To Have and To Hold

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Tomorrow, Jordan and I will celebrate two years of marriage. I cannot believe that time has flown by this quickly, and while I look forward to the future, I want time to slow down so I may squeeze the very best out of each minute with the one I love so dearly. I have learned a lot over these past few years, some good lessons, some hard lessons, but all necessary. After some reflection, I have decided to share just a few things I never expected to learn from our marriage. Jordan is my best friend, greatest teacher, and sweetest love, what a blessing it is to walk through life with him.

25 Things I Never Expected From Marriage:

  1. Romance would shift from an accumulation of fancy gifts to small acts of service, and the service would mean much more than the fancy gift.
  2. Sleeping together would feel like a dream each and every night.
  3. The very best date nights would include a redbox movie, QT drinks, and Little Caesars pizza.
  4. Being poor and happy, means so much more than plenty of money to blow.
  5. There is never nothing to talk about.
  6. Submitting to Jordan’s leadership would be a daily act of giving up control, while it has gotten a little easier, it will never be my natural inclination. I pray for a submissive heart as much as I pray for anything else.
  7. Knowing Jordan’s flaws and seeing him fail has only caused me to love him more, because where he has failed in the past he has overcome through a humble and contrite spirit.
  8. My flaws would become more visible, but I would not walk through my failures alone. Jordan has helped guide me and above all he has loved me unconditionally in spite of myself.
  9. A small home with many projects would be the greatest test of a marriage and sanity.
  10. The first year would be so hard and the second would feel like the honeymoon all over again.
  11. Our differences would slowly begin to fade.
  12. One phrase changes the entire course of an argument.
  13. Saying “I’m sorry” means much more than being right.
  14. The only acceptance I desire would be from The Lord and Jordan- no one else’s thoughts matter.
  15. Sacrificing money, time, or pride would mean nothing in comparison to seeing a smile on Jordan’s face.
  16. Pursuing intimacy with Jesus only produced a greater intimacy with Jordan.
  17. Attraction and physical intimacy would derive from a love of each other’s souls, not a perfect body, face, and hair. No matter how Jordan looks, no one could ever give me tingles the way he does.
  18. Time together is the greatest commodity.
  19. Marriage would turn even the most logical of men into a Mr. Darcy.
  20. Morning snuggles would help us get through the day, especially on Mondays.
  21. Despite our differences, we would never want to change anything about the other.
  22. Ambitions would change from a desire to be a career woman to aspiring to be the best wife, and eventual mother, I could possibly be.
  23. Choosing our battles would become easier the more we desired each other’s needs above our own.
  24. Marriage would only work at its peak when we are both in the right place with Jesus Christ.
  25. Lastly, I never expected to be able to love Jordan any more than I did the day we wed, but each and every day, I realize that I love more because I have a greater capacity to love more. My heart has grown to love Jordan for the man he was, the man he is, and the man he will become. My heart has grown to love what he loves, and my heart has grown to love him for his integrity, his devotion, and his faithfulness to the Lord.

Jordan and I will never have it all together! We have had to learn so much in the past two years, just to even begin to fully understand each other, but Jordan and I love deeply. It is our steadfast love for each other and for the Lord that has bound us together. Our marriage is a product of perseverance and God’s grace, not of our own, selfish doing. These past two years have been the best two years of my life. Each day I wake up to the man God specifically created to walk through life with me. Jordan shares in my sorrows, joys, and all the moments in between. Aside from the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, Jordan is my greatest gift. An eternity by his side will never be enough, but while we are here on earth, I vow now, forever, and just as I did two years ago, to stand beside my husband through all things, to love him in spite of whatever may come, and to pursue with steadfast devotion a deeper relationship with our Savior. I love you with all my heart Jordan Lance.

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Changing My Perspective Part II

It has been an icy weekend here in Burleson! We have had three days of nothing, and it has been wonderful! God knows just how caught up we get with everything else, and this weekend, I think He gave us some rest. He has allowed for us to recharge and greet the rest of this beautiful season with full hearts. Today Jordan and I are working on our little projects. He is busy finishing the tile in our kitchen, while I am working on homework/ blog posts. Due to a week-long trip to New York, the craziness of a new job, and the ever-so-consistent school work, I have not had a chance to follow-up with my last post. However, that doesn’t mean I have not taken action.

The day after I posted my last blog, I brought ALL of my clothes into our living room, set up our full length mirror, and began trying on every piece of clothing I had. And you know what I found? I didn’t need over half of what I had. I’d try on pieces I had kept for years and quickly realized why I don’t wear them regularly anymore. I tried on pants that were too small, shirts with snags, dresses that should have been left in High School, and shoes with many stories to tell! With each piece that did not work, I felt relief, not sadness. I was not upset that I don’t fit into my high school jeans anymore, because it means that I have grown up. It means that with the widening of my hips, I have also had a growth in wisdom, maturity, and in my relationship with the Lord. With each dress that was too short, I realized that I had grown from a desire to be noticed for my appearance, to a desire to be respected and loved for my heart. I realized that my confidence was no longer found in just how beautiful I could appear to the rest of the world, but in how my mind and my heart shared the beauty of God’s love! With each shoe that I gave away, I thanked God for the many steps that had been taken, and for allowing me to continue in my walk with Him. Every time I threw another piece of clothing into that unwanted pile, I also felt joy in knowing that my gently used clothing could make another girl feel beautiful. My unwanted and unnecessary clothing could be what keeps a girl warm at night, or what gives her the confidence to walk into school with a pretty outfit. As I reminded myself of what my old clothing could be used for, the more I was encouraged to give away.

When I started going through my clothes, I had 2 closets worth of stuff that filled an entire living room floor. By the end of the day, the clothing I kept was laid out on the couch and fit in the closet Jordan and I share. Six baskets of shoes were dwindled down to just a few, and for the first time every t-shirt I own can fit nicely into our dresser. When it came time to pack for our trip to New York, the process wasn’t stressful because I already knew everything I had! Each day I wake up it takes less time to get ready because I am not trying to find what fits or looks the best, everything just works. What a stress reliever it has been!

I don’t know if I will ever be perfect at this whole organization thing, but I am determined with live without clutter. I am determined to be grateful for what I have, and to only spend my time and money on things that truly matter to me. Does this mean I won’t enjoy a little shopping with my mom and sister? No, it just means that I will buy quality, not quantity. Does this mean that Jordan and I won’t enjoy splurging here and there on household items, projects, or vacations? No! We will still enjoy certain things in life, but we will not buy in order to just have more. In my next post I will share how my perspective in regards to our home has changed, and I will even share how I have dealt with the accumulation of stuff in regards to all things Christmas. I hope and pray that my life will never be defined by my accumulation of things or by the fulfillment of every desire (good or bad) that I ever had. I pray my life with be defined as one who loved Jesus with her whole heart, walked in humility, and encouraged others in their walk. I realize going through clothing may seem a bit trivial to some, but as I found with my closet, God uses even the small things to teach huge life lessons.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Matthew 6:19-20

Changing my Perspective.

Here we are into the month of thankfulness. A month set aside to express our gratitude for all the blessings in our life, and yet my heart is in a completely wrong place. Lately, I have been struggling with the Lord concerning all the excess in my life. God has been dealing with my selfish desires for more within my heart more than ever, and has finally gotten my attention.

We live in a society that preaches more stuff brings you happiness. The bigger house, designer clothing, perfect car, and high paying job equals success among many. But truth be told, God cares nothing for excess. He does not care about what I have, instead he cares about my heart. He cares about what I do with what I have been given, and to be honest I have not been a very good steward with what I have been given. Instead of helping those in need, I often seek to fill my own needs. In the area of excess I have given into the world’s standards. I have forgotten Romans 12:2 that states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I have conformed to this world by feeling like I never have enough. Instead of having a grateful heart and thanking God for providing for our needs, I pray for financial stability so I may be able to have more. I could not be more wrong. How dare I forget God’s many blessings and only seek to fulfill my own desires! I am truly selfish.

In order for you to have a better understanding of what I am referring to, I will list out my desires for excess. This is keep me accountable for future reference, and maybe it’ll speak to your heart as well.

How I feel: I often times have a feeling of disdain for my home. It doesn’t have all the amenities I want. It’s “only” 1300 square feet. It’s old. The master bath can’t even hold one person comfortably. It always needs something to be done to make it better. I don’t even have a laundry room, and my closet can’t even hold all my clothes.

Reality Check from the Holy Spirit: I need to be grateful that I even own a home, especially at 23. While I may not have my perfect garden tub, I have everything I need. I have clean fresh water, shelter during storms, a cool house for summer and a warm home for winter. I have a place to wash my clothes and I have a closet full of clothes to fit any and every situation. Plus, Jordan and I have worked hard to update our home. God has given us time to dream and create together. At times this home has been a test in our marriage, but we have made it through and are honestly happier than ever. While I may not have a bunch of storage for my things, maybe it is best that way. Less storage equals less room for more things. God has placed me in this home at this point in life to humble me. He has me here knowing that someday I will look back and be so grateful for this time in my life. Ultimately, God has given us something that is no longer being produced. He gave us a little piece of land to call ours. Our small acre and a half is much more than many others have. It gives us space to call our own. We don’t have neighbors right on top or beside us. And on a crisp fall morning or warm summer night, nothing beats the breeze we feel on our back porch as we watch our animals graze and play.

How I feel: My camera for my photography is not what the best photographers use. It won’t cut it because it doesn’t have all the perfect settings that a $2,000 camera would have. I don’t have enough lenses and some of the ones I do have are not good enough.

Reality Check: God has used my camera to provide extra money when we have needed it most. He has allowed for me to take my camera to different countries and locations to capture some of our sweetest memories, and many times God has allowed for me to bless others with a free photo session when they have needed it most. I remember when Jordan bought me my camera right after we got married. He surprised me by taking me to the store and got everything I needed so I could get started photographing as soon as possible. My Rebel was something I had desired for years, and my husband had finally given it to me. That is a day I will never forget, and yet I often diminish the beauty of that memory with my desire to want the bigger and better option. A new camera does not make me a better photographer, it makes me a more expensive photographer. My desire to grow and learn all there is to know about my field makes me a better photographer. I do not need a bigger camera to tell me my worth as a photographer. The look on people’s faces when they see their photos for the first time gives me more satisfaction than a $2,000 body ever could.

How I feel: I never have anything to wear. Nothing fits and everything is outdated.

Reality Check: I have too much!!! I have 2 closets filled with clothes. One closet is so full that my clothes literally broke the bar that held them up. Nothing fits because of my eating habits, and outdated clothing means nothing anymore (hipsters have made retro cool!). I have jackets to keep me warm for winter, shoes to cover my feet, t-shirts that are comfortable for everyday wear, that perfect pair of jeans, and my treasured Michael Kors bags. I have everything I need and then some.

I could go on and on listing so many areas of selfishness. The truth is that I have allowed for my desire for more to become an idol in my life. I obsess over having a “Pinterest worthy” home. I seek for new ways to beautifully organize my things instead of just having what I need, and our master bedroom is a constant pig pen because I have far too many clothes. Instead of having an attitude of gratitude towards the Lord, I have taken him off the throne of my life and replaced Him with my selfish desires for more. I have coveted my neighbors things, I have idolized the financial success of the world through the accumulation of things, and I have failed and forgotten my First Love. I have failed to recognize that everything I have is a gift from the Lord.

Unfortunately, my selfish desires have not just affected my relationship with the Lord. I have placed a huge burden on Jordan to give me more. I have acted as though his hard work and provision is not enough. I have treated our first home like it has never been good enough for me. My selfishness has caused Jordan to feel inadequate at times and ultimately I have hurt Jordan.

I am done living this selfish life. I am done asking for more. I am done being ungrateful for what I have been given. I am done hurting my husband. I am done placing material things above my Lord and Savior.

Now that I have identified my problem, I must act. Throughout the next few weeks, I will purge my life of all that is unnecessary. I will rid my home of clutter, extensively clean out my closet, only eat the food I have at home, and spend time in prayer thanking the Lord for what He has done. Instead of blogging a few posts here and there, I will bring you along for the journey. You will hold me accountable, and I hope in some way that God will speak to you as well. This won’t be a “Pinterest: how to declutter your home in 30 days series”, this will be my way of being vulnerable with the world, showing my flaws, and taking the actions I must take to get my heart back into the right place with the Lord. My desire for more has only left me feeling inadequate. Today I choose to change.

 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)

All it took was 5 minutes

On Sunday night, it only took a mere 5 minutes for the nation and the world to see an aspect of America many do not want to talk about… or stand up against. First off, let me say that I too was disgusted with what took place on Sunday night. I truly believe that Miley was used to get the nation talking. Everyone has seen her push the limitations more and more, so of course it would make sense for a network, such as MTV, to push Miley off the edge. However, I think that even beyond Miley and MTV, there are a lot of other responsible parties in that matter. I believe these responsible parties point towards some serious flaws in our society, and therefore need to be talked about.

1. It would make sense to label Miley as the first to blame because she is in charge of her actions. She has been the one to seek to push so far away from her Hannah Montana life to where she is barely recognizable. Ultimately, all of her stunts have shown one common theme: she will do anything and all it takes to receive validation from others. She wants to be the topic of conversation. Through all of her antics, I believe we see one of the purest forms of true self-esteem issues. Therefore, it is important for her stunt to be talked about to girls struggling with identity issues.

At some point in every girl’s life there comes a time in which a girl begins to doubt herself. She sees the “prettier girls” getting attention, and therefore seeks to find ways for herself to attain such attention. Often times this attention comes from improving one’s sex appeal. It has become the norm in America to pursue attention through exploiting one’s assets, and yet women all across the country are enraged at such exploitation. Where is the consistency? Why must Hollywood determine what a woman is worth? Why must intelligence and poise be replaced by fake boobs and makeup? And why, as a country, are we obsessed with women like Miley, Kim, and Lindsay, instead of seeking to emulate Princess Kate? It is imperative for young ladies to understand, that no amount of attention, makeup, or clothing can define a woman’s worth. It is imperative for young men to understand that the girls they see as objects typically only see the boys as objects as well. Instead of praising a woman’s sex appeal, we need to raise up a generation that praises a woman for her humble elegance. We need more women who can talk about real issues instead of living in a fantasy “real housewife world”. We need more women who are willing to stand up for injustices before they seek to be another pretty face. Most of all, we need more women who will stop at nothing to bring change, in order that God may receive the glory.

2. The second responsible party is Robin Thicke and his wife. If marriage were a true sacred covenant to these people, perhaps Sunday night (or the outrageous music video) would not occur. It has been reported that Robin Thicke’s wife had no issue with what happened Sunday. She has seen it enough times for it not to bother her. I can undoubtedly tell you that if I saw another woman all over my husband in such a manner, that out of my commitment to our marriage and the covenant I made with the Lord, I would NEVER have excused such behavior! However, the Thicke’s are like many American couples, their own desires mean more to them individually than their marriage. Such is the case with many others. Whether it be someone else at the office, different dreams, the desire for more money, divorce is an everyday occurrence in our culture. Society does not place value on the vows that were spoken. Society places value on the individual and their dreams. Marriage is not about making each other happy all the time, it isn’t about fulfilling each other’s sexual needs, and it even has nothing to do with the American Dream. All of those aspects are by-products of a marriage that is a sacred union under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Marriage is a holy and sacred union that is to be protected. Had Robin Thicke truly loved and respected his wife, Miley would not have been able to come within five feet of him.

3. The third responsible party is Miley’s parents. Instead of admonishing their daughter, the Cyrus’ excused her actions. Instead of making her face the consequences of her actions, they have sought to be her support and her friend. I have seen this on a small-scale within my own community time and time again, and I will say the firmly: Parents, it is NOT your job to be your child’s best friend and biggest support group! It is your job to raise your child with standards, to reprimand them when they do wrong, and praise them for their right choices. It is your job to provide a shelter in which their minds are able to absorb the things that matter, rather than absorb the lies of this world. It is your job to encourage them to make their dreams come true, not to push them into the spotlight for your own gain. It is your job to be the person they desire to be. If you are their friend, how can you be their role model? How can you instill discipline when all you are to them is the “cool parent that buys them stuff’? Trust me, as a strong-willed child myself, there have been many a day when I hated the discipline in which I was raised. I fought against expectations of my parents for many years, only to come back and seek to be just like my mom. It is my parents’ influence in my life that has pushed me to value the morals that were instilled in me, to fight for a holy union with my husband, and to stand up for the Lord and His Word. It was my parents who created such an environment for me, not my friends.

4. The next responsible party is Hollywood and the media. Just as I mentioned above, the goal of this stunt was to get the nation talking. It was become a cover story for news outlets and just another aspect of Hollywood. The more it is talked about on the national level, the more clips that are shown, the more attention the stunt gets. Eventually the media will continue to cover the story to the point where no one cares anymore… This stunt will too become a distant memory, just like the lip-lock that occurred between Madonna, Britney, and Christina a few years ago. It is likely the VMAs will have better ratings next year, because everyone will want to see what crazy stunt will be pulled again. Next year, some other artist will be used as a tool to get the nation talking once again. People that are seeking fame and fortune are a dime a dozen, so eventually someone will step up to the plate and deliver another shocking performance. The quality of the actors or music in Hollywood essentially means nothing when the stories of celebrities cause more of a buzz than their “talent”.

5. The last responsible party is us. We are the ones who encourage for such things to occur on TV. We support the shows that directly contradict God’s Word, all because they are dramatic or funny. We are the ones who buy the song because it’s catchy, without any concern for the words. We are the ones who use our influence of money to push Hollywood to continue to produce such trash. We have in essence laid down the foundation for such things to happen because we have chosen to be silent out of fear, instead of courageous against all odds. I pray that instead of casting this issue off to the wayside in a few weeks, that we will take the time to evaluate it and seek change. I earnestly pray for the salvation of all those involved in this issue. I pray that people will see the errors of their ways and come to Jesus. Most of all, I pray that I will shield my home from the things of this world, that I will grow in my knowledge of my Savior over the headlines, and that I will be used to bring honor and glory to the Lord above all else.