Article: Enjoying the Gift of Sex in Your Marriage

When my husband and I moved to Dallas five years ago, we joined a church that stressed the importance of living in authentic community. We plugged into a small group that consisted of couples who’d been married 1-3 years. Our mentor couple paved the way for us to be open and accountable in all areas of our marriage, including the often-taboo topic of sex.

One evening around the table in confidentiality

Head on over to StartMarriageRight.com to read my latest article on enjoying the gift of sex in marriage.

 

 

 

New Article: The First Argument on StartMarriageRight.com

Our honeymoon had been perfect so far. My husband of four days had blown me away with his romantic surprises. We were giddy about being on the breathtaking Hawaiian island, Kauai, and it seemed like every minute we were relishing in our new love together. But suddenly as we walked along the shore near our cabana, the tides in our relationship changed…

Continue reading over on Start Marriage Right & feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

Article: Letters to My Future Husband

photo credit: StartMarriageRight.com

Before I went off to college, finding a husband was always on my mind. I had shared that desire with a friend who was married and she suggested I start writing journal entries to him during the waiting process. It had helped her a lot.

I was all over her advice because I loved to write and reflect anyway. I had five spiral bound journals I’d written in since middle school. Yellow legal pads were always laying around our house, so I got one out and wrote my first entry on Dec. 16, 2001…

Today I’m contributing over at StartMarriageRight.com. Continue Reading and join the conversation.

When World War III Comes to Your Kitchen (& other marriage thoughts)

A few nights ago, my husband and I got into a big argument. We had just gotten home from a long day of flying. We were over-tired and not thinking straight. Words flew carelessly in the air and we threw verbal punches at each other, back and forth.

It was one of those moments where you would be ashamed if anyone took a peep through your door.

While we were on vacation, award-winning Christian song-writer Sara Groves was in concert where we were staying and before one of her songs, she told us she wasn’t going to be ashamed to expose any “dirty laundry” and that she wanted to be transparent with us. She talked about the fights her and her husband have had before.

I resonated with her words and appreciated her brutal honesty. I had thought: Wow, she struggles too? Sara talked a little more and began playing the keys. Here’s what she sang:

We just had a World War III here in our kitchen – We both thought the meanest things

And then we both said them – We shot at each other till we lost amunition

This is how I know our love – This is when I feel it’s power

Here in the absence of it – This is my darkest hour

When both of us are hunkered down – And waiting for the truce

All the complicated wars – They end pretty simple

Here when the lights go down – We roll to the middle

No matter how my pride resists – No matter how this wall feels true

No matter how I can’t be sure – That you’re gonna roll in too

No matter what, no matter what – I’m going to reach for you

(song: “Roll to the Middle”)

I was reminded of our arguments in the past, and how there were sure to be more in the future but how I’ve experienced that our love is always stronger. After Jeremiah and I were finished taking jabs, we came to our senses. We agreed to go to bed and talk in the morning and that we were way overtired.

That morning, I confessed my pride and how I wasn’t even making sense. Jeremiah confessed where he was wrong and we forgave each other. I was reminded of Sara’s song and how true it was in our marriage.

with Sara Groves and my little girl, Rebekah

It didn’t matter what we were arguing about, the truth was that we are for each other. We are on the same team and our love is bigger than any of our petty conflicts. The foundation of our love is Christ.

We were also reminded that on our vacation God blessed us with an incredible, life-changing time, free of any conflicts, and how it would be foolish to allow that disagreement to close out an amazing trip.

Pride turned into humility and that night we rolled to the middle, at peace in our relationship.

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?

God Gave Me You- Reflecting on Five Years of Marriage

2008

Today marks five years that Jeremiah and I have been married! It seems like yesterday we were back at Liberty, where we met in seminary. I always knew there was something different about him after he had asked me to go to lunch one day after class. And for so long, I’d been praying for God to bring me a man who loved Jesus and loved people (and was good looking too!)

After that lunch date, we started to hang out a lot and I knew I really liked him. Our relationship moved quickly and it scared us. It was nothing that a good “DTR” couldn’t fix. On November 12, 2004- the day before I ran my first marathon, he asked my dad for his blessing to date me, and then asked me to be his girlfriend.

We dated for seven incredible months and on June 4th, 2005 while on a class trip to Israel, he asked me to be his wife at the Jordan River. I said “yes” and we made that promise to each other trusting that was God’s will.

On December 17, 2005, Dr. Jerry Falwell married us among all our friends and family in Lynchburg, VA. It was the best day of my life.

Marriage as a Sharpening Tool

Three months into marriage, Jeremiah lost his job for sharing his faith so that put us on uneven ground for a while. We couldn’t believe something like that could happen fresh into our marriage. We struggled a lot through the hurt. We stayed with my parents in TX for a few months while he looked for jobs in Virginia.

From the trials in those first few years, our arguments exposed the “ugliness” of my sin at times. I was extremely selfish and didn’t fully know how to respect my husband. It was so frustrating, and I even questioned, “Did I make the wrong decision?” I thought that marriage would be so easy like it was when we were dating.

The Turning Point

Eventually, Jeremiah got a job at the University of Virginia Medical Center and we moved to Charlottesville, VA. We lived there for a year and then felt led to pursue more education for ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. We packed our life and headed to Dallas.

Within a few months we started attending Watermark Community Church where we were plugged into a community group of 5 other young married couples. We were paired with a mentor couple who invested in us for 18 months.

We were real about our struggles with each other and were able to discuss openly about sex, communication, finances, past baggage and more. It was amazing to see we were not alone in our journey. Other couples were experiencing the same tensions we had and we were able to work through so much together and actually learn how to communicate effectively.

Learning to Be on Mission

Our first year in Dallas we served together with an organization called Apartment Life planning activities and building relationships with residents in our apartment community. We had countless opportunities to share the gospel and bring residents to church. That experience birthed in our hearts a desire for church planting and to always be involved in the lives of those far from Christ.

Serving gave us a greater purpose beyond just “us.” It grew us closer together. Right around that time, I accepted a job offer to work for Bluefish TV/RightNow.org as a writer and editor and learned even more what it meant to be on mission in every part of my life.

Growing Our Family

Before I knew it, in 2008, we had our first son John and in 2010, our first daughter Rebekah. Through our children, I’ve felt a love like no other. Having children has taught me even more about my imperfections and how I have to daily depend on Christ for his strength and grace. I’m learning that the best gift we can give our kids is to put our marriage first and love each other well.

As of today, Jeremiah isn’t too far away from finishing his theology degree and we want to be wherever God would have us when we’re finished. While we’re still far from perfect as a married couple, we’re striving to allow God to be the center of our relationship and to heal us of our hurts, habits, and hangups. The greatest freedom I’ve found in the battle against my own sin is to confess those struggles to God, to Jeremiah, and to other people.

A Deeper Love

The journey of these five years has allowed me to appreciate the gift of marriage even more. I love and respect Jeremiah more than on the day we said “I do” and I can’t imagine living my life apart from him. He’s my best friend and my lover.

Dave Barnes writes in his song “God Gave Me You”:

I’ve been a walking heartache

I’ve made a mess of me

The person that I’ve been lately

Ain’t who I wanna be

But you stay here right beside me

Watch as the storm blows through

And I need you

God gave me you for the ups and downs

God gave me you for the days of doubt

For when I think I’ve lost my way

There are no words here left to say, it’s true

God gave me you

Jeremiah has loved me in my “mess” and through all our ups and downs and to me, that is the greatest love.

Happy Five Year Anniversary, Jeremiah!

And thank you for editing this post last night 🙂

Critics vs. Cheerleaders

image by Dan Waber

The more I live my life, the more I see the need for cheerleaders, and not critics.

I remember in my junior year of college, I wrote a fiction piece my Creative Writing professor loved. He read it to the class and at the end of the year, I won the Fiction Award at the end of the year ceremony for the English department. A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to submit the piece to our school’s literary magazine.

I was excited to contribute, but to my surprise, the lady in charge of submissions wrote an email back saying there was no story and no chance of it being published. She said she couldn’t believe that I submitted it. She offered zero feedback on how to make it better. Her criticism instilled a lot of fear in me, regardless if she was right.

I was confused and began to think, did my professor have his head on straight? Or am I just a loser who doesn’t know how to write?

And once in a blue moon, that lady’s words still come back to haunt me.

Then there have been people in my life who’ve done nothing but cheer me on. They’ve intentionally come along side me to speak the truth in love and encourage me to get back up. They’ve given of themselves and said: “You can do it! God has great plans for you! Keep fixing your eyes ahead…” Even if there was criticism on their part, it was constructive and done in love. It built me up. Those people are who I desire to be like. Those who have shown me by example, how to cheer someone else on.

It’s a daily choice to consider the cheerleaders in your life, and not the critics. It’s way too easy to cling to the latter. And the negative thoughts just start flying! It’s also way too easy to be the actual critic. God created us to live in community with one another where we will grow and thrive and part of that includes surrounding ourselves with people who will lift us up, whether that’s in our relationship with Christ, friendships, career, parenthood, or whatever.

Well after my submission upset, God began to give me clarity in my writing dreams. I started writing non-fiction articles and Bible studies for major publishing companies and discovered that non-fiction was where my heart beat the most. His grace allowed my writing career to really take off and today, my passion is to cheer on other people as best I can- while still battling the criticism I have in my heart at times towards others and myself.

Is it difficult for you to let go of another person’s criticism? What do you appreciate most about those who have cheered you on?

Why I need to simplify my life

simplifyThis past week I spent time in VA Beach visiting my sister and nephew. I came away from my trip with a lot of unexpected thoughts, refreshment, and a confession that  flying with a one-year-old is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Probably because I’m often impatient and struggle with people pleasing at times. Therefore I was constantly giving John toys or feeding him gold fish and pretzels to keep him from screaming the passengers’ ears off. I can still feel the frustration.

Anyhow, the one unexpected thought I came home with was to simplify.

Simplify in the sense of what I allow into my life. And it all started with a conversation my sister, mom, and I had about email and facebook. I think lately, a lot of my personal time has been dedicated to answering email and facebook comments. I don’t think I’d ever go as far as to say it’s an addiction, but maybe something I do a lot? I don’t know.

I know email and facebook are not bad things. The majority of us use them. But for me, too much of a good thing is a bad thing and I need to chill out for a bit. The world doesn’t need me. It will still go on. I don’t have to get back to people the moment they ask for something. It’s really okay. We’re all friends anyway.

So the last several days, I’ve checked my blog, email, or facebook about once or twice a day for a few minutes. It’s been so freeing to be detached. I’m excited to use the extra time to be intentional about playing with my son, spending time with my husband, hanging out with friends, enjoying God’s beauty, and soaking up what life is all about- real-life relationships.

My desire is that in the next few months I will accomplish things I never thought possible by living a more simple life when it comes to online habits. So please… check up on me and ask how I’m doing.

Are there any areas in your life where you’re learning to simplify, or at least would like to?

Why all human life is precious

3878374083_406d9a0872Recently, I was stopped at a green stoplight. Two policemen were blocking me from going through the light because of a homeless man off to the side of the road.

The police got out of their cars to approach the man. I had a feeling they might jerk him around or in anger, ask him what in the world he was doing.

But none of that happened. They spoke a few words. He listened. He spoke a few words. They were patient to hear him. Then they gently turned him around and put plastic cuffs around his wrists, and signaled me to go ahead.

Sitting comfortably in my car with a place to go home to, I thought about how much God loves that homeless guy. No matter where he had been or what he had done, God made him in his image and wants a relationship with him.

All human life is precious to God because he created us in his image to bring glory to him, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not- All human life that’s yet to be born, all life that is breathing right now on earth, all human life with disorders, disabilities, mental problems, diseases, brokenness, life that might appear useless… All of it matters to God and it should matter to us.

My heart is beginning to change when it comes to the homeless people I see on the streets of Dallas every day. While I’m not always able to meet their needs physically, especially as a young woman by myself, I think one of the issues in my heart is whether I have love and compassion for them. Do I realize they were created in the image of God? And that God is deeply concerned for them as he is for every person’s life?

I’m really thankful I was stopped at a green light that day.


Article: An Uptown Confession

6a00e0099410db88330120a5d95c8c970b-800wiMy article, An Uptown Confession, was published yesterday on Ungrind. Here’s a little “scoop” into the article:

I made a pretty “I have it all together” appearance a lot like my pristine surroundings that night. But I neglected to reveal any kind of imperfections on the inside. Like a plastic promise, I pretended to be what I was not.

In the last few years, my view of confession and what it means to be authentic has been transformed into a “wholly biblical” one and it’s been life changing.

Confessing our sin aids in healing the tattered and broken pieces inside us. They are the places God knows about and is helping us through, but also the areas that others need to know too.

Confessing our sin to one another helps us see we were created for community and relationships. We were created to embrace confession as a lifestyle.

Remembering, considering, and confessing sin is not an easy task. It requires humbling myself to walk backstage for a behind-the-scenes look into the dressing room of my soul — where there is no make-up or fancy dress to hide my shame, flaws, and insecurities. Even though it can be so bitter at first, in the end it is so sweet. It’s a “detergent for the soul” as the famous theologian Jonathan Edwards once said.

How has confessing your sins healed you and other relationships? What do you fear most about others taking a behind-the-scenes look into who you really are?

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