I am in pain. Not physical pain (not right now) but pain none-the-less. Sitting in the dentist’s office, with an x-ray of my teeth sitting in front of me and a dental hygienist across from me, I listened as she explained. She explained what each picture meant. What each color meant. What needed to be fixed. How much it would cost. She was sweet. She knew that I am a 26-year-old newlywed with no health insurance that works as a server in a restaurant (despite my college degree). It hurt her that I – a complete stranger even though she knew my complete dental history – could not afford to fix all the problems.
As tears rolled my down cheeks, she comforted me. She told me that she understood. The story about her daughter (who is in the same position but has a higher paying non-dream job with benefits) was nearly helpful. I didn’t sob. But it all overwhelmed me. I felt stuck. Stuck in a position that I couldn’t do anything about. I remembered this feeling. I knew it well.
Years ago I put myself into a dark hole. This hole wasn’t one that money could fix. There was no easy fix. Deep depression caused by my own poor decisions and choice to walk away from my Father. It was worse than the decay that had been slowly working it’s way into my teeth. But it worked the same way. It was slow and it ate away at the healthy parts of my life. My relationships with my parents and friends. My relationship with my Savior which I attempted to sever. I made choices – life choices – while in that hole that would affect me forever.
Looking back it’s crazy to think how often I uttered the words, “I will never get married.” Never. That is an absolute word. Know what I love about absolutes? They are absolute. But that wasn’t one. I tried to make it one. I pushed people away. I built high high walls and no matter how well people climbed, how big their explosives were, the wall was not coming down and could not be scaled. I refused. I was in charge…or at least I thought.
God broke down that wall. He didn’t work at it brick-by-brick. He blasted it with his God-sized artillery. I wasn’t prepared. I ended up in His arms, in pain, and not knowing what to do. That non-physical pain that overwhelmed my body makes today’s dentist visit seem simple. It’s not simple. It’s not easy. But know what I have now that I didn’t realize that I had then? You’re right: Jesus.
He’s here. With me. In this. Provider. Savior. With good for His girl. His girl.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!”
It’s morning as I write this but I realize that it may not be morning as you read it. I’m sitting in the place that I spend my mornings – the left side of my sofa. Listening to the sound of raindrops outside and looking at my yellow tea cup next to me, I relax. In this place, I get ready for my day. I open up my Bible and prepare to have time alone with my Father and Savior. My teal Bible with little engraved flowers flowing down one side sits next to my large green and white journal full of prayers and hopes that I’ve cried out to God along with the Truths and promises and commands that He has shown me over the past year.
My yellow tea cup and ducky infuser
Mornings are a sweet time. It’s still quiet. Light is just starting to shine through the window. The long to-do list hasn’t begun to stress me out. All the daily life worries are still asleep. If they creep up, I lay them at His feet. Immediately. Because it’s still morning. It’s still quiet. There’s still time to start the day off right.
It’s a sweet time but it takes discipline. Sometimes it’s just easier to sleep an extra hour. But getting up is so much better. The Hello Mornings Bible Study has helped me to do this. It’s a 13-week challenge to maximize your mornings, via online accountability groups. The summer session begins May 6th and goes until August 2nd. Registration is open until Friday, May 3rd. Perfection is not a requirement. Just a desire to meet with God in the morning and a commitment to checking in with your group. There is also a free Bible study for all HelloMornings participants: Meet Jesus, a walk through John.
This will be my second time going through HelloMornings. The groups are encouraging and provide accountability. There’s something about knowing that thousands of women all over the world are up with you, getting ready for their day by spending time with their Father.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Most of my life I have been a performer. In elementary school I wanted to be on Broadway. I would put together little plays, or miniature versions of Disney movies and act them out for my mom and grandma. Then I began to play the viola. Being on stage, in the first row, second seat, in honor’s orchestra was exhilarating. Chorus was part of my life most of this time also. In high school, I ventured into talent shows and solos. I was nervous often, but I tried to use the energy for the performance. College brought me to a new level with voice lessons and jazz choir. It’s been in my blood, in my spirit, a part of who I am that I don’t give much attention to now.
Singing with my college jazz choir: RSVP
As a performer, or athlete, or student, or any part of life, I got a lot of feedback. I was always trying to fix something. Make it better. This continual fixing and adjusting has worked it’s way into my personality and way of looking at life. Just like anyone, I am my biggest critic. My problem is that I become everyone’s biggest critic. Sure, I’m not the person that is yelling out everything that is wrong with you. I’m not the person who wants you to feel badly about yourself. I don’t hate you. I love you. And I want you to be better at what you’re doing. I want you to be more successful. I want more for you. But in wanting these things, I can be a critic: tearing people down accidentally in the name of helping them be better. It can manifest itself as judgement and seeming like I’m somehow above others. Neither of these things are on my mind. I truly want things to be better.
This can happen with anyone: a customer, friend, pastor, my husband. I don’t want to beat people down. I want to build them up. I’m not perfect. Nothing in my mind or life would make me think that I am. Just like everyone, I am in progress.
Praying for God’s guidance and help in this sensitive area of my life.
Sometimes, we all need a reminder. We need a reminder of the Love that gave Himself for us. We need a reminder that He rose on that third day. We need a reminder that He came here so that we could be reconciled to Him. I got that reminder on Monday night via a Young Life talk from a friend at another school. He talked about searching for his lost daughter and how he would do anything to find her. Then he said how much more our Father in Heaven came looking for us. He showed this video toward the end of his talk. I hope you enjoy it and find it as an encouraging reminder also.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Six months into marriage, I’ve made one major realization: I need Jesus.
I love being married. Marriage has made me more dependent on my Father. Marriage has made me love more intentionally. Marriage has made me realize that I know just short of nothing about marriage.
Six months ago in St. Thomas
I am a planner. I like to look ahead, analyze everything, and have at least a general plan or idea of how things will look. Because I like those things (and we realized that we needed to learn from those who have gone before us) we did premarital counseling. Not just one session with a pastor, but a few with our pastor and we asked some friends to be our mentors.
We listened to podcasts, read books, and took notes. I felt ready. But even with all that, every day I have to make decisions. Decisions to respect my husband, love him, honor him. I hear people make little side comments putting down their husbands or joking about divorce. I’m told that there is somehow something wrong with me because I refuse to give in to the idea that I need marriage insurance. Instead, I insist that God put us together on purpose and for a purpose.
And in that purpose, I get to enjoy an amazing man. A man who loves God and becomes more like him each day. A man who loves me well.
Six months in, I’m certain that getting married and committing to this man was the best life decision I’ve ever made. I’m so excited to see how the next six go.
Last week I drove 16 hours from North Carolina to Iowa. I didn’t do it alone. A friend rode with me and it was quite fun. We were able to invest in our friendship in a different way because of the time we were able to spend together.
We talked about some important things – our families, work, fears, regrets. We talked about some random stuff – what is that comedians name that has grey hair and is super sarcastic? It was great! Sure, it was long. We got tired. Delusional. We had energy drinks and shared laughs. I would not have traded that car time for anything.
Lindsey and I taking a selfie in my alma mater’s bathroom.
There’s something special about time with friends. Bonding and getting to know another person while enjoying a ride halfway across the country. We got to enjoy (for lack of a better sounding word) the difference of spring time blooming in the south to the cold not-quite-spring tundra of the midwest. We crafted, took pictures, and hung out with family and friends. I got to share a part of my life that I’ve only gotten to share with one other person from NC. My two lives were intertwined in a new way. She got to see a little more of why I am how I am and how I became who I am becoming.
Deepening friendship was not the original purpose of this trip. However, I’m thankful that it turned out to be more than I had expected or planned.
Sitting across from a new friend, I listened to her story. A story of how her mother was raped and conceived a child. It was a story about how her mother kept that child – regardless of her emotional trauma. The story unfolded with her mother marrying the man then getting divorced. The child in the story sat across from me with pain in her eyes. She went most of her life not knowing this sad truth about her parents. But she shared it with me, laid it out on the table. Told the truth to a woman she’d met only one other time.
I didn’t ask her the question, the one that probably burns in anyone’s mind when they hear this story: how? How did your mother make that decision? Culture dictates that if a woman is raped it is perfectly legitimate to remove any remnant of child from the womb – even though we know it does not remove that child from heart or mind. How did she raise a beautiful woman who loves the Lord and is certain of herself? How? It’s a simple question without simple answers.
I’ve only met this mother once, but I’d guess her answer would be jut as simple: God. He ordains. He decides. He gives us opportunities, examples, and guidelines. He doesn’t make us go it alone.
So many women choose – often in the name of women’s rights – to abort babies. They have their reasons, but today I challenge you. Consider this woman who decided that this was not her child’s fault. Consider this woman who decided that she would rather raise a beautiful daughter that was conceived in horrible circumstances than allow culture to dictate what is decent.
I’m just asking you to consider.