Monday, April 25, 2011

So You're Married, Now What?

It’s that time of year again. Invitations are being stamped and sealed. Dresses are being sized. And women, young and old, are being showered with gifts in preparation for an all important day—their wedding day. Even the media is buzzing these days with the upcoming nuptials of Britain’s future King and Queen. We all have wedding fever and it is sure to last at least through the summer.

We spend a lot of time preparing for the big day. We buy a dress, choose bridesmaids, make a guest list, and hone a million other tiny details that will ensure our day is complete perfection. Now, I’m not going to lie, the wedding is a whole lot of fun. Or at least mine was. I loved my dress fittings, showers, and planning every detail. I especially loved the day itself. But for a lot of women that’s where the preparation ends. The clock strikes midnight and they realize they are left with a husband, not a room full of people dancing the night away.

By God’s grace, we were provided with excellent premarital counseling. We often talk about how much we were helped and prepared for marriage by the biblical wisdom and discipleship of the couple who counseled us. But no matter how much I knew the concepts about what it takes to make a godly marriage, those concepts didn’t always become a fast reality when we said “I do.”

It’s hard when two sinners covenant to embark on a life together. Some say their first year is a breeze. Ours was not so much. Sure we loved each other deeply and enjoyed each other’s company, but we didn’t really know how to put everything we had learned about marriage into practice. Sadly, I know for me, too many times I was just plain stubborn and self- seeking. I didn’t understand how to live as a help and support to my husband besides just cooking, cleaning, and making his lunches. It took me a long time to see that God created me exactly the way he did, and he had my husband in mind when he did it.

So how do we help young women prepare for marriage in a culture that prepares you for everything but “until death do us part”? God cares about marriage. And he delights in godly marriages showcasing his glory. Shouldn’t we, as believers, care a great deal about helping the women in our lives get ready for this great covenant relationship? It will be radical, that’s for sure. But one thing is certain, if we don’t then the world will.

That’s where I will be going with the next few posts. This doesn’t mean I’ve got the whole marriage thing down. I don’t. In fact, everything I say is because I learned it by doing it wrong first. What can I say, I’m a hands on learner. I do hope to elaborate further on things I’ve said previously about what it means to be a help to our husbands and the lies the world tells us about womanhood in marriage.

So stay tuned…

Friday, April 22, 2011

It Was a Good Friday

Jesus knows what it’s like to have his prayers not answered in the way he asked for them to be answered.

But he said, “Not my will, but your will be done.”

“My father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”—Matthew 26:39

Jesus knows what it’s like to be tempted with sin.

But he never sinned (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).

Jesus knows what it’s like to agonize over what God has called him to.

“And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”—Luke 22:43-44

But he did it anyway, remaining obedient to the end (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-26).

Jesus knows what it’s like to be scorned, abused, and misunderstood (Isaiah 53:3).

But he is God!

Jesus knows what it’s like to grieve and experience tremendous loss (Matthew 27:46).

But he did it for us.

Jesus knows what it’s like to feel alone and rejected.

But he is the Son of God.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be separated from the Father.

But because of his momentary separation, we, who are in Christ, will never be separated from the Father.

Jesus bore our sorrows, sins, suffering, and grief so we could have an understanding and perfect Savior (Isaiah 53:4).

But more importantly, he bore the wrath we deserved so we could be brought into his family, by faith in his finished work (Isaiah 53:5, 10-12).

Our Savior is not aloof and uninvolved. He suffered more, at the hand of God, than we will ever experience so we could be reconciled to God and have hope for our despair and atonement for our sins.

Hallelujah, what a Savior! And that’s not even the end of the story. Sunday is coming.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April is Sexual Assualt Awareness Month

Even though we are more than halfway through the month of April, I think it's worth mentioning that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I actually didn't know that until this year, so I'm not sure how long it has been held this month. Regardless of my past ignorance, it's an important issue to raise awareness about. Sexual assault is a horrible and demeaning form of violence against men and women. And while it is reprehensible, it should be talked about in our churches and in our communities. Silence doesn't make it go away. It only isolates the victim further.

Complementarians, Christians who believe that God has ordained men to be protectors and providers, should be the most vocal against all forms of abuse. And many godly men and women are. As much as we think that this could never happen to us, our church, or our family, think again. Some statistics say that one in four women and one in six men will become victims of sexual assault. It's a sad reality and as believers we must be prepared to minister to men and women who are victims of such heinous crimes.

Here are some resources out there from a Gospel-centered perspective:

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assualt by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb (book)

You can read a review of the book at The Gospel Coalition Reviews

Defenders of Women by Susan Hunt (article)

CBMW Statement on Abuse

Let us all work hard to make our churches a safe place for men and women who are hurting, abused, and suffering.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Headed to Little Rock

One of my constant prayers when I married Daniel is that he would enjoy my best friend's husband as much as I enjoyed her. I knew they had similar interests, but you can't force true friendship. So I prayed that the friendship would come naturally. And by God's grace, it did.

After her husband graduated from seminary they began praying about where God would have them go next. Over time they started to feel like church planting was what God was calling them to.

That's where we come in.

After approaching us and asking us to pray about the decision to church plant and the location, it seemed that Little Rock, Arkansas was where we needed to be ministering (where they are from). Like so many cities in America, Little Rock is a city populated with churches, but many of them lack depth. When it comes down to it, every city could use more healthy, Christ-proclaiming churches. So there is no real formula for choosing Little Rock, just a common need and helpful connections.

We aren't really mystical when it comes to making decisions. We believe that God prompts us through people and through his word, but we don't really have any burning bush moments when we make decisions, although that would be helpful sometimes. When Jeff and Laura approached us with the vision and need we were sold. Although we knew Daniel was close to graduation, we had no concrete plans for next steps and were pretty much open to anything. We love the Breedings and we love the Gospel. This combination excites us to partner with them in ministry.

So on May 14 we will pack up the U-haul and head South to our new home. When we went to look for a place to live last week I kept saying to myself "This is where your home is now." Moving to a completely foreign city with only a handful of friends, and an amazing husband, can be daunting and overwhelming. But so far I'm just plain excited. I'm excited about what the future holds. I'm excited to start this new adventure with my husband. And I'm excited to be in the beginning stages of a church that, Lord-willing, will be a pillar of truth and Christ-exalting passion in the Midtown area of Little Rock, Arkansas.

If you think about it in the next few weeks, please pray for us. We have already seen God provide for us in tremendous ways, most notably in providing a job for Daniel (he will be bi-vocational for a while). This provides the opportunity for me to focus on our home, be a support to him, and grow as a freelance writer. I'm really looking forward to keeping a home and being a much happier, less stressed wife. We have a lot of details that need to fall into place. And we have a lot of things that need to get done, most importantly, packing and Daniel graduating.

Thanks for caring and for following us into this exciting new chapter of life. To God be the glory.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday is for Fotos

Last weekend we were in Little Rock, Arkansas looking for a place to live once Daniel graduates in a few weeks. Yep. We are moving! I will post more next week about all of the things happening on that front. We are really excited about this next phase of our life and ministry!

While we were there we hiked Pinnacle Mountain with our dear friends, the Breedings. Yes, I hiked. It was a milestone for me on so many levels. I'm not an outdoorsy person. Nor am I a really keen on heights. Nor am I a hiker. But I really enjoyed it! It was worth it for the view. And the hike really wasn't that bad. Five year olds could do it. The pictures above are from our hike. The one of Daniel and me is fuzzy because it was humid outside. The whole day was wonderful!

Well, enjoy the pictures and have a happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Way to a Man's Heart...

It’s been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. While it is true that my husband loves my cooking, I’m not sure that my home cooking is what won his heart in the end. But who knows, maybe it did! Last week the Today Show featured a story about a book written by a Glamour Magazine editor on foods every woman must know how to prepare. There is even a recipe for the woman who is tired of waiting on her man to commit—it’s called Engagement Chicken. This supposedly tried and true recipe has worked for a number of women who are desperate for a proposal.

Glamour, a bastion of raunch culture and independent womanhood, has now given us recipes that are destined to do the very thing many feminists despise—tie women down. Sure, something like this is to be expected from Martha Stewart Living and even Rachael Ray. But Glamour? Glamour prizes hyper-sexuality and no-strings attached relationships. But it also brings to light to insights into the feminine psyche.

Women deeply desire to be in a committed relationship. No amount of third-wave of feminism will remove this God-given desire. Our culture has tried to sell the lie that marriage is a mere societal construct, not anything of deep value. People can take or leave the institution; it is love that matters, right? Wrong. Deep down women don’t really want a man who just tells them he loves them all their days while their left ring finger stays empty. They want commitment. They want protection. They want a lifetime. Even Glamour Magazine thinks so.

Making a home for a family through cooking is an innate desire. Some women have it stronger than others. And it looks different in every life, whether single or married. But there are no men’s magazines telling men to woo women by cooking them their favorite meal. While men aren’t won through their hunger pains and appetites, feeding them a hearty meal sure does make them feel loved and cared for.

Obviously, this looks differently in every person’s life. Regardless of what wins a man in the end the fact that Glamour has weighed in on the problem of the never-ending dating relationship is saying something. No amount of flaunting sexuality and living together will satisfy the deep-seated longing in the hearts of most women. Glamour gets it, even if faintly. Marriage matters and there can be no substitute for it.

You can view the Today segment video here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Who's Afraid of a Genealogy?

In preparation for Easter next week I started reading through the Gospel of Matthew. I decided to read two chapters a day in order to get my heart ready for the celebration of our Savior’s death and resurrection. So often we get stuck in the busyness of life, and even a holiday season, that we forget the purpose of the event. Reading two chapters in the evenings has helped me slow down and think about what the life, death, and resurrection of Christ meant not only for me, but for the entire world.

I’ve always struggled through the genealogies. Reading a list of names seemed pointless to me. I wanted doctrine, meat, and truth—not names. That line of thinking revealed more about my view on the all-encompassing value of God’s word than I wanted to admit. I wanted to pick and choose what was crucial for my own edification. Names didn’t fall into that category.

I don’t know when it changed, but I don’t think that way anymore. The names in the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew are people who are talked about elsewhere in the Bible. They are people who God deemed crucial to understanding the lineage of Christ. But if we know our Old Testament we know that many of these people are not the typical ancestors of a king.

The genealogy of Jesus is marked by scandal and sin. Tamar tricked Judah into sleeping with her to preserve her family line. Rahab was a prostitute. Ruth was a foreigner. David stole another man’s wife (Bathsheba). Solomon was unfaithful to the Lord (and so were the kings after him). Mary was pregnant out of wedlock.

In all of these lives God was working to preserve his plan. This is not a “kingly” lineage—but that is how God works. He takes the weak in the world and shames the wise so that no one may boast, and he gets the glory.

God is all over this story, even though it seems like a complete mess at times. His perfect plan is weaving it all together, bringing about our ultimate salvation through Jesus Christ.

None of these people would probably think their life was kingly or deserving of being in the lineage of the Messiah. And that is the beauty of it. God works in mysterious ways that do not fit the world’s model of power and authority. He uses broken, weak, and sinful vessels to accomplish his purposes. That should encourage us. Our lives are no different than these people listed in Matthew. But the same scarlet thread that ties their stories together is the one that does the same for us. Jesus is the great Savior and the great equalizer.

If you are discouraged by your life and your story today, be encouraged by the stories found in Matthew 1. They were not perfect. They were just like you and me. Only one person held it all together, and he can do the same in your life. His name is Jesus.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nine Months Later

Nine months ago I became a mother. Our due date came and went with very little fanfare. We woke up late, cried, talked, and then rejoiced as we watched two couples join in marriage. In some ways it was a nice way to end a very sad day for us. It was good to be reminded of what we committed to nearly two years ago. It was good to worship with friends who were starting their lives together.

But it was still a sad day.

A lot has happened in our lives these last nine months. Every passing month was a reminder of how far along I should have been. I dreaded April 2nd. I just wanted to sleep through the day and wake up when it was over. And now that it’s over it just feels weird. Even though I wanted to skip the day all together, I’m glad I didn’t. I needed to cry and grieve. I needed to journal and read and talk with Daniel about all that was going on in my head. I needed to cry out to the Lord in sadness over what could have been.

And God met me there. All of the pain, all of the grief, all of the uncertainty is not unknown to him. When it feels like people have moved on (and so many amazing friends haven’t), God is still here. He knows every tear I cry and his steadfast love endures forever. Does it mean I always feel it? No. Does it mean I always want to believe that he loves me? No. Does it mean I always feel like saying “blessed be your name”? No. But it does mean that even when I’m faithless, angry, and confused, he isn’t. He is constant and he will keep me to the end. That is what carried me this past week when I couldn’t see through my tears.

We trust him now more than we did nine months ago, but then again, we cry more too. This trust has come with a cost, and we wish it could have come another way, but we see Christ's glory with new eyes and renewed faith in his tender care for us as our suffering Savior.