Always a Step Behind

Always a Step Behind

Sometimes I feel like I was born into a world with a set of rules that I don’t know. I feel this endless need to figure out what everybody else already seems to know. I always feel a step behind.

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The youngest of three girls, I felt like I was always trying to catch up. My earliest memory of this was when I was 4 and my sisters told me that I needed to accept Jesus into my heart. They of course had already made this decision and I didn’t want to be left out. After all, my sisters were the most important people in my life (besides my parents!) and I wanted to be just like them.

Fast forward three years and we are riding bikes in our neighborhood. My little legs are pumping as fast as they can go, but I can’t quite keep up with my sisters and our friend. I try harder, but I’m still behind. I fly down a hill and the next thing I know, the back wheel doesn’t respond the way that it is supposed to and suddenly I am flung to the earth. I experience a searing pain as my legs scrape across the pavement. The taste of blood and tears and dirt are forever embedded in my memory.

Around this same time, we met a family who also had three girls, the oldest the same age as my oldest sister and the twins born the year in between my middle sister and myself. In my young mind, I thought that this might possibly be the best thing ever! But it wasn’t. Turns out that the twins didn’t want to play with me, because I was too little. This memory is still painful for me. I remember asking my mom why they didn’t like me. She didn’t have an answer for me and it was the first time that I felt the pull to be someone different than who I was in order for others to like me.

First grade was rough, because I didn’t feel like my teacher liked me (are you sensing a theme? You would be right!). I remember being scared of her and by the end of the year, my parents decided to move us to a Christian school on the other side of the city. And for the third time in my young life, I was the new kid. Everyone else knew each other. They talked about Kindergarten and seemed to know what to do when we went out for recess. And so I tried to fit in. I excelled at learning the catechism. I sat up straight with my hands folded perfectly on the desk. But I couldn’t quite force myself to play with the other girls when there was a soccer game going on! And so, I played with the boys in my uniform jumper with the knee high socks.

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I was different than my sisters, yet my heart longed to love the same things that they loved. I wanted to be included in the conversations. I wanted to enjoy reading, because they looked like they were having so much fun sitting under their blankets engrossed by words that were beyond my grasp. But even though I tried, I was still a step behind. I was thrilled when I got a fishing rod for my birthday. I spent hours by myself hopping from rug to rug in our basement trying to avoid the alligators that were anxious to get at my feet! I was different.

And then we moved and I was the new girl for the fourth time. If things were difficult in second grade, they were compounded in fourth. Our new home was in a tightly knit country town. Everybody knew everybody and I didn’t know anybody. I could feel the curious eyes looking at me. Me in my skirts and dresses, always a bit of an oddball all the while screaming inside, I’m fun! I’m likable! Like me! Like me! But I was two steps behind.

Over time, I caught up in some areas. I fell in love with reading. I made friendships that have lasted into adulthood. Eventually, my Daddy loosened up a bit and understood that his tomboy daughter would continue to play football with the boys, so wearing dresses was probably not the best idea. But I always seemed to stay that step behind, getting closer, but never quite catching up.

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I began to gravitate towards friendships with others who would understand me. I spent a lot of time in my high school years with my Daddy, because he didn’t expect me to be anything more than who I was and he loved me for me. I felt the pressures elsewhere. It wasn’t that anyone put those on me, as much as I put expectations on myself. Of course, there was the one Christmas when I received a potato peeler as a stocking stuffer. I’ll be honest with you. I cried. I was in college, but I had no interest in cooking and once again, I felt behind. I was supposed to like this stuff apparently, yet I didn’t. At all.

As I look back on my life now, I can see that my personality combined with my life experience lent itself to this endless questioning of self. Why am I different? Why do I always feel a step behind? Why do these things feel like such a struggle for me when everyone else seems to naturally know what to do? The result of these questions has been attempts throughout my life to catch up to others who I feel are a few steps ahead of me or to please others so that I will feel like they are happy with me.

A few years ago, I was singing the song “Amazing Grace” which I have probably sung a thousand times in my life, but this particular time, I stopped to consider what really is so amazing about grace? It struck me that for all of my knowledge of scripture, all of my pursuit of Christ, all of my service, I didn’t really have a firm grasp on what grace was. And so, I began a personal quest to discover why grace really is amazing. (Even with this, I feel like I am behind everyone else. I’m a pastor’s kid and a pastor’s wife. I should understand grace, right?!!).

What I am beginning to discover is that the more I understand God’s strength, the more I understand my own weakness. And the more I recognize sin in my own life, the more I understand why I need grace. The more I allow grace to be poured into my life, the more amazing it becomes.

The more I understand grace, the less pressure I feel to catch up with others. I am beginning to allow Christ to pull my fingers off of my tight grasp of pleasing all the people and truly understand that He is my audience. I’m realizing something else on this journey. There might be times when I feel off kilter because I don’t know the unspoken rules, but it is when I feel this way that I depend on Jesus the most. So as hard as those times are and as much as I would prefer to be in control and just know what others seem to know intrinsically, I am learning to embrace those times as an opportunity to grow and hopefully to be changed.

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It has been a slow process for me, but I am beginning to accept that there are people who don’t like me. And there will always be people who will be further down the road than me. This is okay. Because I am not supposed to be winning the approval of the masses or even the individuals whom I long to please. Give me Jesus! And I’m not supposed to be in step with every person in my life (how silly of me to even think that was possible!). Only Jesus!

I might always and forever be a step behind others, but I am learning contentment in this place where God has placed me. Perhaps you are able to identify with me because I am not so far ahead that I feel inaccessible. Or maybe you see me a few steps behind you and you are filled with compassion and a desire to spur me on. But mostly, I hope that wherever you are at on  your journey, we can link arms together and encourage one another to keep pressing on.

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I might always be a step behind, but the important thing is that I am on the right path!

 

 

Intentional Living

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My daughter had her first official babysitting experience recently. A couple of days later, it struck me that my husband and I should be able to go on a date any time now. If she is old enough to babysit other kids, she is mature enough and capable enough to watch her younger siblings.

This is a new era for us and one that I am ready to embrace!

And so, Dave and I went on a spur of the moment date and it felt a lot like college to me (even though we have officially known each other for half of our lives- this is a very weird thought and a comfortable one all at once!). We ate dinner in the city and then walked hand in hand to a coffee shop where we enjoyed the best latte I have ever had in my entire life (and I have enjoyed a lot of lattes!).

As we talked, one of the main subjects we kept returning to was the idea of intentional living. We tend to be spontaneous people, but God has been teaching us to live with intention and purpose these past few years. As we pondered the work that God has been doing in our hearts, we both could see that writing in my blog for 5 1/2 years has forced me to be deliberate and to desire to live my life with intention.

Those who know me well (and even casually!), know that I am a bit of a mess. My crazy, creative brain never quite shuts down. I’m constantly spinning many little balls and I drop important ones quite often. There are people who will only experience the ones that I keep spinning and they are amazed. How do you do it all? they ask and I cringe inside. I don’t! I want to cry out. I will let you down. My battery will die on my phone when I am supposed to return a call. I will inevitably be late to most appointments (and I can give you the myriad of reasons for my tardiness, but that’s not the point). I will forget to send the birthday card and gift until it’s ridiculously late and then I will feel embarrassed and not send it at all. I will forget to call on important occasions.

If you could get inside my head, you would know that I am constantly a little bit irritated with myself and my inability to keep it all together.

This is why living intentionally is so important. Too often, I let life happen to me instead of determining how I will happen to my life. As we have sought to live with intention, it has opened our lives to possibilities we would not have been prepared for had we not sought purpose and meaning in all that we do.

The biggest result of intentional living has culminated in our decision to homeschool our children. Our lives had become crazed, tied to schedules that were beyond our control. Even with the limits we had placed on the number of activities our kids could be involved in, we still felt a push and pull on our lives as we desperately tried to get from one thing to the next.  We felt frantic rather than intentional.

When we moved to Rochester five years ago, life slowed down for me in an amazing way. I stopped trying to please everyone (to be clear, this was self imposed as much as it was pressure from those around me) and was given the opportunity to rest and recover. I discovered that God didn’t need me to do His work. Rather He invited me to be a part of what He was doing, but when I got those two things confused, my life would quickly derail. The past five years have been a relinquishing of the control I have tried to have on my life and trusting in God to lead and direct my paths.

After a ridiculously busy time in our lives this past Spring, my husband and I decided that we would never allow our lives to get that busy again. We knew we needed to make some changes, but didn’t realize that God was already changing us! And then one night, I had a conversation with one of my children that broke my heart. As I told my husband what had been said, he responded with I think we need to consider homeschooling. My immediate response of I agree surprised me, but upon reflection, I can see how God was preparing both of our hearts.

A sweet couple in our church recently welcomed a precious baby boy into their family. I signed up to bring a meal and promptly forgot, because I didn’t write it down. I remembered as soon as I received a text from a very gracious friend after the time I should have delivered the meal. My heart sank. Of all of the things I could have forgotten, this should not have been one of them!!

It was a reminder to me that even my best efforts will not be perfect. I still have a ways to go in my desire to live with intention. But as I was pondering these things and beating myself up a little, my friend sent me a text and in it she said life-giving words- you are deeply loved. What a gift to be reminded that my worth is not tied up in what I do or don’t do. I will continue to mess up and fail. This is something I know for sure.

I am free to fail and free to get it right, because the way my friend loves me is how my God loves me. His love is not based on how good I am. He holds no record of wrongs. I don’t have to jump through hoops to please Him. I don’t have to wonder if there is an end to His patience with me. His faithfulness is great!

My response to this kind of love is a deep desire to live with intention, because this kind of love compels me to live well. I want to grow and change, because pleasing a God who will never fail me has become my heart’s desire.

I want to live with intention!

Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days

plural noun
1.

the sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11.
2.

a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence. (definition from Thesaurus.com)

This summer, our family added a new meaning to the phrase “the dog days of summer”. We had an uncharacteristically hot summer in Rochester. It was certainly sultry and there were definitely periods of lethargy and inactivity in the Daye household.

But our new meaning was found in a little white dust mop, a cockapoo puppy, that joined our family around Mother’s Day. Sadie Pemberley Lothlorien Daye has her very own hashtag (#SPoiLeD -based on the initials in her name), but more importantly she has earned a special place in our hearts.

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We have a dog! After years of -pardon me while I go and take care of said puppy who is currently growling for my attention- wanting a dog, we were finally at a place when a dog would be a possibility. For 8 years we lived in parsonages (homes owned by the churches we have served) and my husband felt that bringing a dog into a home we didn’t own would not be fair to our church. But then, God gave us the opportunity to purchase our home and my longing for a dog was stirred again.

For most of my growing up years, we had a dog. First there was Duchess who ate my popsicle when I was three. This is a vivid memory for me, but the details surrounding her departure from our home are fuzzy. A couple of years later, we went to a home where they had the most adorable light brown puppies in a card board box. We came home with Benji and for the next 4 years, he was a wild addition to our family. I say wild, because he would run away at any chance he got. I remember one time when it had snowed a great deal. My Daddy felt confident letting Benji out without a leash, because how far could he go really? But Benji took off anyway and I will never forget my Dad’s exasperated look.

Benji didn’t move with us to our new home in the country, but it wasn’t long before a little black and white fur ball joined the family. Buttons was officially my oldest sister’s dog, but she was loved by all of us. I look back on our years with Buttons with great fondness. She did NOT like the vacuum, but she was a very playful dog. One year we strung popcorn for our Christmas tree and Buttons was beside herself trying to get at the popcorn! I loved that dog.

I always knew that someday I wanted a dog of my own. My husband had always wanted one as well. He grew up in a dogless home because of allergies and didn’t want our kids to miss out on having a dog. It was always simmering on the back burner, this idea of getting a dog, but 4 babies and multiple moves and of course, the big issue of not owning our home made it impossible to even consider.

A couple of years ago when my son was in 4th grade, he was asked to write a research paper on any subject. He chose to write it on Schnoodles (a Schnauzer/Poodle mix). Prior to this paper, my boy had struggled with writing, but as I read his finished copy, I was delighted with his work. If it had been a persuasive essay, he could not have been more successful. I looked at his research and I looked at pictures and I was smitten.

When Mother’s day came around this year, I had the brilliant idea of asking for a puppy. I was surprised when my husband agreed, but it made sense. If the dog was mine, he could legitimately say that the responsibility was mine. We went to look at some cockapoo puppies, just to see, on a whim, but as we pulled up, we saw a lady leaving with the most adorable puppy we had ever seen and then the owner came out with the last puppy of the litter. How were we to say no? And just like that, Sadie joined our family.

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The first night, I felt a lot of anxiety. Had we made the worst mistake? Sadie barely slept and all of the concerns about getting a dog were amplified by lack of sleep. She was my dog, so all of the responsibility fell to me. Cleaning up after her. Feeding her. Staying up at night with her. Taking her outside to do her thing. Training her. It was all overwhelming and although I had grown up with dogs, I still felt completely clueless.

But then I would see my kids with her or she would snuggle in my lap and I would think THIS. This is why I wanted a dog. And I would remind myself that it was a season. Although it was hard to believe in the moment, I knew she would eventually learn to sleep on her own. And she would stop nipping at us. And she would learn to do her thing outside.

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Sadie has now been a part of our family for 3 months and I am amazed at how my kids take care of her.They are willing to take her out whenever I ask (not always with a good attitude, but they do it!) and they love feeding her. She now sleeps well and I am no longer sleeping on the couch. She does well in her crate and we have been able to take day trips with the help of friends.

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It has been an adjustment for all of us and there are still moments when I wonder if we made the right decision. But those moments come and go and in between, I wouldn’t trade my Sadie baby for anything.

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When you have a dog, you cannot be lethargic, inactive and indolent. It forces you to get up and get moving. Sadie is a smart dog, but she doesn’t understand when I am tired or need a break. All she knows is that she needs me to take her outside. Dogs teach you that you can be selfless. You don’t need to be lazy. And contrary to what our minds tell us, activity actually gives us more energy.

So, thank you, Sadie for joining our family and for bringing us so much joy! We love you!

 

Love Your Spouse Challenge

There has been a “Love Your Spouse Challenge” going around on Facebook recently. The challenge is to share pictures of your spouse for 7 days along with reasons why you love the other person. To keep the challenge going, you are supposed to tag two people each day to accept the challenge.

I think it is a wonderful idea (always!) to celebrate love and marriage. With all of the marriages and relationships that are falling apart in our society, it seems like it is even more crucial to celebrate the ones that stay together.

I could easily do this challenge and tell you many reasons why I love my husband. He is wise, humble, gentle and kind. He takes care of our family, teaches our kids from an amazing store of knowledge, makes memories with us, and encourages us to live life to the full. He supports my dreams and encourages me to do what I love to do. He spends time with me, invites me to do ministry with him, prays with us and leads our family.

And while I love all of these things about him, the truth about our marriage is that I don’t stay in this relationship because he is an amazing man. Sometimes he isn’t. He’s not perfect. I’m not either. There are times when we don’t communicate well and we get frustrated with each other. We both like to sleep and there are times when we want the other person to deal with the night time kid (or puppy!) stuff. We are selfish individuals and sometimes often this affects how we treat each other.

But we knew before we made the commitment to marry each other that our relationship would not be based on how much we feel like we love the other person. We knew this wouldn’t be enough to sustain a relationship. Instead, our marriage needed to be based on the love that God has for us- the unconditional, always and forever love. This would mean that when the other person was not living up to our expectations, we would still have to do the hard work of loving them. It would mean that the grace that God has poured out into our lives as individuals would have to be poured out on each other in those moments when we wouldn’t deserve love.

This has been so freeing for our relationship and is the major reason why our love for each other is so strong. We understand that we will not always meet each other’s expectations. We will fail. We will disappoint. But since our love isn’t based on how amazing WE are, but instead on how amazing GOD is, when we mess up, we don’t have to worry that the other person will walk out on us. Our failures are an opportunity to show grace to each other and in so doing, bring glory to God.

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Recently, my kids were playing on a playground and my oldest son was on a seesaw (teeter totter?) with my youngest daughter. I didn’t get any pictures, because I was too concerned that her little body would fly off! But as I watched, I saw my son adjust his strength in order to make sure she didn’t fall.

It struck me that this is a beautiful picture of marriage. You can’t enjoy a seesaw alone. You need two people to make it work, but if one is only concerned with pushing as hard as they can in order to get what they want out of the ride, it is likely that they will knock the other person off the seesaw. Instead, both individuals need to adjust in order to make sure they are balanced and pushing in a way that is comfortable for both individuals.

In marriage, each partner must adjust to the other person. Sometimes one partner will be weak and the other one needs to be strong. The strength of the marriage is in direct correlation to how each person is valuing and respecting the other partner.

I love my husband, not because of what he does for me (even though he truly is amazing!), but because of how Jesus has loved me. When Dave fails me or doesn’t live up to my expectations, I choose to remember that Jesus gave his very life for me, so that I wouldn’t have to pay the penalty for my sin. When I remember this, how can I hold my husband’s wrongs against him? I am so grateful that he chooses to see me in the same light. He shows grace and forgiveness to me when I desperately need it.

As a result, I am madly in love with this man who has been my best friend for 20 years. I am accepting the “Love Your Spouse Challenge”, but am choosing to do it on my blog instead of Facebook. I want to make sure that those who take the time to read my words will truly understand that our desire in loving each other is always to bring glory to God.

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Dave and I met in college at Moody Bible Institute and graduated together a month before we got married. We fell in love while studying the Bible, theology and ministry and these things continue to be a foundational part of our marriage.

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My Daddy walked me down the aisle and officiated the ceremony as I pledged my life and my love to my husband. I didn’t know that one day Dave would be preaching every Sunday like my Daddy did, but I am so grateful that my husband honors my Dad’s memory in the way he faithfully pursues Christ. I always thought that I would never marry a pastor, but I am so grateful that God’s plans are different than mine!

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Dave makes me laugh. It’s one of my favorite things about him.

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He has given me these four blessings and still considers me to be his treasure. My heart is full.

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We have had the opportunity to go to some amazing places together. Here we are in Nicaragua before we kayaked on the lake behind us that was in a volcano. Making memories with my husband is one of the best things in my life!

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With all of the changes that life has brought, all of the difficulties, all of the joys, it is an incredible thing to look in this man’s eyes and see my love for him reflected back to me!

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Dave,

When I think of all of the ways our lives have been blessed, it is overwhelming to me. You told me before we were married that if I was determined to rely on God and not give up, then your love would be enough. This has proved true and I am so grateful for this. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for wanting to love me more.

I love you!

Becky

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If you have made it through this post, consider yourself challenged to do the same. Let’s celebrate marriage! It is worth celebrating!!

 

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