it’s been 7 months since my last post…. so here is my latest confession.

“Wow! I just love your ring!”
“Thank you, my husband did a great job.”
“He must really love you.”
“He does…..”

That’s normally how the conversation surrounding my Marquise cut goes. It’s always an opener about how beautiful it is and how it catches the light *just* so. I love my ring and I do love the compliments that it tends to gather, mainly because it is a symbol of the love my husband has for me in material form.

The day we decided to look at rings was an interesting day. Ben, for whatever reason, figured it was high time he make me into an honest woman and wanted my opinion on rings. Together we would huddle around our computers or phones and pick out perfect rings. The very best diamonds, cuts, carats, clarities, and his vetoing my gem picks (aquamarine for his birthday). It was no surprise when he suggested we go look at rings and that I try a few on. So onward we went! As we perused the many sparkly jewels behind the counter, one stood out. The ring I now host on my left hand. “Oh, nothing too flashy.” “I don’t want a big ring.” “Nothing too tall, I don’t want to scratch children.” And bam! I got all of that in one! (no regrets) As my husband placed it on my hand at the counter, we both looked in awe at the very last Marquise halo they had– and in my size. Sold!

When I get compliments on my ring, I take that time to gloat about my husband. Because the truth is that the ring pales in comparison to the true radiance that comes from the marriage my husband and I have.

I wasn’t one to date in high school or even before college, and I sure never thought I would be married. So the fact that I somehow managed to be so blessed with such a wonderful man is a mystery to me! I prayed so many times for God to bless me with a husband… and I prayed *for* my husband to, but it wasn’t until I stopped focusing so much on having someone to “complete” me, that the Lord blessed me with Ben. But, I had to take time and do my part first… as did my husband.

Ben and I both took our time. In everything. And we sought the Lord in many and various ways throughout our dating relationship. Not very many people know this, but we had almost broken up at one point from more outside influence than anything else (this story is for another day, but it’s worth noting). It’s unfortunate that we had to go through heartbreak, being together, but it’s something that I am (sometimes) thankful for. I will never forget the conversation we had where we had both agreed to sit and be separate and really focus on what God wanted for us. And if He bought us together again, great. If not, time to pack up that Honda and hit up the mission field. That’s why, you never ever allow someone else to be your focus (or allow other people to adjust your focus). You should always let your focus be Christ and His wants for you…. if that includes someone else, cool. If not, cool.

*side bar: bringing up that story of us almost breaking up makes me furious to this day. It was tough packing up and just moving to Ohio, but for so many people to not even give me the time of day or truly get to know *me* really is the most infuriating thing– like Arthur clenching his fists furious*

Moving on….. My husband and I are the amazing people we are because we knew how to be ourselves- with and without- the other present. We both have our differences and our similarities but our most common ground is the firm belief we have in knowing Jesus is the center of our lives. I definitely do not say this with light-heartedness but with complete sincerity. Make Him the firm foundation of your life before you even *think* about being in any kind of dating relationship. Not only does this make your life easier, but the boundaries and overwhelming respect that come with it, are worth it. My husband respects me because he was taught that we are all God’s children and why would you disrespect a child of God? My husband has never once ever made any kind of inappropriate comment or innuendo during our whole time together. He respects me. He respects that I am a child of God. THAT is what makes him as radiant as the diamond on my finger, that’s what makes our marriage as flashy as the symbol of love he placed on my finger after we read our vows.  We respect each other, we are patient with each other, we know that because of God’s overwhelming love for us, that we can make it through anything.

I am so blessed to have my husband, as he is blessed to have me. I don’t brag about our marriage just to show it off or compete… I brag about our marriage because I want other people to have what we have. I want couples to love the Lord and serve together and serve each other blanketed by the peace that comes with a firm foundation.

Everyday I look down at my ring and I just grin because I know that even as we get old and grey, the Lord’s blessing on our marriage will never fade.

Milk’s Favorite Cookie.

Tonight I was shopping for a few things after work and I came upon the cookie aisle. As I took my time perusing the packages and reading the labels, I reached for it… Milk’s Favorite Cookie, the Oreo. And then it hit me.

A memory.

I remember when my brother was about 7 or 8, he had this intense Oreo craving. He would come home from school, eat Oreos, eat Oreo cereal, eat Oreos at lunch and after dinner. He loved Oreos. I remember one time, shortly after mom got ill and Dad was responsible for grocery shopping, he came home with a bag of groceries.
My brother came out into the kitchen and asked for an Oreo. My dad, proudly took the Oreos out of the bag and handed my brother two. My brother looked at the cookies that lay in his band, and looked up at a my dad and said “These aren’t Oreos.” My dad had purchased the ‘other’ Oreos. I’ll never forget my dad’s face, he was so proud, and he’s not a guy to show emotion, but he said “Oh, buddy, yes they are. They are just the ones I chose.” But my brother passed them up. He would rather have *his* Oreos or none at all.

I went into this whole post thinking it was going to be about how parents do their best and how great they are (which they all are, including mine!), but God does some funny stuff.

Take the Oreo. That’s your dream for your life. You spent all your time craving it, all your time waiting for it, taking small bites… completely devouring your dream… and then God, one day, swaps it out with the ‘other’ dream. “This isn’t my dream.” “Oh, buddy, yes it is. This is the one I have for you.” And then we pass that dream up; we would rather have the best or none at all.
This is just all too incredible. God is too incredible.

Recently, I have been having some regrets. I’ll say it. I’m not afraid to say it. My husband knows, my family and friends know. I have regretted every decision I have made that wasn’t in line with my dream. See, when I was young, God called me into ministry. I remember very vividly a dream He gave me. I was going to be in a foreign country, and I was surrounded by children. This was confirmed various times throughout my teenage years, I was wicked good at Children’s sermons, I lead multiple vacation bible schools, and was even the leader of my youth group—as a youth myself! I was given favor and I was blessed. I knew I was going to go to Valley Forge. And I knew I was going to leave as a Minister.

During my college years, I met a mentor of mine at that time, Pastor Jenny Duncan. WOW. This lady, she was and still is, one of my all-time favorite people. She was this enthusiastic, Mission-minded, Christ-centered gal who happened to be the head of our missions department. During my freshmen year, after leadership from her on how to attain the spiritual gifts God had for me, and countless praying sessions face down on her floor with her, I felt called to missions…. Australia was my choice for fun, and the Middle East was my choice because never tell God you don’t want to do something.
During the next few months, I would continue to prepare myself to live a life completely and 100% to Christ and His mission, selflessly and fully. I knew that this probably meant no family, no husband, and I was more than okay with that!

Fast forward. I’m married. With a husband. Working for The Man (far from my hipster college days!) I am doing nothing that I planned. I had my own dream and then God gave me the ‘other’ dream… He gave me the one He had for me. He gave me the best.

Am I saying that because God gives you something else, that will mean that your yearning to do other things for Him is now void? No. But, remember that God has promised you something. He promised to give you a life of purpose to serve Him and I am willing and able to do that however He has planned for me. I could have taken another route in life… I could have ignored my feelings for my husband, I would have finished my degree and pursued a life that I knew God had for me. But things changed, and I took that path that seemed riskier (honestly) and look at where it took me! A state away, a great job, great friends, a great church, a fantastic family and my husband… what a true privilege and blessing! I’m glad I took the path I did. I’m glad that God gave me various avenues to take and I’m glad that they all ended with me using my talent and my whole heart to serve Him.

Take this as you would like, but just know that just because you have dreams that you think line up with God’s dreams, the plan can change and He can hand you something other than what you have planned… He can hand you the best.

Fit

Hello everyone! Long time no read, huh?
I never promised I would keep up this blog! Sillies!

The past two weeks have been challenging! Wow. So glad we are in the home stretch of “this is actually no longer a suck-fest”!

Today, I have some advise for my *newlyweds*, or oldly-weds, if you need to hear this.
My advise? Don’t try to fit your spouse into a mold they do not fit in. Now, with my husband, given his height, that is not something I could actually do. I’m almost positive that one day he will bench press me. Maybe when I’m old and feeble, maybe when I lose these next 30 pounds, still… he’s a big dude.

I say not to fit your spouse into a mold because that is something that is so easy to do… When you dream about your life with your partner and the “some day”, you think and ponder on this person that God will give you. Will they be tall? Will they be attractive? Will they be funny? Will they be patient with me? Will they enjoy my endless head-bobbing while I listen to music? You sit and you imagine this person… it’s almost like you are hoping that God is making that person based on your requirements and wonders. Thankfully, He’s not! He has already made that person!

When my husband and I were going through marriage counseling, we were asked about what roles each of us would take on in the marriage. Some of them were extremely crucial to figure out before the I-Dos were said… some were like “okay yeah she can do that” or “I think he should totally be responsible for that.”

During that process, Ben and I had discussed a few of the priorities each of us would take. I realize now that during that time that we based those roles on principles that we have both been taught by our parents… He should control the money… She should care for the home… He should kill spiders… She should make sure the clothes smell good. But what Ben and I are starting to figure out is that we don’t fit into the roles we placed ourselves and each other in!! We never took time to really map out our strengths and weaknesses as leaders and our schedules and the time we would *really* have to take care of the tasks we were given.

The past weekend has been full of encouragement and strategery. Ben and I have re-set those tasks and given them out based on strength, commitment, and common sense. It has been a weekend full of sighs of relief!

Go forth. And recognize your strength… granted there are things that we each have to do that we don’t want to, but if you equip those that are best fit for the job with the resources they need, there will be no reason for them to fail.

For you

Thursday. It’s always a day of excitement for me. Tomorrow is Friday, you’re almost done with the week. Just two more days until the weekend. It’s like waiting for Christmas! 

Tonight I have reached a point of total surrender. After my husband and I had a long discussion about a few things we had to discuss (aka married people talk), I went to clean my kitchen and that’s when I heard it. 

That small voice in the back of my mind. It kept saying “for your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your ways are not my ways. My ways are far above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” Over and over again.

The most unfortunate part is that sometimes, the people around you don’t think that’s enough. Sometimes you are surrounded by people whose faith is so small that it slowly starts to break down your own faith. 

But fortunately, God is bigger than the people around you. Gods thoughts are bigger than your thoughts.

I’ve been having the worst week at work. From confrontations with coworkers to being screamed at over and over by customers, it’s just been awful. But, in the midst, I tried to stay positive, I tried to keep my cool. But today, Thursday, my Christmas Eve, I lost it. And I feel so guilty. 

I try to keep Christ first. In every single way; in my marriage, in my own life, work life, family life, every relationship… I try to make Christ and His love and His kindness and grace a priority but today, human error took over. Flesh got the best of me.

Looking back on my day, I noticed I’ve missed His thoughts. I’ve missed His ways. When flesh takes over you become so chaotic and you miss out on the things God has for you, I missed what God had for my day. And if I don’t watch it, I will miss what God has for my life. 

Because of that thought alone, what God has for my life, I will make it a priority to continue to repeat to myself “His ways are higher than mine, as are His thoughts above mine”. I don’t want to continue to miss out. 

My advice to you is to tune out the negativity and the distraction around you. It’s easy to join in when people are complaining, it’s easy to feed into the chaos, but be the resistance. Be the person who, though her voice be small, is heard in a room full of distraction. Ask God to steer you to His ways and ask Him to direct your thoughts to His thoughts. He’s the only one who holds the future, Hes the only one who knows the “why”. 

Joyfully I will fold

Another late Wednesday night means that I have once again finished my wifely duties. Wednesday’s are my chore day. Clean every room in the house, do the laundry, FaceTime my sister, grocery shop for things I forgot on Saturdays trip, and fold the laundry. 

Every Wednesday since we have been married I have made it a habit and well known fact that Wednesdays are my “just let me get it done, I promise I love you all but my priority is my house and home” day. And most Wednesdays I make sure to have a hot meal for my husband waiting for when he comes home. (Sometimes it’s leftovers and sometimes it’s cereal. Most of the time it’s home made something or other). 

During my Wednesday party a la duties, I get the laundry done. I use the same detergent with its matching fabric softener. I also wash the towels last so they can sit in the dryer over night and wait for me to fold the next day. Hey, what can I say? Dry towels in the dryer don’t freak me out, however, wet towels in the washer do! 

Once I finally settle down, I take my hamper full of freshly washed garments and I sit and fold. As each pile grows so does my heart. Why? Because I am privileged to fold my husbands clothes.

I’ve come to recently realize that I have a purpose in making sure his jeans are clean, his button ups are hung and his socks matched. Tonight as I sat down to fold I became extremely overwhelmed with joy. Joy. Because I am folding my husbands clothes. I am finally a wife. My whole life I tried to search for my purpose and my reason. And through many, many failures, I came out successful. I learned how to be a woman, I learned to be the woman my husband would marry, and I am learning to be his wife. This purpose is more than I could have asked for. Sure, it’s not my sole purpose, but right now, folding laundry, this is the moment I have looked forward to. I have the privilege to do these things for my husband. I have the privilege to set my husband up for success. I have the privilege to take away from his plate instead of adding to it. I have the privilege to be his wife, his partner, his best friend. Nothing in this world will match this specific moment. 

Take it from a newbie, smile while folding the laundry. One day, you will be too old to even lift a sock, let alone 34 length blue jeans. One day it will all fade away and someone else will be doing the laundry. So, go choose a detergent in a  new scent and launder away, friends! And if you mix colors and whites, it’s not the end of the world! 

withdrawal

**trigger warning** because I love every single person in my life and I realize we all deal with *real* things, especially mentally, if you have any issues that talking about mental health will cause a trigger in your life, please stop reading, and know that as your eye touched the title of my post, I prayed for you…. with more of my heart than I have in my body.

Okay guys. This wasn’t the purpose of this blog. I wanted to share my adventures as a married woman. I wanted to share with those back home and around me the wonder that is my awesome life with my husband!

And every married person laughed. Because marriage is hard.

Not only so because of the growing pains that come with blending two lives together, but because of Effexor XR. Effexor XR; a terrible, horrible drug that caused me such incredible withdrawal symptoms.

What did Effexor XR treat for me? Depression.

About 4 years ago, I went through a very interesting period in my life and something triggered me. I eventually became very withdrawn and… sad. I stayed in my apartment more often than not, I skipped classes, I just didn’t do life. I wasn’t having any of life. I didn’t eat, except for black coffee and granola, I chose to cry instead of having fun with friends, I just stopped. It wasn’t until a meeting with a good missionary friend of mine, who was teaching adjunct at my college, pulled me into the office and asked what was wrong. They realized the joy was gone from my face. Once a girl who was told she “exuded joy” to a girl who was told the opposite. . .  dang. After my meeting with this professor, I sought help from a staff person at the school, went home and came back with an RX of Prozac. Cool right? It worked great, until I made a new change.

Fast forward 2 years later, and I moved to Ohio. My Prozac wasn’t doing the trick so I requested a new RX from my physician. They decided Effexor XR would be the best out of all the ones I had personally researched, so I trusted my physician. I should have listened to my gut this time.

A year into my BFF Effie, I needed a refill. 7 days later and still nothing.
Effie, as I fondly found myself calling the terrifying capsule filled with bee-bees the size of mosquito bites, decided that her withdrawal from our relationship was going to be fun. And that it was going to be her way: cold turkey.

They call them “brain zaps” on forums. You feel like you are being electrocuted. Your brain “zaps”, you get tingles in your finger-tips, your mouth tingles… it’s not fun.
Dizziness is something I can control pretty well due to my “twirl your flag and your body really fast” in Marching Band past. But walking from my cubical two feet to the printer and needing to hold onto the wall? Yeah, that’s not embarrassing as I walk past my boss’s office. Even walking the extra 30 yards to the bathroom was like walking on a  tight rope.
Oh and let’s talk about my favorite! Mood. Swings. My poor husband. Sunday night was hell. There is no other way to say it. I asked my husband questions and said things that I heard myself saying, but didn’t comprehend at the time. I cried, I laughed, I yelled. It was awful. But he held me. Little did we know it would get much worse.
Monday I sat at my desk as I begged the doctor’s office to please refill my RX, I sobbed. I sobbed all day. In the bathroom, in between calls, trying to hide my face from everyone in my cubical. I didn’t eat, I wasn’t nice. Wow. I hate to say it but I felt like I was looking for a “fix”.
Tuesday wasn’t as horrible as I thought.  We thought today we would listen to the forums and I would take 3 capsules of Omega 3’s 3 times a day, along with plenty of B-12 Complex and Valerian Root. I didn’t need the Nyquil to sleep that night. (did I mention the night sweats and night shivers? I’m shivering as I type this! ACK!)

Little did we know, Tuesday night I would call my husband crying because my hands were cold at the gas station. It’s not funny. It’s not a joke. It’s nothing to take lightly. I sincerely was upset and genuinely sad and frustrated that my hands were cold at the gas station. So I sobbed. I got home and sat in the hallway of our home, with a blanket on me in the light of the bathroom, and sobbed. I stared at the wall. And sobbed. This is the night we begged God to take away these withdrawal symptoms. This is the night we begged for healing.

Wednesday and Thursday were bearable. Today was the first day I came home smiling. I had an appetite. I wanted to get out of bed. I couldn’t wait to get to work. Today I didn’t have as many brain “zaps” or dizziness. I still had to take it easy, but today was good. Today, I also received a glorious confirmation that I was going to be OK. I received approval from a medical professional that as this isn’t the best way to quit an Anti-Depressant, that she was proud of me for sticking it out and that it would benefit myself and my future child.

And as I sit here and think about my child’s future, as I think about how scared I am that they will inherit my depression, whether triggered or not, I can’t help but cry. I can’t help but feel bad. I can’t help it. I genuinely can’t help it. I can’t suck it up. I can’t just get over it. I am feeling these emotions at this time and I am allowed to feel them. There is not a day that has gone by that I haven’t felt guilty for popping a pill. There is not a day that has gone by that I have not felt scared of the guilt and judgement I would get from people who knew what I have suffered. There is not a day that has gone by that I have taken so much on my own self to hide what I have been dealing with.

No more. I am not scared. I am guilt-free. I am free. I can’t believe it. I feel like a fish in water, I am free. I know that the Jesus I serve, the Jesus I believe was raised from the dead in one of the most wonderful miracles will give me the healing I need. The healing He has for me. It may not be here in this life, but I will receive it.

Ben and I prayed and begged and prayed and begged and will pray and beg God to heal me and to keep me sane. We are praying that He gives me strength. That He gives my husband strength.

What a thing to go through. This is not how I would have envisioned my first 2 months of marriage to be, but God has a purpose for it. It’s tough. It’s not fun and honestly, I wouldn’t wish this on the worst person in the world, but there is purpose.

I have sat on this post for a few days and I finally asked my husband if I could post it. I know there is purpose in sharing. I know there is purpose in knowledge and *educating yourself*. I appreciate how hard physician’s work, I really do. I have seen them give their sweat and tears. But I can’t help but be disappointed in human error. Right? Human error. It’s okay. I’m not furious today. Because had it not happened now, when would it have happened? God has a purpose in it.

Please don’t feel bad for us. Celebrate a victory with me and my husband! Keep praying for us, as this is just the beginning, and we are not sure how long this journey will be but we do know that Christ is our strength! We know that God has me in the palm of His hand! We are laughing about this as it is happening though and I am making plenty of jokes, so please do not be offended for me. Just praise Him for this win with us.

Dishes

Everyday when I wake up and before I go to sleep, I make sure all of our dishes are washed. I don’t know why it bothers me so, but it’s something that I make sure is done everyday. I would probably pay someone to make sure they were done if my arms were broken. It’s something that is very normal. It’s habit. 

One morning, like every other morning before work, I was squeezing Dawn onto my aluminum pad, ran it under water and as I washed my Stainless Steel Teflon pot I looked outside. As soon as my eyes reached the window I heard a still, small voice say “Have you tried forgiveness?” And it hit me. It’s a thought that pressed so precisely into my heart that I spent the whole day in thought about it. 

What if every morning and before I went to bed I chose to forgive? What if I made it normal? What if I made it a habit? 

This morning Pastor Chad, the pastor at Calvary Church (where Ben and I attend) spoke on bitterness. Through each point and scripture he spoke I shook my head, knowing that through my own personal guilt I was joining every person in the room in shame. As Pastor Chad placed Christmas balls with causes of bitterness on a sad looking pine, I found myself realizing even more that each “ball”, each cause, needed the powerful cure of Forgiveness. 

Ben and I find ourselves more and more realizing that certain things don’t deserve our time and attention. There is a person in our lives who has treated us both very poorly and we habe tried every remedy the Bible has given us; except for forgiveness. We *didnt realize* that the one remedy, cure, blanket, peace giving, powerful point of joy is forgiveness. The ONE thing. 

So, as I finished the dishes, I said a silent pray for peace to know what to do and how to forgive. 

I need to acknowledge my own personal mistakes in the relationship, the ways I didn’t act as Christ would have wanted me to. I need to pray to Jesus as many times as I need to keep that Forgiveness habit in the forefront of my mind. And I need to breathe. Because we are all human and God’s grace will cover my mistakes if I ask. I just need to be careful. And keep up with the New Habit.