Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Tribute to Five Years

Five years ago I walked down the aisle in blissful ignorance towards my groom. I didn't think I was ignorant...I had planned, prepped, prayed, and prodded him endlessly about marriage and life to make sure all of our ducks were in a row. I wanted to be prepared so there would be no big "why did we do this" shock after we said our I dos. I don't think I would have believed, had anyone told me, that those moments would inevitably come no matter how much I had in my preparedness bag and no matter how great a man I had snagged. 

Because, truth is, I married a flesh-and-blood man and he married a flesh-and-blood wife, and we can both be a little, well, human. Sometimes we have been selfish and sometimes we have been downright unreasonable. Five years in and I can say that we have loved hard, fought hard, played hard, prayed hard, laughed hard, cried hard, and worked hard to grow together. We have had to fight to keep those blessed vows we made in front of God and family and sometimes we have failed. Yet in God's amazing grace we have a house that is standing on a solid foundation (though it may need a new coat of paint and some weeds pulled now and then) and God-willing this house will continue to stand through as many anniversaries as we can cram in until death-do-us-part. (In case you were wondering, I would do it all over again in a split-second.)  

So, in honor of our anniversary I thought I would share the vows we made together five years ago. May our marriage continue to be a reflection of Christ's love...even when one of us is having a really unlovable day, week, or season. 

For my Husband: If you are reading this Love of my Life, know that you have loved me well these past five years. My picture of God's love has expanded because of you and your willingness to show me grace and forgiveness when I don't deserve it, and to love me both when I am easy to love and when I am not. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of Jesus. I love you.  
~The Vows~ 
I, Summer, take you Kristopher, to be my consecrated husband. 

I promise to be a faithful wife--to honor and respect our marriage and you, as my husband. 

I promise to put God first in our marriage, depending on Him for guidance and wisdom as we seek His will in our life together. 

Just as Christ loved me with an unconditional love, so shall I love you. 

And just as God forgives me, so shall I forgive you. 


May our marriage be a reflection of Christ in love, in humility, in sacrifice, in submission, and in forgiveness. 

I willfully bind myself to you this day, just as Christ is bound with the church.

February 1st, 2009

This week I am linking up with Messy MarriageYes They Are All Ours & Time Warp Wife.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Didn't Always Want to be a Mother

I have a confession to make... I didn't always want to be a mother. Some girls dream of fairytale things--white weddings, picket fences, and a houseful of babies. I was not one of those girls. Oh sure, I played house and pretended I was Barbie married to Ken and thought about cute boys at school. I loved the thrill of a new crush and the butterflies that came with wondering if "that boy" would smile at me today...but I didn't really think long-term about marriage and babies. I wanted adventure. I didn't want to be tied down to a ho-hum life. As I got older, I felt like marriage and kids would be a hindrance to doing something "worthy" of God's kingdom...and to be honest, I still wanted excitement. Most of the families I saw were pretty ordinary. I didn't want to be stuck in ordinary. Not for me. No thank you.

Somewhere along the line though, things changed. Primarily, my heart changed. I had wanted, as many do, to be great and do great things. There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but my prideful youth didn't see the intricacies or depth of importance in marriage and motherhood. I couldn't have known how much I had to learn about selflessness and sacrifice; and I had no concept of the ways God uses mothers to shape the world through the raising of their families. I still strongly believe you can do great things if you choose to never marry or have kids. But now I also know that incredibly great things are done through the hard work of maintaining a strong marriage and nurturing the little ones God entrusts to you.

As far as greatness goes? I have to say, my days look pretty ordinary. I don't live in a hut in an unpronounceable village and I do not have thousands coming to me for healing and prayer. Likely, when my time comes to leave this world there will be no monuments, biographies, or large gatherings. But I am changing the world in extraordinary ways. Each time we choose to listen to our little ones, to show compassion and empathy, to extend grace and keep a fountain of love running for them, each time we chose to do the thing that may be difficult in the moment--whether it's discipline, drying tears, or reading the same story for the fifteenth time in a row--we are shaping their lives, and changing the world.

So mama, maybe your days feel ordinary. Maybe you wonder where the excitement went and what on earth you are going to do with little ones stuck in the house on a day when the elements are not in your favor. Maybe you feel like you are not giving much to the Kingdom because your days are filled with mothering and there is nobody to help. Know this. You are right where you need to be. You are serving God through loving on your little ones and there is nobody who can do a better job at that then you. Even when it feels like there are others who are more qualified. Even when it feels like you aren't making a difference. Even when it seems like the whole world is on the move toward greatness and you are sitting on the floor stacking blocks. You. Are. Right. Where. You. Need. To. Be. So take a deep breath, smile at those little faces, and keep stacking blocks. Because you're not just building block towers, you're building up little hearts, one block at a time. What could be greater?

This week I am linking up with Messy Marriage and A Wise Woman Builds Her Home!

Monday, January 13, 2014

12 Months of Loving...Month 1: Out with the Old

In taking a journey to learn how to love my husband better this year, I was thinking about the best way to begin. Research shows that if you try to make too many changes at once you are setting yourself up for failure, so many motivators and life coaches say it is best to try to change only one or two aspects of your life at a time. This month, I have chosen to focus on letting go of the old.

I can be a bit of a collector. Books, letters, cozy blankets, and flaws I see in my spouse are some of the things I collect. (Guess which one I need to toss out?) It does me no good to focus on the flaws of yesterday! It sets me up for failure and clutters the closet of my heart with worthless junk--leaving no room for the beautiful things God wants to bring into my heart through my marriage. I am sure I'm not the only woman out there who too often holds onto hurtful things from the past instead of dealing with them and letting them go. (Obviously some things, like major betrayal of trust, need to be dealt with and it may take a significant amount of time and even some counseling.) But most things us woman hold onto are so insignificant in the long run!

So this year, I am starting fresh. Throughout January (and the rest of the year) I am going to make a point to deal with issues as they come and then learn to quickly wave them out the door of my home. Why hold onto them for later use (as I too often do)? I want to see my husband as God sees him. That means I need to let go of my own preconceived ideas of who he is (and how he's not living up to my lofty expectations). I am married to a good man! I know he's a good man. Yet in my anxious moments I remember that time three years ago that he said this-or-that or the time last June when he forgot to do that thing I asked or even the argument we had last week when he was obviously the one in the wrong... and I put in on him in his todays. I see him through a lens of his failures instead of his successes. What if he did that to me? What if he held onto every time I had failed or said the wrong thing or done the selfish thing? I would feel so defeated. It would crush me. So why do I think there is any benefit in me doing it to him? Ouch.

Let's stop holding onto the old, moldy things. If you have any dirty, smelly rags you are holding onto in regards to your man or your marriage, do yourself a favor. Throw them out! God is waiting to do a new thing in your heart, and in your marriage. If you are ready to partner with Him in this endeavor, let go of the negative preconceptions you have about your husband. Trust that, if you're married to a good man, he intends good toward you. And even though he's a sinner and you're a sinner and there will be times that good is not done (in either direction) his heart is for you. Help keep his heart (and yours) soft by choosing to start fresh this year.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Word for 2014...Hubs (Learning to Love my Husband Well)

I was inspired by author and blogger Sarah Mae to make my husband a priority in 2014. I am sure I am not alone in the mama (or even wife) category of women who too often prioritize a zillion and seven things above my man. I know in the back of my mind that he needs to feel like he's important to me, but with a little one to tend and a mounting list of things to accomplish before the sun goes down I often push him to the side thinking, "He's a big boy, he can take care of himself."

The truth is, though, I want him to feel like I am a vital part of his life. I want him to think, "How could I do this thing called life without her?" I want to be the happy thought in the midst of his stressful and busy day. And for this to be, I need to bump him up to a higher priority in my heart and mind and life.

I'd been pondering what this might look like and, wouldn't you know it, God gave me opportunity to practice this challenge right as I was starting to blog! I had just settled in, thoughts in a row, ready to start talking about making my husband a priority and all that and then..."Honey, would you mind...". I wish I could tell you that I joyfully served my man as I had just been touting I was going to be doing. The truth, however, is that I paused and gave an inward sigh as I thought about how I didn't want to do so-and-so I wanted to blog! (Of course, if Jesus had been making eye contact with me at that moment I think he would have been giving me the "Seriously?" look due to my selfish heart and childlike attitude.) Thankfully a nudge from the Holy Spirit kicked my butt in gear and I got up and served my husband like I was planning on doing...that time.

It is not easy, loving our husbands well. Almost five years ago now I said "I do" with a full heart and schoolgirl giddiness--ready to live out a lifetime of loving my husband. But somewhere between tossing the bouquet and opening the door to our first home together things got jumbled. Life is messy and happily ever after takes getting your hands dirty and your heart bruised. It is beautiful though, this journey to happy ever after. It is beautiful when we let it be beautiful. When we stop adding to our wobbling tower of unmet expectations and shattered hopes. When our only goal is to love, I think we give our marriage room to breathe. And grow. And flourish.

So this year, month by month, I am going to practice love. And hopefully, through focusing on different aspects of what loving looks like each month, I will not only bless my spouse, but maybe I will look a little bit more like Jesus too. If you want to join me in the challenge, leave a comment and I will certainly be praying for you and yours as we encourage one another along the way!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Goal-Setting 2014...Ready, Set, Go!

Okay, so now that morning sickness, exhaustion, and an aversion to coffee are behind me (not to mention the stress and over-packed weeks of the holiday season) I think I might actually be ready to be back! I have to be honest, I didn't intend to take such a long hiatus from the blogging world, but somewhere between taking care of my now one-year-old and finding out we had number two on the way (very exciting!) I just lost any ability to keep a schedule or use my brain beyond block-stacking and banana-peeling. But (deep breathe) this morning I took my first sip of home-brewed coffee with coconut creamer in months and thought, "I think I might be ready."

I didn't intend to include blogging in my New Year plans...I already have enough things I desire to accomplish stacked sky high in that never-ending checklist located somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain. As I type, though, I am thinking that maybe by committing to blogging just once a week I can not only start rebuilding somewhat of a weekly schedule but also give myself a bit of accountability to accomplish some of the goals I do have for myself.

I was talking over dinner with some family members last night and the conversation turned towards ways in which we keep ourselves motivated and accountable to accomplish our goals. It got me thinking, what helps me achieve the hazy visions I start out with in my mind? I think that, for me, defining the goal, writing it down, and letting others know my plans all help lead me towards accomplishment of what I set my mind to. So here goes, my unintentional first goal of the new year: blog once a week.

I look forward to hearing from you along the journey, and would love to know what tools help you to accomplish goals you set for yourself
Happy New Year, and I'll see ya next week!