When I say I do….

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Me and my hubs after the Jetton wedding.

Today, I attended the wedding of some very dear friends while my husband officiated. This was the perfect early October afternoon for a wedding. The ceremony was beautiful and the bride was spectacular. One moment in particular captured my heart in such a way that I began to reminisce on my own wedding day over six years ago.

Just after the “I do’s”, the bride and groom stood and looked lovingly into one another’s eyes as the song “When I say I do” played. I know what you’re thinking, but this was not the old Clint Black classic. Instead, this was a song by Matthew West, proclaiming “I have never been so sure of anything before, like I am in this moment here with you”.

Looking at this beautiful couple, knowing their story, I was sure that these words reflected exactly what they felt. I’m also sure that these words were my exact sentiment the day I walked down the aisle and became a Mrs. But I also know that there have been so many days in between when I wasn’t so sure. Because there have been many days I thought of myself above my husband, days when I put my own desires above my marriage. When I said ‘for better or for worse’ on the day I was married, I’m not sure that I really believed that the ‘worse’ days would come. But they did.

I’m not saying I have an unhappy marriage. I’m saying I have a normal marriage. A relationship in which two sinners are married to one another. A relationship in which I sin against my husband and need forgiveness and grace. And vice versa. So I was very glad to hear the rest of the lyrics to this song: “I pray every day will be the proof that I mean what I say when I say I do”.

You see, our marriage would never have survived without a God who answers prayers. A loving, faithful God who teaches us to love and be faithful even when we don’t feel like it. Even when we have worse days. I’m so thankful for his mercy and grace, and that I have a husband who reflects that same mercy and grace to me every day.

I love weddings! I love that they remind me of the wonders of marriage. I love that God ordained marriage. And I love being married to my husband.

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So this is the New Year, and I don’t feel any different.

New Year’s Day really is a great time to make resolutions. It’s a fresh start, a time to say “for this whole year, I’m going to stop (insert resolution here)” or, “it’s a brand new year, and every day I pledge to (do whatever it is you think you need to do)”. But in other ways, New Year’s Day is just another day; there are dishes to be done, laundry to be folded, mouths to be fed. January 1st turns into January 2nd, becomes part of a normal week, our resolutions are put by the wayside and this year feels no different than the last.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about bettering myself and resolving to make changes. I just know that if today is the only day I make vows to be better, I will still be the exact same in January of 2016..

A couple of months ago, my husband and I had a long talk about all the things we wanted to be better at. We talked about the kind of spouses and parents we want to be, said we wanted to better listeners, to love others above ourselves and so many other things. That conversation could have been depressing both of us, thinking of all the ways we fail. But again, I was reminded of the beautiful promises in Romans 8 about being led by the Spirit to life and peace. Verse 26 is so dear to me: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words“. In my weakness, I have such a mighty Helper interceding on my behalf, even when I don’t know what I need. And when I hope to be more loving or kind or patient, I shouldn’t forget that “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13. I’m encouraged, then, that if I desire to be not just ‘better’, but more like Jesus, that I can trust Him to accomplish that.

Do I have resolutions? Yes, absolutely I do. I hope to resolve each day to experience Jesus, and to be drawn nearer to him. But I’ll also remember that I’m loved perfectly, even when I fail, and even if this year doesn’t feel any different.

And for your viewing pleasure, some old school Death Cab for Cutie.

The New Year

Was it really a ‘Silent Night’?

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If you have ever lived in the same house as a newborn, you have experienced your share of not-so-silent nights. So I started to wonder, what exactly was the author of the Christmas hymn, Silent Night thinking?

I know it’s different from the original German version, but the lyrics we sing today are:

Silent Night, Holy Night

All is calm, All is bright

Round yon virgin, Mother and Child

Holy Infant, so tender and mild

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Baby Jesus was born in a manger, with cows and pigs and dirt and hay all around. The Bible doesn’t mention a midwife or doctor or epidural for Mary. Silent Night indeed.

But the words ‘sleep in heavenly peace’ supersede all of the other things that were going on that night. Heavenly Peace, that came only because that baby wasn’t just any baby, but God in the flesh. Heavenly peace, that Mary was blessed with because she had just become a mom, and God had looked on her with favor and chosen her, of all girls, to nurture His own Son. Heavenly Peace, that God desires for all his children, so much that He sent that little baby to this earth.

I hope for a silent night for all this Christmas. No matter what turmoil or worry we experience, that, because of Jesus, we rest in Heavenly Peace.

My favorite Christmas memory

It’s that time of year! Isn’t this the best time of year to make fond memories with your family? As a kid, I was so thrilled to get to spend Christmas Eve with my grandparents, and then wake up Christmas morning to open a jillion presents with my brothers and cousins. This year, I have enjoyed making some sweet memories with my own young family. Last week, Nora Kate drank her very first cup of Hot Cocoa with me. She told me it tasted like Buttermilk. Hmm….  Every day, Wyatt redecorates my Christmas tree by taking off all the ornaments he can reach and throwing them around the house. And when my husband finished putting up our Christmas lights, the look on his face was ecstatic enough to rival Clark Griswold himself.

I love this time of year. I love making Christmas memories. But I hope and pray that the memory my family and I cherish most through the course of our life is this: “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Philippians 2: 5-8

How incredible! God himself came down to this earth and made himself like us. He didn’t think he was too lofty to serve us, and he made himself into a tiny baby called Jesus. Why? So that he could die. Could die in our place, so that we might be made perfect and have life with him and in him forever. It’s amazing isn’t it?! All this Christmas stuff started out of God’s wonderful, never stopping, never giving up love. That is my favorite memory of all.

Family Christmas 14

Family Christmas 14

Chicken Fiesta Tacos

Sunday afternoons are made for napping. In order to have maximum nap-time, I’m always trying to find recipes that are easy, fast, and require very little cleanup. Yesterday’s Chicken Fiesta Tacos went over very well. So well, in fact, Jared went back for thirds! Here is the recipe:

2 large cans cooked and shredded chicken

1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can whole kernel corn

1 package mild taco seasoning

1 tsp. lime juice

1 tsp. dried cilantro

1 tsp. garlic salt

black pepper to taste

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notice all my ingredients are Great Value brand….

Throw all these ingredients into a large skillet or a heavy pot, stir together and heat to simmering. Meanwhile, shred up some mild or sharp cheddar cheese….

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nothing beats the taste of freshly grated cheddar!

Spread some sour cream on your soft taco shells.

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 You could also add some avocado and chopped lettuce if you love green stuff like I do.

When your taco mixture is warm, drain out the excess liquid, throw it on the taco shell with some of the cheese, and Wa-La! Chicken Fiesta Tacos! I would have taken a picture of my finished taco, but I was hungry and ate them instead. This recipe was a big hit with my husband, and my kids didn’t turn their noses up at it either.

Enjoy!

Miscarriage and the Goodness of God (Part 3 of 3)

It’s been well over a month now since I experienced a miscarriage. One would think that I had run out of things to say on the subject, but apparently not. I certainly have not run out of emotions.

Most days now, I feel good, happy, even joyful. But there are sad days mixed in. I see friends around me finding out that they are pregnant or bringing home their tiny newborns or posting gender reveals on Facebook, and while I feel glad for them, I still feel those pangs of sadness for myself.

It has been hard to share my feelings. However, it has also been therapeutic. Honestly, I’m not usually the most open person. But sharing my story in a very public way has opened my eyes to the fact that miscarriage has affected so many more of my friends and acquaintances than I ever imagined. Many of them kept their own stories, and in some cases, even their pregnancies, private.

Each of us grieve in our own way. Public or private, there is no right or wrong way to go through your suffering. But many of the women that shared their story with me seemed like they felt like they were expected to grieve privately, like no one else would really understand or want to hear about an unborn child. Or worse, like they would be judged for becoming pregnant and miscarrying.

I weep for those who feel that way. Literally, I can barely see my computer screen through my tears right now. But I encourage anyone going through suffering that you are not alone! You can share your story and your hurts, and you will find others that will sympathize with you. In fact, scripture tells us that we should “Bear one another’s burdens..” (Galatians 6:2)

More than that, we also see countless times the Bible reminds us of the suffering of Christ, that while he was God, he came to this earth fully human. It is amazingly comforting that Jesus experienced every suffering that we experience, so that he could fully empathize with us, so that he could fully know us, and so that we never have to feel like “no one understands”.

God is so good to us, friends. I am reminded of this truth in happy times, and now through a very sad time in my life. God has used suffering in my life to show me his goodness. My hope in sharing my story is that anyone who reads it can find peace and joy in the Goodness of God as well.

Miscarriage and the Goodness of God (Part 2)

“If there was no heartbeat, was this really a baby? And do you believe it went to Heaven?”

I have been asked this question a few times after experiencing a miscarriage. I’m glad to say that these circumstances have led me to search scripture until I could find peace in my answer.

Let me be clear that I believe life begins at conception. To quote my doctor “It isn’t just the miracle of birth, but we are talking about the miracle of life, that begins when those cells meet.” Now, I’m not a scientist, and it is hard to know when a baby is really a baby, and when it is merely a cluster of cells. Technically, my ‘baby’ was just the latter, but I have no doubt that this was a life, even if this life never really had a form. Remember that beautiful Psalm 139? “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb…My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret…Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”  So, you see, this was a life. A life without form yet, but a life ordained and set into motion by God.

To be honest, I’ve never really been able to fully explain the whole “age of accountability” thing. I’ve often wondered if there was tangible proof that all unborn babies do indeed go to heaven. I had an understanding that we all have a sin nature that separates us from God, and that, no matter our age, it is our soul that goes on to the afterlife. I wondered if God really knew each and every one of the millions of souls that were miscarried or aborted or died before they understood their sin and need for a Savior. Was God really that all knowing, that good, that he would single them out and bring them to heaven? My answer now is yes. Romans 9:14 -16 teaches on the mercy of God: What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

God is the Author of life. I’m so humbly grateful that He authored a life inside my womb. I’m even more grateful that he is a loving, all-knowing father, who knows the number of our days, and who chooses to mercifully bring His children home to him.