Cleaving: What Does It Mean in Marriage Anyway?

On my way home from the store, in a shopping center just a block from our apartment building, I saw a man and a woman lying down on the ground in a corner holding one another tightly, trying to keep warm.

Their bags were beside them and I couldn’t believe what I was watching as I had never seen both a man and a woman together who were homeless.

I had no idea if they were married or boyfriend and girlfriend but that beautiful, heart-breaking image of that man and woman holding on to each other triggered something in my heart reminding me of my relationship to my husband Jeremiah.

Throughout our almost six years of marriage now, the wind and the rain and the hurricanes have swept through our marriage at times, testing our faith in God and our trust in each other, and we have learned to cleave.

But the truth is that I didn’t know how to cleave before I said “I do.” I mean I got the point of it all and I understood God’s word on leaving and cleaving, but I had to experience it first to really get it. And I’m still trying to get it.

But cleaving to Jeremiah has meant that I’m submissive to his leadership. That I honor, respect, and serve him with a willing heart. That I’m patient in his mistakes as he is with me and that I lift him up, not tear him down. That I praise him and build his self-esteem. That I continue to show him that I’m his #1 fan.

Cleaving to Jeremiah has meant that I put up boundaries in our relationship and keep it protected from harm and future trouble. And when there is conflict, that I’m quick to admit my faults and work through our differences in a godly way.

Cleaving has meant that our children come second, even as they demand most of our time right now. Our unity and oneness cannot be forfeited and our relationship is #1.

To cleave has meant that we are now one. We’re no longer two individuals with our separate agendas and plans. Everything we do affects one another, somehow and some way. We’re now our own family, distinct from the families we grew up in.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

God is using all of our experiences, joyful and difficult, to teach me to hold fast to Jeremiah. To work hard and be disciplined in the areas I struggle in so that when the winds and the rain and the storms of life come again, as they will, I’ll continue to cleave.

And to do nothing more because Jeremiah is God’s provision for me.

Making Your Home a Haven

a fun little wreath we ordered off Etsy. Click the image to see the shop.

Since we moved into a bigger apartment in seminary housing a few weeks ago, John has loved all the space. Often, when we’re out and about, he says to me:

“I wanna go home, Momma.”

And this desire for him to go home has got me thinking a lot about the duty and delight I have as a wife and momma to make my home all that it can be.

I’ve been a stay-at-home Mom for almost a full year now and I’m just now getting the hang of it. I’m not naturally well organized and I have to work hard at cleaning. I’ve had to find a good balance with being in the home and going out so I don’t go crazy.

But what I’m finding that has been so key is that my home should be a place of refuge and rest. It should be a place my husband and children want to come home to, where they find safety and comfort away from the world.

Rebekah- 7 mos. John- 2 yrs.

Practically for me it has come down to creating a warm atmosphere with color schemes and decor, keeping it clean and clutter-free as best I can each day (of course some days it just doesn’t happen!), and putting toys and other things in there proper place. But most of all, it has come down to the attitude and heart I want to create in my home.

And that starts with me.

I kept my friend’s two girls last week and it made my day when the oldest one looked at me while we were walking down the hall and said, “I like you.” Her comment made me smile and it was a big deal to me that she liked coming over and spending her time with us.

I want the attitude in my home to be that my husband, children, and our guests feel welcomed, loved, and taken care of. I want those who walk through our door to be refreshed with good food and drinks and conversation, but also refreshed spiritually and emotionally.

our new view of downtown Dallas

The best example I have of this is my mom who growing up, opened our door to our neighbors, watched their children, shared Christ’s love, listened to life stories, and nourished bellies with her amazing cooking. Her gift was hospitality at the highest level and still is today.

While I don’t consider my #1 gift hospitality, I know as a Christ follower that I’m called to be hospitable to all those who walk through my door and to do my best at it even on the really tough days.

I also realize that my behavior and actions in the home will have huge implications on my marriage and my children’s security and emotional stability in the future. And this is a great responsibility.

Creating a home that is a haven and a place of refuge is hard work because well, I’m imperfect and I have a sinful nature to battle every day. I had to work through some of my own issues this morning with my husband. And sometimes (a lot of times) I’m just so stinkin’ selfish.

But with God’s help and His abundant grace, He gives me the ability to create an atmosphere in the home that is everything I long for it to be so that ultimately, He is glorified and His name is made famous first in my family and then throughout the world.

What do you love about your role in the home?

What if Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops


Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I heard the lyrics to this song “Blessings” by Laura Story, writer of the worship hit “Indescribable,” for the first time on my way home the other day and it was as if the world stopped and God spoke straight into my heart.

I often pray for comfort, peace, blessing, and for suffering to cease but as I reflect on my life, it’s been the trials and struggles that have humbled me, shaped who I am today, and drawn me closer to Jesus. When I think of “raindrops” that were blessings in disguise, I think of just a few:

  • Dating relationships that never worked out… the unbelievable blessing in God giving me Jeremiah
  • My dad’s two surgeries on a brain tumor… teaching me reliance on the Lord and how to pray
  • Jeremiah’s job loss 3 months into our marriage… leading us to a better place geographically, emotionally and spiritually as newlyweds
  • Broken sleep, postpartum symptoms, and the daily sacrifices as a mother… so I can learn to die to myself and help other moms who also struggle
  • Dealing and wrestling through my hurts, habits, and hangups… so that God can continue to heal the sinful parts in me so I can best glorify him as a wife and mother
  • The excruciating pain, tears and suffering in having two natural births… and the reward of staring into the eyes and holding my precious children

The difficulties in life have also taught me and will continue to teach me how to serve and have compassion on other people because you never fully understand the shoes of another person. Above all, they have taught me to continue to hope for something more.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ]

Read the story behind the song

When Love Happens

Photo: Shades of Grey Photography

In the sermon at church on Sunday, our pastor talked about 1 Corinthians 16:14: “Let all that you do, be done in love.” I felt challenged by it, knowing I have areas in my life where I’m not living a life of genuine love. Little did I know what God would show me the very next day.

John and Rebekah had been off-schedule since our move to a bigger apartment where we live on Friday. It was a lot of change for them. On Monday, they were constipated all afternoon (yep, both of them). They were in so much pain that I had to run out to try and find pediatric suppositories. I finally found some at Target.

When I got home the suppositories took about an hour to work. I had to put my fingers in places they’ve never been before. I think I changed 8 diapers. I won’t give you any more details, but needless to say, it was not a glorious day in motherhood!

I was tempted to get frustrated by the circumstances and the fact that all afternoon I was tending to my children’s needs and doing a job I’d prefer my husband, who is an R.N. could do and do better! I’d rather be swimming in the pool with them (which was what  we’d planned) or hanging out with our friends. But not this! Then I remembered that verse again.

Let all that you do, be done in love.

I had been looking for ways to love better and the opportunity was right in my home. It was my time to apply that truth to my life.

I relied on God for help and I was patient when they were screaming from discomfort. I was able to laugh a little to myself at the whole situation when normally I don’t do well in high stress situations.

I held them and told them it would be okay and that I loved them.  I realized they needed their Momma and no one else could do the job the way I could. I was encouraged to keep persevering because this was how to show them love.

A lot of times I get really inspired by God’s word, a sermon, or song to do great things and to serve others, but when it comes down to the everyday details in life, I get lazy and I’m selfish. I realize quickly that it’s hard work and I throw in the towel.

But I’m slowly learning that love is best shown in the mundane, ordinary, even messier details in life. It’s not about waiting for the perfect moment, mountain top experience, loving when I “feel” like it, or when it’s amazingly beautiful.

Love requires action and before it can spill over into the lives of others and into the world, it must first begin in my home with my husband and children, where it matters most.

Well the day ended well, thankfully. John and Rebekah felt better and went to bed early. When Jeremiah got home from a late night at work, we were able to connect with each other and laugh about the craziness of my day and his busy workday. We laughed about how “there’s always something” when you have kids. I laid my head down, thankful for the teaching moment I desperately needed (and need more of.)

Have you stumbled upon “love” in a unique way this week?

Getting off the Island

If there is anything I’ve learned over the past few years in my journey of faith, it’s that knowing others and being known is absolutely essential as a follower of Christ.

Knowing others in the sense that I know what makes a person tick, their passions, hurts, habits, sin struggles, fears, joys, quirks, flaws, victories, achievements, and more.

Being known in the sense that those close to me know really know me- my insecurities, fears, sin struggles, passions, worries, victories, issues, dreams, and more. And they still accept, love, and spur me on without rejecting those weaknesses or rejecting me alltogether.

I’ve seen this lived out among my community group at church. My husband and I have done life with our group for four years now. The girls in our group- Julia, Jen, Ashley, and Ashley- have seen most of what there is to know about me. The good, bad, and ugly!

Over the years a trust has been built among us. Because authentic community is stressed so much at our church, we’ve been accountable to that and have lived by that standard even when it’s difficult. It’s been life-changing and life-giving for each of us.

John Donne penned the famous quote, “No man is an island.”

I know this, yet my pride often keeps me in isolation and from wanting to be fully known by others. I’d rather hide my weaknesses or do life on my own apart from anyone’s help. I’d prefer they not see any “yuckiness.” But God knows what happens when I’m left to deal with life by myself- it’s never good.

God created us to live in authentic community with other believers, where we are fully known and accepted. Yet where our friends won’t allow us to remain where we are.

We were created to step out of the shallow pool water and plunge into the depths of the ocean. There is no other way to do life.

Will you join me?

New Facebook Page

For a while now, I’ve loved using Facebook to post info about new blog posts and articles on the account Jeremiah and I share. It’s been great getting feedback from friends I know personally. Well on Friday it dawned on me that I could create a Facebook page specifically for writing.

My hope for this new page is to better connect with you as a reader, and I’m really excited to use this page as a platform for writing and ministry.

Thank you so much for your continued support and for reading my thoughts on faith and life. Click here to “like” the page and feel free to tell your friends. Looking forward to seeing you there!

When You Struggle to See the Light

Yesterday while we were playing on the floor, I stood Rebekah up so she could grab on to the couch and balance herself. She had this big grin on her face as she stared at the wall. She was gazing at the painting we have above our couch of The Last Supper. The light from the sunset shined through our window reflecting on Jesus’ face- not any of the disciples sitting at the table, but just Jesus alone.

It was the sweetest thing. Rebekah looked up at the painting another time and smiled again. And it convicted me.

That beautiful moment reminded me how Jesus’ light shines among the darkness. His light shines into my sinful heart. The sinful heart I’ve had for what seems like… all week- unfortunately! I’d prefer not to have to admit that.

I’ve been angry, impatient, irritable, difficult to live with (just ask my husband), and unable to control my emotions with broken sleep. Did I mention I don’t do well off little sleep?! I’m in a season of struggle spiritually. My time in God’s word has been minimal due to laziness, exhaustion, and my own excuses. I’ve been struggling in this season of motherhood with the demands of a two-year-old and 7 month old, among other challenges.

I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in a deep pit. And I’ve wanted out!

Well on Monday, I was able to get in the Word after the kids were down and read the first two chapters in James. And on Tuesday, I read the third chapter. And on Wednesday, I prayed that God would keep moving and give me the desire to be in His presence even when I don’t feel like it and even when I struggle.

It’s often that my pride says I need to be perfect and have it all together spiritually or else I can’t come to Jesus. But I’m realizing that’s a lie. The biggest lie there ever was.

We struggle and that’s why we need Jesus. We need him desperately and even when we’re ashamed and try to hide our own darkness, we need only to look to the Light. And to keep looking again, and again, and again so that He can do something great and life-changing within us that we can’t do on our own.

Thankfully, the last two days have been perfect nights of sleep for us. I’m starting to see hope again. I pray that whatever struggle or trial you’re facing (small or large), that you will run fast to the Light and cling to Jesus in your struggles.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7

Finding My Way

Yesterday, I walked to our local Starbucks with my little ones to try a mocha coconut latte. A few minutes into our walk, I noticed a man following close behind me. I pulled off into the grass with my stroller so he could pass us.

“Oh, thank you. I’m just trying to find my way!” he said in a long, drawn-out voice.

He glanced down at a piece of paper and had a pencil in his hand. He asked me where Worth Street was and I guided him to it.

He went on his way and I immediately thought about how much I related to his words. In life I often feel like I’m trying to find my way. I wonder if God is taking me down the right path. Does he really know my deepest dreams and desires for the future? Is He with me?

My prayers in college were to marry a godly man, have children, be involved in ministry/be on mission, and write. And I’m so thankful that at 28 years old, God has brought all of those to me and so much more. I’ve been living those dreams for several years now, day in and day out.

But often in the back of my mind I still think I need to “arrive” in life.

The truth is that I have all I need right now, and God is finding the way for me. He’s finding those dreams in the deepest recesses of my heart and he’s fulfilling them. I don’t have to figure them out or manipulate them to come true. He’s working even when I don’t see it.

He’s answering prayers according to His will, even if his ways aren’t exactly what I planned. He always knows best. He’s proved his faithfulness in the past and will continue to prove his future grace.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. – Prov. 3:5-6

Do you ever feel like you have to “arrive”?

Mama, Let Your Light Shine

How is changing diapers, cleaning up messes, and doing it all over again the next day making a difference? Can I be influential, even when I struggle? How can God use me to be on mission with my children? What does God expect from me as a mom?

These were a few questions my husband Jeremiah helped answer in his sermon this past Sunday called “Mama, Let Your Light Shine.”

And let me just tell you…

This message was one of my favorite mother’s day sermons I’ve ever heard! And I promise you I’m not biased. I’ve heard a lot of great messages from some really great pastors.

In November, we started interning at a church plant in a Dallas suburb and the pastor has been kind to give Jeremiah several opportunities to teach God’s word. This was Jeremiah’s first official sermon preached in front of a congregation (not a classroom) since being a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. After he delivered the message, several mothers went up to him saying how much they loved it. One mom asked me, “Why didn’t your husband tell us to bring our kleenex?”

Jeremiah works as an R.N. and one of his patients, who happens to be a famous female actress (I wish I could tell you who!), wanted to listen to it while in her hospital bed and she loved it.

Okay, so enough of me bragging on my husband. I wanted to post the link here for you to download and be encouraged in your mission as a mother. Even if you’re not a mother, I think you’ll be encouraged in your faith.

Download: “Mama, Let Your Light Shine” (38 min., mp3 file)

Who is your God?

Recently I took John to Barnes & Noble to play with the Thomas Train table in the children’s section and on our way out after playing trains, I saw the book god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens as one of the featured sellers.

I haven’t read the book. I’m familiar with the author from Apologetics classes I took in seminary. But the title got my mind thinking and when I got home, I decided to write down who God really is…

My God is Great.

He is Creator. Redeemer. Healer.

He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

He is all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere.

He understands suffering because He suffered on the cross.

He is Father to the fatherless and near to the brokenhearted.

He is Living Water to the prostitute.

He is full of compassion, mercy, and will judge sin.

He is a God of grace.

He forgives all sins.

He is a rock to those who take refuge in Him.

He formed the mountains. He knit me together in my mother’s womb.

He is able to keep us from failing.

He is to be feared.

He is mighty to save. He is King.

He is our song. He is our light. He is Life.

He proved His love by dying on the cross.

He is Savior of the World.

He is the way, the truth, and the life.

He is deliverer. He has washed us clean of our sins.

He searches the heart.

He is our hope. He makes all things new.

He turns ashes into beauty.

He is coming back for his own.

He loves you, and me, and Christopher Hitchens.

That is our God. And He is Great. And I have not even scratched the surface.


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