the hardest thing about being a newlywed

I’ve been married for three and a half months now.  It has been such a sweet time of getting to know the man I love as “husband” and learning together how to shift our relationship from dating to married.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been blissfully overwhelmed by being a wife, how often I’ve been humbled by own shortcomings, or how surprised I still am by my new last name.  Marriage has so far been a continuous and wonderful adventure, and I am so grateful for it.

Over the past few months, my new marriage is naturally what everyone wants to talk to me about. They like to shower me with wisdom and advice, for which I am grateful. But mostly, they want to ask me endless questions. They shamelessly ask me things like, “Are you glad to finally be having sex?” (Nah. A sexless relationship was SO easy to maintain for 3 years… idiots.) “Are you pregnant yet?” (Not yet…) “Oh, when are you planning to get pregnant?” (…What is wrong with you?!) But sometimes I get questions that actually warrant a response. Out of these, the most common one I’ve received is, “What has been the hardest thing about marriage so far?” Continue reading

it is finished

cross
Tonight I’ve just come from the Good Friday service at our church.  Each year I find this to be such a sweet time of worship, reflection, and anticipation.  I think as Christians we sometimes have a hard time knowing exactly how we should feel on Good Friday.  We are thankful for the sacrifice made on our behalf, we are reminded of our own sin, we’re sad, we’re excited, and we’re probably too preoccupied with plastic eggs to allow ourselves the mental freedom to sort it all out.

So I’ll save you the trouble.  We should feel freaking amazed.  Amazed because God, in his infinite wisdom, created us already knowing we were going to suck at loving him.  He created us already knowing he would die for us.  And that even after he died for us, showing just how much he loved us, that we were STILL going to suck at loving him.  He knew that we were going to abuse his grace.  He knew that we would make a mockery of his name.  He knew that we would betray and reject him. Continue reading

why we’re actually gathered here today

For those of you who don’t know, I am getting married on Saturday.
What an exciting time!
Through the past year of planning and preparation, I have learned so much.  About myself.  About my future husband.  About the Lord.  But sadly, what I’ve probably learned the MOST about is planning a wedding.
I can tell you how much it costs to rent out almost every venue in the greater Austin area.  I know which ones require you to use their caterer and which ones allow you to use your own.  I know noise ordinances and fire codes.  I know the prices of things like chair rentals, photographers, and hair stylists.  I know the breakdown of every Men’s Wearhouse tux, and that for all their monopolizing they still don’t carry David’s Bridal’s “petal” pink.  If you need some useless wedding knowledge, I’m your girl.
I know all of this because there is this strange phenomenon that occurs in our country when a woman gets an engagement ring.  She is all at once stripped away from the normal rhythms of life and thrown head first into the world of weddings.
This alternate reality is one in which your stream of consciousness is filled with things like colors and programs and flowers and ribbons.  “Big” decisions are made about dresses and food and invitations, and you go to sleep at night feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and accomplished.  It’s a land of self-obsession and entitlement; it’s designed to shift reality into this idea that your entire marriage, nay, your entire existence, hinges upon this one day.  It’s YOUR day.  YOUR spotlight.  YOUR chance to shine.  After all, YOU deserve it!!
….proof of a broken world under the influence of a clever and scheming enemy. Continue reading

best&worst

A few weeks ago I was serving at a holiday dinner for our church staff.  The dinner was being held at my pastor/future uncle’s home and toward the end of the evening he gathered everyone together to reflect upon the previous twelve months as well as to look ahead to the coming year.  This is a pretty common activity during this time of year, and at first I thought very little of it.  I took a seat in the back and prepared myself to listen to what these men and women of the Lord were going to share.  Mark opened the floor up by asking a simple question: In what ways have you seen God move in our church this past year?  With this one sentence, I felt tears flood my eyes and out of nowhere I was struggling to hold it together.  Because the ways that I saw God move in our church this past year have been too great to number, because the ways in which God moved in my life this past year have been too great to number, and because the Holy Spirit just decided this would be a great time to totally wreck me out…. I was completely speechless for the next half hour or so as I quietly remembered.  
To tell you what God has done in my life this past year will require me to tell you what he did in my life the year before that.  This is my best story, and this is my worst story; and this is not my story at all.

Psalm 63:1-8

this is a scripture that speaks powerfully to me, and it has brought me great peace lately.  in bold you will find the Biblical words of king david.  in the lighter color, my own thoughts.  i would love to know how these verses speak to you.

(1) O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
 
O God, you are my God!  God of Creation, THE God, eternal and sovereign over all…. and still you are a personal God to me.  you enjoy my company.  you chose me and adopted me from the bonds of death.  you love me with patience and with discipline.  you deal with me in a way that is unique to me and to our own private relationship.  you speak to me in ways that i can understand.  your love is tailored to the secret places of my heart.
 
i am desperate for you.  to look upon me, to comfort me, to SAVE me.  you are the air to my drowning body.  i gasp for you frantically.  there is no other way for me.  you alone can sustain my fragile life.  and when i surface from the deep, you are there to refresh my weary lungs.
 
O, Father, how i need you!  and how you then restore me!  in the desert of my soul, in my scorched and broken flesh, you come to me with healing.  you have led me to a cool and sparkling spring when a pool of bitter rain water would have far sufficed.  and with a touch to my parched and pleading lips, i am fully replenished.  only let me stay and drink forever! Continue reading

i am His child.

Last night i did not want to go to church.  Netflix and Chinese food in bed was infinitely more appealing.  But as a general rule, when my attitude toward church attendance becomes bitter, i know i had better get my butt to church.  
And so it was begrudgingly that i made the trip to Austin High for the 7 o’clock service.

Just when i thought i had my attitude in check, a group of no less than 20 sorority girls were in MY spot!  My entitlement in that moment quickly gave way to rage and I seriously considered leaving.  After all, this church thing is all about ME, isn’t it?  I was there to get what I needed, and what I needed was the comfort of routine.  Right?!

WRONG.

Thankfully, the Lord has blessed me with a man who can kill my self-righteousness with a look and squelch my childish outbursts with a hushed warning.  I spent the next few minutes in prayer and by the time the worship band took the stage I had regained my composure and found my rage replaced with peace.

I entered worship with a hungry heart.  And the Lord did not disappoint. Continue reading