Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pots and pans and happy days

I didn't have a very good day at work on Friday, and we were expecting company on Friday night, so when I got home, I was a little stressed.

I headed inside to finish up some work and then got started making cupcakes for our get-together, and Nate stayed in the garage because I know he could read on my face I was stressed and needed to just be alone and get things done.

However, then I got a text message that read "How can I help your stress?"

Melt my heart, the sweet man. I told him if he could sweep up before everyone came, that would be a huge help.

Then as I reached into the cupboard to find my cupcake tin, I saw a bunch of boxes amidst my old pots and pans. I didn't realize what they were doing in there at first, and then I found they were boxes filled with a brand new pasta pot, two new skillets and two new cookie sheets - from Williams Sonoma no less.

Those were my anniversary gift from my absolutely amazing husband. He knew that our pots were old hand-me-downs and secondhand store finds from before we were married, and he wanted to get me something nice. I never thought I would have anything from Williams Sonoma, and here he goes and buys me something out of the blue.

You might think it's not a big deal, but first, we said we wouldn't get each other gifts after we got married. We wanted to use those funds to go on trips and get big purchases when we needed them instead of spending little bits here and there on gifts. It's worked out great so far, and we don't miss gifts.

It makes it all the more special when he goes out of his way to think of something to get me on a holiday, because I'm definitely not expecting it. He said he wanted to get me something since I never buy anything for myself, and he likes my cooking.

I have to say, after a terrible day, his sweet gestures really made me feel good and brightened what would have ended as a bad day to remember. Now when I look back on that, it is with good feelings that my husband is there supporting me and doing his best to make me happy.

We're coming up on our second anniversary, and I have to say, this man continues to surprise me. I have loved him for a long time, but he is constantly growing and changing and becoming a man that blesses me constantly. It actually makes my stomach twist when I think about him, because my love is growing each day for him.

When our friends get married, I am just so happy for them, because marriage has been more than I expected. You hear so much how hard the first couple of years are, and you are always seeing couples fight. However, we have been so blessed to have two wonderful years together with little stress and fighting. Being married to Nate has given me a teammate, a support system, a lover, a friend, a confidant, a rock, a hero. He is beyond wonderful.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Just ask

You know how you feel when you do something wrong and you keep it from your spouse, parent, boss or friend?

It starts out easy, but soon you feel guilt biting at you. When you're around that person, you get nervous and your heart starts beating when a similar topic comes up, because you hope that they're not going to bring up something related to what you did. It just gets worse the longer you keep the secret.

However, if you come clean and admit to what you did wrong, you don't have to worry about it. You might have to pay for the mistake, but it still isn't as awful as the horrible guilt eating away at you. Plus, it gives the other person a chance to forgive you.

Aren't we blessed that we have a God that will forgive us easily since Jesus already took on all our sin on the cross? Psalm 32 says "For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and you forgave the iniquity of my sin."

That is just beautiful. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. All we have to do is ask.

However, sometimes it is hard to ask. We have to be willing to learn from our mistakes and to ask for help from God. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you."

Once again, everything boils down to that darn sin of pride. If I can't admit I did something wrong because I'm afraid people will see me as fallible, then I can't be forgiven. I have to humble myself and ask for forgiveness to be able to receive it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Religious freedom

I can see how the Psalms would be of great comfort to people going through hard times, especially those being persecuted for their faith in Jesus.

In them, David raves about God's might and power and how he will eventually win over any and all evil. I was reading it on my phone while I was walking home from a run yesterday and thought about how many people are suffering for their faith around the world. It seems so far away, and like it could never happen to me.

Really though, how hard would it be to take over this country and take away our freedom of religion. I know, many people don't think we have a freedom of religion because of the flack that Christians get, but all-in-all, we have it really good compared to much of the world.

The majority of time in history, Christians have not been free to pursue their faith. They have been persecuted, and I just heard on the radio that almost every member of the Council of Nicea came missing an appendage or an eye or with burns, because they sacrificed for their beliefs.

It's honestly odd that we have so much freedom today, and will it really last? Will it always be this easy to be a Christian? And are we prepared for the moment that our freedom is eaten away and we might actually have to fight for our faith?

How much of the Bible will you have memorized to get you through if you don't have it to read? Will you know any of it? Will you even fight to keep it?

I wonder what I would do if I was actually challenged on my faith and how to give up something for believing in God?

On the other hand, I wonder if having a faith to fight for would make some of us more vocal. In a culture where Christianity seems so commonplace, we often don't bring up our beliefs and don't share about Jesus with others, because we just assume they have heard. Maybe living in a time or place where it isn't common to be a Christian would make us more willing to share our faith, despite the consequences.

I just think that we, and I include myself, have gotten so used to having freedom of religion, that we don't treasure our relationships with God like we should. Like many important things --- family, friends, people in need --- when it is commonplace, we lose our passion for it. We get excited about the unusual, when everyday things should be even more important.

I want a fire for faith that makes me want to share it with others, whatever the consequences.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

He listens

Break-ins, murder, financial crisis, family troubles --- where do non-Christians turn when times get hard?

"To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit." (Psalm 28)

I don't think I even realize just how important it is to me to have God in my life. Thankfully, I haven't ever experienced life without God. Whenever I have the slightest trouble, I just have to call upon him and know that he is in control. It's not always easy to trust, but I know that I can trust the creator of the universe a whole lot more than I can trust myself. I am so fallible, and God is so powerful.

"Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped..."

Psalm 28 is a wonderful reminder of where we are to go in hard times, and even in the good times. God listens to us. He truly listens to us, and he cares what happens to us. That is such a wonderful sentiment for the day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Want to want to do right

As I read Psalms, I am just constantly impressed by the way David wants to live for God and strives to be a man after his own heart.

He made plenty of mistakes, but the Psalms read like a love letter to your most beloved, that you want to sacrifice for them and joyfully give to them.

As I was reading Psalm 27, I think that is what struck me most. I want to so much have a close relationship with God, but how do I want to give up everything for him? I hate to admit it, but I don't. I struggle with every ounce of my earthly being in not wanting to sacrifice for my faith.

There are so many in the world today who have such a passion for God that they will risk everything for it, and I am concerned that my faith is not that strong. It isn't tested often, and when I am asked by God to give something up, it's a giant struggle.

It's that selfishness creeping in again. I know that in marriage selfishness is wrong, and I have to combat it every day. However, in my marriage, I want to give up being selfish, because I see how damaging it is to the relationship. Maybe it boils down to that fact that I can't see God. I can't see his reaction to my selfish actions, so I don't feel as bad about them.

I guess the question is, how do I want to give up everything? I want to want that, but I don't want that.

Do you ever get afraid to ask God to teach you how to do something? Do you ever think it's just inviting struggle into your life because we so often learn through the hard times? Sometimes I want to just find an easy way to learn a lesson, but I get worried that God knows that I won't learn it very well. So instead of inviting a hard lesson, I just want to avoid the lesson altogether and go on my merry way.

Ugh. I pray that the Lord gives me a heart that desires to change and be a better person, because I know that without his help I'm a doomed case. Just like every one of us.