>Change of plans

>Steph posted a blog about some things I’ve been thinking about lately that I was going to blog anyway… very encouraging!

I thought by the time that I was the ripe old age of twenty-five I’d be a mother. I will be twenty-five next April and there are no plans in the works for children anytime soon, for our own reasons. It’s so funny how when you’re dating, everyone asks when you’re getting engaged. Then getting married. Then having children. Then…

I’m not too fond of the prying. I’m also not fond of the expectations society puts on us. Actually, my expectations are probably more harsh. I’m over the career expectation. I have a degree that I’m still paying thousands of dollars on. So what. It looks pretty in its wood frame, but it in itself does not bring me joy. It’s interesting how after years and years of schooling, studying, money and stress I find that my joy is found elsewhere. I truly made an idol out of school and being successful academically.

I will never regret the four years I spent at Bradley, not ever. I learned invaluable lessons and got the opportunity to study one of my first loves – the Spanish language. But I just can’t fathom at this point all the energy and sweat I put into it, treating it as a god.

I think anything we do will not bring us true joy unless it is the right time. I am content to wait on the Lord for Him to move and provide opportunities.

My identity, like I’ve said many times before, is in Christ and Christ only. Being a student, teacher, wife or mother do not define me. I’m in a period of transition that most of the time is good but sometimes can be frustrating. If I’m not a teacher full-time (using that pretty piece of paper) or a mom, then what am I?

My husband told me the other night that I am an incredible woman of God. Oh, how I strive to be. That is one of the sincerest and loveliest compliments anyone has ever given me. That is what I am. I am a woman, and I love the Lord.

People can argue about gender identity all they want, but many of my desires are driven by the fact that I am a woman, and that I’m made in God’s image. That realization brings me peace and satisfaction one those days when I really wonder what use I am, or if I’m doing enough.

It’s at those times where I am thankful that God is God and He controls everything. I’m content to lay my cross down another day and rest in His goodness.

>Working woman and other stories

>I took this part-time job expecting part-time work. This week I had 30 hours, next week I have 35 and the week after that I have 38. I’m really happy this has evolved into a practically full-time thing. God has been so good. Even if we did absolutely need the money (well, we have debt so technically we do) He still has provided a way. And in a job I like and am good at. I love helping people figure out how much fabric they need or how to read a pattern.

I really miss interacting with 100 teenagers per day, but I do not miss the constant stress of preparing lessons and the bureaucracy that comes with teaching full-time. No doubt I was good at that too, and I really enjoyed the challenge. I’m very happy to realize that I am perfectly content not using my degree the way society says I should.

I actually wouldn’t mind being an assistant or store manager someday in an environment like that. Overall, I long to be in some position of leadership. In teaching, it’s with students and possibly other teachers. With managing in retail, it’s over your employees. It will be interesting to see what the Lord holds for the future.

>Three weeks until race day!

>My 10K is only three short weeks from Saturday. I’m really excited; I cannot believe how far I’ve come in my fitness from a year and a half ago. I remember that I couldn’t fathom even running for 10 minutes, let alone 6.2 miles. The most miles I’ve done at once is 5 consecutive, 8 nonconsecutive.

This week I’ve done two runs, one 4.5 and one 4. It feels so great that that is now my “standard” run, four miles. Four flippin’ miles. I never would have thought! I think in a few days I will attempt six just to see how it goes. That means I need to plot out a new course!

I’m really looking forward to the weather that weekend. It starts at 7:30 I believe, so it should be cool. Maybe it’ll be cool enough to wear some of my other new running clothes. I have yet to buy full-length tights and a jacket. I figured I’d wait on that until I need it.

My muscles have been awfully tight after those four-milers. It could be that last week I ran but one day, and only three miles. I’ve been cooling down with a short walk and stretching. I actually think though that the stretching is what hurt my right ankle a few weeks back.

I did other stretches today and no ankle pain. My calves ache however. The other day as part of cross-training I did 10 minutes on the stairstepper. Today I ran up a small hill on my toes (it helps propel me so much better than putting down my whole foot!) so I’m sure that contributed to it.

I probably need to make sure I’m getting enough nutrients. When I was losing weight I got into a certain mindset where I could almost guess how many calories I was ingesting on a daily basis. If I went over, I could tell just by how I felt and what I ate. Now, I really need to eat more calories to sustain what I’m burning. Right now since I’m maintaining this number, it has me eating between 2000-2300 calories a day. That seems like so many!

When I was losing weight, I was eating between 1300-1600 or something a day. I just have to shift how I think about food. Now, it’s fuel. I mean, it always was, but it’s so important now that I eat enough otherwise my body could be really confused. I have to remember that if I feel more full or like I’m “going over” that it’s okay. I have to fuel up on the good things, not think, “Oh, well, I’ll just eat McDonald’s today since I need more calories”.

I went to the grocery store on the way home from work and I have to say, I’ve become kind of a food snob. I bought the bakery bread, whole wheat noodles that are as close to homemade as pre-packaged noodles can come, Greek yogurt, soy milk, and lots of fruit. When I buy cereal, I buy only Kashi.

There are just some things I’m not willing to budge on. I don’t buy organic produce usually; it’s too darn expensive. But those are my priorities. Others would ask why if I’m trying to eat healthy, would I put toxins into my body. I haven’t felt like I should fight that battle, so I won’t quite yet.

Off to bed – busy day off tomorrow and Aaron’s calling me in a couple hours. ‘Night! Open your windows and enjoy the breeze and sounds of late summer.

>Hand-me-downs for the win

>I totally forgot to go back to my beautiful view from Prospect and snap a picture for yesterday. Darn it. I have a few pictures for today.

Anyway, we have this plaid couch that my parents gave us when I moved out. It’s at least 15 years old, and in great condition. I need to steam clean it, but other than that it’s still a great place for a nap. I have thought about slipcovering it and decided that would be too expensive and too time-consuming. So, I’m going to make the plaid work. We have a loveseat that’s all navy, and a Lazy Boy that’s a tannish color. At least our furniture matches! The Lazy Boy is at least as old as I am; my mom rocked all three of us in that chair.

So. The fabric on the left I got for $1.26 at work. I want to use it for a pillow, or pillows, and to recover a lampshade. I got the other two fabrics today that I think will work for pillows, too. And you can see over to the far left that I have a printed pillow.

This is the hideous lamp I want to re-do. I want to spray paint the base and get a wide cylindrical shade that will be recovered in the beige fabric. Any tips on how to refinish the base? I’ve been looking for a cheap shade at a thrift store or garage sale.

I also want to redo those tables (there are two). Any ideas? I’ve thought about sanding them down and staining them a really dark brown, like espresso. Those were purchased with the couch. I remember going to Leath in Pekin with my parents. It was such a big deal to get brand new furniture! It was always a big deal back then to get brand new anything.

I am so looking forward to making a home again with Aaron. I think no matter how long we’re married or how much money we have, our style will be eclectic. Why get rid of perfectly good furniture if you can make it work? I hate hate hate having boxes packed and more than once have thought about unpacking them. I know I’ve said that before too. Haha.

Along the same thoughts of home dec, it’s almost time to retire the Yankee summer candles. I burned down the Island Guava pretty fast, and still have half a medium Juicy Peach jar. I worked there a couple summers ago and can attest that yes, these are the best candles ever. I just printed off a coupon for $10 off $25, so I might go in and get two medium jars. (Don’t tell him I told you, but Aaron loves that store too.) I will probably go for at least the Pomegranate Cider if they have it. I surely miss the discount!

>An experience, not exercise

>This is the mindset I’ve had recently with running. This morning I charted a new course. Not new to my eyes, but new to my feet. Every Sunday morning I drive down Prospect on my way to church. I always think how nice it would be to run along that road, with the view of the trees and river and gorgeous houses. I’ve been driving that way to church for over two years now and I swear I haven’t noticed all the houses that are there.

So I parked at Junction City and took off at a moderate pace. My pace lately for longer runs has been around 11:00, which is fine by me. My heart rate, at an average, is around 175. It honestly does not feel like my heart is beating that fast. I usually can still catch my breath. I ran 4.39 miles, according to SparkPeople‘s maps. I turned onto Grandview and ran a little ways down that road. I’ve run on Grandview before, but it’s always different and different times of the day. I wish my iPod had a camera because I would have taken a picture of the view of the river. Grand it was. 😉

Mentally, I do better when I’m running a course that’s unfamiliar. Usually I run down University, and because I know it so well, I know my landmarks. I then start to focus on my mileage and time rather than the experience of running itself, the beauty of it. Forgive me for being slightly melodramatic, but if you’re a runner and also enjoy the outdoors, I’m sure you understand what I mean.

So, even without knowing the mileage, I ended up running 4.39 in 47:37, which amounts to a pace of 10:51. That was also stopping twice to cross the street. I’m running a 10K soon (September 18) and need to get up to 6.2. I don’t want to run that race just trying to finish because I’m pooped. I want to run it competitively but still feel like I could keep going. My longest run ever was five miles. Adding 1.2 onto that shouldn’t be bad at all as long as I keep my pace about where it’s at. My goal for my 10K is 1:15:00. That goal, according to past race results, would put me towards the bottom of the list.

You know what? That’s fine with me. That still means I’m running faster than all the people on the sidelines and laying in bed on Saturday morning. I got over being self-conscious while running outside because I was always the person driving by wishing I could or would do what the person on foot was doing. I actually now have the motivation (usually!) to get out and run.

What has running done for me, and why do I swear by it to keep the weight off? It’s changed the weight distribution of my body, along with strength and cross training. My muscles are longer and leaner, my stomach is flatter, my arms and upper body are stronger. I have the legs I’ve always wanted, with strong calves and thighs. And those are only the external changes! I can’t imagine how I’ve improved my cardiovascular and respiratory systems. My heart has to be so much stronger now than it ever has been. I haven’t been sick enough to even warrant antibiotics in probably over a year. In 47 minutes, I burned 669 calories. Wow!

Running has given me a sense of accomplishment, that I truly can do all things through Christ. It’s reminded me of my physical limitations, but also how your body can adapt to challenges. It’s helping me root out what I feel is this last bit on insecurity about my ability to perform and how I look. I hope to get my cousin Bryan hooked – we’re going on our first run together on Friday. 😀

>A picture a day.

>It seems like a lot of people I know are doing something similar to this, posting a picture to chronicle daily happenings. I think I might try this, maybe include a caption or something.

Here’s the first one–

This is my “niece”, Adeline. Really she’s my second cousin, but her daddy Bryan might as well be my brother. Michelle, his wife, dubbed me “Auntie LizBeth”. I like the sound of that. 🙂

Michelle and I both had our sewing machines going today.. what fun! I snapped this pic when Addy went into her room to play. She’s twelve months old. What a precious girl and a joy to our “Little” family!

>Enjoying the stillness

>I love these times in the evening when it’s cool enough outside to open up the apartment and let the humid after-rain air in. It smells so good, and I love the sound of the crickets and cicadas. There are comfort foods, comfort smells and for me, comfort sounds. The only sound missing is a train. I grew up just a few blocks from the river and consequently, the train tracks.

I have absolutely overwhelmed this week with precious times in the Lord’s presence. Just times where everything is quiet, with the exception of music in the background (lately I’ve been loving hymns, and Pandora wireless on my iPod and dock).

There are two truths that have really made themselves known to me this week, and I will try to include Scripture references:

God does not require perfection to come into His presence; in fact, He is made stronger in our weakness and delights in our willingness to surrender to Him.

This is something I realized last night at worship practice. Here you have seven or eight musicians, all of whom are human and have his or her own trials, sin, what have you. And God still visits us and we can still worship in His presence, and even lead others in worship! He is perfect, holy, spotless and we are the complete opposite. Still He delights in our humility to bow down before Him and worship amidst our humanity. This was the entire point of Jesus coming to earth, to tear that veil from top to bottom and allowing us to come into the Holy of Holies with only Jesus as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).

He is faithful to fill us with His joy, even in the midst of trials and disappointment.

This week I’ve had a breakdown or two, when I confess to God and to my husband that I “just can’t do this anymore”. No, I can’t. I have no strength left sometimes. But if we are faithful in our confession of our weakness, His joy can fill our spirits and really have an impact on the situation.

In our Bible study this week, Aaron and I took a look at the latter half of Psalm 16, verses 8-11:

 8 I have set the LORD always before me.
       Because he is at my right hand,
       I will not be shaken.
 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
       my body also will rest secure,
 10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
       nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
 11 You have made known to me the path of life;
       you will fill me with joy in your presence,
       with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
I made mention of the fact that yes, God will show us the way and give us joy, but often we miss the point. Our side of the commitment, that we have to first put the Lord before us. Only then will He meet the desires of our hearts and give us joy in our weakness.
I have noticed in the past couple months, as I’ve been confessing my weakness to the Lord and sometimes my unwillingness to go on in this situation, that almost immediately I find relief. The next morning I wake up with puffy eyes, but also a new indwelling of His Spirit and strength for the day. I know that relief will not always come immediately, so I have really come to treasure it in this season.
I have noticed lately that again sometimes my thoughts dwell on getting to Korea too much. I can make a pretty little idol out of my desire to be with my husband. I could make what the world sees as good excuses to complain and bemoan my circumstances. The truth is, this situation has brought about so many opportunities to praise God, and to pour into others’ lives. My lack of time commitment, save to church events and to my part-time job, allows me to spend time with friends and family. It also allows me to do things that I enjoy like sewing, knitting and reading.
I know that many of the Psalms only David could write. He knew what it was to make his bed in hell and to praise the Lord in all circumstances. He knew what it was like to come before God with an impure heart (Psalm 51). I am learning in my personal experiences what some of these things are like, such as praising God in the midst of trials, and setting the Lord before me day to day.
And it’s transforming my worship, whether it’s in the car or on Sunday morning. When you’ve been there, done that, you can relate. And when you can’t only relate, but testify of the Lord’s goodness, that’s when the song is much more than a song. It’s a cry from the heart, a confession. I love the meaning behind “confess” in the Greek, from Strong’s:
1) to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent
2) to concede
a) not to refuse, to promise
b) not to deny
1) to confess
2) declare
3) to confess, i.e. to admit or declare one’s self guilty of what one is accused of
3) to profess
a) to declare openly, speak out freely
b) to profess one’s self the worshipper of one
4) to praise, celebrate
Is that speaking to you? Because it is to me. Remembering Greek roots from sophomore etymology (yes, high school!), homo- means “same” and log- means “speech” and -logy means “a speaking, discourse, treatise, doctrine, theory, science” (last definition from Online Etymology Dictionary). Wow.

>Isn’t it great?

>Tonight all I can say is:

Isn’t it great that we serve the God who is bigger than all our problems, emotions, human creations and circumstances? He trumps everything and is victorious over all evil. And He blesses and loves us in the process. How amazing that He would want a relationship with us, so minuscule and helpless at times.

He sees me when I’m happy, sad, working, being lazy, mean, compassionate, crying myself to sleep, elated with hope. He is over all and through all and in all [Ephesians 4:6].

I would be totally useless and purposeless without Him.

I love You, Jesus.

>Submission in marriage

>Contrary to our 21st-century ideas of the modern self-sufficient woman, I will tell you that submitting to my husband in our marriage has provided a freedom for us that I never imagined.

We have joked before about Aaron’s being able to make “executive decisions”. Mostly in the past this has been for what restaurant we want to go to if we can’t decide, or what to do on the weekend. Lately, it has been more real as we are coming up against some important decisions.

I have been reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian and while I’m not that far into it, I see the importance and actual necessity of praying for Aaron and the decisions we make together. This is not a relationship where he just makes a decision without even discussing it with me first. What I’m talking about is that we discuss all our options, he takes my opinion to heart, and then he makes the final decision. Since I know that he does care about my opinion and respects me as his partner, I know that his decision will be the best one for us. If I have doubts, we discuss them and we pray.

It’s a circle, but not a vicious one. It’s a circle of discussion, prayer, and mutual respect that lead to the final decision about something.

Let me give you an example. When Aaron found out he was getting laid off, we discussed our options. One, I could keep working full-time and he could work part-time while going to school full-time. We hadn’t even started the Dave Ramsey class at this point (December of 2008) and we knew that taking out more loans was not an option or even a good idea. So that was out. I was actually the one to mention the military, and I didn’t even know he was browsing the website for the reserves.

I again was the one who suggested he go full-time with it. It would provide him with a job, education and benefits that we could handle. It was a jump we were willing to make. And we realized that with a guaranteed paycheck for him, we could pay off our debt and I could be a stay-at-home mom when we have children. I gave my opinion, he took it to heart, and then he made the decision that we would see the recruiter the next week. And here we are! It hasn’t been easy, of course, but I think following through with this is easier than wearing ourselves out by working and going back to school and racking up even more debt. (I know some couples choose differently, but this was best for us.)

We followed the same process when we decided for me to stay here and work another school year. (It was actually my idea again, but his final decision.)

Another even more timely example is our situation right now. We have a chunk in savings, and I have some money coming in. We could easily have brought me over to Korea before now. Why don’t we, even with these resources? Well, we believe that in the end it will be better for us to wait for orders to go through. I believe that because Aaron is not only the head of the household, but the soldier, that he knows what is best for his career and what will go over well with his command. I would never want to do anything that could jeopardize his reputation or standing with his command.

And I know, since I’ve been praying my face off for wisdom and discernment for Aaron, that if he feels it best to move me over there before paperwork goes through, then he has a darn good reason other than missing me.

My role is to contribute my opinion after having prayed, and then the next step is for me to trust my husband and continue to pray in his decision-making. This allows for freedom for us in our marriage, and we understand and live out our God-given roles. We are making this work the biblical way with Aaron being submitted to Christ first and loving me with the love that Christ has for His Church (Ephesians 5:25 states, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That’s a tall order!)

Now, looking back, we can see that this decision for Aaron to join the military was definitely the right one. It’s pushed us so far outside our comfort zone so that we have to have faith. I don’t think we would have been as challenged spiritually had we gone the other route. Like I’ve mentioned before, we wanted to get stationed overseas. And we are. 

I really thought this post would be longer, but that’s our relationship in a nutshell. It’s amazing how God can work in a marriage if both parties are both submitted to the Lord first! There’s no way this would work if that first requirement is not met.

>A little history lesson

>This post has sparked from pondering how Aaron and I came to be “us”. We are getting back to doing our Bible study on a regular basis and this week the theme was worship. We’re doing a book right now we picked up at Berean some time ago. We got to talking about the outlined questions, of course, and then we started remembering how life was before we were “us”.

(November 2003)

I was 17 and finishing up my junior year of high school; Aaron was almost 19 and going to the community college. I had started going to my friend Cassandra’s church a little while before that, maybe six months. Hard to remember. But Aaron and I served on the youth group worship team as singers, and sometimes I would play piano. We also were in a student-led prayer group on Friday nights.

For anyone reading this who was in the prayer group, you know how things went. We were misguided in some things, such as having no real leadership since we were all just kids using the church on Friday nights. We’d get together, maybe seven or eight of us, and Cassandra and/or I would play the baby grand and others would play guitar or djembe. We’d just pray and sing and some awesome things happened as a result of our seeking God. Again, we were misguided on some things and towards the end it got kind of weird, but overall it was good.

A little aside: This is when I learned how to play chords and improvise. I came from a classical background, with scales and arpeggios and Hanon exercises every day. This was a whole new world to me. Cassandra showed me how and because I knew some theory, I caught on pretty fast. It was a great experience for me.

There were a few times when it would just be me and Aaron. We weren’t dating at the time, and we really didn’t know each other all that well. I would play and we would both sing. I remember even writing a few songs during those several months that we sang.

Something grew out of those prayer meetings, and towards the end we all had a retreat in the country at a friend’s parents’ cabin. Guys and girls slept separately but in the morning we had coffee. It had rained like crazy the night before, but I remember specifically that Aaron and I both sat on the porch of this cabin in chairs with our coffee (mine souped up and his black of course) and talked. Like an old married couple.

(We’re not old, but we’re married!)

 

And I knew then that I was going to marry this man. I never told him that I knew that early until much much later (I would have scared the poor boy away!). It wasn’t a big fireworks type of thing, but it just felt right. Like we were just meant to be together, like my life had never not had him in it. Idyllic though it sounds, especially when coming from a seventeen-year-old mind, but I just knew. That was May 9, 2003.

So from then on is history, obviously, as we’re seven years down the road. Through our stages of being friends, then boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancees, and now husband and wife, we’ve tried our best to center our relationship around Christ. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, I’d say it’s harder to commit to Jesus than to just commit to each other and be done with it.

We both knew going into our dating relationship that if at any point it was not headed for marriage, as in we couldn’t agree on something really big, etc, that we should break up. I had told God way before Aaron, but after Keith (his younger brother, now isn’t that ironic?) that the next guy I would date, I would marry. I had dated one person but was just not interested in dating a bunch of people just to “see what’s out there”. Not everyone does it that way, and that’s fine.

I think we’ve always had an idea that our relationship would never be easy. As soon as we’re comfortable with something, God shakes it up. And that’s what we have wanted since the beginning – to do God’s will even if it takes us through hard times. I don’t think I’d rather be comfortable. How boring! We’ve grown so much in the past seven years and learned many hard lessons. I’m thankful for learning them early on, before we’re married for ten years and have 2.5 kids (or a nice round number of three, haha).

We have also strongly felt that we will be called into the mission field full-time someday. That’s where our hearts are. Though we have no idea of when or where, we know it’s there sometime in the future.

(On our first missions trip together in Honduras, 2008)

 

It’s late and I’m watching my “niece” (my cousin’s daughter.. they call me aunt and I call her niece, haha) all day tomorrow.. should be an adventurous day with a one-year-old! But anyway, I really want to blog about two things: obedience in marriage and submission in marriage and how God has worked through these things in our relationship. I will save those topics for later as it requires more thinking and research. 😉