I am saved. My sins are gone, I've been set free.
I'm still learning to live in a constant state of free-ness...I have a tendency to fall under my own condemnation. It's a work in progress! I am a work in progress.
Here's the deal though, I want to speak to those who might find themselves in a cycle of sin similar to the one I found (actually, I didn't FIND anything, I PUT myself there...let's just be honest about it) myself in. I know that the chances of this helping anyone are slim. I'm not eloquent and typically only the people who really love me even read what I write. But I want to say it because I feel lead to. So, at the very least, maybe it'll help ME to write it.
I married the only boy I ever had an intimate relationship with. But that didn't make it okay. I have repented of the sin I had allowed to take hold of my life. But that didn't take away the consequences of my actions. A large portion of our dating life, our engagement, our wedding day and even a few years of our marriage were tainted by that sin. Our life is still feeling the repercussions of that sin. All of the tenderness and sweetness that should accompany some of the major milestone moments of my life were tainted.
I can barely look at my wedding pictures. A lot of people worked really hard to make my day special in spite of the glaringly obvious sin I had committed and the damage that I'd done to my relationship with them all. My major memory of my honeymoon is nausea from the scent of the air freshener in the car.
It took years before the full weight of what I had done hit me. It took years for me to REALLY repent because I was so hardened by the sin I had committed. But the thing is, it wasn't something I just did one day. It was a long process of compromises and going too far. Slowly I broke every promise I ever made to myself and opposed everything I thought I believed in. I was unwilling to wait to receive God's blessings, so I took matters into my own hands, did it my way and I could not possibly regret it more.
If you are doing this same thing, I totally know where you are. Believe me, I get it. But please stop. Stop RIGHT now. Tell someone. Ask for help. It will be hard, but it will be worth the effort. I promise. Even if you are planning to marry the person you have an inappropriate relationship with, you will regret it and all of the special moments that you should cherish, will be tainted by the memory of your actions. God has an amazing plan for your life, do it HIS way.
The thing is, I don't want to be negative or make you think my life is awful. Because it's absolutely not. I've written a lot of other posts about how good God has been to me and how He has plucked me from the clutches of sin and the amazing effect it's had on my marriage. It's all because of Jesus. I am forgiven. I have been set free. I am covered by Jesus' blood. And no matter where you are, you can be too. Even if you did everything wrong like I did. There's nothing the blood of Jesus won't cover.
My sin, o the bliss of the glorious tho't,
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul!
Their buddy system is a lot more involved than ours. We don't expect our kids to bathe or dress one another (but then we only have five kids...if I had 13 or 14 I'm sure I'd change my tune).
Basically, we implemented this system because there are only two of us and there are five of them and we can't be everywhere all the time. So when we go out into public, our kids know that if they have to use the restroom, or be separated from us for any reason, they take a 'buddy' (ie, another wild indian). I love it because it gives them a lot more freedom but also keeps them safe.
The number one rule of the buddy system is...use it. Duh. The number two rule of the buddy system is...you never leave your buddy behind. YOU STAY WITH YOUR BUDDY.
It's not always fun and it's not always easy. Sometimes one kid wants to run faster than the other one...so either the kid going fast has to slow down or the kid going slow has to run faster...or a little of both. But one of those things HAS to happen. Because YOU STAY WITH YOUR BUDDY.
Sometimes it means going places you don't want to or are afraid to go. But you go anyway because YOU STAY WITH YOUR BUDDY. Sometimes it means NOT going somewhere you want to go because your buddy has something else in mind and YOU HAVE TO STAY WITH YOUR BUDDY.
Sometimes it means watching while your buddy does something that they might get into trouble for but insist on doing. It doesn't mean you participate or approve...but you stick around in case they need help.
The only time it's okay to leave your buddy is if they are hurt or in trouble and it is beyond your ability to help them (which would include destructive behavior that they refuse to stop). This scenario is one of our biggest reasons for implementing the buddy system in the first place. Someone knows where you are, knows what you're going through, can advise/warn you when needed and find and direct help your way.
It's a good system. It's not an easy system. It doesn't work if the buddies both demand their own way all the time. It's a miserable system in that case. I ask my kids this question a lot "is getting your way worth being miserable over?" or "do you want to get your way or do you want to have fun?" Because it IS a choice. And most of the time they decide they'd rather come to some sort of compromise or give up their way all together rather than keep arguing.
The buddy system is a thing of beauty when both buddies work hard to make it work. There is so much fun to be had!
1 John 3:18
I started reading books about how to find the perfect husband and have the perfect marriage. Because I wanted both. I also wanted to be the perfect wife whose husband would adore me 24/7.
Since I've been married, I've read MORE books about how to have the perfect marriage. Because I didn't have one.
I read these books and implement what they say expecting that if I do I will have the perfect marriage I've always dreamed of. And then I mess up. Or he messes up. And just like that my hopes of having a perfect marriage are dashed again and I move on to the next book.
Even though in my head I've always known it would NEVER be perfect, because we're not, I go around feeling like a complete loser because we're not. I compare the dirt under the foundation of our house to everyone else's hardwood floors that they've prepped for me to see.
Books are great. Everyone should read books. Blogs are great. Everyone should read blogs. Seminars are great. Everyone should go to seminars. But we also have to remember that even if we read all the books and blogs and go to all of the seminars...we cannot perfectly implement all of the good information all of the time. The people who write the books and blogs and host the seminars don't have perfect marriages or lives.
And guess what?! It doesn't mean we've failed. It means we're human. It means we need Jesus.
It doesn't matter how much you have in common with someone, they are eventually going to get on your nerves. And you might find out things about each other that neither one of you ever wanted any other human being to know about you. And if you truly invest in the level of intimacy that God intended for marriages to have...there will probably be conflict.
I've never been able to implement all the stuff in all the books I've read. But each book has spurred me on to love and good works. And some area of my marriage has improved because of it. And the thing is, small changes over time make a big difference.
I don't have a perfect marriage. But I do have a redeemed one. And the really awesome thing is...the only explanation for the difference is Jesus. Left to our own devices our marriage would be...well...what it was for a long time and worse. He has made all the difference.
I got this photo here.
Summer is officially here. We're done with school, it's HOT and we're almost out of toilet paper. So today I took my wild indians to a local air conditioned business establishment. Where the toilet paper is in abundant supply.
At one point the equipment malfunctioned and the employee who was called to fix it was extremely rude. He altered our equipment so that it affected the rest of our visit. So we had a constant reminder of the situation.
I try really hard to be a good customer. I almost never send food back or ask for a problem to be fixed. And when someone is rude, I try really hard to just let it go.
To be honest, I kind of pride myself on it. I get puffed up about it. And then all of a sudden I'm presented with a situation like I was presented with today. And it's really hard to "keep my cool".
I managed to maintain my composure but as we were leaving and I was talking to the kids about it, I saw the man in the parking lot. My initial reaction was to feel smug and turn my nose up at him.
But the Spirit was working on me and convicted me that just not being rude wasn't enough. I needed to show this man kindness. So I drove near where the man was working and thanked him and wished him a pleasant day.
It humbled me. Because it reminded me that I still need Jesus and that HE is the good in my life and NOT me. Without Him, I'm just the same old vindictive shrew that I always was. It's only WITH Him and through Him that my reaction can be kindness and empathy.
I don't cook with wine a lot because we're not big drinkers and I don't keep wine around the house. But all the recipes I found called for dry white wine in the shell. I didn't even know what a dry white wine is. Google is my friend. I was actually pretty skeptical about the need for wine in the shell. The dough didn't smell particularly good and I even considered skipping the wine and using a more desirable ingredient. But I ended up sticking to the recipe in the end.
Get this though, the girl at the checkout counter didn't card me. I mean, she didn't even bat an eye, she just rang me up. My life flashed before my eyes. Really?! I'm old enough to not be carded? I totally felt like those women in sitcoms who flip out and demand to show their ID anyway. I didn't. But I felt like it.
So anyway, I dug into the cannoli making process.
So technically you're supposed to use forms during the frying process to create the cannoli shape but I didn't want to buy them until I knew whether or not cannolis would be a repeat item in our food repretoire. So I "made do". Just in case you ever wondered, the handles of whisks are not cannoli forms, although they look like they are and perform decently (except when water got lodged inside the handle and I didn't realize it and created some fireworks when I put it in the hot oil!) in the absence of real cannoli forms.
The actual process of forming and frying the cannolis was an awkward and not very successful endeavor at first. But with every cannoli I was able to identify a problem and solve it with the next one and within a few rounds, I was able to make perfectly formed and perfectly crisp cannolis shells.
It kind of struck me how similar life is to my cannoli experience. We don't come into this life with the ability to make perfect decisions every time. We try, we mess up and we try again with a better idea of how to get it right. If I had decided that making cannolis was too hard after the first one, or if I had not actively learned from every mistake and worked to correct it, our cannoli experience would have been a lot less pleasant.
I get so tired of making mistakes and not getting things right. It's not always about a lack of knowledge, sometimes it's just a lack of implementing that knowledge. I've heard people say things like "if you want to know how to eat healthy or exercise effectively, ask an overweight person" and sadly, that is very much the case in a lot of circumstances...at least in my life.
The thing is though, sometimes I'm too dense to learn whatever it is that God is trying to teach me. So much of what I always assumed about God and my relationship with Him is either totally false or completely misunderstood.
I always thought that as I got older that I would FEEL wiser, but to be honest, while I can SEE growth in my life, I feel more ignorant and flawed than ever. And as silly as it sounds, I feel like God has totally broken down my old preconceptions about Him and is teaching me what's real. And so much of the time I read the "recipe" and decide that the ingredients or process called for isn't really necessary so I skip it or substitute and then completely miss out on the delicious result to be disappointed by my own creation. I'm trying so hard that I miss out on what God has for me. Instead of being still and seeing His glory, I try to create it on my own.
God's plan is beautiful and perfect. His thoughts and ways are infinitely above my own, so even when it doesn't make sense or doesn't feel like I think it should, I have to learn to be still. To trust Him and rely on His goodness instead of trying to help Him out.
Cannoli verdict? The shells were amazing. I'll definitely make them again (and I'm so glad I went with the wine!). The cream filling? Eh. We'll have to tweak that a bit.
When I was a little girl my Mema would take me shopping for Mother's Day. She would always ask me if my dad got something for my mom (she always made sure my mom got a corsage too) and she would take me shopping. She would let me pick out whatever I wanted even if it took me foreeeever to find something. The most memorable year was when I picked out a nightgown. It said #1 Sleeper on it and I thought this particularly fitted my mom because she liked to sleep in. I didn't notice until after I gave it to her that it had a HIPPO on it. Really, guys, don't ever get your mom something with a hippo on it. She laughed though and wore it for years. My Mema is a really thoughtful person and she looooves giving gifts to people. It's so fun to hear the story behind the things she buys. Sometimes she finds something that she really wants but at a price she isn't willing to pay. So she waits and she watches and she collects coupons. And then whatever it is goes on sale and she pounces on it and pays a small fraction of the original cost. The thing is...most of her shopping is for other people! Rarely for herself!
I don't think my GrammaDee will ever know how much she has affected my life for good. I have this connection with her that I don't have with a lot of people. I love spending time with her. She truly cares about people. She speaks her love through cards and food. She is a card sending warrior. And a food cooking machine. I don't even know how many times people have told me about being blessed by her in both of these ways. She has also had a big influence on my taste in music and movies. She introduced me to all kinds of good music that I never would have experienced without her. She introduced me to Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver...Floyd Kramer...Allison Krauss...the entire genre of Southern Gospel...the Story of Little Tree...Bullfrogs and Butterflies...the list goes on but I can't even think of them all. She also bought me my first copy of the Sound of Music, Oklahoma and Anne of Green Gables. All of those things are among my all time favorite things.
I feel like it's kind of silly to try to talk about how much my own mom has influenced my life because...duh...of course she influenced my life! A few years ago I found this picture of my mom...she was pregnant with me and she was standing over a tub and washboard and a pile of dirty clothes. The tub was on a truck bed so she wouldn't have to bend over to wash the clothes. Okay folks. I'm 32 so this was in 1981. My parents had moved to the middle of nowhere New Mexico to do mission work. They didn't have running water or electricity and they used an outhouse. In the United States. In 1981. The thing that struck me about this picture, and that makes me love it, is the huge smile on her face. Can you imagine? Pregnant, in the middle of nowhere New Mexico and hand washing clothes on a washboard and smiling about it? Yeah, 'nuff said.
I honestly can't remember meeting Sandy. I know I did at some point before she became my mother in law. My first real memory of her is her coming to talk to me after a really embarrassing incident (where I had accidentally drawn the attention of several hundred people to me and wherein those several hundred people laughed at me for a good 5-10 minutes...MORTIFYING!). But since then I have had the pleasure of getting to know her. Folks, I think the woman could get stains out of anything and if she can't...it can't be done. Everything she does with her hands is done well. She sews, she cooks/bakes, she does hair (I'm sure there's more). More than once she's gotten us out of a financial scrape. If we have a problem and she can help...even at her own peril...she does. She's mothered my kids when they needed it. I love the relationship she has with my kids. We love her so much!
When Philip and Amie started dating, I heard that she was nervous that I'd be upset. I wasn't. I can't imagine either of them being married to anyone else. Amie was my friend long before she married my brother. In fact, Michael and I went on our first date with Amie and her boyfriend at the time. And she totally was ready to spot me some cash in case Michael was expecting me to pay (I wasn't sure since I asked HIM). While Amie was a good friend, I appreciate her as a woman even more than I did as a girl. When she joined our family she immediately started being so good to my kids. For a while, my parents paid her to come over to my house once a week and help me clean. I can't even tell you how much she helped me. She's a good mom to her kiddos...it's totally obvious how much she loves them...and my brother.
My kids couldn't possibly have a better Tia than Sarah. I can't imagine them loving her anymore than they already do. And I can't imagine appreciating her any more. She helped us with our wedding and lent us the $200 we needed to make our first appointment with our midwife. She threw my shower. She came over and helped out, bought our kids things they needed and spent time with them. She also does my girls hair...and since that is something that is really overwhelming to me...I appreciate that sooo much. She reads them stories, takes them on dates and makes them birthday cakes. My kids will have such good memories of their childhood because of her. I am so thankful that we have her in our lives!
Okay, I'm going to stop there. Happy Mother's Day!