Thursday, February 26, 2015

For Better or Worse... Richer or Poorer

The table bore witness to our whispers and yells. It caught my nervous tears and reached up to feel the grasp of forgiving and loving hands filled with warmth, hope, and trust. Our goals and dreams were established, not in stone but our hearts desire could easily compare.  Nearly six months prior he had grasped my hand the same way, promising for better or for worse - richer or poorer. He is a planner, analytical, and thorough; I am the complete opposite - a dreamer. Time ticked by as we met over and over again on how to do this - make this marriage work. Somehow we had to combine goals, merge them into one - a dreamer and a goal keeper... one.

Expectations shattered into a million shards before us, leaving some wounds that would create beautiful scars. Three years and three months after our hearts bonded over the setting of the "goal contract" we checked the last off our list. The list consisting of both of us graduating from college, becoming debt free, buying a home, and then a "new-to-us-keep-for-a-long-time" vehicle.


As we walked arm-in-arm away from the dealership my heart danced for joy and my head ran wild in panic. We made it! Wait... what's next?

He wore his handsome confident smile as my eyes met his face because he knows me so well. He knows what I am thinking. He is like that, you see, he is always one step ahead of my constant desire to jump forward without looking at where I will land. His smile calms me, grounds me, quiets my soul. I trust him and know that he lives to please God. This does not make me a weak woman, no - it makes me stronger and more confident in the life that is before us... better or worse - richer or poorer.

This gift of goal reaching is beautiful. This gift of marriage, of being one with someone else and taking the clay from one heart adding the water from the other in order to mold the two hearts into one. This takes sacrifice. This is covered with God. Yes, the submitting, the encouraging, the forgiveness - the constant forgiveness. The I'm sorries - the humility. It's God. He teaches us in this, in these difficult tear wrenching, teeth gritting moments to find grace dust it off and behold it as a gift to the other. In the joyful, high-five, shut up and kiss me moments... and in the I'm sorry - you're forgiven ones as well, God is teaching, building, scraping, refining, reforming, and creating us to be more like him.

This is a gift.
For this we are thankful.
This is God in us.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." 1 Peter 1:14

Sunday, February 15, 2015


  I'm not sure if it is the fresh air or the wide open spaces that scare me. I've always craved the country since stepping into the big city in 2007. Now I am placed exactly where I want to be and instead of staring at the stars or breathing in the fresh smells I have been jumping into my truck and driving mindlessly to the city. Running away from my coveted freedom. Isn't it ironic, this running back to the place I felt captive! I miss so much of it, my friends, my church, access to anything I ever needed. Yet, today as I ran on a treadmill and stared at the beautiful clouded sky and the damp ground in my small town, I felt the urge to scream - even loud enough to make my own eardrums explode.

   This frustration inside of me wasn't at what was around me. No, it was with my selfish attitude of never being satisfied. On the other side of the large glass window is a beautiful day but I chose to run inside.  Months ago, I prayed for God to place my husband and I where we were needed and he moved us away and gave us this wonderful home in a friendly neighborhood... but I'm not investing in the place He called us to. I'm running back to the life I came from, running away from what he has called me for - here in this town. In this small, uneventful, drama filled  town. A town where preachers leave because they cannot handle it anymore. A town where brokenness is found in the gossip, the rumors, and the constant unchanging.

   Unfortunately, this running needs to stop. I need to take a step back and focus on what God has called me to here - what He has placed on my heart. I don't know how long it is going to take to arrive on a mountain top again, but I'm going to start walking until I find it and meet Him there. I want to serve my Jesus with my whole heart. I want Him to be my every day, my every moment. I can't live running away from His calling for me because I am scared or don't know where to start.

   So please, please pray for me as I begin staying. Tears have found their way and are drowning my eyes as I write this because it is so hard to stay sometimes. To stay, to breathe, and to not run in fear.  So, through it all I will place my eyes on him. I will believe that his plan is well with my soul, that my God is stronger than this pain, and that whatever he believes needs to be completed here I will respond with, "Here I am! Choose me! I trust you!" This long journey of finding satisfaction in the valley is over. I'm ready to walk back up to the mountain-top to meet my Jesus there; to see his face, meet him, and hear him say "I am proud of  you."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Giving All Your Love!

It was 7 p.m. and I was with my boyfriend (now husband) at his brother's house watching the Spurs dominate the court when my stomach began to turn. Three seconds later I was sprinting to the restroom throwing up everything I had in my system. It was miserable! Not to mention, EMBARRASSING!!! There I was vulnerable, crying a mascara river onto my shirt, and moving between heaving and puking every few minutes; there he was holding my hair back, wiping my face, and whispering words of encouragement "Bray, you'll be okay".

Two days later (YES! TWO!) I finally made it back to my Aunt's house where I had been living at the time. I was so weak and I hardly remember those days, but the moments that I do remember were him walking in and checking on me,  bringing me PediaLite and eventually crackers while brushing the hair out of my unwashed face. The moment I finally woke up and was comprehending what had happened, I wept. I wept because I was in a position where I had no idea what had happened since 7 p.m. two days prior, and this boy had been taking such gentle care of me. A food-poisoned princess... a throw up-fighting knight.

Maybe I fell head over heals in front of that toilet bowl. Maybe that was one of the moments that I knew this man could conquer anything. His love for me bent low and met me in my pain and hurt. He whispered hope when I felt the world was crashing. True love.

Love does that... it explodes hearts in a quiet way.
It isn't about one day a year, it's about every day. Every day you step unselfishly into the true kind of love. The love that gives hope, encouragement, and peace. The love that doesn't do because they have to, but does because it wants to.

Today I did just that and I encourage you to do the same - step up and out. Love in a way that explodes a heart, filling it with thankfulness, joy, and gratitude. Look at the people around you! Everyone needs something, subtle or ginormous. Today I scanned the yard and could hear Adam's voice in the background, full of dismay at the trenches the dogs have dug. I filled every single one of them. Painful? Yes. Sweat-filled? Yes. Full of love and excitement about what he will think when he comes home? ABSOLUTELY!

He's my knight. My warrior. My tender-hearted man.

I would do anything for him... even the stuff that isn't fun.

So do something today that puts you out of your comfort zone. Love! Love because we are loved. Bless others with gifts you have by giving them the gifts they need. Pick up flowers for a single person, invite someone over whom you don't normally interact with, do something difficult. The growth and joy you find from it will only push you further into this love-giving adventure.