Five Lessons I Learned from One Year of Marriage (That I Should have Learned a LONG Time Ago)

One month ago today, the mister and I celebrated our one-year anniversary.

December 29th, 2012 (Geoff Duncan Photography)

As one can expect, living with someone of the opposite sex for the first time can be quite an experience, and as I’ve been doing some reflecting, I’ve been amazed at all of the things I have learned. To be honest, picking what to write about is quite hard, for I feel as though there are many options.

For example, I could tell you about how the things you simply don’t care about (the ‘fluffiness’ of your pancakes) might really matter to someone else (like, your spouse), how the movies you think are absolutely amazing (“March of the Penguins”) may not be of any interest to other people (like…your spouse), or how coming up with other ways to describe household items (like a duvet cover or a Crock-Pot liner) may be needed to help someone else (yep…your spouse) know what you’re talking about.

The list could go on and on.

However, if I had to narrow everything down, I would say there are five main lessons I’ve learned in my first year of marriage. The funny thing is, I think these lessons apply to life outside of marriage, too. In fact, I wish I had put them into practice more as a single person.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to share them with you.

Here are the 5 biggest things I have learned in one year of marriage that I should have learned (or practiced more) while I was single:

1. You can only be responsible for you.

Now before you start thinking that I’ve gone off on some “Mrs. Independent-only-think-about-yourself train,” let me reassure you that I haven’t. What I’m talking about here is the concept that in conflict, and in life, we can’t control or change anyone except for our self.  Or, in other words, only God can change hearts, and we’re missing the point if we’re focused on what He needs to do in another person’s heart and not on what He needs to do in our own.

In conflict, this plays out when you die to yourself, own your own faults, ask for forgiveness, and do your best to reconcile things, even if the other person is unapologetic or uninterested in the examination of their own behavior. It’s looking inside of yourself and praying for clarity on the places in your heart that are in desperate need of God’s touch – and admitting them. (See Matthew 7:3.)

In action, it’s not doing what you feel like you can do because the other person did something that you feel justifies your response. It’s choosing to not seek revenge or have a hard heart. It’s choosing to use gentle words to explain your case, even if the other person is not. It’s responding rightly, even when it’s hard. (And for me, it’s always hard.)

It’s saying, “Neither one of us did things perfect here, but I’m going to focus on what I did incorrectly, how I caused pain, and ask God to work in me.”

It’s choosing to not waste time pointing fingers at someone else when an opportunity for self-reflection, humility and growth is staring you right in the face.

2. Your hope, identity and satisfaction can only be found in one place.

This one is really difficult for me.

After two big moves (one to Boston and one to Midland) I’ve had to rely on my husband socially more than I ever thought I would have to. In Dallas, where my life was pretty well settled, I had a community of friends, a church I was active in, and a schedule that was full of events. Moving to Boston changed everything, and I looked to my husband to fill in the gaps.  Even the ones he was never meant to fill.

The Lord, through it all, has sweetly reminded me that only He truly satisfies – and his satisfaction is deeply fulfilling.

My husband cannot fill me up. No matter how awesome he is (and he is AWESOME), he will crush my expectations and leave me disappointed – and I will do the same to him. Life isn’t easy and marriage is hard. I cannot put the burden of my satisfaction on his shoulders. He was not created to carry such a heavy load. And no one else is either.

Your job, your family, your boyfriend, your friends, your diet…none of them can truly bring lasting satisfaction. Temporary pleasure? Sure, but it won’t last.

In John 4, we find a story about a woman.

Not only is the woman a Samaritan, which means she’s a social outcast, but she’s also quite promiscuous. Her need for affection or security has drawn her into the arms of five men, none of which are her husband. One day she goes to a well to draw water and she meets Jesus. They talk.

As the woman reaches down to fill her bucket with water, Jesus says to her:

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13 & 14

The satisfaction and fullness that is found in Jesus is beyond comparison. He brings eternal peace and joy. He’s the solution. When all else fails – and when everything is going well – he can be trusted. He quenches our deepest thirsts so that we don’t have to run to temporary things to feel complete. He satisfies.

3. Words are powerful.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned this one the hard way.

Ephesians 4:29 reads like this:  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When emotions are roaring and when conflict hits the fan, these are hard words to live by. Sometimes, instead of speaking the truth with gentleness and in love, I choose to say whatever I think of in whatever manner feels best – and sometimes it hurts others.

Proverbs 17:27&28 reads, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Words are powerful. Calm down, take a breath, and use caution.

4. There is danger in comparison, so watch what you feed yourself.

In every woman’s bible study, this truth is touched on; however, I’ve come to realize that I need to be reminded of it often.

We are officially living in a technology driven world. All around us are status updates, Instagram pictures, and Tweets about how great someone else’s life is. If we’re not careful, we can lose sight of the things the Lord has blessed us with.

I remember the year I graduated from college…

I was on Facebook one night looking at all of my friends who were traveling the world sharing the Gospel with the lost or helping orphans in some foreign country. I remember thinking I was a pathetic individual wasting time in corporate America when there was a life that really meant something out there waiting for me. Instead of thanking the Lord for the place He had me and surrendering to Him to lead me wherever He would choose, I became discontent. I wanted to be anywhere besides where I was.

If I’m not careful, the same thing can happen today.

I see a friend who goes on a romantic date and I start wondering why my husband and I never go on cool dates. I see new moms with their precious new babies and wish I had one. I see pictures of fancy vacations and immediately start wishing I was on a beach somewhere…

I think we’ve all been there.

Lately, I’ve been challenged by this verse found in Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent and praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Although I have a wonderful husband, a roof over my head, and a God who loves me, it’s easy for me to get distracted. When I start comparing my life to the lives of those around me, negativity slowly creeps in. Instead of trusting the Lord with my circumstances and walking with Him through them, I start wishing he had me somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong; social media can be used for great things. At the same time, however, it can be a rather dangerous thing. Comparison is a thief. Choose gratitude.

5. Understanding is the goal.

The Mister and I are very different. He likes numbers, while I like words. He likes thoughts, while I like feelings. He likes to fly, but I like road trips. He wears shoes outside…and sometimes I don’t.

We are VERY different.

Over the past year, I have come to appreciate our differences, for in them is our biggest strength as a couple. They make us a good team. It seems as though his passions and strengths balance out my disdains and weaknesses – and vice versa. Through our differences, we are able to stay balanced and well rounded. At the same time, however, I’ve learned that our differences push us toward conflict and, if not monitored, our conflict can turn into a war.

In pre-marital counseling, we learned that the goal in conflict is not to win but to gain understanding. I think this truth, though hard, is worth remembering.

Most of the time the issue worth talking about isn’t the issue that’s being talked about. For example, it’s not the fact that you HATE talking about finances, it’s the fact that he probably feels disrespected when you won’t. Sometimes it’s not the issues on the surface that are the issues but something a little deeper.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peach of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).

I am no expert in this marriage thing (obviously), but I am grateful for the Word of God and the fact that it is reliable. I’m thankful for the paths He takes us down and the things He shows us along the way. He truly is a guide to the lost and a breath of fresh air to the lifeless.

December 29th, 2013 (Photo creds to Doug Klembara)

The road goes on forever, and the party never ends! (Line taken from Robert Earl Keen although, in this context, it probably doesn’t mean what he intended it to mean originally…) Cheers!

A Few Thoughts on 2013 and the Year Ahead

It’s hard to believe that it is officially 2014. Few things fly as quickly as time.

This past year was quite a whirlwind for me.

The year started while we were on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and it has taken us from a tiny brownstone in Boston to a garage apartment, of sorts, in Midland, TX. I got a new job, quit the new job, and started school, while my husband left the company he was working for to help his father run the family business. We’ve made 3 visits to the ER, almost died kayaking at night through a tree-covered canal (or, at least I thought we were going to die), and have experienced a bombing, a blizzard, and a region-wide, government-ordered lockdown.

The mister and me outside after the blizzard in Boston
First Red Sox game after the Boston Marathon Bombing (and the game where I lost my phone)

It’s been one heck of a year.

I lost my cell phone 3 times (once on the T, once at Fenway, and once at the pool). I learned how to assemble furniture, take the public transportation system in Boston, and how to hook up cable TV and Internet. I learned what a “Zip Car” is and that I should eat before getting into a taxi so that I don’t get sick. Together, the mister and I bought a car and gave away a couch. We went to Jamaica and Mexico, and celebrated a wedding in New York City. My Dallas roommate got engaged, and one of my best friends of over 20 years got married. We watched over 28 episodes of both “How I Met Your Mother” and “Nashville,” and we learned how to make a quiche. We laughed really hard, and I cried a few times. (I tend to express emotion a little more than my husband.)

The mister and me in front of the first car we purchased together
The mister and me in Central Park

Again, it’s been one heck of a year – and it’s been a humbling one for me. I think humility comes with growth, most of the time.

Yesterday morning, as I reflected on 2013, I came across a verse that encouraged me deeply.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:15-21

This verse seems to sum up the struggles I’ve had over this past year. At the same time, it gives me guidance on how to live my life to the fullest in the year to come.

1. “So be careful how you live…Make the most of every opportunity…Don’t act thoughtlessly…”

Over the past year, there have been many times when I’ve only thought about myself, and my own needs, instead of the needs of others.  At moments, I became so narrowly focused that I forgot how to love others well. This verse reminds me of a greater way of living. I’m capable of throwing my life away by living it for myself. I must remember to think. I’ve been given a purpose – and I’m praying I live by it.

2. “Don’t be drunk with wine…Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

This verse isn’t saying that alcohol is wrong, but it is saying that abusing the things the Lord has given us is. For me, this verse not only serves as a warning against a life of drunkenness, but also a warning against living a life that continually chooses the ways of this world over the ways of the Lord. In other words, continually choosing destructive paths over the way of life. Over this past year, I have made a few of those choices. I have chosen to give way to my anger instead of expressing myself in truth and love. I have lusted after things I want and have chosen pleasure over lasting peace. I’m reminded that life isn’t found in fleeting things. “There is [truly] a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25). The Lord created me, and He knows the path that leads to life. I am reminded to stop choosing things he wouldn’t want for me to choose and instead, trust Him with my life and all of the decisions it contains.

3. “Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God…”

All of the changes experienced over this past year have left me feeling discouraged, at times. Leaving old friends, making new ones, and then leaving them has taken its toll, and I’ve struggled with loneliness and isolation.  This verse reminds me that instead of walking around with my head hung down, I ought to worship God and thank him for the wonderful things (both material and not) in my life. My heart should be focused on worship – not on myself. If my head is hung low, I cannot see all that God is doing around me. I’m encouraged to live a life of worship and to be thankful.

4. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Obviously, this one plays out the most in my marriage. (See note on what submission is, and what it isn’t, below.) This verse reminds me that instead of insisting on my own way of doing things (which I’m guilty of), I ought to allow my husband to lead out in our marriage. I ought to listen to him and respect him, instead of only hearing what I want to hear. Allowing my husband to lead us through this life is a way of honoring and worshiping God. What a sweet reminder!

While I spent a lot of last year wishing I were in Dallas, hoping that we could find a church like Watermark (the church I attended in Dallas), or wishing my Dallas friends lived in Midland or Boston, I failed to remember that life is short.

Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

None of us know how long we will walk this earth. We don’t know when our time will be up. The truth is, it could be tomorrow – or even today. My prayer for 2014 is that the Lord teaches me to number my days, and that I remember the truths I was reminded of in Ephesians 5:15-21.

He has given me a purpose. He knows the way to life. Worship. Be thankful. Remember that life is short. Love well and live free.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all of our days.” – Psalm 90:14

Happy New Year! May you live life well in 2014.

Midland, TX sunset

*** I know the word “submission” has a really bad reputation, so I want to reassure you that it is not some weird, twisted, or dehumanizing thing. Submission is not a silent obedience to whatever your husband wants you to do. In the Bible, the husband is given the task of loving his wife like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), which means that a husband is to love his wife by caring for her needs, walking in humility, encouraging her, and laying down his own life to the point of death. (Christ loved us so much that he died a gruesome and horrible death on the cross.) This makes submission not a thing of suppression or abuse but a thing of safety and trust. The goal is that the husband loves the wife so well that she is able to trust him and his leadership of the family…more on this in another post soon.)

The Hope for Our Chaos

The countdown is almost over. Christmas is almost here.

I love this time of year; the Christmas lights, the trees, the music, the cold (or somewhat cold) weather, and the spirit that fills people. It’s truly magical.

Whether or not you believe in the person and work of Jesus, Christmas is a celebration of Him. He was the baby who was born in a cave (or a manger), the one the wise men came to see, and the one who died on a cross 33 years or so later. Whether or not you believe in Jesus, and whether or not you believe that what He claimed/s is true, it’s obvious that He caused a stir in this world – and that things, since Him, have never been the same.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus.

You see, sometimes I hear the story of Jesus’ birth and forget the magnitude of what that birth meant for me. I read the Christmas story and I sing the carols, but I fail to reflect on the fact that Jesus was a real person who came to this earth to die on a cross. I forget to remember that because of his birth, I have hope in the midst of chaos and a salvation that can never be taken away from me.

If I’m being honest with you, this year has had its rough patches. The changes associated with marriage (new locations, new churches, the changing of communities, etc.), the loss of loved ones, and the various battles with deep-seeded idols have left me feeling low at times. In areas where I used to feel strong, I have felt weak, and in areas where I once felt peace, I’ve felt unsettlement. There hasn’t been an area of my life that hasn’t been jostled by the Holy Spirit, it seems.

As I’ve been thinking through all of this stuff, I have thought about Jesus.

On a cold night over 2,000 years ago, God sent his only Son into a world torn by violence, madness, and prejudice to redeem it. He knew his son was going to die on the cross and he knew the world would reject him, but He sent him anyways.

You see, Jesus’ birth is not some distant event; it is something very relevant to us today. It is not some general idea; it is something extremely intimate. On that night, Jesus not only stepped into the confusion and chaos of the world at large, but He also stepped into the chaos and confusion of our hearts – and in that, we can find hope.

Our insecurity, our pride, our lack of forgiveness, our self-concern, our materialism, our bitterness, our unhealthy way of coping with life, our addiction, our worry, our doubt, our temporary fix, our overindulgence, our self-worship, our inability to serve others, our broken heart, our loss, our co-dependency, our need to control everything, and all of our other issues – Jesus stepped into. And I believe He longs to put it all in its proper place.

Isaiah 7:14 reads as follows:

“The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Immanuel means, “God with us.” (See Matthew 1:23.) This is a big deal.

God didn’t see our chaos and run. He saw our chaos and stayed in it. He didn’t flee – and, perhaps, because of this, we can know that our “junk” isn’t too much for Him.

God is with us.

When I feel confused, lonely, worn out, and unsure of what to do, I must remember this. I must remember that there’s nothing too big for Him. He saw the chaos, and He came. He sees the chaos, and He’s still here. I can trust Him.

I don’t know what you’re going through. You may be having the year of your life, or you may be down in the trenches of a battle, but one thing is certain:

God is with us. He is not dead – He hasn’t vanished.

He is the maker of the stars and the healer of our hearts. There is hope.

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing this Christmas, may the joy and hope of Christ fill your heart and mind.

“We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us and eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Merry Christmas!

Something We Can All Be Thankful For

Each November, I watch friends and family complete the “’I’m thankful for _______’ Thanksgiving Challenge” on Facebook. Although I think the idea is genius, and truly believe that gratitude can change even the grimmest pessimist’s heart, this year, I’ve struggled with it.

You see, this year has been hard for a lot of people.

Just in my immediate circle, I’ve had one friend lose a 10 year+ battle with cancer, leaving behind a husband and her kids, while another friend got diagnosed with the disease. I’ve had friends find out they can’t have kids, while one of my other friends lost the baby she was carrying at full-term. Family members have passed, neighbors have lost jobs, and natural disasters have ripped the possessions away from entire communities.

It’s been a rough one – and writing about the “good” things in my life has felt insensitive at times.

Obviously, I know that we should never shy away from being thankful for the things we have, but making a public declaration of them while so many people are suffering…

I think you get my point.

The other day, however, I came across something we can all be thankful for – regardless of economic position, health, size of family, or location – and I want to share it with you.

In case you don’t know, the worship of God used to operate on a code of sacrifices. Now, for the sake of being less wordy than I could be, let me just explain it like this:

God is perfect. He created man and woman in a perfect place and asked them to follow Him, but they chose to sin. (In other words, they chose something they knew would lead them away from God.) Therefore, all of their children were born sinful, and their children after them. Sin (the inability to be perfect) was bred into the family tree of humanity – and no one was/is free of it. Now, fast-forward through multiple Patriarchs (founding fathers of sorts) and you land on the Israelites, a nation of people God set aside to represent him on earth. The Israelites, who were just led out of slavery in Egypt by God’s power through Moses, are wandering in the desert when God gives commands to Moses. The commands lined out the path to a full life and the way to have a relationship with God.

Now, because perfection cannot dwell with imperfection, God (perfection) created a way for man (imperfection) to have a relationship with him. He created the sacrificial system. Sacrifices were listed. Goats, sheep, and other animals were to be killed in order to atone for the sin of the people. Only blood would work – and only the blood of a perfect animal.

Ok…this brings me back to my point.

I was reading the other day, when I came across this verse, and it made me thankful:

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who were ceremonially unclean (too dirty to come before the Lord) sanctif[ied] them so that they [were] outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” – Hebrews 9:13&14

If you’re like me, you’ve felt the weightiness of sin.

You’ve said something you shouldn’t have said, done something you shouldn’t have done, and gone somewhere you didn’t need to be. You’ve hurt people, lied to people, and have pushed others aside. You’ve discounted life to follow your own desires and have felt the emptiness that follows.

Sin stinks – and it’s not a friend to any of us.

There was a time in my life when I tried to fix my issues with sin. I tried to force my sin into a box so that it didn’t affect anyone and didn’t cause harm like it had in the past. However, the stuffing didn’t work.

Hearts can never be changed by external things.

You see, the verse above mentions that the Old Testament rituals that the Israelites performed didn’t save them. The rituals didn’t cleanse their insides because, as the text says, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls to take away sins” (10:4). By faith that God was who he said he was, the Israelites performed sacrifices, but it didn’t do the trick.

Externally, through the sacrifices, the Israelites were made clean, but only through faith in God (which eventually led to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) were they made, internally clean.

Through Christ’s perfect sacrifice (he was without sin), I am made clean. His death covered all of my imperfections making me internally clean before God. Even though I still sin, it doesn’t have to define me because when God sees me, he sees the blood of his Son – the only truly perfect sacrifice.

I can have fellowship with God because His blood covers me. A blood sacrifice has always been his standard.

“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” – Hebrews 10:14

Christ died for me – and he died for you, too. Christ’s death on the cross was enough…forever. No matter how many good things you do, without Christ, you are only cleaning up the outside.

I don’t know where you are or what you believe, but there is a God, He’s faithful, He loves you, and He wants you to know Him. I know Him – and because of that I’m forgiven and bound for Heaven.

In Him, there’s hope that never fades. It isn’t dependent upon anything this world has to offer. Rich, poor, with, or without, it’s available.

I’m thankful for the grace of God and his work on the cross. I’m thankful that he didn’t leave me to die in my sin, but by his compassion and grace (unmerited favor), He saved me.

I’m thankful – and that’s for sure.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” – Hebrews 3:15

What I learned from “Ella Enchanted”

We ellaenchanted1315_l (2)all have our vices – our pits, sticky spots, or hang-ups. You know, those places that you keep falling into even though you try as hard as you can to get out of them?

For some, it’s addiction to alcohol or even exercise. For others it’s perfectionism. It can even be a variety of things mixed together.

Personally, I have many.

Several months ago, my husband and I hit a patch of conflict over how we were going to handle holidays once we moved back to Texas. With each statement shared and each opinion aired, I could feel my internal temperature rising. Seven minutes into the discussion, I felt defeated and unheard. I picked up a shirt, threw it across the room, slammed the door, and said a few things I shouldn’t have.

My anger had gotten the best of me.

I wish I could say that this was the only time I have ever thrown a tantrum in our relationship, but I’d be lying.

Here’s another story.

I have a friend who knows a friend in Boston, and I went to dinner with that friend. Now, “that friend” is super cute. She has a petite frame, a beautiful smile, and can easily pull off any pair of skinny jeans she tries on. As dinner progressed, I noticed that my mind kept shifting off of the conversation and into a mode of comparison. Thoughts like, “I wish I had hair like her,” or “How does she stay so fit?” began to take over.

We wrapped up dinner, and I felt annoyed by the fact that our time had been robbed by my dumb thoughts.

Again, I wish I could say that this was the first – and the last – time I have ever lost time to the negativity of comparison, but…I’d be lying.

My hang-ups are annoying, and if you’re being honest, I think you would say yours are, too!

Last week, I was watching “Ella Enchanted” with my sister-in-law (my husband’s little sister), and I was struck by a deep truth within it.

Ella, played by Anne Hathaway, is a cute little teenager/young adult living in a mystical land called Frell.  At birth, Ella is given the gift of obedience by a fairy and has to follow the commands, both good and bad, that anyone gives her for the rest of her life.

One day, Ella, falls in love with a prince named Char.

Now, Char’s uncle is the king of the land – and he is anything but nice. Driven by greed, Edgar tries to trap Ella into killing Char, the heir to the throne, so that he can be king forever.

On the night of Char’s coronation ball, King Edgar commands Ella to drive a dagger through Char’s heart as Char is proposing to her at midnight. Ella, trapped by the spell, is in a dilemma. Ella knows, at midnight, the spell with kick in, her body will take over, and she will be forced to obey, but in obeying she will kill the love of her life, and the rightful heir to the throne.

THEN something amazing happens…(watch the clip:

Ella hears her late mother’s words and remembers that “what’s inside of her is stronger than any spell.”

She throws down the dagger, and rejoices in her freedom.

We are the same way, aren’t’ we?

We live our lives wrestling with things we hate.

I hate the fact that I don’t handle my anger correctly sometimes, and I hate the fact that I am quick to compare myself to others instead of thinking positively.

Sometimes, our bad habits become who we are – or so they say.

Ella figured out a truth that is worth repeating: What’s inside of us is stronger than any spell.

 “For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:6&7).

In other words, we are free from the spell of sin. Christ’s death and resurrection has rendered sin as powerless in the life of the believer.

If you believe in Christ – his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead – you no longer have to be a slave to sin. You no longer have to do the things that you hate doing. You no longer have to play with your sticky spots or hang-ups.

Ella figured it out – and in the midst of her discovery, she fell to the ground and proclaimed a wonderful reality…

“I’m free. I can’t believe it! I’m free!”

Friends, we are free! May we never forget it.

I go out Walking

This past Saturday, I took a walk.  

Now, when I say “walk,” I don’t mean just a breeze around the block. No – this walk was much more than that.  

All throughout my young adult life, walks have played a part in my spiritual growth. A few years ago, I had a hard conversation with a friend at Starbucks. I left feeling sad and confused about what the Lord was doing in my life. I drove to the nature preserve down the road and went walking. When my job after college wasn’t all that I thought it was going to be, I walked. As I struggled with singleness, I did the same. For an hour or more, I would walk. I would sing. I would pray. I would listen.

Life over the past few months has been interesting.

In the middle of August, my husband and I picked up our Bostonian life and moved to Midland, Texas. I started school, my husband went to work for the family business, and life officially changed. Although many things about the change were wonderful, I had a hard time (and still can have a hard time) adjusting to everything.

You see, I have a problem.

I want to control my life. I want my marriage to look a certain way, and if it doesn’t, I get upset. I want my day-to-day circumstances to operate in a particular fashion, and if they don’t, I try to change them. I see the sin in my life, and despise it. What do I do? You got it! I try to fix it.

Now, before I get too far, I must state the following:

I think seeing negative things in your life and seeking to improve them is a good thing. The harm rests in how you do it. For me, the process consists of self-dependence. I analyze what conversations I need to have, what I need to do, and how I am going to do it. I white-knuckle it. If the issue is anger, I try to stop snapping and instead try to pray through conflict. If it’s discontentment, I strive to be more thankful.

The problem is it doesn’t work.

It’s exhausting, and it’s why I went on a walk.

In Deuteronomy 11, Moses is giving the Israelites instructions for living.

“Observe, therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey…The land you are crossing over the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven…[The Lord] will send rain on your land in season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. [The Lord] will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied” (verses 8, 9, 11, 14, and 15).


The Lord, through Moses, told the Israelites how to live. He promised them that if they lived in accordance to his laws, He would take care of them. They only needed to depend on Him to do it. If they were to fight, He would tell them when and where to go, and would eventually deliver their enemies into their hands. If they needed food, He would supply it. They needed only to trust and obey Him. He would take care of the rest.  

As I walked, I reflected on this.

There are things in my life (and things in my heart) that I want to change. There are things that I know are damaging to myself, as well as others, that I wish would just disappear. Even though, at times, I feel like it’s impossible, I know that the Lord is the solution.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).


Sin has been rendered powerless in my life because of Christ’s death on the cross. I don’t have to mastered by sin.  

I also know that God provides (as seen in Deuteronomy).  

I don’t believe the Lord promises me nice possessions or circumstances that don’t cause pain, but I do believe He is the supplier of joy and peace (Romans 15:13), and He is the giver of life (John 14:6).

Just like He encouraged the Israelites to trust Him and rely on Him for provision, He asks the same of us. Obedience leads to joy and peace, and if we are in need, He is there.

As I walked, I prayed that I would depend on Him and not on myself. I prayed that He would humble me so that, in life and conflict, I didn’t always have to be the winner. I prayed that He would allow me to trust Him with the circumstances in life and train me to respond rightly to them. I praised Him for His goodness, and I rested in His peace.

What’s going to happen during my lifetime is still a mystery, but I do know that, in the end, life will be full. Heaven is going to be amazing, and it’s promised to those who believe. However, as I walk on this earth, I have to remember that I’m not God. I can’t control everything, and even when things I don’t like are happening, I have to let go.

The Lord is the only one with the power to change hearts and the ability to completely control situations. I’m praying that I trust Him.

I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but I do know that He knows where you are, and He listens to your cries. Go on a walk. Let Him know what’s going on. He’s faithful.  

An Ode to 27 (or Something Like That…)

A few weeks ago, I turned 27.

In honor of my new number, I thought about writing out a list of the 27 most interesting things that have happened in the 27 years I’ve been alive. (That list would have included historical events such as the downfall of The Dixie Chicks and the time with Garth Brooks decided to become Chris Gains.) I even thought about writing out the 27 people who have influenced my life the most, but I figured I would save that for a much more…um…monumental year.

So here’s where I landed:

This is what I like to call an ode-that’s-not-an-ode to 27. A list of things I’ve learned over the years that I hope to remember for the rest of my life.  (And, yes. You guessed it. There are 27 of them.)

Ready? Go!


1. Don’t lay on the grass in Texas. Always use a blanket. – If you don’t, you will most definitely get some sort of bug bite, if not 30 of them. Unfortunately, I have experienced this one first hand. My max number of bug bites is 42. Not fun!


2. Addictions aren’t worth it. – After nine years of addiction (anorexia/obsession over food and exercise), I learned that things can and will rule your life, if you let them. These things not only hurt you spiritually, emotionally and physically, but they also hurt those around you.  It’s hard to love others well when you’re always focusing on yourself. Freedom from addiction is soooo sweet, and it’s possible. Talk to someone you trust about it. It’ll be a battle, but the Lord is strong, even in your own weakness.


3. When in conflict, watch your tone. – It’s not always what you say that hurts others but how you say it. Stay calm…you can communicate better that way.


4. Boston always smells like urine or weed. – I love Boston, but it’s true. No explanation needed.


5. Humility is not weakness.– Humility isn’t easy. It’s difficult to praise the annoying girl at work for a job well done, and it’s hard to not brag about some accomplishment you achieved. Humility isn’t weakness. It takes a strong person to live it out. It shows people that you care about something much bigger than yourself – and that’s what you’re choosing to be defined by.


6. Everyone is looking for acceptance and meaning. We all just try to find it in different places.– Whether you’re an attorney, a bus driver, or a stay-at-home heir to billions, you want to be meaningful to someone. In an attempt to find acceptance and a purpose, we pick an identity. For a long time, I tried to be “Lindsey the health nut.” We all have ‘titles’ we are trying to obtain, and we think the content of those “titles” will make others accept us. We find happiness in them because they bring us what we want. The problem is, they will always fail us. (See number 7.)


7. If you try to find your meaning in temporary things, you will end up disappointed. – People will forget you. (I know…it sounds awful, but it’s true.) Just think about it. What was the name of your great grandfather’s father, and what was he good at doing? Unless your great, great grandfather was a president or something, you probably don’t know. I can choose to be “Lindsey the health nut” the rest of my life, but who cares? I think being healthy is important, so I’ll seek to do it, but it’s definitely not where my identity needs to rest. There’s only one place worthy of that. (See number 8.)


8. Eternal life exists in the name of Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins. You see, only a perfect sacrifice would be enough to account for the misdeeds of humanity, and the utter brokenness of our hearts. In order to do this, God sent Jesus – a perfect being without blemish or any sin. He died on the cross taking on the sins of the people (our sin). He rose on the third day declaring that death had been swallowed up by life – and we all could have hope. “If you confess with you mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). It’s eternal. It lasts forever. Your life in Christ never ends. It’s worth knowing and finding your identity in Him. It will never fail you.


9. “Dishwasher soap” and “dish soap” are two different things. – Don’t ever put dish soap in the dishwasher. I flooded my parents’ kitchen that way. You can ask them about it. Just trust me, and don’t do it.


10. Resolve conflict early. – You never know if tomorrow is going to happen for you. If you’re in an argument or disagreement with someone, resolve it. No one wants to live with regret for the rest of his or her life.


11. Sisters are a gift from God. – If you have one, you know what I’m talking about.


12. Right now, you’re setting habits for the future. – What do you want your life to look like in 10 years? If you want to be a woman or man of the Word, if you want to be an encouragement to your spouse or your kids, if you want to be a person of prayer, get on it now. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).


13. Coping mechanisms don’t work forever. – Finding a new relationship, a new hobby, or a new favorite dessert does not take the place of healing. Often times, the things we do to take our minds off of the pain we feel only serve as Band-Aids. At some point, it is going to get ripped of, and your wound is going to be exposed. Deal with your problems in a healthy way. Work through them. You’ll save yourself some grief in the future.


14. Clean up as you go.– My dad championed this phrase when I was growing up…and when I lived with them as a young adult. If you don’t do this, you end up spending hours just picking up around the house. As I look at the mess on the floor of our apartment, I hate the fact that I don’t have this one mastered, yet.


15. Community is vital.– Without a group of solid people around me, I would probably make worse decisions than I already do. Having people ask me the important questions in life gives me the accountability needed to live it to the fullest. Being known is important…I would suggest it to anyone.


16. Applesauce is a good substitute for butter. – I have my Grandma Betty to thank for this one.  Her cinnamon rolls were awesome…


17. You only get one body. Take care of it. – Eat well. Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full. Find some type of physical activity you enjoy doing, and do it often. If you eat out of emotion (or choose to starve yourself out of emotion), find out what the root is, and talk to someone about it. Pray for help. Glorify the Lord with your eating habits. If you do, you won’t regret it.


18. A lot of people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. – I read a book called “Hold in Our Gospel” several years ago, and my perspective on water completely changed. Some people around the world don’t have water to drink. They are really thirsty. Their mouths are dry and all they want is something to drink. A simple resource that we have in abundance others are longing for. We’re blessed. We truly are.


19. You never regret time spent in God’s word. – God’s word is living and active. It changes lives. Spending time learning about God and how to live in light of who He is, is one of the most important things we can do each day. It’s worth abandoning TV shows, a few extra hours of sleep, or an early morning run for.


20. If you want to grow, you have to train on the hills. – Running on flat land is a breeze. If you want to get faster and stronger, you have to hit the hills. They are harder, but they produce a better athlete. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the rough break up, the crazy battle with addiction, or my struggles with insecurity. Hills happen, but you have to keep running. The Lord will use them for your good. Trust Him and persevere.


21. In bowling, a “turkey” is not a bird. – I got a “turkey” (three strikes in a row) while on the bowling team in high school. Instead of rejoicing, I explained that I didn’t want one. I thought they were going to give me a turkey, and Thanksgiving was still 9 months away.


22. Side hugs are kind of awkward. – In the South (especially in the more conservative South), side hugs are an everyday occurrence. If you see a friend of yours, you simply walk up to them, wrap one arm around them, and give them a squeeze. It’s simple, and no one thinks twice about it. In the North, however, it’s different. Up here, a side hug always ends awkwardly – and you (the side hugger) are always the reason for it.


23. I’m not above anything. – I am capable of causing a lot of harm in this world. If I’m not careful, I will end up doing things that could hurt others and myself. I am capable of being a bad parent, a mischievous bride, and a drug addict. If I think I am above sin, I will sin. If I think that I am defensible, I will live too casually and make bad decisions.  We are all broken and, with the help of a weak moment, can do terrible things.


24. Men and women are very different – and not just in anatomy. – For some reason, it took me a long time to figure this one out. I always assumed that men saw the world through the same set of eyes as women, but after a short 7 months of marriage (and talking with several other women and men I know) I realize I was desperately mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the differences – it’s still just still a little mind-blowing to me sometimes.


25. Practice really does make perfect. – My dad used to push me to practice guitar. I never wanted to. Today, I wish I would have. You really can lose some things…


26. I was not created without thought. – Some people argue that we all came from a random collision of matter. I wasn’t, and I don’t believe you were either. I believe you were designed and pieced together in your mother’s womb, and that, in that process, you were given natural bents and talents. There are things that will come easier to you than they do to others. Dig into those things. Get to know yourself and the way the Lord created you. Cultivate your talents, your God-given abilities, and use them for good. You were created for a reason.


27. Life is short, and you never know when it’s going to end. – This one sounds completely awful and depressing, but I think it’s important to remember it. I mean, many of us have experienced the death of someone we know who died too young. I’m only 27, but I may not make it to 28. Remembering that life is short helps me seek to live it right. Love much. Speak truth. Don’t waste time.

I love odes-that-aren’t-odes. Don’t you?

Here’s to life and the lessons that it brings! May we all live life to the fullest, learn a ton, and laugh often.

Marathon Monday

By now, the whole world knows. It’s been a little crazy up here in Boston.
From Monday’s bombing to Friday’s “manhunt,” things have definitely been…um…intense. I first sat down to write this post the day after the bombing and have a hard time finishing it.
The truth is, there are so many things a person can takeaway from the events that have happened in Boston (and in West, Texas and all over the world). Part of me wants to examine my life and the things in it that I count as utterly important that I probably wouldn’t, if I truly understood how short life on earth really was and is.  The other part of me wants to write about my sorrow surrounding the position of “Suspect #2” (how he’s a 19 year old that potentially had a full life ahead of him, but he chose a path that leads to destruction and, now, is an Enemy of the State). I’d write about how my heart longs for him to come to know the Lord and how I believe even he, the criminal, can be saved by the grace of God. (I will, most likely, still write about these things in future posts.)
Today, though, I want to finish the post I started on Tuesday, April 16th.
This post may feel kind of grim because it’s about the first thing that comes to a person’s mind after a tragedy. The world would maybe call it the second darkest thing after the heinous crimes of the individuals that caused the crime itself. My point, however, is not to scare people, but to share the hope and the certainty that is in Christ.
What you’ll read is how the event happened in my life, and what I first gathered from it. (Exhale…)
So, in an attempt to make this post as short as possible, here we go…
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
As the news channels display the pictures, and government officials try to explain to the world what is going on, I’ve been thinking…
Last week, all of the setup began. The medical tent was placed a short distance from the finish line, bleachers were set up, and the city seemed to be getting busier by the second. It was going to be my first Boston Marathon experience (as a spectator, of course), and I was excited.
I walked to work an hour early Monday morning.
You see, “Marathon Monday” tends to put the city in a buzz. People line up everywhere, roads are blocked off, and several of the T stations are put to rest. Let’s just say, this makes getting around a little more difficult than normal. I didn’t mind, too much.
Monday morning, things were quiet.
A few spectators were gearing up outside of my office, as I walked to the eatery next door. I bought a coffee, went upstairs, and began reading a book. I had about an hour, and I figured I might as well relax a little bit before the day’s festivities began. As I ate, I heard people talking about the race. Excitement, mixed with nervous anticipation, seemed to be everywhere.
Around 8:20am, I walked next door, went up the elevator, and sat down at my desk – about 100 yards away from the finish line.
The office was busy.
We had been given a challenge a few weeks ago. If we met our goals, the second half of Monday would be a Patriot’s Day celebration. We would get out of the office and experience some of the activity outside by the finish line. We hadn’t met the goals, yet – and everyone was frantically trying to do so.
As noon hit, the first runner was making their way across the finish line.
Wanting to see some of the action, I left for my lunch break and ventured down to the edge of the street. Due to the mass amount of people, I couldn’t get to the finish line. I peaked around and over people, tried to squeeze through, but eventually decided that I’d just have to wait until later to see everything clearly.
I grabbed some pretzels from CVS, and I walked back to work. Several of us ate by the window of our office so that we could see “the zombies” pass by (runners who had finished the race who were a little stiff legged).
By the time 2:00pm hit, everyone in the office was back in “go” mode. Phone calls were being made, deals were being discussed, and leads were being sourced. I had just finished texting my mom about their trip to Boston (they were due to fly in the next day) and refocused my attention on the work in front of me.
Minutes later (at 2:50pm) a loud noise shook our building – and everything in my office stopped.
All of us looked up from our computers, stood up, and ran to the window that overlooked the “recovery area” of the finish line. Within two seconds the scene shifted from looks of victory to horror. It seemed like only 5 seconds passed when another loud boom echoed throughout Boston.
People started running.
Athletes who had just finished running over 26 miles, and could barely walk, began sprinting down the street below us. People in nearby buildings began running outside away from the finish line area. Medical personnel and cops began running against the wave of people toward the scene.
Not quite sure what had happened, I looked up and saw the John Hancock Tower (the tallest building in Boston and the place where my husband works). Everything seemed to fine. I exhaled in relief.
The office was in a complete frenzy. Some people thought a gunman was on the loose. A few thought the finish line (a very large metal beam) had fallen. Others thought bombs were the cause. Intentional or not, we didn’t know. All we knew was that something terrible was happening. We couldn’t see what had happened, but we were right by it.
A few seconds later, a “tweet” and a picture came across my colleague’s screen. The finish line of the Boston Marathon had been bombed…twice.
I began to imagine what we couldn’t see. I looked at the emergency vehicles stacking up down the street. “How could something like this happen? What if my husband was down there? What if he had left his office to watch his friend cross the finish line? What is going on? Where is he?” 
I ran to my desk. My husband had called. I picked up my phone and dialed his number…no answer. I tried again, but this time, my phone wasn’t working. I picked up the landline and finally got through to his work voicemail:
“Hey. I saw that you called. I think a bomb went off. I’m okay. I see your building. It looks fine, so I’m thinking you’re okay, too. I love you.” (Or something like that.) I set the phone down, and my heart began racing. What we didn’t know and the fear of what could happen next was chilling.
The next few seconds were a blur, but the next thing I knew, my husband was in my office. He, after being alarmed by his secretary that a bomb had gone off, told those he could to evacuate and then ran down 42 flights of stairs, unsure of what he would see when he got out of the building. Would my office building be in flames? He couldn’t get a hold of me. Was his building next? He called his parents and asked them to pray.
Once outside, he ran across the street, past a few cops who were trying to stop him, and into my building.
Ten minutes after the first bomb had gone off, we were together and maybe even safe.
As everyone in the office debated whether or not we should stay or leave, we watched people outside of the window. Streets were being shut down, volunteers were turning over tables and throwing them out of the way so that medical vehicles could get through, people with stretchers were running toward the medical tent, and camera men were running with cameras toward the scene.
The sirens in our building sounded. We grabbed our bags, ran out of our office, down the stairs, and out the back door of the building into the alley. As police officers begged for people to clear the area (they didn’t know if another bomb was going to go off), Caleb and I prayed. We walked home (very quickly) calling family and friends. We were okay.
I know this is a lot of detail, and, if you’re like me, you’re probably not interested in the stories anymore. At this point, I kind of just want answers. However, I tell these things so that I can make my point clear:
Death happens.
I know this is a terribly awful statement for a lot of people to read after watching the horrific events on Monday, but I think it’s one of the most important things a person can think about. The answer can even shape the rest of your life.
You see, I believe that life lasts forever.
The Bible speaks of two different eternities – eternal life, or heaven, and eternal death, also known as hell (See Matthew 25:46). The Bible also says that God wants EVERYONE to know him and have eternal life (2 Peter 3:9). He even provides us with a solution so that we don’t have to experience eternal death.
You see, God created man – he created you and me. He created man to do good things and live life with a pure heart, not causing pain or hurt or chaos to anyone or anything. It was a beautiful creation. He gave us Eden a perfect and beautiful place. He wanted good for us. (And He still does.) God told Adam and Eve that they could eat anything in the garden, except for the fruit of one tree – “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” He wanted them to choose to love and obey Him, not be forced into it. They chose a different path.
Adam and Eve ate the apple and, by doing so, chose to go against the provision that the Lord had for them…perfection.  Sin entered (See Romans 5:12).
We, just like Adam and Eve, are not perfect and make mistakes that cause harm, hurt, chaos and confusion to others. (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23) Sin, in its original language, is an archery term that means “missing the mark” – and the Bible says the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
But there’s hope.
The Bible also says that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It reads, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He paid the price for our sin. He died, and His death ransomed us. His death declared us righteous (or in right standing) before God. It’s a gift. We didn’t, and don’t, have to earn it (Ephesians 2:8).
Today, I live by this truth: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
He is life. Eternal life. (John 3:16)
I guess what I’m trying to say, is there is an answer. “The afterlife” doesn’t have to be a scary, uncertain, mythological thing. You can know.  You don’t have to wonder. You can walk through life knowing that even if death happens, it’s not over. There’s no fear in death. What a relief!
When the bombings happened, everything stopped. What people were doing didn’t matter. What everyone had planned didn’t either. All that mattered was life – what it was and how to save it.  
My prayer is that events like this would make us stop and think. May those who know the Lord rest in the fact that in Him and Him only is eternal life and you have nothing to fear. May those who feel uncertain, search for the truth. Don’t let anxiety or awkwardness stop you. Search for the answer. There is one.  
What you think about it could shape the rest of your life. 

Depending…but not on myself.

There’s one message that I’ve been hearing loud and clear lately: “Depend on Me.”

When I say I’ve heard this, I don’t mean in some loud, audible voice, but rather, I mean, in a constant, every-time-you-read-you’re-going-to-get-to-this-point type of way. You know what I’m talking about? Every deeply focused conversation, every time I see the brokenness in my own life and in the lives around me, and every time I pick up the Bible, I am gently reminded of the same thing…

We are desperate people who can only make it through life with a sincere dependence upon the Lord. (And by ‘make it through life’ I don’t mean merely survive – for all of us can do that to a certain extent. I mean live a life that points others toward a God of grace, love, and eternal life. I mean to live life in a way that outlives you – that has an eternal impact that reaches beyond yourself. That’s what I mean…)

Life has been moving pretty fast for the past several months (which is probably the reason why I haven’t updated my blog in a while). I got married (on December 29th), went on a SWEET honeymoon to Puerto Rico, moved to Boston, and began living in 600 square foot apartment with Mr. Weatherl, my husband. Between the wedding festivities and living with a man for the first time in my life, things have been…well…a little all over the place.

(I have to confess that the funniest moment post-honeymoon has been trying to explain to my husband what a duvet cover is. Hint to all future wives: Just tell him it’s a pillowcase for a comforter.)


Last Thursday, I felt defeated. Marriage felt hard. Being a woman felt hard. Past struggles started to creep back up, and all I wanted to do was…I don’t know…watch a movie or something. Since it was the beginning of the day, I had the notion that I should do something more productive with my time and work to redirect my thoughts on something beyond myself and the way I was feeling.

I opened the Bible and was encouraged by what I read.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked…but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).


I want to live this way. I want to live a life that is strong, one that is fruitful (brings nourishment to others), and one that draws people toward the Lord, but, if I’m being honest with you (as I am being), this isn’t the way I’ve been living lately.

Marriage has made this clear to me.

I can be passive aggressive at times. I can use my tongue to say destructive things rather than constructive things. I lack gratitude for the things the Lord has blessed me with – and the things He has withheld from me. I often times turn to coping mechanisms to deal with frustration and anger instead of Jesus and his ability to help me.

I end up lost and feeling like I’m stuck in an endless cycle of bad decisions and bad attitudes – and I don’t know how to get it to stop.

The magic word is dependence.

Psalm 1 doesn’t tell me how to fix myself, but instead encourages me to focus on Jesus. Psalm 1 doesn’t ‘dog’ on me and tell me I’m not doing good enough, it just reminds me to think about how the Lord is enough.  Psalm 1 tells me that there’s blessing in walking with the Lord. By walking with the Lord, even if hard things happen and everything in life seems to be going in the opposite direction than I had planned, there’s a deep down assurance that He’s in control and, ultimately, I am going to experience life to the maximum capacity in Heaven. While I’m here on earth, though, the goal is to delight in Him (and if I don’t, I should pray that I do).

Rejoice in who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s doing.

Meditate on Him, think about Him, and don’t just compartmentalize Him to one part of your day.

Let Him own your day…every day.

Don’t make of a list of dos and don’ts – just depend on Him, and He’ll grow me.

You see, my life was once marked by chaos and distance from God, which meant that my destiny was not looking great, but because of Jesus, and His ability to call my heart to His, my life has been flipped around and set in a different direction.

My relationship with God started with dependence. It started with the surrendering of myself and the way I had been doing things for a new way of life – a new way of thinking. It started by seeing the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross and believing that it was the ultimate and most perfect sacrifice that could be made for mankind, and placing my trust in it. Salvation didn’t come to me through self-dependence or my own ability to be good enough – it came through believing He was enough.

Today, as I’m navigating through life, dependence is still the goal.

When I feel lonely because I miss my Dallas friends and just want to be upset about it, I must depend on Him to comfort me. When I feel confused about the direction to take job wise, I must depend and trust in His ability to lead me. When I don’t know how to handle marital conflict or how to be an encouraging wife, I must depend on Him to humble me and open my eyes to all of the wonderful things happening around me.

Dependence. It’s always been dependence.

Oh, how quickly I forget.

It Never Runs Out on Me

Right now, there are about 10 other things I should be doing. From wedding shower thank you cards to laundry, the list is in desperate need of attention…but I’m sitting here, computer in lap, typing out my thoughts.

I haven’t written in a while – and tonight is the night.

Since the last time I wrote, I got engaged, started planning a wedding, and moved out of an apartment I loved and shared with one of the coolest people ever. Things have felt pretty crazy, and all of the transition has come with a lot of different emotions. It’s been a lonely season and one that has shown me just how desperately I need the Lord to sustain and comfort me. Through responding badly to random frustrations or pride in thinking that I know the best way to handle things, I have definitely had my fair share of humbling moments. On top of this, I feel pretty apathetic in my walk with the Lord. My vision seems clouded, and I don’t have the drive I used to have to really know and follow Him.

 It’s discouraging – and I hate talking (or typing) about it.

If I’m being honest, part of me wants to pretend. I want to put on an act that convinces you that I’m on fire for the Lord and am passionate about following Him, but, right now, I don’t feel that way, and I don’t think it’s worth lying to you. Why?

Two reasons:

1. Being real is beautiful.

Several years back, I was walking around the Texas Tech campus listening to a Podcast from Watermark Community Church. On the podcast, several people stood up and told the congregation about how the Lord had rescued them from chaos and pain to deliver them into a life lived in reliance upon Him. I was deeply moved.

Each person that spoke took responsibility for their actions, explained the path their decisions took them down, and even confessed the underlying condition of their heart. It was a dramatic moment for me. As I walked to my class in tears, I remember thanking the Lord for his grace and the way he used the honesty of others to remind me of it.

When we act like we have it all together, we miss out on opportunities to show others just how big the love of our God is.

Today, as I sit here with a heart that feels lazy, entitled, and okay with being lukewarm, I know that the Lord wants more of me. He desires all of me. Even in my selfishness and desire for control, He sees me as someone worth pursuing. He loves me as I am and loves me enough to mold me into a person who looks to Him alone for life.

Even if your pride (I’m included in this “your”) and arrogance stops you (again, I’m included here) from being honest with others, the Lord always knows where you are. The challenge is getting over yourself and the image you try to keep and letting others in on the messy parts of your life.  We all have them.

I truly believe the Lord uses honesty.

2.  The lessons learned in the not-so-fun seasons are worth sharing with others.

Again, this season hasn’t been easy. I’ve felt my flesh bite at me and I’ve wanted, more times than not, to give in. At times, the emotion in my heart has felt so overwhelming that I have not been able to step outside of it. I’ve responded poorly…almost every time.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this verse, and it hit me in the face:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who build his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7: 24-27).

I want to be someone who has a firm foundation. I want to be assured that when a storm comes, my life will be secure and I will be unwavering.

The trial comes in my response to the storms.


When I feel overwhelmed by loneliness or when I feel aggravated when things aren’t going the way I want them to, I have to remember that I made a commitment to follow Christ. My emotions are not bad, for even God is an emotional God, but it’s how I respond that matters in the end. Do I let the storms in my life create a storm in my heart that leads me to destruct my self and others? Or do I break and crumble in every situation I don’t like and can’t control?

The Word challenges me to put into practice that which I’ve heard and read in its pages. Those pages tell me to trust the Lord and not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). They tell me to be patient and joyful in the midst of hardship (Romans 5:3-5), and to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). They tell me that the Lord loves us and because of this love He has compassion on us (Lamentations 3:22), and that the Lord is worth relying on (2 Timothy 2:13).

I must step back, breath out, pray, and put into practice the things the Lord entrusts to me. He’s certain and can be trusted. To be firm in my faith, I must let Him be my certainty and the rock on which I build my life.

Several months ago, I went through a pretty big trial in my life. I remember, on several occasions, lying in bed unable to sleep when all of a sudden I would start humming, and then singing, this song – and it brought a little comfort to my heavy heart.

“Higher than the mountains that I face,

Stronger than the power of the grave,

Constant through the trial and the change,

One thing remains.

One thing remains.

Your love never fails,

It never gives up,

It never runs out on me.

Your love never fails,

It never gives up,

It never runs out on me.”

-“One Thing Remains.” Jesus Culture.

Exhale and let that soak in…

I don’t know where you are, but just in case you are, or ever have been, where I am today, I wanted to offer you a bit of encouragement.

The Lord loves us. He sees us – mistakes, failures, accomplishments, and all – and stands with open arms asking us to give him our lives. He didn’t save us when we were perfect; in fact, he told us that he came to heal the sick.

What a loving God He is! He chose me when I could do nothing for Him. I ran and He chased me.

Whatever you’re going through, know that He’s faithful. In your pride and satisfaction with living life the way you want, he doesn’t change. In your sorrow, he’s still the same.

His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on…

Take comfort.