I Married a Realist

I married a realist. There, I’ve said it. I think I’ve been trying to deny it for some time, but it’s undeniable now. My husband is a realist.

I, on the other hand, prefer to dream.

I’m not sure when this realism set in for him. He used to dream. When we first began talking about marriage, he would draw out plans for a house he hoped to build for us. He’d tell me, “See, you even get your very own huge walk-in closet.” I would blush and ask for details about this dream house. He would bring it up every once in a while.

Then I guess life got in the way, and the house talk ended.

I found those plans in an old notebook a few months ago, and they brought up so many old memories.

I asked the other day why he doesn’t talk about it anymore, why he doesn’t dream about those things for us anymore. His response hurt my heart: “What’s the point?”

The point is so I know he still has dreams for us, so I know he still cares about our future. The point is so I can see his heart.

And I think I know what happened now. Life.

We had our first married fight. Then we had another. We struggled financially. We moved. We got new jobs. Neither of us felt that we were communicating well with the other, in part because we communicate differently. We had to grow up together. We had to find ourselves together.

And maybe for him the space left in his heart for dreaming was overcome with the reality of the situations we faced. And maybe he feels, just as I do sometimes, as I’m sure we all do at times, that dreaming is pointless because it will never come to pass.

I can talk about how badly I want to save up for our first house, and I get “slow down, sweetie.” I can talk about how, should we choose, our new area is a good place to raise a family, and I get “you’re getting ahead of yourself.”

Because the reality of our current situation is we can’t afford either of those two things. But I know we can eventually.

In our meeting with our pastors the other evening, we were told these two characteristics, dreamer and realist, balance each other out. And I know that. I know if we were both dreamers, we would probably never have a sense of stability. My husband and I process things through these lenses. But he pushes me to really think about what the reality tells us and to not “jump the gun.” And I would like to think that I push him to dream, even if they begin as little dreams.

I am still struggling with what marrying a realist means. I still struggle with how to communicate my hopes and dreams to someone who isn’t sure they’re feasible or if moving on is the “safe choice.” I still struggle with an aching heart when I don’t hear those dream home plans anymore. I still struggle with an aching heart when he asks me why he should dream. And I still struggle with sadness and frustration when my realist won’t automatically take a leap with me.

But I am also thankful. I am thankful to have someone to keep me grounded. I am thankful to have someone make sure my head stays in the present every once in a while. I’m thankful to have someone who isn’t constantly talking about the future (because I know that would give me anxiety). I am thankful to be married to someone who wants to give his family the best life he can.

I realized I married a realist, so now what?

To be honest, I am not sure what to do from this point. I don’t want to push him into dreaming, because he’ll be uncomfortable. But I also don’t want to be a constant realist because I think it’s healthy to dream. So I guess I have to let him grow and flourish in his own way.

All I know for certain is I can continue to encourage him and build him up. I can continue to remind him that God has amazing plans for him and for our family. I can remind him that I am always with him and for him. I can remind him that all my dreams include him, include our family.

I don’t really know what to do next, but I know God has everything under control.

Kill Them With Kindness

We have all heard the term “kill them with kindness,” yes? Maybe you’ve even heard Selena Gomez’s song of the same title. Today’s Scripture seems very timely given what today is: the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

So, today’s post is short. I will allow you to dwell on the Scripture for yourself.

 

Romans 12:17-21

“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This Scripture is telling us that we are to live in peace with others. Sound familiar? It also says we should “overcome evil with good.” In other words: be kind to those who are not being kind to you.

 

The take away is…

As I said earlier: kill them with kindness.

No matter where you stand or what you face, I encourage you to pray for others. I encourage you to pray for those who may not be good. Pray for our new First Family. Pray for our country.

Because prayer is the most powerful tool we have.

What’s In It For Me?

One of my colleagues and I had breakfast this morning as a sort of “last meeting,” and, somehow, I don’t remember how, our conversation led to how people treat each other in relationships—romantic or otherwise. We agreed that, in some cases, it seemed that people are only in things for themselves anymore, that it’s no longer about give and take but what someone can do for “me.” This leads perfectly into today’s Scripture.

While I didn’t post yesterday, the Scriptures from yesterday and today are directly connected. In fact, today’s directly follows yesterday’s. Interestingly enough, they connect to how we should treat others.

 

Romans 12: 1-8

“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what it is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he out to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Here, we are told that, like parts of our body, we are all important, but we all play different roles. The hand cannot do the same as the foot. (It’s “be the hands and feet of God” not “the hands or feet,” right?) Our service to God is to sacrifice ourselves to Him, whatever our gifts may be, so He can use them by His grace and for His good.

 

Romans 12:9-16

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.”

This passage is, in essence, teaching us how to follow Christ, how to be Christians. We are to love, we are to have hope, be patient, pray. We are to be hospitable, we are to celebrate but also grieve with others. We are not to think so highly of ourselves that we become all we see and not God.

 

The take away is…

These two Scriptures seem to say the same thing at least once. Look at Romans 12:3: “…not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” Now, look at Romans 12:16: “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” The message here is simple: Do not think too highly of yourself; do not glorify yourself and your own mind and deeds; surround yourself with others who can help you stay humble.

I said my conversation with my colleague leads into these Scriptures, and it does. Here’s how.

Romans 12:1-8 tells us we all have a role to play in life and to submit to that role (“living sacrifice”). Romans 12:9-16 tells us we need to have compassion, be humble, be kind, and show brotherly (i.e. friendly) love to one another. As Christians, we cannot constantly go around asking “what’s in it for me?” when we bless someone else, or when we make a new connection, or when we partake in fellowship. Our actions have to be selfless, for the good of others, but, most importantly, for the glory of God.

Maybe some people have lost this concept and need to regain it. You totally can! It takes patience, practice, and, yes, prayer. But we must stop thinking we are the end-all-be-all of the world, that the world revolves around us. Because it doesn’t. There are much bigger things.

The part that speaks to me most here is Romans 12:9: “Let love be without hypocrisy.” I mean…wow. I think this sticks out the most because of what my husband and I are going through right now. I can’t say that I love him, and that I am doing this for us, if that isn’t true. (It is! Believe me. But you see my point?) Because that’s not love, it’s selfishness. But when I let the truth reign, wonderful things can happen.

Maybe you just need reminding that God has a role for every one of us and that your role is wonderful too. Maybe you need to find your God-given gift. Maybe you even need a little reminder on how to act during those days when you just can’t possibly love that annoying person. That’s okay. Don’t get caught in your head. Turn to God. His opinion of you and His gift for you and His role for you are the only things that matter.

So, what’s in it for you? Nothing. Except knowing God has a purpose for your life and that every relationship you make can impact you in ways you can’t even imagine.

How Do We Count the Cost?

Have you ever had a decision you had to make and you had to sit and think about it, examine the pros and cons? No decision in life is easy, but the easiest (and best) decision we can make is to follow Christ. Today’s Scripture is about counting the cost.

 

Luke 14:28-35

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

In this Scripture, Jesus is saying that people always examine the options in front of them, examine the decisions that must be made. We evaluate what it will cost to do something, and if we feel the cost is too great, we do not do it, as in the example with the king who sends a delegation to ask for peace. We are afraid that we will start something and not be able to finish it, and others will judge us for it, as in the example with the man attempting to build a tower.

Jesus is telling us that if we are not willing to put these things to the side, if we are not willing to give up what we have, then we cannot be His disciples. Because disciples give up everything to follow someone.

 

The take away is…

The lesson here seems pretty simple to me. When we make the decision to follow Christ, we cannot look back. We cannot sit down and examine what it takes or what we can “lose” by making such a decision. Because the decision is life changing. When we follow Christ, what we “give up” is nothing compared to what we gain.

Remember that post on “counting it all as loss”? Well, we have to count everything we leave behind as loss when we begin our walk with Christ.

What decisions are you facing in your life right now that you’re weighing? What do you weigh, and worry about, leaving behind?

Always see the good

I really liked today’s Scripture in that it asks us to look at the good in the world. Let’s take a look.

 

Philippians 4:4-9

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

 

The take away is…

The biggest thing here feels simple: rejoice in the Lord, and think on the good things in the world. Stay positive. Only give the energy of your heart and your mind to things that are true, pure, good, lovely, and praiseworthy. Do not waste your heart on things that are not of God. The Lord has given you things, the Lord has spoken to you in your life. If you dwell only on those things, then you are always with God.

God is a god of peace. The end. Only speak over you and your life the things He has spoken for you, the things He has provided. Because that is Truth.

What are you allowing to steal your joy? What are you meditating on that maybe you shouldn’t? What have you learned, received, or heard from God that you need to really think about? Because only then will you have peace.

Strength Beyond Measure

A good friend of mine and I were discussing our financial situations. Although they are different in many ways, they also share similarities. The main similarity is simple, and you probably already guessed it: we need provision. She said something that stuck with me. She said she’s been asking God to provide, and she has a family member who would like to help, yet she feels bad for allowing this person to do so. In other words, she is seeking provision, but has her own idea of how she would like to accomplish that. What if this is God’s provision?

It’s similar to the joke she told me once about a man who is about to drown. He asks God to save him, and has faith He will, and each time a boat passes him and offers relief he responds, “God will save me.” After three rescue denials, the man dies. He asks God “Why didn’t you save me?” God responds, “I sent you three boats.”

Her and I have both been asking for provision in our lives, and we have been given the strength to hold on, but what if each of the scenarios we have encountered, her family offering help and my new job, are God’s way of saying “I am trying to provide for you.”

My point is God will wait for us to accept what He is giving. And this includes strength.

 

Isaiah 40:28-31

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young man shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Here’s the verse (verse 31) that is most powerful for me: “but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”

This Scripture is telling us that even though we, as humans, grow weary and are weak, God is never weary and he is always strong. In fact, this Scripture tells us that He will give us His strength.

 

Continuing to be Equipped

Today’s message in church continued our “Equipped” series, and our pastor talked through how God will not fail us, but we must allow Him to lead the way. The Scriptures used were Joshua 1:1-9, Romans 8:31-39, and 2 Peter 1: 5-9.

Joshua 1:9 tells us: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 8:31 states: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and verse 37 explains that “yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

2 Peter 1:1-9 talks about growing your faith in all regards because “if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is short-sighted…and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”

 

The take away is…

No matter what, God will equip us as we need for the journey ahead. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will give us His strength when we are weak because He never fails and is never tired. Because of this strength, we can do more than just survive and win the battle we face; we can overcome and prosper.

When we ask for the Lord’s help, we have to be willing to wait, but He can give us the strength needed to wait.

My friend and I have been waiting and wondering about our financial situations for some time. We have asked god for guidance, for provision, for answers. We have asked for strength to keep going when we don’t know what is next or, quite frankly, if we are going to make it.

But the thing is God has equipped us for this. He has provided answers, even if they are not answers in the way we wanted them. And that’s the key: God provides in His way, not ours.

Our pastor also said today that “power sought after is destructive, but power given is empowerment.” We cannot seek out our answers (or power) apart from God; we have to allow God to grant us those answers (or power) in the way He sees fit for our lives.

When we are at breaking point, we only need to ask God for His strength. But we have to be prepared for what He gives us. If we continue to grow our faith, we are rewarded beyond measure. Because, truly, if we allow God to lead, He will protect us. If He is for us, no one and no thing can be against us.

So, I ask you today: what do you need strength for? Ask God, and I guarantee, if you allow Him to take the lead, He will provide and protect.

Reflecting

I want to take today to talk about something else that has been put on my heart today: marriage.

I have been reading Team of Rivals. It’s very revealing about what life was like for those four men who hoped they would be chosen to be the next President of the United States of America. It talks about their political aspirations, their educational backgrounds, their upbringings, their family life, their marriages, their relationships with other politicians, and even how their political desires affected their lives and their relationships.

Today, though, I was struck by Seward’s relationship with his wife Frances. Seward loved his wife and his children dearly, but Goodwin explains “…the Sewards to a far greater extent than the Lincolns, spent much of their married life apart.” And I realized: I have it pretty good in comparison to these historic couples.

I am preparing to move, and this means being apart from my husband for quite a few months. But this is 2017. We have pen and paper, but we also have phones and computers and airplanes. Sure, we can write old fashion letters, which I love. But we can also call, text, and FaceTime. He can fly to visit me, or I can fly to visit him.

Seward and Frances, or Mary and Lincoln, couldn’t do that.

I value our marriage above everything else, but I also know I need to do my share in providing for my family. This job was the way I could do that.

I know it’s going to be rough, but I also know it will be worth it in the long run. Because at one point we will be on the same page, at the same point, in our careers. And this was the only way I felt that could eventually happen.

I am blessed beyond measure to be married to a man who understands my career needs, to love me regardless of a career choice, to be willing to let me take a job because he knows it is important, to always be my support.

Marriage isn’t easy, especially when you get married young. You learn to grow together, to grow up together, you learn about yourselves together. And we are still learning. But I have faith that this will create good growth for us and our marriage. I can just imagine telling our children one day all the things we went through, with the one message being: with the right person, nothing can tear you apart.

And what’s even more important: putting God first. When He is at the center of your marriage, there is nothing you cannot do.

And I am holding tight to that. I know the separation will be difficult. I know we will miss each other more than we know right now. But I also feel it will be eye opening for us.

I pray for strength, safety, and knowledge. Most of all, I pray for a long and happy marriage. Because I can’t imagine doing life with anyone else, and I wouldn’t want to.