It Is Easy to Be Pro-Choice

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“I am now pro-life…which I have to tell you, to be honest, is a heck of a lot more difficult than being pro-choice. It is. It’s really easy to be pro-choice where everybody is friends, you’re like a great feminist, you’re not judging anybody, you’re not crazy, I mean there’s all these things….it’s just easy to be pro-choice. I liked being pro-choice, it was just a lot more pleasant, but the thing is it wasn’t right, nor was it correct. And the truth will set you free even if it makes you horribly uncomfortable in the process.” – Linda Couri, Former Volunteer for Planned Parenthood

It is taking everything in me not to yell, rage, and hysterically sob over the hidden holocaust that is happening in our country. So much of me wants to shake people and just say it, the brutal truth: “you’re supporting the murder of babies!” But it’s so hard to say this when I know the friends of mine who march for choice, who volunteer at planned parenthood, or simply just believe in choice aren’t evil people with the intention of murdering babies. These friends of mine have good hearts and they are filled with compassion; compassion for women in crisis. But I’m starting to think that maybe I shouldn’t be holding these emotions of mine back. I thought I wasn’t saying anything because voicing my opinion might cause others to feel awkward, angered, judged, or ashamed in my presence and how can I share the love of Christ if those feelings are present?  But really, I’m just being a coward.

I have remained silent for years out of selfish reasons driven by fear. I don’t want to lose friends. I don’t want to argue. I want to avoid all forms of confrontation. I don’t want to be labeled as anti-intellectual or foolish because I believe in Jesus. I don’t want people to say I don’t care for women or have compassion for them.  I want everyone to think I’m great, lovely, smart, compassionate, and that I’m a joy to be around. But what price am I willing to pay to keep this I-get-along-with-everyone façade; apparently, the price of 3,000 abortions per day, and that’s in the US alone.

For so long I have felt that I have “done my part” because I have participated in the March for Life and 40 Days for Life a couple of times, and because I pray fervently for mothers in crisis, but really I just did the minimum. I have kept quiet when it came to discussions with people I love and care about. I don’t want to lose the respect of others when I say the name of “Jesus” as a reason for my stance. I fear people will laugh at my “foolishness” for believing that all lives are sacred and that God provides for His children because the Bible says so.

Now that I am a mother I see how little effort I had put forth. I know these efforts still help and if that’s all you can do, do it! But what I’m getting at here is my motives behind my efforts. My motives were to keep my conscience clear so I didn’t have to have difficult conversations with people I love. I wanted to justify my silence with actions that I only shared with strangers and not those closest to me. I wanted to make sure I felt like I was standing up for what was right, without the discomfort of sacrifice.

I feared what others would think of me. I feared what others would say about me. I feared friends would abandon me. I feared family members would judge me. I feared being called names for justifying my beliefs with the Bible and the Word of God. And that, my friends, is why my heart is no different from someone who has aborted their child. I used to think, “I would never do that” or “I could never do that” or “how could they do that?” Guess what? Most of the people who DO “that” act out of fear: fear of what others will think, fear of what others will say, fear of abandonment, fear of poverty, fear of death, fear of sacrifice, fear of discomfort, etc. The very same reasons I remain silent. And my silence means I’m not wholeheartedly fighting for these babies! My silence means I’m not willing to sacrifice my comfort for the life of an unborn baby, so how can I ask someone else to do the same?

So, I can’t, in good conscience, stay silent anymore. I can’t pretend that abortion doesn’t affect my life, it does. I look at my son and wonder why his birth mother didn’t abort him. Who did she talk to? Who did she confide in? How did she know his life was worth something more than her pride, her comfort, money, status, her relationships, etc? Was she raised with those beliefs or did they come later? I can no longer just listen to my friends justify their support of Planned Parenthood with, “they have good intentions.” I can’t. Babies are dying.

I can’t pretend like my voice won’t make a difference. I can’t live in comfort while innocent babies die and scared women agree to kill them. I can’t stand by and let the evil one continue to lead God’s children astray with sneaky half-truths. I’m not exactly sure what God is calling me to do right now, but I’m listening and I’m done hiding from this battle. I want to fight for men and women everywhere, the womb included! I want to fight for the women whose consciences are being pricked and are told they shouldn’t feel bad about their abortions. I want to fight so these women can find healing in the forgiveness and grace of Jesus Christ. I want to fight so these women can talk about the pain they have felt from abortion without being shamed by pro-choicers(for feeling guilty about exercising their “right”) and pro-lifers(for killing a baby). I want to cry with women as they work through their unwanted pregnancies, not by running from them with death, but by facing them with life. I want to find ways to encourage women to stand up for themselves and their children when everyone else is telling them to abort.

If you have the time to watch this video it is incredible. Linda Couri is so honest in her approach and it is so refreshing.

The Tiring Truth of Motherhood

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I haven’t been able to really write since we brought Sammy home. Not necessarily because I haven’t had the time, but mostly because I hadn’t really processed everything. I still find myself looking down at my son and bursting into tears because I just can’t believe it’s finally my time to be a mom. But I will admit the first couple days weren’t filled with joyful happy tears. I thought they would be. I thought I would be on cloud 9 and no amount of exhaustion could break me.

The exhaustion from years of infertility broke me several years ago. It was the scariest place I have ever been. I remember back in college going to see one of my favorite bands in concert. At one point the band was taking requests from the audience and many of us shouted, “Silencer.” It was my favorite song of theirs, and I had never heard it live. I was excited to experience it, but then the lead singer, Aaron Weiss said, “I don’t play that song anymore. I never want to go back to that place.” At the time I didn’t really understand- It was just a song about that place, it wasn’t the actually place. But ever since that dark summer, I get it. I have experienced that oppressive darkness and every now and then I will get a glimpse of it again and I can’t go back, I must run into the arms of my savior, I can’t go back. Aaron Weiss sang of a girl, and in the past several years I have felt like that girl. I have called out to God, “please take me home!” more times than I can count. That anguish that Hannah felt in 1 Samuel 1…I felt that.  I thought that becoming a mother could never bring me to that place, because being a mother was the exact opposite of what broke me before.

But there I was day 1 of being a mommy and as I looked down at my little boy, all I felt was panic. I didn’t feel ooey gooey and full of love like the very first moments I met him. Now we were home and it was just our little family and I felt terrified, stuck, and unsure. I felt the rapid flutter of my heart, the tinglies in my feet and hands, and the heat slowly spread from limbs to my core. I am not describing what it felt like when I would see Dean walk into a room back in the day…no, these are my very beginning signs of a panic attack. These signs suddenly brought flashbacks of those dark days…those dark days that I never wanted to revisit. Those days when hope was like a fish in a stream, but every time I thought I could grasp it, the fish darted away before I could even lightly brush a scale with my finger. The more I tried, the more I failed, and the more I failed, the more sediment I dredged up from the bottom of the stream. And then the stream was so cloudy and I couldn’t see the fish anymore.

But now, I held my son and I cried in fear. He slept in my arms and I cried. I still loved him, I felt that love from the moment I saw his picture…no, even before then. I had felt emotionally pregnant with my son for months now (that’s another post though). I loved him before I even knew him. But right now, fear was overpowering love. I couldn’t go back there… I couldn’t…I wouldn’t survive. Luckily, God taught me how to fight. God taught me how to wield my sword of truth. And I wasn’t going to be some Bella Swan or the little mermaid…I was going to be Hermione Granger, Princess Leia, Arwen. I was a warrior; God had showed me that many times and now was time to fight for my son.

All I could say was, “Jesus come.” I sat there for 15 minutes repeating that phrase, “Jesus come.” And I knew in those words I was safe. I knew just the name of Jesus brought every creature to its knees! I claimed Jesus’ presence in my life. And the panic started to fade.

Every now and then the panic comes back, but only for a moment. It’s usually when I’m really tired and I think, “I can’t do this…” but then God reminds me, “I called you to this, I need you to remain in the moment. No more saying, ‘I’m so tired.’ Start saying, ‘God has given me the energy for this moment.’”

I want my infertile friends to know the truth, motherhood doesn’t cure those dark places. Only Jesus does that. But my infertility helped me learn how to invite Jesus in. Motherhood is a different fight, but it uses similar tools. But I will say this, nothing melts my heart much like my sons little toes. Nothing softens my frustration like Sammy’s little smirks and gurgles. In infertility it was hard to live in the moment, because I had so many goals, and so many wants, and only me to worry about. Motherhood…oh, sweet motherhood: slowing down and remaining present is easy when it means sharing smiles with my Sammy-Sam. Stopping everything is easy when my son is so in need of a feeding. Sacrificing my needs for his is one of the biggest blessings I could imagine. It’s learning to live in the moment for the betterment of another. Does that even make sense? With infertility I had to learn to do that for myself, I had to stop everything and be present with God, because I was the needy one, I was the one needing a feeding. I still need those moments with my Father, but it’s easier for me to take them, because I have to, because if I don’t, Sammy suffers too.

I get when mom’s says they have never been so tired in their life, it’s true. I have never been so tired as I am now, but I have also never been so purposeful, so full of love, so sacrificing, so fulfilled, as I am right now. Every day I spend with Sammy I understand God’s love for me, his child, more and more. The more unconditional love I ooze out to Sam, the more unconditional love I feel washing over me from my heavenly father. This lack of sleep, this 17,000 steps a day, this constant giving IS tiring, yes, but it is nothing compared to the exhaustion of infertility. I feel so blessed for my seven years of infertility, because as I struggle to fight for what’s best for my son, I remember that I’m fighting for my son and Jesus is leading the charge and I know the outcome: Victory!

I probably should just end this post on that note, but something in me keeps wanting to say something more. I want the other mom’s out there to understand why their infertile friends are so hurt by their complaints of motherhood. And I want my infertile sisters to understand why it’s so important for moms to have that time to vent about how tired they are without fear of hurting someone’s feelings or being called, “ungrateful”.

If motherhood is a soccer game, infertility is the player that always comes to the games and never gets to play. Infertility is the player that never misses a practice and works her ass off trying to get better, trying to strengthen her weak side, trying to fix her game in every single aspect so, maybe, just once, she will get to play in a game. Sometimes there are players who don’t show up to practice ever, and then show up to a game completely wasted and still get to play the entire game. And a lot of times there are players who show up to practice, who work their asses off, and who play amazing games. But the infertile player is upset, because they never get a shot. They are exhausted from the mental and emotional battle to finally be chosen. Sure they get to play during practice, but it’s not the same. And then to hear your friends run in from the field after a big win and say, “wooooo, my legs are shot! You have no idea how tired I am, because you haven’t played in a game yet.” Ouch….

But the reality of the situation is, it’s totally true! The infertile player hasn’t gone out onto the field with a crowd cheering them on and booing them! Mom’s are judged every single day for their choices in parenting and applauded or slandered. And the infertile player hasn’t experienced the high stakes energy of keeping a little human alive! But the infertile player also hasn’t experienced the celebration of a great pass, a goal, or an amazing save (if you’re a goalie) and all they want is a chance. But none of the players get to decide who gets a chance and who doesn’t. So instead of getting mad or frustrated with the other players, it’s high time with take up our issues with the coach…God.

He can handle it. He can handle your anger, your sorrow, your threats, your accusations. But just like with a coach in real life, you have to be willing to listen, and sometimes he says, “not yet.” But he never says, “you’re not good enough”.

Anyways, I’m rambling, and Sammy is calling for some love!

Hope or Stupidity?

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We are moving.

The packing has started and so have the tears, although, they aren’t the tears I thought they would be. I’ve cried about leaving my church family, but we are only moving an hour away, so it’s not like I will never see them again. I thought I would be more upset about moving further from my friends and family, but it really isn’t that far. So, I was a little shocked when I started packing up my Office/Craft Room and the floodgates opened.

My Craft Room was not intended to be a craft room, it was intended to be a nursery. When I painted it, I painted it as a nursery. When I walked in there I said prayers for my babies. Over the five years we have lived in this house it was into that room that I would drag my bleary eyed, defeated body and lay upon the floor to cry when life didn’t go according to plan. So many tears and prayers have been baked into the walls and floors of that room. It was in the confines of that room that I imagined myself praying with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Just as Jesus pleaded that this cup be taken from him and then accepted the will of God over his own, I prayed for the mothers of the babies I hoped to adopt. I prayed for their courage and wisdom. I prayed that they would know that God was their strength and that their children needed THEM. These prayers broke my heart every time, because I was praying God’s will instead of my own: I desperately wanted to be the mother to all these children.

God had promised to settle me in my home as a happy mother of children (Psalm 113:9). He had promised me that to me back when we lived in our apartment. I thought he was settling me in this home to welcome in our children. And five years later I am packing up the craft supplies that migrated and made a home in the room I so desperately wanted to hold our most precious creation.

Packing up this room felt like another stepping stone in my journey of infertility. The other infertiles out there know how daunting those stepping stones are. They are not the excitement of birthdays or growth. These benchmarks aren’t celebratory like when a child begins to coo and make noises: the first steps to talking. No, benchmarks and stepping stones of infertility always mark the loss of a dream. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it means it still hasn’t happened. We’ve been through so much and in all of that still no baby. If God would have told me that I wouldn’t become a mother in this house back when we moved in, I think it would have crushed me. I really don’t know if I could have handled knowing that I had 5 more years  of infertility ahead of me.

And that scares me now. What if that happens again? What if this new house isn’t THE house either? What if I’m wrong about what God said to me?  I keep trying to explain away God’s timing and plan. Like, “Oh, he had a different house in mind for us and that’s why we have to move, and that’s why I didn’t have children yet, and this is good.”

But this doesn’t feel good. This feels like disappointment. I know He is good, but this hurts so much. Jesus dying on the cross was good, but I’m sure it didn’t feel good. And I don’t dare want to think that my struggle is anywhere near what Jesus went through, but I do know that He has given me a reflection of that pain. How did Jesus keep going when it felt so awful? How did he get up after falling? How did he look into the face of his mother and then continue on to death? How did he leave them all behind when he didn’t know exactly how God would reveal His goodness? How did he continue to pray for those that couldn’t even begin to comprehend the blessing they were receiving through his death?

Did Jesus have a dreams about his life? Did he imagine growing old? How did he submit those plans to the plans of God. This room, this room has become an emotional prison. It has become a plan of my own feeble mind. And that plan, along with 7 years of other plans, has once again been foiled. And I am left, in this empty room, feeling silly for creating yet another plan, knowing full well that the first room I will paint in my new house is the nursery. Is that stupidity or hope? Does that make me a bad Christian, trying to make my own way; or a faithful servant putting my hope in the goodness of my Master and believing in the promise He gave me?

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.”

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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