Adoption Update: Hope that Triumphs Over Fear

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image1Well, life has been a bit crazy. I don’t even know where to start. I don’t even know how much to explain. I want to explain everything so you can hear my stress and then be like, “Oh Liz, how are you handling all this?” because if I’m honest, I want your admiration. I want you to think I’m kick ass and super strong. And because that is a weakness of mine, I want to purposefully not go there. Especially since, I’m really not handling all of this completely well (just ask my husband and my realtor…they see the breakdowns). But is this post going there? I don’t know, if it is I guess God will let me know when I’m ready to hear it.

But, I do know I need your prayer. And I also know, I want to express my hope and excitement. I might not post this until I know one way or the other, but I want to write this in the moment so I can capture my current thoughts.

We have some updates: Our house is under contract and we have put a contract on a house in Annapolis. Everything seemed like it was going to go through and then we randomly had an issue. Our buyers were thinking of walking. The issue just didn’t seem right though, it seemed like a mistake. Ok, I’m getting off track, that’s not the point. We fixed the issue. Everything seemed to line up again, and then…

We got an email from the adoption agency. They wanted our permission to show our profile to a couple with a very unique case. We said, “yes.” Nothing is set in stone. We don’t even know if the couple will pick us. I’m in the adoption version of the TWW (two week wait between ovulation and when you can take a pregnancy test). It’s really early to talk about, but I’m so excited. I’m dreaming of the nursery and cuddles and introductions. I’m dreaming of the baptisms, yes baptismS, because they are twins. I’m dreaming of the songs I will sing, and the spit up I will be covered in, and the exhausted mornings from being up all night comforting the cries of two precious babies.

But I’m also worried. How is this all going to line up? The timing of all of this seems impossible! We have to move, get our new house approved by the agency (water tests, fire marshal survey, and a new home inspection), and the second we are out of our current home we are out of the adoption pool until we can get the new home approved. But as long as we are in our current home we can be matched. If we get matched before we move then we can still have placement in the new home as long as we can get all the paperwork done before the placement occurs. I can’t even begin to go through possible timelines of things, because everything is constantly changing.

Just yesterday it seemed like everything was going to go through with the houses and then we heard that the buyers were not happy with the solution we had come up with and unless we did something else they were thinking of walking away, again…. So the timeline went completely wonky again and I gave up trying to figure it out.

So here I am, confused, excited, and hopeful. And my hope is greater than any hope I’ve ever had before, because this time I have a knowledge that surpasses understanding. This time I know that if it doesn’t work out and I must grieve another loss (or two), that I will not remain in that place of sorrow. I know who my savior is, I know how much he loves me, and I know he will rescue me from my disappointment and sorrow. He will restore me. I know it because I have experienced it. He has been faithful for seven years of grief. He has been faithful longer than that, but that is only how long I have had this struggle.

I am hoping. I am putting my hope in the Lord and in his goodness. There is something about this circumstance that seems completely beyond anything I could imagine or facilitate or control, and so it must be up to God. And there is something about that that gives me peace and hope beyond what I have ever known before.

I naively thought that my hope would extend to everyone around me, but it doesn’t. I see you out there doubting, I see you worried about me, I see you trying to tame my hopes and prepare me for disappointment.

Stop worrying so much.

I know you are doing this out of love for me, and I appreciate that, but it seems like you might be letting your fear overcome your faith. Disappointment won’t kill me, I’ve been disappointed many times before and I’m still alive! In fact, the more disappointment I have had the more I have found my joy in the only thing that can never disappoint: Jesus!

I’m excited. I’m happy. I’m hopeful! You can try and protect yourself, but please stop trying to protect me from disappointment. I don’t need your protection, I have the best protection: Jesus Christ. He is with me right now. He keeps saying, “I got this. You don’t have to figure out how, you just have to say, ‘yes’.”

I’m saying, “yes!”

Whatever he is offering to me in this situation, I say, “Yes! Yes, God! Yes, Father! May it be done as you have said! May it be done as you have said! May it be done as you’ve shown us through Jesus!”

I’m not trying to change your mind. You can feel whatever it is you feel. I’m just letting you know that God has got this, and he has got me, and he has got these houses, and he has got these babies, and he is the only one who I want to have this and so I am putting all my eggs in His basket.

I am at a bend in the road and I’m not going to slow down and creep to the corner and crane my neck around the bend to try and see what lies ahead before I dance with praise and excitement. I’m dancing in the road, and praising my God because whatever lies around this bend doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he is good! And I want to experience whatever lies beyond this bend with Him by my side. I’m running toward it! If beyond lies a dragon, I’m prepared because I have the God of angel armies by my side! If what lies beyond is a sunrise, I’m going to experience as much of it as I can, and not waste a moment worrying instead of witnessing its beauty.


­­­­­­­­­Well, that was fast. I wrote the above post yesterday morning (but didn’t post it) and now this morning I write to tell you the birth mother has decided to parent her twins. What wonderful news for her and her children.

Yes, I am sad for me.

No, I have not lost hope.

God is so good to me. Yesterday, I read the book of Philemon. I never read that book before and it was exactly what I needed to hear. This book is about how every movement we make in response to God has a ripple effect. In Philemon 1:10-16, Paul says, “While here in jail, I’ve fathered a child, so to speak. And here he is, hand-carrying this letter-Onesimus. He was useless to you before; now he’s useful to both of us. I’m sending him back to you, but it feels like I’m cutting off my right arm in doing so. I wanted in the worst way to keep him here as your stand-in to help out while I’m in jail for the Message. But I didn’t want to do anything behind your back, make you do a good deed that you hadn’t willingly agreed to. Maybe it’s all for the best that you lost him for a while. You’re getting him back now for good—and no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother! That’s what he was to me—he’ll be even more than that to you.”

I know this seems like a weird a verse, but Paul understands the joy and sorrow of my loss. He understands the prayers for the one who doesn’t quite know the gift that they have. He understands that his purpose does not override Philemon’s purpose, that God’s call for Paul does not counteract Philemon’s call from God, or Onesimus’ call from God, but instead their calls all join together and interact in a way that only God can facilitate.

God has shown me over and over again that he uses me as a prayer warrior for these mothers and their children. His glory is so beautiful! He allows me to be a part of their lives and they don’t even know. He connects me to these families in the most intimate of ways: through union with God. What a blessing to me! It is not a blessing you can see, it is simply known.

Yesterday, I prayed for the mom of these twins. I prayed for her, and my prayers for her broke my own heart because they went against everything my physical, mental, and emotional body wanted.

“Lord, make your strength known to her; help her to see that she can do this with You as her guide. Her babies need her, Lord, help her to see that, help her to see that you have chosen her for them. And Lord, if she can’t see that then let her know you will provide a loving family for her babies.”

It wasn’t a surprise to me when I received the email saying that this mother had decided to raise her children. It still hurt, but it wasn’t a surprise. And then a huge storm rolled in and I felt like God and I were fighting together. I felt like my prayers were fights against the evil one. I felt like God wept for me as we fought for her and her children. I can’t even explain it. My physical body simply sat there watching the storm rage around me, while my spiritual body wielded the sword of truth alongside the armies of angels and Jesus my king. I wept and prayed and fought. The darkness was so great and ominous and yet, I felt completely at peace in the outcome. I had said, “yes” to my purpose, and in that I found joy beyond sorrow, peace beyond circumstance, and a will to keep going, to keep hoping, to keep fighting, to keep loving, and to experience the beauty of the storm.

This morning I asked the Lord what he wanted to tell me today. He said, “Isaiah.” He knows me so well, Isaiah is my comfort book. Isaiah is where I go when I don’t know where to start. I opened up to Isaiah and began to read Chapter 26. It’s amazing how good God is.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “People with their minds set on You, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.”

Seven Years of Growth: 2013, Me Being Me is Valuable

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In 2013 I started Celebrate Recovery. It was starting this program that I realized I was a hardcore codependent and my codependency was keeping me a prisoner. I had no idea what I liked and disliked, what I wanted and didn’t want. I thought I knew, but I didn’t. When Dean would ask me, “where do you want to go to dinner?” I would think, “Hmmmm, does he want Mexican or Italian tonight? Where does he want me to say I want to go? If I say ‘Mexican’ will he be excited about my choice?” It wasn’t really a conscious thought, but subconsciously I was dying for my husband to think I made a good decision. I wanted his approval so badly that I stopped making decisions based on facts and started making decisions based on assumptions.

This usually resulted in me being disappointed because:

  1. I never felt like my needs were heard (because when asked where I wanted to go I didn’t give an answer to where I wanted to go…I gave an answer to where I thought others would want me to want to go. So months later when I never felt heard it was really my own damn fault…)
  2. If Dean had a bad dinner I would take the blame for it. I chose the place so it was my fault his dinner sucked (that’s ridiculous! But I couldn’t see that)and I would desperately try harder the next time to pick a place that he would love, so I could be loved by him. (As if his love for me depended on the restaurants I picked…)

When I started confronting this issue I started to realize that I didn’t even know what I liked and disliked. I had no idea what I wanted to do on the weekend, because I always just did what someone else wanted to do. I thought I was being selfless by letting everyone else make the decisions. But really my motives were totally warped. I was only letting other people make decisions because I wanted to earn their love and admiration. That’s not being selfless, that’s being selfish. I was depriving the world of who God created me to be, because I wanted love and admiration. And whatever love and admiration I received was never enough. I wanted more and more and more. I strived to be like others to gain their admiration. And often I fell short, because God didn’t create me to play sports, or work in construction, or handle spicy food every night. My body was different and I was different and I had no idea that that was ok. I had no idea that my differences were what would draw people to me. I had no idea that my differences brought variety to the body of Christ. I had no idea that my differences were valuable, and I blamed others for not caring what I wanted to do, but I never was able to say what I wanted to do, so how could I blame others for something I didn’t know myself?

I started going on Liz Dates. I’m serious, I started dating myself. I took off every Tuesday and I tried all different types of activities. I started painting, hiking, yoga, running, drawing, floor hockey, playing instruments, etc. IMG_6609Somethings I loved to do, like hiking and yoga. Other things I would not choose to do again, like floor hockey. But I tried it, and I allowed myself to feel and experience and like or dislike regardless of what other people thought. It was uncomfortable. It was hard. It was scary, “what if I play floor hockey and totally screw over my team and everyone hates me?” It turns out, I sucked at floor hockey, but I loved playing on a team with my husband, my two brothers, and my good friend, Royal. I stuck the season out because I loved the comradery and social aspect and then I never played again, because I didn’t have to. I learned that I was allowed to enjoy the social part, even if I didn’t bring much to the athletic part. I was still accepted as part of the team, not because I scored goals or played awesome defense, but simply because I was on the team. Because I showed up and was me. I still wasn’t able to see that my presence was valuable to others; I simply saw that my presence was valuable to me and that was enough.

And then God took it a step further and taught me that me being me was really valuable to others, especially my husband.

It was my birthday, and my husband said, “Where do you want to go out to dinner?” I knew where I wanted to go, but I knew he wouldn’t want to go there. I wanted sushi, but my husband had a bad experience with sushi and couldn’t stand even the thought of it. But I reminded myself, “He asked me where I wanted to go. He can always say he would like to go somewhere else, but I owe it to him and to me to be honest so then we can compromise based on facts rather than assumptions.” So I said it, “I really want to go get sushi.” And to my surprise he said, “Ok, let’s do it.”

Then came the hard part: enjoying the sushi without worrying whether Dean was enjoying it or not. I had to keep reminding myself that he made a decision to say yes and it’s not my fault if he has a bad dinner. Turns out, we had a fabulous dinner! Dean found a new love for sushi; a love that has carried through the rest of our years together and has influenced a lot of our dinner parties and experimentations of homemade sushi. We were wooed by our friends who taught us how to make sushi and then used those new skills to woo a young couple into becoming our friends! It has become something special we enjoy together, and I keep thinking, if I didn’t say the truth about what I really wanted, that may never have happened.

It seems like such a small, simple thing, but it lead to so much more. And it gave me the confidence to plan an entire vacation based on what I wanted to do. Dean was working so hard he didn’t have the energy or time to plan anything and he asked me if I could plan the vacation, and he said, “Plan the vacation based on you, not on what you think I want to do. You plan it, and I’ll just do it with you.”

Man, was I nervous. What if my husband realized I was not the girl he married? What if he didn’t like the real me? To this day, that vacation was my favorite vacation. We stayed in a cabin with a hot tub that looked out over the Smoky Mountains. We hiked the chimney tops. We yelled, “Jesus loves you!” from the tops of the mountains. We went moonshine tasting and played mini golf. We saw a black bear, and played in a waterfall. It was awesome. And we both enjoyed ourselves, and I realized that I had value, my likes had value, my decisions had value, and my brain was capable of making decisions. And because I knew the value of the decisions for myself I was no longer looking for the admiration from someone else; which ironically, opened my eyes to the admiration others had for me, especially my husband. It was on that trip that I saw that my husband loved me for me.

7 years of Growth: 2012, Discomfort isn’t Bad

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We didn’t have a lot of pictures together from 2012….so here is a Christmas picture

In 2011, Dean and I bought our house, a cute little fixer upper with good strong bones, and Dean was ready to jump in with sledgehammers blazing. I, on the other hand, was a little more timid about how we would go about making over our little stuck-in-the-80s rambler. I wanted everything planned out. I wanted to know exactly what we would find once we started demo. Of course, if you have ever fixed up a house, that is impossible.

I kept making excuses to delay demo. “I want to be able to use my kitchen.” “Christmas is coming up and I want to get a Christmas tree in our living room.”

Well, one sunny Saturday in November 2011, I went for a 6 mile run. I told Dean I would be back in an hour. When I returned, Dean and his dad were just finishing up tearing down the wall that separated our kitchen and living room.

My shock kept my anger at bay, and as the shock wore off I started to see the beauty of what Dean had done. Dean doesn’t seem to fear discomfort like I do. My fear of “not having” outweighed the hope of what would be. But when I came back from my run and suddenly didn’t have a living room or a functioning kitchen in pristine order, it wasn’t so bad.

2012 quickly became the year of demo. We moved from one project to the next, our furniture never staying in one room for more than a month, before moving it to a “finished” area. I say “finished” because we lived on sub-floors for almost a year before putting in the bamboo floors. We wanted everything painted before installation. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for a barefoot loving girl like myself it meant wearing shoes at all times. I was restricted, and that was uncomfortable.

Not only was I forced to wear shoes (oh, the horror) but I was forced to live within a constant cloud of man glitter (aka saw dust and drywall dust). I know I’m being super whiney and this just sounds ridiculous, but I was uncomfortable. I realized I was a little more high maintenance than I thought I was. And my discomfort lasted for months at a time. No sooner did we finish one project than we jumped on to the next. So it was in this time that I started to find peace in the discomfort.

I had special havens in my house. If we were working on the kitchen and living room, then I needed a space in the nursery or guest room to get away from the dust and demo. I found places to breathe. I learned there was time for work and time for rest. I learned that the discomfort wasn’t bad, and it was actually leading to a nicer home. But I learned that my entire life couldn’t be in disarray. I needed constants within the chaos. But as long as I had a clean place to sleep, an organized place to pray, and a comfortable place to watch Lost with my husband, I could endure the discomfort of renovation with…well…comfort. This lesson continues to show up in so many ways: on my yoga mat with deep stretches, in the waiting process for a baby, selling our house and buying a new one, seasons of depression and anxiety, and the list goes on and on. Each time I am reminded that in the midst of chaos I need a constant.

My constant is Jesus. But Jesus is more than just the churchy answer to all questions. Because if you said, “oh Liz, I know you’re uncomfortable, but Jesus can help.” I would have punched you in the face.Jesus Dust But it’ so true! Only, I think it’s one of those things you have to find out for yourself. The verse that kept me going during this time was from John 14:1-2

“1 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. 2 In my father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you?”

It seems so simple, but I needed to know that I had a place. I needed to know that there was space for me. I needed to know that if God wanted to fix something in one place then he would have room for me to take rest in another. And he did! He always gave me a place for rest and rejuvenation, and not only that but he gave me the vision of the new and improved space as well. He gave me hope! And not only that, but I wasn’t alone! My husband was there beside me, working, dreaming, resting, and encouraging me forward, enduring the same troubles, experiencing the same excitements, and living within the confines of our new and improving home. The inside of his nose was constantly caked with brown dust from sanding door frames just like mine. And he joined me in writing messages in the drywall dust that blanketed our counters…although his message is totally inappropriate so I’m only posting mine…

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Looking back at this uncomfortable time I find it riddled with joy and accomplishment. Especially now, that we are about to do it all over again.

7 Years of Growth: 2011, My Husband is Not God

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309888_642307463930_1958456949_n“Dean is not God.” It seems obvious when I say it out loud, but in 2011 I didn’t even know that was what I was thinking. Consciously I would never say, “Dean is God.” But subconsciously I was expecting him to be. I was living with expectations of my husband to be my everything.

I had heard a call from God (the real God) in 2009 or 2010. All He said was, “Africa.” I knew it was from God. There was no question in my mind, so I started searching for trips to Africa. The more I prayed the more I felt His call. This took years of prayer and trust. Sometimes I didn’t hear anything, sometimes I doubted, but mostly I felt a tether attached to my heart pulling me to Africa. And soon the tether was pulling me to the children of Africa. All I knew was “Africa” and “children”.

And this is where Dean comes in. I told my husband when I heard from God for the very first time. I was so excited, and my expectation was that Dean would instantly believe what God had told me and then help me discern my call. Well, he did help me discern my call, but he did not believe. He believed I thought I heard from God. But, he had a lot of questions. A lot of good questions that I didn’t have answers to. And because I didn’t have the answers I thought it meant that Dean would not support me. And if Dean didn’t support me in a call from God then maybe God wasn’t calling me after all, because God wouldn’t tell one spouse and not the other, right?

But the more I prayed, the more convinced I was that I was to go to Africa. I just didn’t understand why Dean was not jumping up and down with excitement for me and this call. And his lack of excitement worried me. You see, Dean was the one who personally introduced me to Jesus. I knew of Jesus my entire life, but I had never sat with Him before. I had never just hung out with Him. Dean was the one who showed me that. Dean had always lead me spiritually, so now that I was hearing something and he wasn’t, I doubted myself.

I wonder if Dean felt the pressure I had put on him. I relied on his spiritual intimacy with Christ to determine whether or not God was actually calling me to something. Does that even make sense when I write it? Probably not. It’s all kind of a mess of stuff in my brain.

When Dean and I were in high school, he was the one I went to with questions about my faith. He was the one who knew the bible and knew God’s nature, and he answered my questions. And somewhere in the years following I had removed God from His throne and placed Dean there. “What Dean says goes, because he knows God.” My poor husband, he was just a man, and I expected things only God could deliver: perfection, salvation, constant affection, omniscience, etc. Every time he was not able to perform to the godlike standards I had placed on him, I became upset.

It wasn’t until the end of 2011 when one of our pastors shared that he was going to Kenya in August 2012 and he was looking for others who have been called to join him. Five minutes later I was on the list to go to Kenya. I knew. I just knew this was what God had been calling me to. Our church had never had a trip to Africa before, and God wanted me to be a part of the team that started this ministry. What and honor!

But why hadn’t Dean known that? Why did he doubt my call when it really was from God? Because…TWIST…. he’s human. Dean is a human. But Dean and I were married so why wouldn’t God tell Dean about a call God gave me?

God spoke to me, “I don’t discuss your matters with others. That’s between me and you. Sometimes I will place a name on someone’s heart, but I don’t discuss their personal matters with others. I want you to look to ME for your next play. Your husband is your teammate, not your coach. Sometimes you are both on the field and you are given the same play, and you are in sync and you play together. Other times I need one of you to sit out for a play or two and I only call one of you onto the field. It’s not because one is better than the other. It’s because different plays call for different players. I want you to trust ME and I want you to know that I talk directly to you. And Elizabeth, please stop expecting the world of Dean, I am the only one who can give you that.”

7 Years of Growth: 2010 RESPECT, Find Out What it Means to HIM

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me and dean 2010Looking back at 2010, I could write a book on all the things I learned that were rooted in that year. But I didn’t learn these lessons until 2 or 3 years later when I started Celebrate Recovery and started looking back into my past. I really want to keep each year grounded within that year though: what did I walk away with at the end of 2010? What did I bring into my third year of marriage?

In 2010 I read the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldman. If you haven’t read it, I totally recommend it, although it isn’t for the faint of heart. This book is not going to tell you all the things you need to fix about your husband, or all the things that he is doing wrong. No, this book is a mirror. This book will show you your own reflection. Where are you the problem in this marriage? What is your part in this marriage? What do you bring to the marriage? This book helped me to look at my marriage from my husband’s perspective and recognize some places where I was being disrespectful and hurtful without even knowing it.

Shaunti talks about how as women we often assume our man wants the same thing as we do: love. But through her research she found that men would rather be unloved rather than disrespected. The only problem is; I didn’t know how to show respect to my husband. I knew how to show him the love that I wanted to receive from him, but I had no idea how to show him I respected him without saying, “Dean, I respect you.” Is that how he feels when he says, “I love you” to me? It just feels wimpy and not enough. It wasn’t that I didn’t have respect for him, I did. But how can those words possibly convey the deep respect I had for him?

I started to recognize that it wasn’t so much about finding ways to show him respect, but instead, targeting the ways I was being disrespectful and then working through my issues attached to that action so I could break the habit. Most of these areas weren’t things I would look at and say, “I was being disrespectful” but the book helped me to see my husband’s perspective.

For example, I had been complaining about how tired and overworked I was. I couldn’t keep up with the housework and a full time job and volunteering at church. I needed help. Dean started to help out with things around the house, like loading the dishwasher. But instead of recognizing his desire to help me I recognized the fact that the bowls were in the “wrong” spot. I reloaded the dishwasher. Instead of thanking my husband for his hard work I remained silent and inwardly stated, “Uggg, now I have to reload this because the bowls aren’t where I usually put them…” and I hoped that Dean would see me reloading the bowls and take special note of where they were “supposed” to go. But what my husband saw was a little different. From his perspective he heard that I needed help and he helped. And then all the hard work he did for me (because he loved me), I undid, and acted as if he harmed my cause rather than helped it. Ouch. I mean, when it comes down to it, do the bowls really have to be in a specific spot in the dishwasher? And why couldn’t I just accept his help for what it was- an act of love and provision?

I could argue efficiency all I wanted: 1. The bowls get a more direct spray from this location 2. I can fit more into the dishwasher this way so there aren’t any left over dishes in the sink.

But what my actions were really saying to my husband was:

“Your efforts were not good enough for me.”

“Your efforts were harmful to me.”

“The time and energy you put into helping me is not valuable to me.”

OUCH! And even worse, I think I truly believed those statements! In my mind I didn’t believe it, but when I was living daily life I was definitely acting like I believed those statements and as a result I wasn’t able to see the love my husband was showing me. The more unloved I felt, the more disrespectful I became, which resulted in me feeling more unloved because of my inability to recognize the love he gave, and the cycle continued.

Suddenly, I was seeing that I was doing this all over the place and I desperately needed to revamp my thinking:

  1. The Trash

Current Response: “When you take the trash out can you at least put a bag back into the can?”

He Hears: “Your efforts are not enough for me.” OUCH!

Revamp thinking: Oh nice, I don’t have to lug that leaky, stinky, garbage down three flights of stairs and….through the parking lot? …across the street? Now that I think about it, I don’t even know where the dumpster is… All I have to do is put a new bag in the can! Nice!

New Response: “Hey baby, thanks for taking the trash out…where is the dumpster anyway? I feel so spoiled that I don’t even know where it is.”

  1. Directions

Current Response: “I know you know where it is, but I’m just going to plug it into the GPS anyway; just in case.”

He Hears: “I don’t trust your ability to get us there.”

Revamp thinking: Why am I so scared to get lost going to a new place? This seems to be more about me and my insecurities and fears and less about his abilities. Do I think he can get us there? Certainly! Will it be on time, though? Will it be the fastest, most efficient, way? Does it really matter? Do I trust in my husband’s ability to drive us to this place? Yes, ok, so make it a reality, trust him with this.

New Response: “Do you know where we are going?”

“Yes.”

“Cool.” (Does NOT take out GPS to plug in address)

  1. The Rent

Current Response: “Did you pay the rent yet?”

“No, it’s not due until the 30th.

“Ok, well I just don’t want you to forget.”

He Hears:  “I don’t trust in your ability to remember and follow through on something you said you would do.”

Revamp thinking: He said he would pay the rent, do I trust him to do so? Yes, but what if he forgets? I’m just trying to be helpful, and I don’t want to have to be the one that has to interact with the land lord in the event that he forgets. Why? Because he said rent would be his responsibility and if he doesn’t do it then it will become my responsibility. Aren’t you wasting energy and making it your responsibility now by nagging him about it and worrying about it? Oh….Ok, I’m putting my trust into practice.

New Response: “Where would you like me to put the rent invoice?”

“On the desk.”

*places rent invoice on the desk and lets it go*

 

There are so many more examples, but those were the ones I vividly remember. I am so thankful for my husband who stood by me as I learned how to trust, submit, and show him respect. It wasn’t easy, not because I didn’t trust him or respect him, but because my control issues and fears had a way of creeping in and taking over. If you find yourself making the same comments as me, read For Women Only! It’s so helpful!

 

Ephesians 5:33

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

7 Years of Growth: 2009, The Honey-Moon Phase

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IMG_7863Today marks mine and Dean’s seven year anniversary of marriage. I have seen this marriage challenge floating around on Facebook, and someone actually challenged me a while back, but I thought I would save it for August. The challenge is to post a picture of you and your husband or wife every day for a week and say something loving about your spouse. I’m switching it up a bit.

I will be posting a blog entry each day with a picture and a lesson learned from the corresponding year of marriage. So, day 1 (today) will be about mine and Dean’s first year of marriage. I know, I know, who cares what we learned in marriage aside from me and Dean…but these aren’t those mushy gushy “I learned that love conquers all (…it does though)” lessons that make everyone jealous of a love that is only a small fraction of what marriage actually looks like. And these aren’t the husband bashing lessons that women sometimes find themselves ensnared in after the toilet seat has been left up one too many times in the middle of the night and with a butt drenched in cold toilet water and her knees pressed into her chest she thinks, “Marriage has taught me how to get out of a toilet bowl.” (Side note: Dean grew up with all sisters and never leaves the toilet seat up…praise Jesus!) These posts will be real life, real marriage lessons that I have learned- one lesson for each year and hopefully a picture to accompany it.

2009: The Honeymoon Phase

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When Dean and I would tell people how long we were married they would say, “Oh, the honey moon phase!” and I would return their statement with a fake cheesy smile and nod as if to say, “yep, we are like rabbits…sex…lots of sex…it’s all about the sex. We like each other so much we can’t stop having sex…” But really, I felt like there must be something wrong with me, because this year of marriage did not feel like a leisurely stroll along a tropical beach with my small delicate hand pressed into Dean’s big strong hand and it definitely didn’t feel like lots of love making in a giant fluffy bed draped with gossamer curtains. At no point did Dean chase me down a beach at sunset and then gather me up in his arms and spin me around while kissing me passionately. feat-photo-honeymoon-trends

But then again…my honeymoon was nothing like that, so I’m not sure why I expected our honeymoon phase to be like that. On our honeymoon I wanted to sleep and read and Dean wanted to play games. I got sick and Dean tried to help but didn’t quite understand. A giant palmetto bug fell on my face while I slept and when I woke up screaming Dean came to my rescue saying, “it was just a dream” and then realizing it wasn’t a dream he chased the bug around the room in an attempt to kill it. And now, 7 years later, I realize that we were indeed, in the honeymoon phase after all, it just turns out our honeymoon was a little different than I expected. (Don’t worry…this is not about sex…)

It was the evening of day 2 backpacking through the Smokies and my stomach was churning with…not nerves….not excitement….with…poop. I hadn’t gone in days. I knew Dean knew I was human and thus needed to occasionally defecate, but I wasn’t ready for that to be a part of our relationship quite yet. But by the evening of day 2 I could no longer hold onto my shit any longer. I was doubling over with intestinal cramps and I knew the time had come; despite all my prayers, the time had come; I could not wait another hour let alone another full day when we would be in the safety of our cabin, no- the time had come.

I was scared. I had never done this in the woods before. How deep should I dig the hole? What if someone came by? Where do I rest the roll of toilet paper? What if my legs get tired?

But Dean encouraged me and led me into the woods to find a secluded spot. He found a giant tree flanked by two young trees and there he dug the hole. He explained that the giant tree would provide protection while the young trees would provide support. Ideally the large tree would guard my butt, but this tree was too close to the little trees so he would guard the rear at a distance to ensure no one stumbled upon something they might never be able to un-see.

“Don’t look.” I pleaded

“I won’t.”

“Don’t loooook.”

“I won’t!” He ensured.

But he did look. He didn’t mean to. He explained that he heard a noise from the other direction and he looked in that direction to be sure it was not a hiker coming from the other side.  It was at that very moment that I…I won’t even say it….but according to him, it was like a car accident: completely horrifying, but he just couldn’t look away, and he had to be sure that noise was not a hiker, but his eyes kept drifting back.

Thank God I didn’t know he saw until after I had buried everything and, with a sense of accomplishment and relief, skipped over to him. He congratulated me on my first poop in the woods, but the look on his face told me that a part of him would never be the same. And then he said, “The flies! The flies! They descended on it so quickly…how did they know? How did they know?!”

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I cried as he explained what happened.

It was over. The façade that my farts smelled like cinnamon rolls and my poops consisted of glitter and diamonds was shattered. In fact, he had seen a part of me that I, myself, had never even seen. How could he possibly still want to be married to me after this?

I had no idea that very scenario was a very literal foreshadowing of a season five years from then that would mark the end of our honeymoon phase; when I would metaphorically release all the shit I had been holding onto since childhood, that the façade of my perfect life would be shattered.

But this is what I learned about my husband and marriage and this is what prepared me to trust him with my shit five years later:

  1. He led me to a place that offered protection and support and he himself worked hard to provide me with a hole. (Five years later, Dean led me in prayer over my life, calling on Jesus for my protection and on the church for support. It was because of his hard work and financial provision that I was able to quit my job and focus my energies on the healing I needed to continue on my life journey with joy.)
  2. He stayed with me, giving me space to do what I needed to do, but offering me protection as I did so.
  3. When things did not go according to plan, he sacrificed himself for my safety and protection. He wanted to ensure that no one was going to stumble upon me in my vulnerable state, but in doing so; his brain will forever hold the the memory of me releasing all my crap.
  4. And after witnessing all he did, he stayed. He welcomed me as I, ignorant of his sacrifice, pranced back to him. When I realized what he saw, he held me in his arms as I cried in embarrassment. Finally, I had to accept his sacrifice for what it was, or my new found relief would be tainted with guilt. He then lead me back to our tent where we continued on our journey together.

I had no idea that when people said, “oh you’re in the honeymoon phase…” it really meant, “oh, your eyes are being opened to reality…” and they knew the fake cheesy smile and nodding meant, “Oh my gosh….he has seen my crap!!!”

Ladies, I understand not everyone had our honeymoon experience, but don’t kid yourself, just because your husband hasn’t actually seen you shit doesn’t mean he doesn’t see your shit. I thank God that Dean is a follower of Christ because it was only in my submission to my husband’s protection, love, and sacrifice that I could joyfully continue my journey with him as a relieved woman. And it was with respect and admiration that I looked upon my husband, knowing what he had endured so I may continue our journey in peace and comfort.

I truly believe God blessed me and Dean with a real life example of Ephesians 5:22-33:

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

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