Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kim Kardashian's 72-Day Marriage

It seems that everyone is surprised--yet no one is surprised really--by Kim Kardashian's 72-day marriage. There are many things I've wanted to say about that, but I didn't want to just add to the noise. When talking with a friend yesterday, I finally narrowed it down to what I wanted to add to the conversation.

My friend, you see, has a family member who just got married in the last year. "She's the most stable she's ever been yet she's facing depression. I don't understand it."

We've heard the term "honeymoon phase" to talk about the first year of marriage, but I've known few people who feel this time is an extended honeymoon period filled with joy and ease. Instead this first year is one of the toughest. We have the man of our dreams, everything should be perfect ... right?! It's usually far from perfect.

But why the depression? Why the questions? Why the urge to throw in the towel after 72 days? I have a few ideas.

1. Living with another person is hard. When two self-centered people (as we all are) try to merge their lives they're sure to butt heads. It's easier to think of our ease and our needs than to consider another person first. It takes time and practice to learn to compromise and work together for our mutual benefit and long-term solutions.

2. We feel a let down after the excitement of the courtship and the engagement and the wedding. It's over?! Now what? I was talking to my 19-year-old daughter about this yesterday. "It's sort of a let-down," I told her. "You're excited about who you're dating. You're excited about being engaged. You're looking forward to the wedding and then a few weeks later you wake up and it's all done. Now you're just looking at this guy who leaves his dishes in the sink and his dirty socks on the floor--who'd rather watch TV than go for a romantic walk like you used to do. And you wonder, is this all that's left?"

Leslie had a wise observation. "It sounds sort of like the slight depression after Christmas. The wedding was fun, but now it's over."

The Christmas analogy is a good one. I've felt that low-spot after Christmas Day. The long distance family members are long distance again. The gifts aren't as much fun as you expected them to be. And then there's the mess to clean up and the 7 pounds to lose. Of course, we do know that Christmas will come again next year, and we do look forward to that. With marriage there's not another wedding to look forward to, just days and days and days of self-sacrifice, patience and putting another's needs before your own.

So what's a person to do?

1. If you know a newlywed, be sure to ask the hard questions. "How are you really doing? What do you like most about marriage? What disappoints you?" Then offer a listening ear and an understanding heart.

2. Let young couples know that you faced the same problems ... and overcame them. Young couples often see loving, committed, happy couples that have been married a while and wonder what they're doing wrong. My own daughter was surprised to hear about some of the struggles John and I had in our first years of marriage. She assumed that the way we treat each other now is how we treated each other 21 years ago. WRONG.

3. Encourage couples to create their own "Christmas mornings." Romance doesn't have to end at the wedding altar. Spend time planning and dreaming together. Schedule special times you can anticipate and celebrate together. We all want things to look forward to and it's not just the vacations, date nights, or play dates that bring us close. It's the time talking about what's coming--and the reliving our favorite moments--that reminds us that our lives together aren't just about a BIG DAY, but also about the many happy days to come!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Joy of Working for It

Today, we went to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, a home for animals that cannot return to the wild after injury, illness, or time with humans who learned the hard way that squirrels did not make good pets. We showed up just in time to watch feeding time for a gray fox. I expected to see someone hand-feed the fox; instead, she made the fox work for his lunch.

As the young woman stuffed three Kong balls with food and tossed them around the habitat before releasing the fox from a holding area and getting out of the way, a volunteer explained the reason behind their feeding method. They had discovered that animals benefited from hunting for their food as they would in the wild. It was better for them physically and psychologically to smell the food then have the satisfaction of finding it before chowing down. Even when they found the food, they had to work before enjoying it. The fox had to get each morsel out of the Kong balls; a turkey vulture was required to tear open his bag filled with meat; the squirrel reached for a bag tied to a branch and pulled it down. Apparently, animals that got their food delivered in a dish got bored and depressed. They weren't nearly as active or happy and didn't live as long as those that satisfied their God-given instincts.

It made perfect sense to me. As much as I like the luxury of having my needs met the easy way, I would much rather work for them. As I watched a gray squirrel scurry up a branch and snatch his bag of food, I marveled over how the little creature reflected God's plan for each of us.

God didn't place Adam and Eve in the garden and serve them dinner every night; He put them in charge of the garden. Work was not part of the fall, but part of His original design. (Work just got stressful after sin entered the world.)

How amazing! Watching this process reminded me that God doesn't make us work for food, clothing, and other good things to be harsh, but because He knows work benefits all involved. Think of the satisfaction that you get from earning your own money, studying hard for a test and doing well, or participating in a project the benefits someone else.

In the next few weeks, as the school year wraps up and you look forward to how you will spend your summer, challenge yourself to see work as a gift--a God-given need that each of us has. How does your attitude change when you look at work this way?


Friday, May 10, 2013

What are you waiting for?

As humans, we wait.

And as humans, we usually hate waiting.

I know I do. I try to be patient, but when I'm stuck in traffic and running late to drop my daughter at school, or there's a wreck and I'm stuck waiting and going to be late for work, I get antsy. I get impatient.

And that's just the surface level stuff. How much worse is it in the figurative instead of the literal waiting? When we're waiting for God to change someone's heart? Waiting for God to provide for an emotional, mental, financial, or spiritual need? Waiting for God to restore a marriage or a home, waiting for God to repair a friendship that's been broken or strained, waiting for God to get through to our kids or family members who have strayed from His love. Waiting for a better medical report. Waiting to get through the school year or pass an important test or waiting to hear back from college applications.

Waiting is HARD.

Yet all over the Bible, we read verses on waiting and the benefits/promises that go with it.

Here's just a few -

Psalm 130:5-6
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

James 5:11
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Lamentations 3:25
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

Psalm 40:1
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry

Hebrews 6:15
And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

Psalm 37:34
Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

The Bible covers this topic thoroughly. Yet when we're in the midst of waiting, it's hard to remember there is the other side to it. That's where we struggle and get impatient - we feel like the waiting period will never end!

I realized something the other day that opened my eyes to this season of waiting in my own life. We constantly hear and read "Wait for the Lord" or "Wait on the Lord." And we should. That's right. That's a Biblical command. Do it! :)

But I think subconsciously, we connect "waiting" with distance. Right? When we're waiting, we're separated from the thing or person we want and are waiting for. Even when we're waiting for our food to heat up in the microwave, we're separated from it. We're waiting for it to be done so we can touch it and eat it.

Here's the thing - We're to wait FOR the Lord - but we can't ever forget we are also waiting WITH the Lord!

Jesus is there in the waiting room with us!

His Word promises us He never leaves us or forsakes us. Let that assurance of His presence ease the wounds and uncertainty of the waiting room.

It really changes everything when we keep this perspective.

We are safe in His timetable.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

How BIG is Your God?

My husband and I read the Bible, a devotional book, and pray together every morning. This passage from Traveling Light really made my heart soar.
You don’t need what Dorothy found. Remember her discovery in THE WONDERFUL WIZARD of OZ? She and her trio followed the yellow-brick road only to discover that the wizard was a wimp! Nothing but smoke and mirrors and tin-drum thunder. Is that the kind of god you need?
You don’t need to carry the burden of a lesser god … a god on a shelf, a god in a box, or a god in a bottle. No, you need a God who can place 100 billion stars in our galaxy and 100 billion galaxies in the universe. You need a God who can shape two fists of flesh into 75 to 100 billion nerve cells, each with as many as 10,000 connections to other nerve cells, place it in a skull, and call it a brain.
And you need a God who, while so mind-numbingly mighty, can come in the soft of night and touch you with the tenderness of an April snow.

You need a Yahweh.
And, according to David, you have one. He is your shepherd. ~Max Lucado, Traveling Light, p. 16-17
How BIG is your God today? How powerful is He? How does this transform your day? Your life?
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-9
My God is BIG, and today I expect Him to do BIG things!
How about you?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

standing up as christians in a culture that increasingly hates us....

I'm buried in writing a book right now but I had to take a moment and share a video with you all - a video made by students, and a video that invites you to get involved.

Check it out:-)


Sunday, May 05, 2013


I've never considered myself a brave person. I was the kid who couldn't go near water after seeing Jaws (Okay, I admit it, I still spot imaginary fins once in a while and catch myself wanting to run for dry land.) or sleep without the hall light on. I avoid confrontation as if it were the equivalent of skydiving without a parachute, and I am terrified of air travel. People think I'm gutsy because I am not only willing to speak, sing, or perform in front of an audience but will be the first to raise my hand for solo auditions. But when it comes to the scary life stuff, I would much rather play it safe. At least that is how it has been until lately.

Without delving into all the drama, the last few years have been filled with moments when I had no choice but to face the unavoidable head on and make choices that required huge risks. Cowering and avoiding simply weren't options. At the time, it seemed like I was only doing what I had to do. I was scared out of my mind 99% of the time, so I didn't consider my actions all that courageous. When friends started telling me, "You are one of the strongest women I know," or responding to my stories with, "That took a lot courage," it took a while for me to realize that they were right. That's when I recognized that perhaps I was braver than I gave myself credit for, but that I couldn't take the credit. Maybe I had brave all wrong. Is it possible that God's wants us to be a bit fearful so we will cry out to Him when life crashes down, and give Him the glory when we get to the end of a crisis and realize that we just faced something that should have sent us running in the opposite direction? 

Now, I see that being brave is about more than sleeping in the dark, swimming with sharks, and skydiving; it's about standing strong when life seems to be crumbling and making the tough decisions knowing God is with me. I have learned through all this that, like grace and strength, courage is something that God given when we need it, and that the more we see Him take us through, the more we are able to say, "I am scared to death, but I'm going to try this anyway."

How brave are you when you really think about it? What are you afraid of? What have you done lately that required a lot of guts?

Now that I'm feeling so strong, perhaps I'll try swimming in the ocean. On second thought, I'm not quite that brave.