Thursday, January 31, 2013

reality.

Harris and I resolved to be more intentional about setting up and planning date nights for each other this year. We each pick a night of the month to plan something unique for us to do as a couple with the intention of focusing on spending that time, undistracted, with each other.
 
We're super poor because of student loans, living off of one income (well, Harris works a few hours a week, so we'll say 1 and a half incomes!), and that's just the nature of the season we're in. All of that being said, THIS (picture below) was my first attempt at a creative date night.
 
I set up our air mattress in the living room and covered it with layers and layers of blankets and pillows, and created a fun atmosphere for us to enjoy a 'sleepover'/movie night in the living room!
 
 
 
 
I posted the above picture on Instagram, and instantly got a lot of "likes" and comments. Everyone thought it was the cutest idea. One very sweet teenaged cousin saw it and texted me, "Your date night looked perfect.. I can't wait to be married!"This made me smile at first, and then when I reflected on the actual events of the night, I thought... If only they all knew the reality of the night..
 
[One thing I hate about movies and media is how much they fake us into believing that dates/marriage/relationships are so dreamy and perfect all the time. Sex is glamorous. Kisses happen in the most romantic location imaginable and there is magical music playing in the background while the wind gently blows the woman's perfectly curled locks. He says the perfect thing all the time and his love for her is intense and dramatic.]
 
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE love. Ask anyone, I'm a sucker for it. I married the best man ever and he is as close to perfect as you can get! With all of that being said, I want to paint a picture of our date night as it truly happened: (it's long, but stick with me, it's funny)


  • Harris came down to see my 'creation' (which he actually knew I was downstairs preparing because I had to get out the air pump which makes an annoying loud noise.. and our townhouse is small, so there wasn't much secrecy there).
  • He had been watching some YouTube videos about the Tsunami of 2004 upstairs and showed me the first part of this documentary. (Side note: he's an inquisitve man; always looking up facts about anything and everything - basically your #1 trivia partner - so this was not totally random.)
  • We wanted to watch the rest of the video because it was amazing how crazy the stories were. Well, we ended up putting our movie selection on HOLD because we were captivated by YouTube. I cried and cried at the sad stories of those who passed away at the hands of the storm. Puffy eyes.
  • When we finished, it was time to find a movie. We looked through the selections and could not decide on one. Frustrating. As we searched, I laid my head down because I was so exhausted by the story we had just watched.
  • I fell asleep prematurely.
  • The christmas lights above were still plugged in, so they were making the room really bright, so one of us had to get up to unplug them from behind the couch.
  • Downstairs was extra cold (heat rises), and despite my efforts to provide many blankets, we were chilly - which caused me to wake up many times throughout the night.
  • Something happened in the middle of the night, maybe the plug got loose, but we sank slowly but surely down to the ground as the air snuck out of the mattress...
  • Early the next morning the sun shone brightly in the living room windows because of our sheer curtains downstairs.. GOOD MORNING!

All of that to say, YES, we had a nice time enjoying each others company, YES I created a fun "new" environment in our living room, and YES we enjoyed it. Was it as "picture perfect" as it may have looked in the picture.. not exactly. I love real life. It cracks me up that we trick ourselves into believing what pictures and movies present as reality sometimes.

One of my favorite quotes:
"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel." - Steve Furtick
 
I just didn't want my "highlight reel" to fool anyone into thinking that our behind-the-scenes were anything but real life lovin' and livin'. Being vulnerable is one of my least favorite and favorite things. It's hard, but it is SO good.
 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

bad memory.

The particular 'types' of lessons that the Lord teaches me seem to show up repeatedly throughout my life. I'm sure He is up there thinking, "I have taught you this over and over again. Let's try a different angle this time to see if it sticks." I have a terrible memory. I'm thinking that might somehow have an effect on the lessons the Lord teaches me...

I'm constantly reminded of how much I need the Lord. How little I can accomplish on my own. How redeeming it feels to know each failure is completely covered. How cherished I am despite those failures. Basically I'm always reminded of the Gospel.

I have found that the most comforting exercise for me is to constantly look to Him, in the big and small obstacles, and try (key word there) focusing ALL of my attention on who He is. It has certainly distracted me from my own problems, worries, and fears. This practice caused me to remember (somehow) something that I tried to learn earlier in the year.

I looked back at my "new years resolution" from January 2012.. and it was about following the words of the hymn that says:
 
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His Glory and Grace.

If only I'd learn this. If only I'd remember this. He is on a mission to engrave it on my heart. I'm sure a dent has been made because I do it more today than I used to. The more malleable I become, the better it'll stick, I suppose!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

faithful.

This morning I read through Psalm 66 as a part of a "Refresh Your Soul" practice/reflection from a blog I really enjoy reading, Grace Full Mama. 
Basically the assignment was to read through Psalm 66 and then reflect on how God has been faithful to you over the past year and what things showed His goodness and love over you.

I have been meaning to write about this for a while now, so this gives me the perfect opportunity!

Last year when Harris and I were first married, we began contemplating moving to Virginia so that he could return to school at Liberty. I was scared, honestly. I have never lived far from home, and I tend to be a "home-girl". We knew it would be a sacrifice, but we also knew that we wanted to follow the Lord's will for our lives, so we prayed about it a lot. Through some pretty crazy stories of the Lord speaking comfort directly into my fearful heart, we knew we were supposed to take this leap of faith and go, and we knew He would take care of us.

I had prayed a lot of prayers that were what I like to call, "fluffy" prayers, but they also just meant a lot to me at the same time. The Lord not only provided the essentials for us, He provided in abundance. Little requests that I thought, "You know, some of these prayers are completely petty, but I will just be honest with God." Well, He answered even those small requests in bigger and better ways than I could imagine for us! Here are a couple:

1. I really wanted a pet when we moved. Turns out we moved into a townhome that would not allow us to own a dog or a cat. I was really bummed because I wanted that "companionship" and something to take care of. About a week after we moved, a beautiful (albeit emaciated, dull-furred, and scared) kitten found his way to our back porch while we were eating dinner. I saw him, opened up a can of tuna to share, and slowly but surely over time this timid boy has become our best friend. We have adopted this little guy (Tiger), and he has become a member of the fam! So we're not technically breaking the rules, we've just adopted an orphan.... right?

2. Driving through town, I noticed that Lynchburg was a bit bigger than the town we moved from, so I hoped one of my favorite restaurants would be here, Chipotle. We searched, but no Chipotle around.. not a big deal. Literally the next day or two, we drive down the main drag near our house and what sign goes up over the new strip, but a Chipotle to be coming soon! Seriously, that was SUCH a petty request.. but I'm so grateful for these little touches of love.

3. I prayed for friendship. True, genuine friendship. I figured that I could meet new people and enjoy new friendships at wherever I was going to work or go to church, but I had a specific type of friendship in mind. I really wanted one where I could be completely, 100% myself with no reservations, and find someone who was like the best friends I had at home. Who did I meet the first week we moved here, but Amanda Bixler. My best friend in Lynchburg. Instantly we connected and I felt that friendship forming from day 1. The Lord did NOT have to provide in that way, but He did!
 
 There are SO many more ways that He showered us with love and kindness in ways that we did not deserve or need here in our new town. I got a wonderful job at the University (which helps us with tuition), Harris is working part-time at the airport, we instantly found a church that we love and connected with, we moved into a great neighborhood with lots of young couples and families, and much more.

Joy's blog says, "Remembering can greatly fortify our souls and bless our hearts as we look at what He has done." I think that is something so good to do: look back on how the Lord has blessed you and practice thankfulness often. When things get rough or when I am struggling with being away from my "home" and family and friends, I can always remember the ways that I've been blessed in such personal ways. I know God is with me - He makes that especially clear and obvious when He places little "gifts" in different places in my life. We are thankful.

Monday, January 7, 2013

new year.

Well, Happy New Year!

Harris and I had such a wonderful Christmas. I'm so thankful that the Lord gave us speech, words to use to express how we think about, feel about, and experience life. Sometimes, however, I feel so limited by my words to adequately express what certain people and things bring into my life. Time with family and close friends really does that to me - makes me incapable of truly expressing my inner peace and joy I get from those moments. So here's the best I can do: I am completely blessed by the wonderful people in my life, especially by the family I have been given. Not many people have the opportunity to feel so loved, and I am aware of this gift I've been given. The addition of Harris' family has also been an extreme blessing to me - not only do I get genuine love and warmth from my own family, but also the family I inherited when I became Harris' wife. Thank you, Lord!

After a short visit with amazing family and friends, Harris and I were given the opportunity to experience Urbana in St. Louis over New Years! Thanks for First Presbyterian Church of Rome, we were given a discounted rate to attend this amazing conference. To keep things short and sweet, I'll just list some "nuggets" we gleaned from that weekend:

The Lord loves it when we say, "yes" to following His plan for our lives and sacrificing things to do so (even if that means living overseas): He loves those who stand up and yell, "YES!! I'll go, send me!", but He also loves those who simply whisper, "Yes, Lord. Your Will be done in my life."
[of the two of us, guess who yelled and who whispered]
  
If we plan to serve and minister overseas, what makes us think we will be ready and able to do so if we are not serving and ministering in our own country?
 God may not reveal your calling in one magnificent revelation, but each of us can say "yes" in faith to little opportunities presented to us, which will in turn lead to a beautiful story of a life lived in obedience to the Lord.
 
 
Overall it was a wonderful experience and we both learned many great lessons from people who have lived out their faith both in the States as well as overseas. No matter where we end up, I have always known that I want my life to be about glorifying the Lord and serving others. I will simply say "yes" along the way to opportunities that are presented and that we feel we are called to do.