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seek first…

This may be a somewhat controversial and difficult post, but try to bear with me until the end.

C and I have been married for 887 days, 19 hours, and some odd minutes and seconds by the time I submit this post. That translates into almost two and a half years. So basically no time at all. We’re still figuring things out. We strive to put the Lord first and use his Word as guidance for our daily lives together…but it’s always tempting (and not always wrong) to look to other earthly examples for guidance.

In the year leading up to our marriage and the one immediately following it, though, I played the comparison game. You may know how it goes, but let me explain. As a young married couple, you join in activities with other young, married couples. When you first start hanging out with this new crowd, it’s kinda like dating–you fail to see imperfections. All you see is all these couples who have everything together. They’ve been on mission trips together and traveled the world. They are graduated and have bought a home. They are planning for their first child. Perfect. Comparison ensues. It’s tough being a newly-wed couple and not playing the comparison game. It’s human nature–but what it really does is elevate the lives and choices of others above God’s divine plan for your own relationship (idolatry).

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So needless to say, the comparison game never really got me anywhere in my marriage, and it certainly didn’t help me make friends all that much.

Now let’s jump to the other extreme–when couples around you are struggling. This is a new one for us, as we got married right before/around most of our friends. We have a few friends who’ve been married for years, but most are happy, honeymooning newlyweds like us (ha).
Sure, you know of people who have gone through difficulties in their marriage, but until you’re actually married, you never think that can happen to you. And it’s heartbreaking when it’s your friends–your family. All you want to do is whatever you can to help fix it…but then you realize that, hey, my relationship isn’t perfect. I really should be working on myself.
But isn’t this just a different kind of idolatry? Wanting to work on your marriage just so you don’t lose what you have?

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So what then, is our calling as a married couple? Believe me, if I had it all figured out, I probably wouldn’t be rambling away on this blog post. But here’s what I think…we are called to seek Christ above all else. When that’s happening in marriage, it shouldn’t matter if your with couples who seem to have everything together, seem to be struggling daily, or are a mix of both. If Christ is the focus, then marriage is less likely to be distracted by trying to achieve marital bliss or avoiding the pitfalls of relationships. It’s focused on service–to one another and to others in the name of Jesus.

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Oh, how I pray for this for my marriage. (And no, after 2.5 years, we don’t have this all figured out.) I pray for a heart that seeks God’s will and timeline for our marriage instead of the world’s plan. I pray for God’s wisdom to guide my husband’s leadership in our marriage. Even when my actions and words don’t show it, I pray that my heart will be softened to the Lord’s will and my words and actions will follow.

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I know we aren’t perfect–but that’s really not our goal is it? I hope that we can be an example of how two imperfect people can choose to forgive and extend grace time and again and continue to love one another as Christ loved the church. I hope we continue to grow. I hope people look at the evolution of our relationship and see God’s hand in teaching us how to love daily.

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As I wrap up this post, there are so many things that the enemy is trying to tell me to convince me not to post this….but I hope and pray that this post is something that at least one person needed to hear today. (Perhaps that one person is me!) Thanks for reading.

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spring cleaning

The other night I had a dream that CK and I were moving into a new house, and we decided to get rid of most of the things that we currently own. In my dream I was anxious at first. Then I felt…relieved. free. weightless.

I woke up the next morning and couldn’t shake that feeling of weightlessness. It’s a feeling I haven’t experienced in my waking life in quite some time. and it made me wonder–are all these things weighing me down?

So since the first day of spring was this week, and our home could really use the spring cleaning, I think I’m gonna combine this year’s cleaning with a de-cluttering.

Questions to ask myself:

  • Do I NEED this item?
  • Would someone else enjoy this item more than I do? (Donate!)
  • Have I even used/worn this item since we moved in?
  • Do I need 10 of these?
  • Does this item have a place?

Ready? Set? Go! Let’s live with less and live more!

september goals

Y’all, I went to a crisis and bereavement training for 3 hours at work today, and let me tell you, that was depressing. Good information? Yes, but depressing nonetheless. Out of 3 hours of training, I’d say at least 2 of those were spent telling depressing, yet oddly informative anecdotes. How does one finish up the workday after that?  Perseverance? Anyway…

One thing they always tell you in these trainings is to practice good self care. How can you help others if you don’t help yourself, they ask. Well, let me tell you, I’m exhausted. Self care has been minimal at best since work started…how many weeks ago? 636015464188562535-699650045_b6de7bdf008b1da8767d69d0daee9717And so resume the monthly goals…

End of September Goals

  1. Travel-Free Saturdays
    Y’all know I love college football as much as anyone, but after two weeks on the road, it’s time to watch the pigskin fly from the comfort of my own couch. I need less travel and more rest.
  2. Nap Replacements
    Everybody knows about meal replacements, but do you know about nap replacements? I’ve been late-day napping a lot lately, so for myself I’m proposing nap replacements. Maybe take a walk around the block. Do some yoga. Play with Cooper. Anything to avoid the late afternoon nap and stay awake until bedtime.
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  3. Sunday Mornings
    Hello church, where have you been? Oh, same place, same time? Great, I’ll be there this week. (My bad.)
  4. 10-Minute Mindfulness
    Have you tried the Headspace app? Do it. 10 minutes of mindfulness daily. Let’s try it together and see how we grow!

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    source

 

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the perfect place to be

Sometimes no matter the path you take, you find yourself longing for the path that leads back home. Initially, I was nervous about moving home after being away for so long, but so far it’s good. Traveling familiar roads. Running into familiar people. Relaxing with family. I couldn’t be more thankful for those things.

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The hubs is working out regularly with his brother. I went back-to-school shopping with my cousin. I’ve done lunch with my parents. Hubs picked up his cousin from band camp. We’ll actually be in town for our nephew’s 2nd birthday party. I think I can speak for both of us when I say we are enjoying spending time with our families day-to-day.

I also drive to a very familiar place for work. I work in a school district that I’m familiar with. I know the locations of schools and demographics, and that’s comforting. In a job that can be busy and chaotic, it’s nice to have a solid footing in a familiar environment.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been home. It’s been a long time coming.

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Featured image available for sale here.
Confucius quote for purchase here.
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I collected some images that capture a handful of the many things I love about my husband. If you know him, you know that he loves strangers with abandon. He would give you the shirt off his back. He is persistent in though situations. He’s a hard worker because he works in jobs where he can love and serve others. And he is the master of collecting moments instead of things.

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With all the chaos swirling around in the world, the peaks and valleys in our family life, and the thoughts running wild in my head, the past couple of weeks have been hectic to say the least. Sometimes the triggers are clearly identifiable, and sometimes there’s just so much stuff going on that it’s hard not to get discouraged.

Yet, today I went into work, sat down at my computer, and wrote reports for almost five hours. Today, that was my sanctuary. Today I escaped from the world for a little while. Today I helped shape the educational futures of three kiddos.

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Sometimes my job is stressful, but today it was a refuge. It reminded me of all the things that God has used in my life to get me to this point. And when at least one thing in my life appears to be going exceptionally well, it gives me hope and is a reminder that God is working things out for my good.

 

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the direction of words

prayer-for-hope1In the chaos of everyday life and local and global injustice, prayer is oftentimes seen as the “least we can do.” In this great time of need for our country, world, and selves, let’s seek to see prayer as the answer. Let us stop trying to fix ourselves and lean on God’s divine power to give us hope and change our hearts.

Personally, I’ve used prayer too infrequently, but when I am truly diligent in prayer and communication with the Lord, life changes. Here’s the truth: the Lord answers all prayers, and there is comfort in that. Sometimes his answers look different than what we ask for, but we can be assured that the Lord hears and answers our prayer in line with His will (1 John 5:14).

Let us join together in prayer for our world, our nation, our family and friends. Let’s go to the Lord before we correct and rebuke on Facebook and via tweets. Let us check our own hearts and find where our hope comes from before we seek to change others. Then let us pray for others ask enthusiastically as we gossip about them. What power there is in prayer. It’s more than empty words–the words of prayer have the power to move the kingdom of heaven to action and defeat sin and death. Let us stop underestimating the power of words directed towards Heaven and redirect our worldly words upwards.

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How to Make the Most of Your Summer

For years I’ve started summer goals (as opposed to new year’s resolutions, which I never keep). The benefit of starting goals in the summer for me has always been the extra time lying around. This is especially true for students, teachers, etc. who enjoy summers off. So the best way to make the most of your summer involves goals, planning, and structure. While this sounds counterintuitive to the lazy days of summer, just go with me here.  Here’s what’s involved in my summer goals/plans:

Summer Bucket List 2016

So, set a few goals–things you’ve put off during the school year. Add in some fun things that you’ve always wanted to do, but never found the time (aka, make pickles). And don’t forget to add in special events that happen throughout the summer. Build your summer around those events!

So, what are your goals and plans for summer 2016? I have a feeling it’s gonna be a good one.

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be joyful in hope

Thoughts swirl fiercely through my mind & confining them to words, sentences, and paragraphs seems impossible. Let’s try, shall we?

  • Four days…the culmination of a life of learning. The culmination, and yet, the beginning.
  • Four weeks…transitioning back to Georgia. Increased time with family. Reconnecting with old friends. Promising new friendships.
  • A new level of stability, which brings optimism for increased growth in areas of uncertainty.
  • Joyful in hope

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  • A promising job lead for Case! Never have I seen a prayer request answered so quickly.
  • Thankful for this season of ‘away-ness’ that’s coming to an end. Ready for home base.
  • That feeling you get when puzzle pieces start falling into place, but you still can’t make out the whole picture yet. Thrilled, hopeful, eager.
  • For the first time in a long time, looking to the future and actually seeing just that–a future.

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“…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

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what’s next

After 20+ years, it’s finally coming to a close. I’m ready! Graduation is so close I can taste it. I’ve been too busy to get excited…until now. I am there.  21 years of school is no small feat. I have watched friends graduate, start jobs & make real money, start families, and move beyond the classroom. I’m ready for that. (Just wait, soon I will want to go back to school, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.) I’m just thankful that for the time being, this chapter of my life is coming to a close.  It’s time to take everything I’ve learned and give back to the community.

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So what’s next? Graduation is in a few short weeks. I will wrap up my internship here in South Carolina. Then we’re moving home & I’m becoming a school psychologist in the fall. I’m interested to see how things go, as I’ll be working in the school district I grew up in. Overall, we are just excited and blessed for the opportunity to be close to family and do the work we love.

Graduating classes of ’09, ’12/’13, and ’16, here’s to you. To all the AP courses you took and the clubs you joined in order to get into a good college. To all the nights of cramming hours studying and writing papers to get into your dream grad school. To the days you thought you’d die from all the work and the nights that made you feel alive. This is it. We’ve made it.