Thursday, January 26, 2012

Married Life, Day #195


This may not be the case for everyone, but for me, I have found that it's the little things that really seem to matter and impact me the most. I don't need grand gestures all the time; the simple day to day things that Mike does to let me know he loves me are what really melt my heart. Just knowing that he was thinking about me and is paying attention to the little things that I enjoy, or feeling like I'm being protected or taken care of in some way...well, it just fills my love tank  :)

Whether it's remembering some of my favorite things to surprise me with...

...or waking up early with me (even though he doesn't have to be up yet) and then making my lunch for me. With a sweet note attached. Every day...

No really- I have a drawer full of lunch notes.

...or coming home to learn I don't have to clean the house because he's already done it, or coming home to my bed "turned down" for me because he knows it has been a long day...

...yep. It's the little things that make all the difference in the world.

In any relationship, there is talk of love languages and how you best feel loved and show love. If you are familiar with the 5 love languages, I happen to be Acts of Service and Quality Time (could you have guessed?) Mike happens to be Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. I actually think about these so-called "languages" a lot in our marriage. For me, words mean very little...not that they're not important, because they are. Hearing "I love you"or how Mike feels about me is definitely important to me. But at the end of the day, I want him to show me he loves me. My brain constantly thinks, "Actions speak louder than words. It's nice when you tell me that you love me, but I really know that you love me when you show me."

But while I may not value words as much, they're crucial for Mike. I constantly have to remind myself that it may be fine and dandy for me to be doing things to show him that I love him (which is my default and something easier for me, since I already speak that language). And don't get me wrong. Mike feels loved when I do things for him and when we spend time together. But at the end of the day, his brain constantly thinks, "It's nice that you did that for me, but it would mean so much more if you would tell me how you feel. Tell me that you're proud of me and why. And then be sure to hold my hand and hug me often."  :)

Please don't misunderstand me; I value the biblical description of love and how it calls us to act contrary to our flesh and put someone else before yourself.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. 
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

As Christ-followers, we experience the ultimate form of love in the sacrifice and redemption of Jesus. And it's only because of Him that we are even capable of loving others in a way that brings glory to His name. The 1 Corinthians description of love is certainly not saying, love this way only if it comes naturally to you or is easy. The beauty of this love is that it is selfless. It requires us to think beyond ourselves and truly consider others first.

But I also believe the Lord has uniquely wired our human hearts to give and receive love in practical ways. I really want to be able to speak Mike's love language. I want to be sure that I'm not always trying to love him the way that makes sense to me (which is often what I end up doing). Instead, I want to love him the way that fills his love tank. And the truth is, that takes prayer, work, and selflessness. It's easier to love someone in a way that makes you feel loved. It's much more challenging to love someone in a way that has nothing to do with you. Mike's a lot better at speaking my love language than I am at speaking his, so I have some work to do. I need some practice in order to become more fluent in his love language, if you will (Might as well use the play on words. Go with me, here.) The fact of the matter is that I love Mike and think he's the greatest. But I need to work on telling him that way more often than I do. So that is my challenge: become fluent in Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. Because I want my husband to really know how much I love him.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Revived Hobby

So I decided that I needed a hobby. Not because I have a mass amount of free time on my hands, because I certainly don't, but simply because I am missing being creative. With all of the wedding planning over, I haven't done much to express my creativity in awhile. I made a centerpiece for Christmas, but that's pretty much it. I'm not the most creative person (thank you Pinterest for revealing how absolutely devoid of craftiness I truly am), but I do enjoy a few creative outlets now and then. And since January is National Hobby Month (who knew?), I thought it was perfect timing.

There are tons of hobbies I would love to take up, but for right now I need one that is inexpensive, practical, and simple to do. So I landed on reviving an old hobby: CROCHETING. My mom taught me how to crochet when I was really young, and I really enjoyed it. Can't really say why I stopped a few years back...just got busy I guess. So I borrowed some needles and practice yarn from my mom and have picked it up again. Like riding a bike...sort of  ;)

It's inexpensive. Yarn doesn't cost much, especially if you catch sales and/or use coupons. The needles can be pricey, but once you have a few sizes in your toolbox, you're set to go. And there are tons of free patterns online too!

It's practical. You can make your own homemade scarf or hat. And don't forget about fun gifts for other people! Particularly all those baby-having friends of yours ;)

It's simple. I had the advantage of already knowing how to crochet and just had to practice a little to pick it back up. But once you get the hang of it, it's pretty simple. You don't have to think much, especially if you already know a pattern. There are a lot of great tutorials available for free online. Pinterest led me to a Crochet School website that seems pretty straight forward, but YouTube is also a great resource.

So my first project? A scarf. Because (a) it's winter, (b) I like scarfs, and (c) the pattern includes straight rows haha. I did change the original pattern a little (by adding extra rows) to make the scarf slightly wider, but I think it turned out alright for a first attempt. I even wore it to work yesterday.

(Please excuse the craziness that calls itself my hair)

Materials: 1.5 skeins of Loops & Threads Charisma Yarn in Espresso
Tools: Crochet Hook Sizes K and N, scissors
Total Project Cost: $4.50 (heck. yes.)

It's a fun hobby for now. I'm looking forward to starting my next project! :)


Friday, January 13, 2012

Home Church

Mike and I have been praying for opportunities to use our home in gospel-centered ways. From being a "home base" for neighborhood kids and Christmas parties to simply having people over for dinner and friendship, we want very much for our little home to be used for God's purposes. We are convinced the Lord led us to this specific little rent house in McKinney to accomplish great things for His glory. It's kind of fun that we are starting to see glimpses of that!

One specific opportunity we have been praying for is the chance to open our home for Bible study. Through the Lord's faithful provision of relationships and connections, we have been able to do just that. This week we hosted our first "Home Church" gathering! Not only has the Lord provided sweet friends and mentors to partner with us in this journey, He has also provided new friends who want to study with us and go deeper with Jesus.  It was exciting to see our living room full of people that the Lord had brought together. People that we didn't even know existed 6 months ago, but whom the Lord knew by name.

This first week was such a blessing and encouragement. We are excited about the gathering of both believers and (as Mike phrased it) "not-yet" believers to dive deeper into the Word, and we look forward to the weeks to come as we walk through the book of John together. Please pray for us as we lead this study. While yummy snacks and a welcoming home are important, they are not what stirs people's hearts or transforms lives. Please pray that we can be gracious and loving hosts, but more importantly please pray that the Spirit moves and that truth is made known. We know that there is an enemy who does not want to see a study like this happen, and who has already thrown in obstacles. So please pray for protection from spiritual distractions and attacks. We don't want to become a "club" of people, hanging out, doing the "Jesus" thing. We want to be an active, growing community of disciples. Please pray that people feel safe to ask questions and challenge each other to dig deeper and live differently. And above all else, please pray that Christ's name is proclaimed and glorified in our home.

And if you just so happen to find yourself in the McKinney area on a Wednesday night, come join us! There most likely will be guacamole and good discussion about Jesus :)


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jesus is Calling...

A new pretty cupcake calendar for the new year? Yes please! :)

I changed out my calendar at work this morning, and I have to say that my new cupcake-a-month calendar makes me very happy. But it also meant I was back to reality. Holidays and vacation time are over, and it is time to get back into the swing of things. But while "normal" life may be resuming, there is definitely a sense of a fresh start and new beginnings. I know, isn't that usually how a new year works? :)

I have never really been one to make new year's resolutions. It's not that I don't have goals, it's just that over the years, I have needed to shift my focus a bit. In the past, my goals have tended to be self-focused (in a bad way), and I spent a lot of time and effort seeking my own agendas and things I thought were important...only for the Lord to direct me otherwise. So I'm not against goals; goals are good to have. I just tend to feel constrained by resolutions made at the first of the year. That's probably weird, but I can't help it. So I typically skip the new year's resolutions, and just start new things and set new goals whenever the Lord lays them on my heart. It keeps my thoughts a little more focused, allowing me the freedom to wait on the Lord and follow His leading. Whatever works, right? ;)

With that being said (goals or not), there is undoubtedly something refreshing about the start of a new year. A fresh start and new beginnings. The last few months have been a whirlwind, and I feel as though I have been in survival mode. The transition away from friends and community and into a more intense work commute proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated. There were many days when this routine-loving (and somewhat routine-dependent) girl struggled to make it through without feeling like I was completely losing my mind. My heart became complacent, and I allowed my circumstances to dictate my attitude (in a negative way). I lost sight of my purpose and my blessings. And what is usually the case when I lack discipline and focus, my sinful heart bred frustration, discontent, a complaining spirit, and a prideful heart. Yuck. Double Yuck.

Enter my saving grace.

I praise God for His abundant (and absolutely undeserved) grace and mercy. That He doesn't allow us to continue in our sin, and that He disciplines those He loves (= me). That His Word is true and faithful, meant "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." A few weeks ago, I started a study of the book of James with my sweet friend Laura. In many ways, she has been an unending source of encouragement to me. From listening to me complain and gently helping me recognize my sin, to lovingly walking through this transition time with me...the Lord has definitely used her to speak to me.

We have been walking through the book of James, and it has been like a salve for my soul. Partly because James has some strong and convicting words that I have long needed to hear, but mostly because I needed to be back in a consistent study of the Word. I have been praying for the return of a deep longing and hunger for His Word (because my confession is that I lost it for awhile), and He has been faithful to provide it.

I told Laura the last time we met to talk through our study that I feel as though a cloud has lifted. I can't tell you what has changed; nothing about my circumstances have changed. But I can tell you that it is a relief, accompanied by peace and hope, that I am certain comes only from the Lord. That's not to say that the days ahead won't be difficult; I will have to diligently seek the Lord and rely on Him to stay focused. But He has encouraged my heart and has provided the strength I need to face the days ahead with a renewed sense of purpose and hope.

In addition to studying James with Laura, I am walking through a Bible-In-A-Year plan. I actually haven't worked through a specific plan in several years, so I am excited to be purposeful in making it through the entire Bible in one year. This specific plan walks through 6 different sections of the Bible in a week (Poetry, Pentateuch, Old Testament History, Prophets, New Testament History, Epistles). It's a different approach that I am pretty excited about. For Christmas, my mom gave me a devotional written by Sarah Young called "Jesus Calling." It's a collection of words and Scriptures that Jesus laid on the author's heart. A little like when I wake up to whispers from God or He places a song on my heart. Her journey of transforming her prayer life into more of a dialogue (as opposed to a monologue) is written as if Jesus Himself is talking to you. Perfect for where I am right now.

The Lord has repeatedly brought to mind the following verses...

"Be still and know that I am God..."
Psalm 46:10

"Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!"
Psalm 105:4

So my charge for the coming weeks is to simply LISTEN. To relearn how to be in and experience the presence of God. Jesus is calling....I want to be ready to listen and hear His voice.