Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Serving Everyone But...

It's been quite a while since I have written for our little blog here. The last month has been an absolute whirl wind for me...

During the last week of June, the youth group led a 24-7 week of prayer at our church after constructing an interactive prayer room. Super cool week. Check out www.24-7prayer.org to find out more about this kind of thing.

Then shortly after that, I left for nine days with my 7th and 8th graders to head to Washington DC to work with the homeless, elderly and underprivileged children. We also went to Youth Specialties' DCLA conference. Also, a super cool week.

THEN, right after DC I left with my high school students for Tijuana, Mexico to build houses for needy families and work at an orphanage. It was an even better, super cool week.

THEN...in two days we move to the next town over. So we've...I've been a little busy.

So after all of that you might think that my blog would be about balancing my calendar better and not being a work-a-holic...but it's not. (I'm sure both of those issues will make their way to our blog soon enough.)

What I want to write about now is something that I noticed in myself on both of these trips and also came up from the students on both of these trips. That is, why is it easier to serve other people but yet it's often the most difficult to serve the people closest to you??

For four weeks, I served people over and over and over again, most of which I had never met before. Some of the people were those who are hard to love - smelly, messed up drunks on the street; terminally ill patients; and Mexicans who I can't speak with because I suck at Spanish. Some were easy to love, the children at the day program in DC and in the neighborhoods of Tijuana, as well as the kids in my own youth programs. Regardless, I willingly and gladly served all sorts of people all month

But yet, the person I love the most in this world (sorry Mom, not you...), my wife, my soul mate I fail to serve, or do so with a bad attitude, on a regular basis! Why is that?!?!?!? I think we see this in our families as well - our siblings, parents and children. Again, why is it harder to serve them than complete strangers?

To be honest, I don't really have the answer to this question. I would really love your thoughts if this relates with you.

I mean, I know the Sunday School answers - we're all selfish people, we're all sinful, etc. But I am all of those things with other people, not just my wife, so what's the deal? Is it a trust or comfort thing where we believe the person will never leave us so we let our selfishness fully hang out? Is it simply laziness? But why with our family does it present itself more? Again, please send me your thoughts...

With all of this in mind, my prayer for myself, and for all of you reading, is that we would be servants first and foremost to our spouses and families, before everyone else. So often they get the leftovers and it's not right. Paul writes in Ephesians "wives, submit to your husbands" and "husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." That is the attitude we should all have and is honestly the key to a happy and successful marriage.

How have you served your spouse or significant other today?
Do you find it more difficult to serve your spouse than others? Why or why not?

Jake

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Like Stars""

I just finished reading Rob Bell's new book "Drops Like Stars." Rob Bell is Jake's "man crush" so we pretty much buy everything he has written, listen to all his sermons, and have even seen him speak in NYC. It's like Christian stalking.

So this book is a bit different. It'll take you about a half hour to get through it and it's a poignant half hour. I cried the whole way through, to be honest. It's about suffering and art and unity and the meaning of life. Yeah, really a light read if you ask me :)

There is this quote I loved that I want to share, because I think really touches why Jake and I have felt called to start putting stuff about marriage out there. Rob says:

"Pain has a way of making us more honest. I know a family whose son committed suicide. He was taken to a hospital, where he laid on life support for several days, brain dead but breathing - barely. His 11 year old cousin came to the hospital to see him before the machines were turned off. When she got to the room she told [them] to leave her alone with him. [They] could hear her through the wall yelling at him: "Why did you do this? I am so angry with you!" She said what everybody wanted to say. She did what everybody wanted to do. It's the art of honesty.....Like an 11 year old girl yelling at her hours from officially dead cousin, "Why would you do this?" Which is the question everybody wanted to yell at him. Do you know that feeling in class when somebody raises his hand and says, "I don't get it," and you feel so relieved that you aren't the only one who wasn't getting it? That's what great artists do. That's what great people do. They ask it. They say it. They express it. They put into words what so many others are thinking and feeling and wondering. They affirm that...YOU AREN'T THE ONLY ONE HAVING THIS EXPERIENCE ."

I'm not trying to insinuate that Jake and I are "great people" or anything. That's not my point. Rob Bell's words say what we really, really wish the world would be like when it comes to talking about marriage. Every marriage takes work, sacrifice, commitment, endurance, honesty, love, forgiveness, redemption...and well...grit. Why can't we all be open about it? Why don't people talk about it? Why do so many churches and Christians make us feel like we have to have it all together to be a follower of God? Pretend like everything is ok to others in the church...because who knows what they'll think about you if you tell the truth?!

Jake just got back from his second missions trip this month and his brother went with him on this last one. Jake was telling me how he and the high school guys on the trip were talking about honeymoon sex one night. I was like, "Wait! Did you talk to your BROTHER about our honeymoon sex??!!" And Jake was like (all nonchalant) , "Yeah, I told him how the first time things didn't "fit in" properly and how it wasn't all I expected it to be and how we had to work at sex to make it good." I admit...I was embarrassed to have my 18 year old bro-in-law know this about my sex life. I mean, gross right? But then I thought for a second and realized...hey you know, because Jake was honest with his brother, maybe when his brother gets married and goes on a honeymoon, we will have saved him and his future wife some hurt, confusion, and disappointment. Maybe they'll know before-hand what to expect and it will save them the 2 years it took Jake and I to work through a lot of crap about sex because of what happened on the honeymoon.

Why? Because they will know that they're not alone. That most people struggle with sex and making it work, making it good. That's the kind of thing Jake and I hope will come about because of the blog and hopefully a book. We don't have the answers...but that's ok. We'll never have all the answers until we're in heaven and we can go, "Ok God what the heck is UP with with this marriage thing?" But if we can all be honest with each other for right now, it can help to bring us together, help each other through, and learn from all the different experiences we each bring to the table.

Rob Bell at the end of the book explains the title "Drops Like Stars" comes from his 3 year old nephew gazing out at rain one day and saying, "Stars. Stars. Stars." The little boy thought that for a split second when a rain drop hits the ground, it looks like a star. Talk about redemption.....it takes a child to see that when something falls and explodes...it looks like a star. It's so true of who we are, what marriage is, who God is. It's the times we fall...the times things explode...it's those times that we grow, learn, survive, become more transparent and real....and become more like stars :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sappy Blog Post

It only takes one moment for us to lose our loved ones. One moment they are here breathing, living, only a touch away. Who knows when time is up? None of us do. Sometimes when Jake and I have had a fight and things are still tense, I feel like not forgiving him. I let him go off to work and I don't kiss him and I don't say "I love you."

And then, I admit, I panic. All it would take is a car crash...and he would be gone. Remorse floods my heart and usually I call or text some sort of sentiment that lets him know I care.

It's so easy to take each other for granted. Work gets busy, we get tired, the television seems so much easier to deal with. The little things start to get annoying, then really annoying, then coolness starts to wiggle it's way into our hearts. I wish I could get those hours, those days back. The ones where I've let the daily worries turn me short, when I've gone to bed mad, or I've said something awful.

Why does it take Jake going away for me to realize how much I miss him and need him? He completes me like no other person can. I am such an extreme introvert and Jake is the one person who fills me up. He takes care of me and holds me when I cry and he is one of the privileged few who see my truly dorky, weird, ungraceful side. Be he also sees the good in me and affirms my heart. I hate that it takes distance for me to realize that time is slipping away. And we're slipping with it. There are only so many moments in my life and I want to spend them wisely. I want to act out my love like every day is the day Jake is coming home. You know? All excited and nervous...I want to hear everything he has been doing and just listen and listen and snuggle and have lots of sex...why can't I be like that every day?

How much God must love us to give us marriage. I have truly never felt something so deep and true. It has so much potential to hurt and to open up wounds....it has so much potential to heal and be a balm like no other. I want to know, deep in my soul, every day, that this day could be my last day, or Jake's last day...and I want to live that day loving my husband and letting God's love shine through me....because really I suck and God's the one who gives the love anyways!!!
(Heh heh, can't resist adding just one "suck" to the sappy blog post :) )
Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.