The Truth shall set you free.

  • girls are wimpy.
  • “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Proverbs 31.16-17
  • the book of Esther
  • Wisdom is personified as female (Proverbs 4-9, for starters).
  •  boys will be boys.
  • “We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6.2
  • “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say– but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything,’ but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1Cor. 6.1
  • Be afraid. Be very afraid.
  • “So don’t be afraid,” said Jesus in Matt. 10.3
  • “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus in John 14.27
  • “be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16.13.

There are so many more- which ones and their Biblical truths can you think of?

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“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.”

As I was pacing the room to help baby Ella settle down for her nap, I prayed for her rest, for her parents (that’s Andrew and I), and that we would not do anything to hinder her walk with the Lord.

“What,” you ask, “Does that mean?”

Thank you for asking.

In Luke 17, Jesus says to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for the to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves (v1-3).”

We don’t often speak of causing others to sin. It’s much more convenient to focus on our own need for grace than to be responsible for our actions and words toward others’.

We like to point out unforgiveness in someone without admitting that it was our own behavior and lack of understanding that caused the bitterness (See 1 Corinthians 8.9, 1 Peter 3.7).

This is not to say that we are responsible for how someone else acts. In fact, going back to Luck 17, Jesus said, “If your brother or sister sings against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.”

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!'” When we are right with God ourselves, then we can allow our motives to be from Him, instead of our selfish hearts.

We know what is fair. God set the standard very high and we like to hold each other up to it. That isn’t always bad; Jesus did say that if your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them. However we often overlook these standards in our own lives, and this is a place where our children will be lead astray.

Let us not encourage Biblical study, only to neglect it in our own busy lives.

Let us not preach the power of prayer, only to let our prayers wither.

Let us not preach fairness, only to sneak the bigger cookie from the other person, even if they never know. God knows. We know. Letting one little gap in our armor go untended can allow an encampment of the enemy.

Let this not be.

“Be diligent in [setting an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity];give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” 1 Timothy 4.15. May we glorify God with our example, and not forsake the call to go into all the world and preach the Good News (see Mark 16.15), and the mission field in our own homes.

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“This job has been given to me to do.”

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly if it is to be done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. This job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” Elisabeth Elliot

When my 6-month-old daughter needs to fall asleep and needs some help calming down and settling in, I often find myself distracted. I go through the motions, gently soothing her while my thoughts are on what I need to be doing. But wait, what is more important than giving 5 extra minutes to my baby girl? What is more important than helping this little child fall asleep? And so I started singing, “I love you, I love you, my little Ella, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.”

When she used to wake us up at night, because her tiny tummy was empty or she had bubbles and wasn’t capable of getting them out yet, or some other issue she had little control over, sometimes all I wanted was to do was roll over and fall asleep, crying baby or no! Sometimes I would be rough with her, frustrated that we couldn’t just sleep a few hours. It isn’t her fault she wasn’t strong enough to help or pacify herself yet. And so I reminded myself to rest as much as I could during the day so that I could love her during the night as much as she deserves, to pray for her and remember that this is an opportunity to love her as much as she loves me.

Children tie the mother’s feet, Amy Carmichael said. Last year for Christmas shopping I spent a few days at the stores, glad to get out and see the festivities and interesting things that always seem to appear out of nowhere for stocking stuffers. Yesterday I went out to the store while my mom stayed with the baby, while I searched for a tiny snowsuit. I am blessed that my mom loves to spend time with her when she is up, and I could go out alone at all, but I still had to come back to feed her before venturing out again on more errands (and still searching for the perfect-i.e. not ginormous- snowsuit!). Planning get-togethers and even getting to church services on time is a hassle. Going to the doctor’s is the worst, even though she hasn’t had shots yet. Getting out the door with our winter jackets, car seat, and diaper bag is the worst.

But it isn’t so bad, because we are allowing ourselves to grow together, we are both learning how to do things and becoming more capable and better people because of these “trials.” Allowing these hard things to be positive has changed everything. Allowing these and other hard things to be a gift- as well as the many, many beautiful gifts and moments we are given- has created an amazing journey!

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“Oh, to be married to the one you do love, and love most tenderly and devotedly… that is bliss beyond the power of words to express or imagination to conceive.” Hudson Taylor

Andrew and I have had so many adventures in such a short amount of time. We moved to Colorado temporarily, and saw God provide everything we needed and more. We moved back to the constantly-freezing area we both grew up in, and are settling back into life here, but also chiseling out our own, new life together. Finding an apartment has been tough, and we still haven’t lived by ourselves yet. Looking for new jobs and figuring life out has been keeping us busy, as well as getting ready for Christmas and becoming used to the idea of having a baby. Surprise!

The most important thing I’ve learned for our marriage, so far, is to not be a dream-squasher (a term my parents, brother and I stole from Everybody Loves Raymond; the clip is about 20 seconds in from the start of this video I found on youtube. Watch it, it’s funny).
Why is that so important, you ask? We all have dreams. We all want things that haven’t happened yet, and who has the most influence on a husband’s outlook for their future? His wife. My husband wants to go to graduate school ($80,000 a year and we’re going to have a 3-month-old when the semester would start). He wants to work with NASA (He’s 6’2″). He doesn’t do everything perfectly. And guess what? He’ll never do anything that will hurt his family. Even when it was just thinking about the future for the two of us, we were a family and I was secure in knowing he would never, ever do anything to jeopardize or hurt his family. Sure he spent money to bring cleaning supplies to his brothers, and is also stopping to pick up breakfast, and we don’t even have jobs or an apartment of our own. I can think of ways that little chunk of money could be saved and spent on something I would deem “better.” That doesn’t mean the money isn’t being spent well. It doesn’t mean my husband’s time or resources are being wasted. He is spending them the way he sees best. I get to be the one who sees him bless others! I get to see the ways God has provided for us, and the ways we get to share with others.

I do continue to struggle at times with the ways my husband uses our resources, but that is my struggle, and a blessing when he lights up because I’ve said in words, “Alright, have fun!” and with my heart, “You are my man. I support you. I trust you.”

“You are the most handsome of all. Gracious words stream from your lips. God himself has blessed you forever. Put on your sword, O mighty warrior! You are so glorious, so majestic! In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds! Your arrows are sharp, piercing your enemies’ hearts. The nations fall before you, lying down beneath your feet.” Psalm 45.2-5

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(Cue up-tempo Sister Sledge music: “We Are Family… All of the people around us they say/ Can they be that close? Just let me state for the record/ We’re giving love in a family dose!”

Soon after Andrew and I became engaged, he came over after going to a bachelor party bbq and mentioned that we’re becoming a family. Now, when I hear the word “family,” I think of a mom, a dad, and at least one child, and usually a dog. Always more than two people. Andrew told me, after seeing my confused expression, that with or without children, we are a family.

If you’re planning on having kids, then you’re essentially marrying the other parent of your children. Hmm, perspective! Maybe there are no children in our future, but we will still be a family. It is just as important to be a team, to work together, to struggle and to triumph together.

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“Heaven brought me to this moment, it’s too wonderful to speak. You’re worth all of me, so let me recklessly love you, even if I bleed. You’re worth all of me.” ~sung by Matt Hammitt

I’m not very old. I always thought that if I ever did get married, I would be closer to 30 than 20. However, on my wedding day, I’ll be 23 years, 13 days. I always thought people getting married before being 25 were crazy. Maybe we are crazy. We probably are, but not only because of this. We were so focused on staying true to what God had for us, that we had never gone out with anyone else before going out together. Our first kiss will be at our wedding ceremony before our King Jesus and those we love and who love us. If that isn’t crazy in this world, I’m not sure what is.

Up until the day Andrew proposed to me, I felt young-  as in I-should-still-be-in-high-school four years after graduating young. I was learning what it would be like to be a family with Andrew, but I still belonged exclusively to the family I’d grown up with and felt on the edge of his family, not outgoing enough to make myself belong and not uninterested enough to ignore them completely. Friends would ask, “Hows it going with Andrew?” A smile on their faces, eyebrows wiggling on their foreheads. “Um, it’s good,” I’d reply earnestly before looking away for another topic.. Help! What was I supposed to say to that? I had no idea, no experience. Eventually I’d babble on about somewhere we’d gone, or the always enthralling-to-every listener, how we were playing frisbee on Saturday, or ask what books they’d been reading (a solid subject with homeschoolers). But when Andrew knelt down and asked those four words, suddenly I grew up, in a way different from the way people grow up after a traumatic event. I stood taller, I was stronger. Someone had chosen me! Not because I thought I needed to be chosen by a man- God has chosen me, and I’m part of the kingdom of my King. What more can I ask? I didn’t need to be chosen again, and Andrew didn’t need me, either. But he’d chosen me anyway. I felt so loved. Our families were so excited for us! Andrew texted or called literally everyone to tell them I’d accepted him, that we were getting married. I got messages from people I rarely talked with saying how excited they were for us- I was so happy. God has blessed us.

Even starting to look into where to hold our wedding didn’t dampen our excitement- at first. Watching pictures from wedding websites and decorations and venues began to detach me from reality. I was looking to resources to help me get ideas, but all they did was give me a million options. I didn’t know where to start! Quickly I realized that adding “wedding” to the description of anything made the price triple, but heck, I’m getting married only once! I did some research (okay, a lot of research- that is one thing I’m good at, though it can quickly become a not-so-good thing when I become overwhelmed by the vast amount of information online), made a list of “necessaries” that is three-plus pages long, Andrew and I decided how much we were willing to spend; an amount ridiculously below the ridiculously high average of $30,000+. When Andrew and I talked about planning the wedding, I came from the few I’d attended and the elaborate glimpses of weddings held in the pictures from wedding sites. Andrew came from the weddings he’d been to and what he thought was expected. I wanted a garden wedding with good weather; Andrew wanted an elaborate ballroom. Andrew made a guest list of 160 people. Mine was under 45. We had no idea what we were doing, but I knew I wanted a dress and we needed a location. Dress shopping was fun, but also not fun. The lowest price range at a bridal shop is about our whole budget. I hate trying things on, I hate showing things off. I was trying on huge, fluffy wedding dresses and having my mom, maid of honor, and future mother-in-law watch and say what they liked. Which was great, and they were nothing but supportive, but still-! They also had visions of what a wedding dress should be. Andrew and I picked out a venue, a beautiful historical mill 45 minutes away. We didn’t bring a check that day, one piece of advice (out of an overwhelming amount of advice too vast to keep track of) that I did follow. It was beautiful, even only sparsely decorated. My parents liked the pictures, and, nearly empty, it seemed huge. It could fit 150, which was more than we wanted. Getting plates and food wouldn’t be an issue- right?

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Planning a wedding…

Planning a wedding has its stresses. Finding a place for the ceremony and reception that has a rain option, finding a balance between those-who-will-never-speak-to-us-again-if-we-don’t-invite-them and everyone else we want to invite. Finding a dress that is in budget and still makes you “feel like a bride!” (especially when you decide to take the money that your parents want to give you and use it to start off this phase of your life, and pay for your wedding all on your own!)

Then, of course, there are the people whose names I barely know who suddenly speak with a familiarity usually reserved to close friends and my mom. It seems everyone has advice for exactly what we ought to do and everyone knows someone who can help us- “My 2nd cousin’s step-brother’s girlfriend took this random gorgeous picture of me- I can ask if she’ll be your wedding photographer!” Um, no. But thanks (Luckily we are blessed with the friendship of a lovely woman who also happens to take amazing pictures… not only randomly, but constantly).

You know, it’s not really that bad. I’m marrying my best friend, and no matter how much tulle I’m wading in (or not…), I’m going to be a bride. However much the centerpieces cost or how many nights are spent putting together the programs and making sure this person is not sitting beside that person, it’s going to be amazing and special.

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