Saturday, June 28, 2014

And He Calls Me Beautiful

There's this struggle I have at times. Insecurity. Inadequacy. Incomplete. It often comes out in feeling like I need more from him, from my Bradley. We go through the routine dance of where I come up short and where he comes up short and where neither of us feel like we can do enough. I express what I need and he does the same. The last time this played out wasn't too long ago. You don't do life with someone for nearly two decades and not find yourself dancing this dance at times. Life is good and full of joy and seasons of delicate, unblemished happiness. Life is also rough and full of sticky seasons of wear and weakness.

So we danced the dance. There was a lot shared, resolved, and put to rest. One of the things that came to the surface was his need for me to receive his affirmation. You see, I have this need as his wife to hear him say to me those sweet whispers of adoration and admiration - the kinds of things that make me know what I already know, that he longs for me. That he finds me lovely in any and every way possible. But this wasn't just about me needing to hear those things. This was about him needing me to hear those things. To REALLY hear those things. Breathe them in. Receive them into my heart from his heart. Because, as much as I hunger for him do this, I have this destructive pattern of rejecting what he says. My precious husband will lay over me sweet whispers of love and adoration, and I brush them off. I blow them off. I come up with reason after reason why I can't accept what he is saying, even though hearing him say those things to me is something I want so desperately. And so, we're working on this. He's sharing more of these sweet whispers from his heart, and I'm breathing them in. Accepting them as truth. Because no matter how I may see me at any given moment, he still loves me finds me beautiful.

Now, this struggle, it isn't just isolated to my marriage relationship. This struggle of insecurity and inadequacy likes to try and take root in my walk with Christ. I see who I am, who I've been; Filthy. Thief. Promiscuous. Liar. Idolater. Adulteress. Unsightly. You name it, I claim it. And I find it hard to embrace those sweet whispers of my heavenly Father.

Why do we do that to ourselves?

And really, when I get honest with myself, when I'm stuck in the torrent of feeling like I need more from my husband, that's not what I really need at all. What my heart is really needing is to brush off these lies, push through the mess that they leave all around me and just sit in the stillness of my Savior. I still hunger for that affirmation from my Bradley, but when I really breathe in how Jesus sees me... there's nothing like it. Because in Him I'm Clean. Vindicated. Pure. Honest. Redeemed. The Bride of Christ. Beautiful. He whispers it sweetly over me...

He calls me beautiful.

He sees beyond who I was and who I am. He sees who He created me to be. I can't always see that - I don't even fully know who that is! But He does. And I'm in process of being perfected. And His truth, sweet whispers, fall over me. Cleansing me from the inner depths of darkness. Lifting me out and lifting me up. And that is where true power lies, in Him who saw me, saved me, and loves me perfectly. He's what I really need. So I find power and rest when I REALLY hear those things from Him. Breathe them in. Receive them into my heart from His heart.

Now, that precious husband of mine, he is a gift here and now. I love him. I thank God for giving me this man to do life with. But what I REALLY need is Jesus. What I really need is to lay in the sweet whispers of His truth.

He calls me His and He calls me beautiful. He's all I need.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pajama Pants & All The Rest

I was driving my oldest girls to the library the other day for a theater practice, in my pajama pants, at 2:00 in the afternoon. I'm not ashamed. It's not like I was at Walmart or anything (because who wants to end up as one of the People of Walmart?!) I was in the comfort of my kid infested mini-van. Some days the combination of pajama pants and car seats and floor boards full of stale popcorn, used napkins, and other questionables go together just fine.

There are days that I do that. I lounge around in pajama pants. All.Day.Long. That's just who I am.

As I was sitting at a light, I saw a woman that I know drive by. She was obviously more dressed for the day than I was. Hair was done, she probably had put on some make-up or something - I couldn't know for sure, only seeing her for a moment. I looked down at my comfy fleece pj pants and started thinking about how different our days probably were. She was probably up before the sun and I had barely rolled out of bed before my husband left for work that morning. Maybe she had been out and about all day, yet we hardly made it out the door to get the girls where they needed to be on time. And I started thinking, should I be less like me and more like her?

We do that, don't we? Compare ourselves to other wives and mom's. The ones who work full time and still manage to make homemade bread. Or the ones who have that disciplined exercise routine, every single day. Or the ones who spend every waking moment with their seemingly perfect children. Or the ones with the super-model hair, or the immaculate car, or the manicure that I could never keep even if I wrapped my hands in batting and did absolutely nothing.

I'm not the kind of woman who gets up early, at least not without complaint.
I'm not the kind of woman who dolls herself up every day.
I'm not the kind of woman who makes breakfast. Cereal is a blessing from heaven and a staple in this house.
I'm not the kind of woman who does her daughters hair in cutesy up-do's, just because. That's a special occasion type of thing around here.
I'm not the kind of woman who makes her husband lunch. I mean, I'll help him, but some days I can hardly operate the coffee maker. So unless he wants last nights leftover casserole coupled with a jar of maraschino cherries, sometimes it's better if he makes his own lunch.
I'm not the kind of woman who always has the laundry done. And when it is done, I'm not the kind of woman who always has it all folded and put-away.
I'm not the kind of woman who has dinner on the table when her husband walks in the door. Some days are better than others, but most days this isn't accomplished. (Of course, he walks in the door sometime between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. I guess I have a "defense" given the unpredictability of his schedule?)
I'm not the kind of woman who pays every bill before the day they're due. I don't even keep my checkbook balanced.
I'm not the kind of woman who goes to bed before 10:00... or 11:00... or even midnight. I'm a night owl, through and through.

I fall short in a lot of ways. BUT as I was going through these things in my head, examining all the things I'm not, a still, small voice spoke up in my heart and reminded me of the kind of woman that I am...

I am the kind of woman who values rest. I see the need in the middle of this crazy, chaotic life to make sure our family is taking out the time we need to relax. And sometimes that rest is nearly impossible to come by. But we're fortunate enough to have flexible schedules, and so rest comes when rest can. And sometimes that rest is going to occur during the hours of five and eleven in the morning. And that's ok.
I am the kind of woman who knows that beauty is more than skin deep. I have a husband who loves me whether I'm a size 8 or 18 (and God knows that I've been both, and every size in between!) Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30) I'll brush my teeth and comb my hair. I'll even paint my nails. I'll make sure I'm presentable, but all of that is temporary. My heart, and the hearts of these children that God has entrusted to my care, that's where true beauty should lie. Investing in the heart is far more important than investing in the face. Not to knock personal care, exercise, or eating right - all of that is important, too. There's just more to life than having a pretty face.
I am the kind of woman who cares what her family is eating, but lets face it, some days a carry-out pizza is easier and more practical than homemade anything. And in moderation, that's ok too. But you'll almost always find fresh fruit and veggies to snack on here and very little processed foods in my pantry. (Except cereal. Like I said, it's a staple here.)
I am the kind of woman who FREAKS THE CRAP OUT if her house is a mess. Out of all those things I'm not, one thing I am is a neat freak. So, while the laundry may be piled up in the basement (out of sight, out of mind) the dishes are clean and the floors are swept and the toilet is scrubbed and the shelves are dusted. And that isn't done all by me, because...
I am the kind of woman who makes her kids work. We all contribute to this family because that's what families do. I'm training up these kids to be responsible and respectful. My girls know how to take out garbage and do yard work, and my son knows how to clean a bathroom and operate a washing machine.
They don't do it alone, the husband and I do a lot of the work too. We make these wheels go 'round together.
I am the kind of woman who makes sure everything is taken care of. Some things can be handled days, weeks, months in advance. Some things get left to the very last second. But every single thing is handled, and (most of the time) they're handled with love and a lot of prayer. I'm aware of all of our comings and our goings and, even with a checkbook that is technically unbalanced, all of our affairs are still in order.

As women and followers of Jesus, we have this ideal. The Proverbs 31 Woman. She has noble character and her value is of great measure. She only brings her husband good, provides his every need, and he has complete confidence in her. Her husband is a respectable man and people recognize him as such. This woman is a worker - she's diligent in all she does. Not only is she providing all she can for those in her household, she's also generous and cares for those in need outside of her home. She takes care of her home, and this woman, she is SMART. She is wise and well knowledged - she knows her stuff. Her children see her goodness and they tell her she's a good woman, so does her husband (an accolade we all long for.) She's an honorable woman.

But you know what? I bet she has her down days, too. 

I bet there are days that she lets the laundry pile up in the basement and chooses to play with her kids instead. I bet there are days that her fine linen clothing aren't the best garments in her closet, but that they may just be pajama pants. Because sometimes, some days, we need that down time. We need that rest. 

We can strive to be that woman of great measure and great faith - that woman of God. Seeking Him first, seeking His will. We should do those things. And we shouldn't be idle and we should be diligent in caring for our families. BUT I would dare to say that the shoe of the Proverbs 31 woman fits differently on each woman. And it looks different. And it feels a little different, too. We can strive to be all of those great things for our husbands, our children, and those we love and serve in our families, churches, and communities. But we need not compare ourselves to each other. The great value of that Proverbs 31 Woman isn't found in how she is compared to others - it's found in who she truly is.

Daughter of Christ. Mommy and wife. Child, sister, and friend. My mind goes on tangents and my heart breaks for the broken. My house is clean but my car is a mess. My family is fed and my bills are paid. I stay up late and sometimes I even get to sleep in. I'm far from perfect, but I am in progress. 
Pajama pants and all. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

One down, three to go

She did it! Our first baby graduated high school!
I may be biased, but I do believe that she is AMAZING.

And my Bradley and I, we have officially raised one of our children all of the way through all of their childhood school years.

We will be turning her over to the young adult world.
In less than three months.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the thought of that? It's terrifying.

The time flew by. Seriously. It's cliche, all adults say it. Especially parents. But really, where did my premature, jaundiced baby go?
She was JUST born. And I was just learning what it means to be a mom. But now, here she is, practically a grown woman. And here I am, still learning what it means to be a mom. We're in all new territory here. How in the world do we transition from raising a child to simply guiding a young woman?

All. New. Territory.