Saturday, January 28, 2012

7 Months of Wedded Bliss and Busted Lips

In the seven months we've been married, Blake has busted my lip twice. I have punched him in the nose during the middle of the night once. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! 

Our first few months of marriage were the most difficult months I've endured in a long time. If you read my blog during those months, I'm sorry. It was depressing. Life was tough. Not only was I trying to figure out this whole married-life thing, but we were in post-tornado trauma and the job hunt was exhausting. 

But now, we're here. Seven months of figuring each other out, learning to trust in God's sovereignty, dividing up chores, paying bills, making a home. Despite the rough start, it's been worth every minute. I finally have a job (which I LOVE!) and Blake is continually being offered opportunities to advance in his field. We have found a new church home are jumping right in. And we're planning our first vacation!

I am so grateful to God for taking us through those times of desperation. It is because of the desert that we appreciate the Promised Land. It is because of the rain that we appreciate the rainbow. It is because of the heartache that we appreciate the healing. 

Not much scares me now. I think I've been through just about everything a person can experience in 26 years. Whatever God has for us, I am ready. I'm prepared. And I think that was His intention all along. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Settling In

It's really strange to be done with college (for now). Every night, I feel guilty for spending time doing the things I love and not doing any "work". No papers to write, no projects to complete, no lessons to plan. I get all of my work done during the school day, so I don't have to take anything home with me. It's a strange, strange feeling.

This is really the first time in a LONG time that I've been able to relax even on a weeknight. Even during the time I was taking a break from school, I was working two jobs so there was always work to be done. Now I can come home, cook a yummy dinner, clean up, read, watch our shows, do housework... I can do whatever I want!

But, to be honest, I felt like I have squandered much of my free time. It's this back-and-forth struggle I have with the need to be productive. I work really hard during the day (7:45-5:00, usually) and so I usually come home and crash. There are things I want to do - like projects with our wedding photos, play with the Cricut, read Mockingjay, write blog posts that are more interesting, re-learn to play the ukelele, record music with Blake, clean our office closet.... and yet, those things go undone week after week. There are also places I want to go - to the Arboretum, the trail across the street from our apartment, downtown Northport... and yet, we never go to those places.

Part of the "going" places is actually just learning to adjust to living so close to everything! For my whole entire life, I lived thirty minutes away from everything, so we didn't go anywhere on a weeknight because it meant a long trip. Now that we live close to everything; I have to remind myself that we can just get in the car and be somewhere in 5-10 minutes.

I suppose I'm not the only person who has ever felt this way. If you're reading this, how do you conquer the weeknight slump? How do you convince yourself to get off the couch and go do something (at home or otherwise)? I need some motivation!

Monday, January 16, 2012


We started this year with a goal: Read the Bible chronologically in 2012. We're over halfway through Genesis, but I am stuck in the 3rd chapter.

As we all know, the story of the world begins with God's words. Let there be light; Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants, and yielding seed...; Let the earth bring forth living creatures...Let us make man in our imagine, after our likeness... And He creates the world and all the things in it. He creates Adam and Eve and blesses them. He gives them everything they could possibly need, including a warning to stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And when the serpent comes along, they fall.

Glorious creation, majesty, wonder, love, splendor. And sin.

But that's not the part where I'm stuck. I'm stuck in the aftermath of Adam and Eve's poor decision. I'm stuck in their reaction to the guilt.

"And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." Genesis 3:9-10

They were hiding from God.

I think about the times I have hidden from God. Exposed; doing anything I can to cover it up. There are times when I wish God would just turn his face away and leave me in my guilt. It's too hard to face him, too hard to accept responsibility, too hard to suffer the consequences.

This brings me to Psalm 51, my prayer for this year. That God would expose my sin to me. I so often fail to admit to it, to acknowledge it, and to ask for forgiveness for it. I try to hide from him and wait until he asks me about it, just as Adam and Eve did in the garden. But I want to be forthcoming - not hiding from him because I will inevitably be found. I want to come boldly to his throne and spew the contents of my sin so that I can get it out. Spit it out like poison, like the bitter root that it is. Lay it on the cross, seek forgiveness, chase repentance. And, in return, be clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

"Hide your face from my sin, and blot out my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit." - Psalm 51:9-11

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Date Night

As we ate our ridiculously expensive meal (with a little help from Groupon) last night, I wondered if this would be the type of experience sacrificed when our family begins to grow. Flowers waiting on me when I got home from work, dressing up, pricey dinners, glasses of wine that cost as much as an entire bottle at Publix, delicious dinner, intelligent conversation, strawberry creme brulee... and for no other reason except that we wanted a date night that didn't include a free trip to Barnes and Noble.  

It's no question that I have always wanted to have kids - and lots of them, for that matter. But I have also always wanted to travel, to sample fine cuisine, to see art and plays and history, to enjoy some of the finer things in life. Not that I am some stuffy frou-frou kind of person (obviously not!), but I enjoy those things. I also love Chik-fil-A and board games. I want a little of both worlds: down-home and up-town. But I can't help but think times like last night will be few and far between once little Ball #1 comes along.

I'm sure that once a baby is placed in my arms, I won't care too much about what I want. I'm sure the sacrifices will come easily. I just can't imagine it now.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Reading

So I finally finished Catching Fire last night. It took me about two hours to finish fifty pages, mainly because I was simultaneously having a text-fest with my husband (who was not at home, we're not that weird) and watching a House Hunters International marathon. I read The Hunger Games in just a matter of days, so I was surprised that it took nearly two weeks to finish the second book.

The first book was a nail-biter... #2, notsomuch. There were a handful of parts where I just HAD to keep reading, but it was easier to put down than the first. I'm going to try to read Mockingjay within two weeks (if not sooner) because I have another book I am dying to read: my new Roald Dahl biography! Blake got it for me for Christmas since I read James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Magic Finger back-to-back in the fall. I found out that Dahl also wrote adult fiction, so I got one of those books, too. It's #2 on my to-read list (after the biography!).

I find it funny that I have been so interested in fiction lately. For so long, I only read non-fiction. I still love non-fiction, but I am having so much fun discovering all of these juvenile fiction books that are just sooooo good. Juvenile fiction leaves out the sex and foul language that so often plagues adult fiction. Plus, I love a good dystopia and juvenile fiction books have plenty of dystopian offerings. The Giver, The Last Book in the Universe, Tangerine, The House of Power... you get the idea. They're all great reads.

Anyhoo... there's my two cents on books.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Discipline of Scripture Memory

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 "You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking o them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth."

A few years ago, I started practicing the discipline of memorizing Scripture. I started by recalling verses I already had stored up. I knew a lot more than I realized because I had been learning Scripture unintentionally through songs. For instance, I learned Romans 16:19-20 through a song at church camp: "Be excellent at what is good, be innocent of evil; for the God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet." And I learned Revelation 21:8 in the same way - the song went, "Revelation, Revelation 21:8, 21:8 - Liars go to hell, liars go to hell, burn, burn, burn!" :)  But I set out to deliberately commit verses to memory, and I loved every minute of it.

By the time Blake and I started dating, I was obsessed with memorizing Scripture. I would hand him the list of verses I knew and I would ask him to quiz me! It was so much fun, and I was so amazed at how easy it was to store God's word in my mind. And then, little by little, the excitement started to fade. It became harder and harder to memorize verses - not just to commit them to memory, but to choose the verse and then stick with it was a chore. And I even stopped doing quiet times altogether for a while. Life was so busy, and what I had been doing wasn't working anymore. I had to work through some struggles to overcome my need for productivity... and eventually I regained my sense of self in the Lord. I wanted to get back into scripture memory, but I was lost... I was going to have to start all over.

So this year, topping my wish list was the book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Robert Morgan. He's the guy who wrote the Then Sings My Soul series, where he gave the backstories to some of the most famous hymns. The book gives, of course, 100 verses along with commentary and neat little bits of insight to help bring the verse to life. My goal is to commit these 100 verses within the year. Some of them are rather easy, so I want not only to memorize the verse, but to also try to memorize the passage surrounding the verse (or at least have a general idea of what is happening).

During my first attempt at scripture memory, I was more fascinated with growing my list of committed verses and I didn't really invest time in meditating on the context of the verse. I was like a chicken pecking at a multitude of scattered seeds - working diligently and ingesting a lot, but just picking bits here and there without ever looking up at what was around me. So, this time around, I want to spend more time letting the words sink in, meditate on them, saturate my soul with them.

Some people think that the art of memorizing Scripture is unnecessary. I mean, if you have a smartphone you can have the Bible at your fingertips as long as you have your phone. But storing the words in your memory is so much more than verse retrieval. It's life-giving.

At a time in my life when I was dealing with intense anger, I memorized Ephesians 4:26-27 - "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil."When I would feel the burn of anger rise in my soul, I would repeat these verses to myself. I would remember: yes, be angry... but do not sin.

At a time when my soul was dry, I committed to memory Psalm 51:12, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit." And I would pray that verse regularly, letting God restore in me what had been malnourished.

Memorizing Scripture is more than just knowing a whole bunch of verses. It's about having the verses so ingrained in your being that they minister to you internally. The word of God is alive, and when it is alive in you, it transforms your whole mind (Romans 12:12).

For 2012, I want to recommit myself to planting the seeds of Truth in my mind. It is such a beautiful facet of intimacy with the Lord and I know it will produce a plentiful harvest.