’t I miss Starbucks?

I don’t mind answering these questions because I had to answer them for myself first.  I had to come to terms with what’s really important to me before I could even consider seriously dating Rick.  I had decided that I was done with casual dating and I could tell he was serious, so I did some soul-searching early on in our relationship.  Just how important is Nashville to me?

I love Nashville.  I love the American southeast.  I have a special place in my heart for magnolia trees, rolling hills, thick green trees, and that sweet, southern drawl.  I enjoy mild winters and how very nice everything is.  If I need to purchase something, I have so many choices that I’d never be patient enough to look at all my options before making a decision.  I live right next door to one of the wealthiest towns in the entire country.  Right down the road from my house are streets lined with mansions.  It is a lovely place to live.  But no amount of loveliness can make up for loneliness.

I have lived a good life.  God has blessed me with good friends.  I’ve really enjoyed city life.  It’s been no big deal to go to NFL games and cheer the Titans on, scream “Fang Fingers!” at hockey games, go to a major concert and see the performer the next day at a pancake restaurant.  I’ve eaten in the fanciest restaurants, traveled the country and stayed in the nicest hotels, and filled my life with good things.  But in all of that, I went home alone every night.  I felt the ache of empty arms when I saw a mother rocking her sleeping baby.  I chafed at never having a home of my own to settle into and decorate and organize just right.

To me, the reality of having my prayers answered for a loving husband, a home of my own, and the hope of children is worth giving up a weekly visit to Chipotle or seeing a celebrity at church.  Not to mention that the idea of wide, open spaces and the safety of country living is very appealing!  I’ve had all the big living I need.  I’m ready to settle down and be a wife and mother.  And writer.  And maybe do a little teaching and speaking on the side…  🙂

I grew up in the area I’ll be moving back to.  Vivid childhood memories of running free, totally unafraid, and feeling connected to the ground beneath my feet draw me back.  I was the wild child who did all I could to get my four-wheeler (ATV) completely air-born, who caught slimy tadpoles in the pond, and whose heart was broken when my willow tree got cut down.  During a recent trip to visit Rick, I sat quietly on a large rock and listened to the sounds around me. let the little ants crawl up my arm.  I felt like I was twelve again – carefree, happy, and at peace.  I’m blessed to still have relationships with people I knew when I lived there, including my grandfather and cousins.

Will I be the typical farmer’s wife, canning peaches and running a tractor?  Well, probably not.  But I don’t think I’d mind learning how to can my own food and avoid the preservatives and unknown ingredients I’ve been eating in food that comes from who-knows-where.  Driving a tractor, though, is something I plan to leave all in Rick’s capable, calloused hands.

By the way, even though the community is rural, there’s a good-sized city within 40 minutes of his house and a grocery store just a few miles from his front door.  The man who acted as my adopted grandfather when I was a little girl (before my grandparents moved there) has a coffee shop just two miles away.  And there’s a mall within 30 minutes of the farm.  See, friends?  I’m going to be okay.  And I even hear they’re building a Starbucks a couple miles down the turnpike.  Oh yeah…

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