I knew it the first moment I heard you play guitar.
I knew it when we played Blind Man’s Bluff on the playground in Chicago and we kept choosing the same hiding spots.
And I knew it when we started showing up at our Bro-Sis table in the SDR at the same time.
I knew that I never wanted to stop getting to know you.
I knew it when I couldn’t study for my final exam, because I was too excited to go out for coffee with you later that night (worst grade ever- thanks for that!)
I knew it when we went to the lighting of the lights parade and later shared a Lou Malnati’s chocolate chip pizza.
I knew it when I asked you and a friend out for breakfast on the day before I flew home to Pennsylvania for Christmas break (realizing that your friend had other plans, but hoping that you would not!).
I knew that I was falling in love with you.
I knew when you called me right after I returned from the break and we talked for 3 hours straight.
I knew when you asked me to drive with you to a doctor’s appointment (completely oblivious to the fact that you wanted me to be available to drive FOR you! sorryaboutthat ).
And I knew when you drove me to my cousin’s baby shower and you were willing to play the games- even drinking juice from a baby bottle.
I knew you were falling in love with me too.
I knew before you told me that you liked me that I would say I liked you too. When we had the conversation at Navy Pier about whether or not this meant that we were boyfriend and girlfriend, I knew that I would say of course I will be your girlfriend!
I knew that lightening would strike the first time you kissed me (of course, I thought that would be more of a figurative thing!).
And I knew that saying I love you would be as natural as breathing.
I didn’t know that we would go through a near break up, but what I do know is that I wouldn’t change that part of our story for anything. From the very beginning, you were determined to bring glory to God in our relationship. And that near break up is exactly what I needed to move me from being so enraptured with you to earnestly trusting God with His plans for us.
Because I knew. I knew we were meant to be together, but I had to let go of my own choke hold on our relationship and truly allow God to be the center of it.
I was completely surprised and unprepared for when you proposed to me, but there was no doubt in my mind (or yours!) that I would say yes. Because we knew. We had been through the glorious joy of falling in love and we had walked through the tough waters of nearly parting ways. We knew that our love was more than feelings, that it was based on a commitment first to God and then to each other.
I knew when I wore your sweatshirt and missed you in Montreal and when we traveled to El Salvador together that my life would forever be intertwined with yours.
I knew when we served God together at Timber-lee and later at Bethany that ministry by your side would be one of the greatest gifts in my life.
I knew when I walked down that aisle on my Daddy’s arm that I was the most blessed of women, loved by the most amazing, God honoring men.
I knew when you were so patient with me, so supportive, so generous and so kind that I had made one of the best decisions of my life by marrying you.
I knew when we cried together in the ultrasound room that we would always rejoice and mourn together.
I knew when you learned to swaddle our firstborn and changed every diaper for the first 24 hours of her life that you would be an amazing Daddy and I wouldn’t ever have to worry about that (this is one of your greatest gifts to me!).
I knew when you were misunderstood, criticized and treated poorly in ministry that God would use it for His glory. What I didn’t know is how blessed my life would be because of the wisdom and humility that you gained from those tough times.
I knew when we settled into a rhythm of life with our littles and our ministries and our love that life would be good. I didn’t know that it would keep getting better. But it has.
This I know for sure. A love like ours is worth fighting for. It is worth all of the tears and all of the heartaches. It only grows stronger. It is blessed with incredible joy and abundant friendships. Our lives are full, gloriously full.
Twenty years ago, we didn’t know what life would have in store for us, but I am so thankful we knew enough to choose each other.
Here’s to 20 years of us being us.
Celebrating 20 years of knowing!
Build others up, don’t tear them down!
It’s a mantra that I say often to my children. But then I talk to other parents and in the course of conversation, I can feel torn down and I wonder. How am I supposed to teach my kids to build others up when so many adults don’t seem to have a grasp on this?
How am I torn down, you might ask? When parents talk about ideals in parenting, they automatically dismiss differing opinions and intentionally or not, they make others feel less than.
Let me share some examples…
- If you say that homeschooling children is the ideal, then for the parent who sends their kids to school, you have just made them feel inferior.
- If you say that the ideal is to have a father and mother in the home, then you have just ostracized all of the single moms without entering into the reasons for it.
- If you say that cloth diapering and organic foods are the only way to go, you have diminished the parenting of those who do not hold the same “ideals”.
These are just a few examples, but I could go on and on. The truth is there are as many different ways to parent as there are people. To me, this is something that we need to celebrate. It reflects the immense creativity of the God who made us all unique. But instead, these differences can become giant chasms that separate us. For what purpose?
Before Lindsay (my oldest) was born, I was determined to breast feed her exclusively. Based on all the research, I believed that this was the ideal. But three days after she was born, I was readmitted to the hospital because of high blood pressure issues. As my doctor handed my husband a case of formula to feed our newborn, I felt like a failure. I cried as he left with our baby girl and then I slept through the night, returning to a healthy normalcy. In the morning, I discovered that our daughter had slept for 6 hours straight. I now see that night as the grace of God in my life. He pried my hands off of my ideals and humbled my heart.
I now believe that it is appropriate to have standards and expectations for our parenting, but we need to approach those things with humility.
Pride results in ideals. Humility results in faithfulness.
As parents, our goal should be to be faithful to what God has called us to do, understanding that our choices might look different from others. We should never elevate our own choices over the choices of others if these choices are not a sin issue.
When we talk about ideals in parenting, we diminish the different choices of others. This is contrary to the Word of God which emphasizes building others up.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their need. ~Ephesians 4:29
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. ~1 Thessalonians 5:11
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~Hebrews 10:24,25
Rather than talking about ideals or criticizing someone’s parenting choices, we are to encourage one another to seek God’s will and to pursue wisdom. We should speak about our own choices with humility in order to invite others to speak about the joys and the struggles they have in their own lives. If we set ourselves up as the ideal, we only build bigger chasms instead of building each other up.
If you are feeling the pressure to make choices based on the strong opinions of people in your life, might I encourage you today to instead pray? Ask God to show you what he has for you in your parenting journey. Understand that his call on your life will probably look different than others. Seek to be faithful to Him. The opinions of others are not the Word of God. If you are seeking to be faithful to Him, then trust that He will make His will for you known in your life. Walk confidently in that. And then reach out your hand to encourage others, to build them up and not tear them down.
Because parenting is not about ideals. It’s about faithfulness.
Have you been reading this blog long enough to remember Top Ten Tuesday posts? I used to love writing those, but life has changed a bit since then and my writing has become more and more sporadic. But I’m feeling the urge to write one, so here it is- The Top Ten Random Happenings in my life right now.
1. My Bible study group is working through the book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey. Every time I read the title, I laugh, because our nursery worker for these studies is named Grace. And she’s pretty amazing. I always feel like I need to answer, well, let me tell you!
2. We have not been able to watch television since we moved into our new home, because our cable wirings needed some work. The cable guy came on Monday and fixed it all, so that now we can watch television and use the internet AT THE SAME TIME! Of course, we haven’t watched anything on the television, but we are ready for the superbowl. (Who’s coming?!!)
3. While the cable guy was here, I decided to go old fashioned and use my cookbooks to plan meals for the week. Last night, I served “Savory Sausage and Potato Pie”. Ethan declared it his favorite meal ever and all of kids asked for seconds!! This has never, ever happened!! Note to self: use cookbooks more often.
4. This morning, I woke up and didn’t want to get out of bed, but when I stumbled down the stairs to make lunches for my kiddos, I discovered the most beautiful sunrise beginning to emerge through the trees. The bonus? There were five deer just beyond the fence in our backyard. God is gracious to me, always giving good gifts when I need them!
5. A friend of mine gave me a sweet frame with red buttons in the shape of a heart last year and yesterday I was determined to find it. I never found it, but in the search process, I unpacked 9 boxes in the basement. So there’s that.
6. There has been a questionnaire going around on Facebook for children to fill out about their parent(s). Questions like what’s my favorite thing? and what do I do to make you laugh? I decided to join in on the fun and see how my kids would answer the questions. It was a sweet time with all of them. Some of their answers made me laugh. Others made me think about how I need to ask them more questions to draw them out. Sometimes I am deliberate about conversations with my kids, but most of the time I’m not. Note to self: be more deliberate.
7. Last night, while my oldest and I were doing dishes together, I turned on my Phantom of the Opera Pandora station. I discovered that her interest in Broadway shows is piqued and I am so excited about this, I can barely contain myself!!
8. My birthday is on Sunday and each morning for the past few days, a message has popped up on the agenda on my phone saying “Happy Birthday- all day”. This simple reminder makes me smile every time I read it.
9. Ethan has a friend who has started playing paintball and wants Ethan to join him. Last night, Dave dug out his paintball gun from his youth pastor days and now we are the coolest parents ever (because after all, I bought the paintball gun to surprise my husband back in the day!).
10. I recently cried at the end of a rather insignificant kids’ movie and it reminded me of my prayer a few years ago that God would enlarge my heart (Psalm 110:32). While it is at times embarrassing to feel things so deeply, I am grateful for the sensitivity he has given me that allows me to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
The exercise of writing down random happenings is actually quite meaningful. In my life, I have discovered that I am better able to see God’s hand at work in my life when I take the time to reflect on those things that might seem random, mundane or insignificant.
The random happenings are a part of God’s remarkable story that he is writing in my heart.
She handed me a stack of papers, ones that I should have seen days (weeks?) ago,
and once again I am drowning.
Under the weight of papers
The boxes have piled up, the to-do lists, the record sheets,
somehow all getting lost under the other pressing (more important?) needs.
I want to thrive.
Instead, I am trying to catch my breath,
gasp for air
grasp the lifeline.
Meanwhile, the coffee is hot, the fire is raging, the snow is falling softly, the littles just beginning to stir,
the colored pencils
all close at hand.
In the stillness, I wonder if thriving looks a whole lot more finding the Rock to stand on than it does sailing over the waves, carefree and sticky with salt?
It never gives up
takes a break.
And so, I am going to stop struggling against the tides that threaten to pull me under.
I’m choosing to remember that my life has already been saved.
I’m free to move forward without being overwhelmed.
I’m free to thrive.