730 days ago: remembering our wedding day…

Having an outdoor wedding is risky. With ornate flowers, freshly prepared food, and the prized wedding cake; mother nature can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. And in Washington State, just south of Seattle, the weather is especially unpredictable. Well on our wonderful day, the first of August, I believe God literally held back the showers and let the sun shine all day. It was the perfect day and definitely, one of the nicest Washington had seen all summer.

Our wedding day was hands down, bar-none, no other questions need to be asked – the best day of my life! I know this sounds trite and whether it sounds like it or not, its the truth. And I mean that with everything in me – it was truly the best day.

It felt like such a long time coming to get to that day though. Whether it was the overtime at Auto-Chlor, the searching for the perfect glass jars for the candy table, finding the right fabric to set the center pieces on, or just the longing to be with each other and finally; just be married. Its tough, really tough. I remember how we spent hours and hours and hours printing our own invitations on different card stocks with different sized fonts – all to the conclusion that we wished, more than anything, we would have just paid for them to be printed. In the end it worked out just fine, like it always does. It was fun and wonderful and yet stressful and stretched us thin at points. But looking back, I know one thing about us that keeps ringing true; we come out on top and stronger because of it. Getting to our most amazing wedding day, well it was full of laughs and tears, and some of the most adult-grown-up decisions we have made to date. But amidst it all, they made us stronger. They made us love deeper, trust quicker, and believe in each other without hesitation.

I think that ‘in-between’ part for a married couple is actually extremely vital. Waking up on our wedding day was so much deeper and more complex than just being deeply in love and excited for the ‘I do’s’ and the ceremony. Its more complicated than being stoked out of your mind to go on a honeymoon to an all-inclusive resort with the love of my life. The time and emotions and effort and all that; it was worth every moment. Every moment with you is gold. But all the days before our wedding day, it just made my love for you grow even stronger. It fortified those walls of trust. You continually show me to this day that I have no reason not to trust you. Of the multitude of hard decisions we were faced with, you always proved to me that you would not only make the right decision, but the best one for the two of us.

Getting married is in itself a rite of passage, but I think getting there and to that day, well that is equally a stepping stone of life. Standing at the alter waiting for your dad to walk you down the isle, I had all the ‘getting here’ in my head. The getting to this point, on this wonderful day – I believe this paved the way. My love grew leaps and bounds before our wedding day. But nothing compares to how full I was on our actual day. It feels like a whirlwind, and especially writing this and thinking about it, well, it all seems too quick. These last two years have absolutely flown by. And I count it pure joy, all of it.

And then I saw you.

You. Your dad. The dress. Hand in hand. Tony playing the piano. Walking down the windy path towards me.

This is my favorite moment of all. Not to put down all the thousands of other lovely moments we have had with each other in the past four years. But lets be honest, this literally blows it out of the water. Everyone kept predicting who would be the first to cry in the beginning. Well Im actually not sure who did. But you made me cry. I was the happiest man on the happiest day of my life.

You were stunning. Absolutely stunning. Breath taking. Gorgeous. Divine. Magical. A breath of heaven. I will forever have this moment in my heart. I lost it all together at this point. Of course I held back as much as I could – but you ruined me in that moment. And I mean that in the best possible way. I was by far the luckiest man on the earth. That I, just a guy from rural Oregon, get to be forever tied to you. Spend all my days by your side. I don’t deserve you in the least but am thankful everyday that you said I do on that day.

I love to re-read our vows to each other. They remind me that I am just a man. They remind me that we are in this together, side-by-side. They remind me that love does not just grow on its own but that it requires constant, die-hard, focused effort. Its about being purposeful on how we love each other. They affirm to me how unique and rare our love is.

These were and still are, my vows to you:

“I love you for your beauty,

For your intelligence and your kindness…

and for the way you always know

how to make me feel so loved.

So on top of all the other vows

that I will make to you today, our wedding day,

I also vow to always appreciate

how lucky and blessed I am

to have someone who makes me feel the way you do

and to continue to try as hard as I can

to make you feel as loved as you make me feel,

forever and ever.

On this day,

I promise to you perfect love and perfect trust,

For one lifetime with you could never be enough.

These are my promises to you:

I promise to encourage your compassion,

Because that is what makes you unique and wonderful.

I promise to nurture your dreams,

Because through them your soul shines.

I promise to help shoulder our challenges,

For there is nothing we cannot face if we stand together.

I promise to be by your side in all things,

Not possessing you, but working with you as a part of the whole.

Lastly, I promise to you perfect love and perfect trust,

For one lifetime with you could never be enough.”

We have something sweet. Something that cannot be explained or quantified. Its rare. Its unique. I love our vows because I feel they so accurately depict the essence of who we are. When we wrote them before that day, on our wedding day, and still to this day; they ring true. They are beautiful in every way.

Remembering our wedding day, the happiest day of my life, is a moment I will never forgot and always cherish. Nothing is near perfect in this world, but our day was. Absolutely perfect.

One lifetime with you is really not enough.

Happy two year anniversary sweetheart.

your huz

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to my dad [happy fathers day]

My dad is and always will be one of my greatest inspirations, mentors, and teachers in my life. Naturally, a father figure in someone’s life takes this role as the leader, coach and guide in a mans life. But my dad is so much more than this. I am ever-thankful to have growing up a present father; one who played with me, spent time with me, read books to me, and enjoyed life with me. I realize more and more everyday that this sort of scenario is not the norm anymore. And this makes me sad, very sad for the young men out there who do not have a dad who cares and believes in them. A dad who tells them they are proud and that they are loved. I am ever-thankful because I truly have the best dad.

Yup. Thats my dad in the middle and his sweet VW bus.

My dad has inspired me to be great and do great things with my life. From an early age, I remember distinctly, that I knew my dad believed in me. I knew he believed I had what it would take. I knew he believed enough in me to show me and let me try it on my own. I remember the first time using an axe and stacking wood. An axe is heavy no matter what, but to a young boy, it seemed very heavy. But thats for a reason. I remember taking a swing with my dad watching and coaching so that the large heavy metal blade did not go through my foot. Yah I missed several times. And yes I hit the wooden handle many times before I got it down. But, because he was there, I got it. I probably would not have a toe or something unless my dad hadn’t shown me how to do it correctly and safely. He showed me how to accomplish and be successful; in that be great and have self-confidence. I am ever-thankful because I truly have the best dad.

My dad believed in me to show me how to change the oil in the car. How to ride a bike. How to fix the wooden shake roof and seal leaks in the middle of winter on top of ice and snow. How to run the snow-blower and the riding lawn mower. How to use power tools and learn carpentry skills and enjoy woodworking. How to drive a car. How to not drive a car. How to build the best fort in the neighborhood. How to build a fire in the wood stove. My dad believed that I could do all these things. That I could learn and master them and that, ultimately, I had what it took to do all these. One of my favorite memories growing up is working on the Chrysler with my dad. It was acquired in a trade and showed up in our driveway when I was about 12. It very shortly became nick-named ‘Earl’ and has been, in my opinion, the best fitting name ever. Earl is a 1968 Chrysler 300; 3 tons of Detroit steel, 22 feet long, a huge 440 ci engine, and a trunk you could fill with half of Costco! No joke. That car is wide, low, loud, and is the smoothest car you will ever ride in. This became our project during high school. We replaced a ton of parts, did many custom modifications, threw a lot of money into it, and ended up doing all the prep and body work for a new paint job. It became a very sweet ride. And it was something that my dad and I did together-many fond greasy, and dirty memories. With our matching coveralls, we learned about the car, but greater than that, we grew closer to each other. I am ever-thankful because I truly have the best dad.

Nascar racing 2007

My dad showed me what it means to be great and do great. In doing what he loves, being a master goldsmith, my dads attention to detail and perfection is something to be admired. Whether it is in an ornate wedding ring, to a custom wooden bookshelf for the den; my dad has an eye for detail. And it rubbed off on me too. I appreciate these things he has taught me because I now too, am a perfectionist in many things as well. Whether I hang a picture frame, or am cleaning the kitchen, or detailing the car; I do it to the fullest and the best. And I attribute this to none other than my dad. I am ever-thankful because I truly have the best dad.

My dad is my greatest mentor. He has shown the the way to live, love and to serve, and is still teaching me today. As a mentor he modeled the way I should live; being humble, respectful, honest in everything, and to always do what’s right. And to always trust in the Lord for He has our best ALL the time. I can think of so many times in the past where finances were tight, very tight. Bills were unpaid and the taxman was calling often. Owning your own business is great on many levels but when in the red for a long time, I could see the strain it put on my dad. He remained cheerful and upbeat in some very rough times. He would tithe to our church even when it meant a lack somewhere else. He modeled for me that trusting the Lord meant putting Him first. There were so many times in the past 20 years that my dad received either an anonymous check for just the right amount or an order came in at just the right time. All the while, proving to us as a family, that when you trust the Lord, when you love Him fully, He will follow through and He is good. My dad showed me how to trust the Lord in the worst of times – which lets be honest, those are the hardest times to trust Him. I am ever-thankful because I truly have the best dad.

My dad also showed me what commitment, selfless love, and serving in marriage looks like. My parents have been through a lot. Through thick and thin, better or worse; my dad has loved my mom constantly and consistently through it all. He has been my greatest role-model on self-less never-stop-committing love. I am ever-thankful because I truly have the best dad.

the Getty

My dad has taught me so many life lessons that have made me the man I am today. He has trained me, taught me, showed me, and coached me on how to be a man. He’s showed me how important it is to have a ‘good’ name, have respect and be respected. He has modeled for me that a good work ethic is nearly more important than anything and how hard work truly does accomplish much. He has also shown me what a good steward of money is and how important it is to have a grasp of your finances. My dad has true ‘common sense’, which these days is hard to come by and nearly non-existent. All these aspects of who my dad is and all that he exemplifies, are truly remarkable.

I love, respect, cherish, and look up to you dad. Thank you for being my dad. Thank you for showing me the way. Thank you for always supporting my decisions and saying ‘you are proud of me’. Your words are always so timely and something I can never get enough of.

Loving and missing you from afar this Fathers day.

your son

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a right response to the [grace] of God.

It is ALL a gift from God! This is the most incredible part of the divine plan for humanity. God in His infinite grace devised a way for humanity to NOT have to sacrifice for atonement any more. He, in His infinite wisdom, knew there was a better way. God in His grace, extended us the gift of salvation through His Son.

God in the Old Testament would kill people for injustice and disobedience. He sent the flood for the wickedness of mankind. Then He sent His Son to take upon Himself the very sin, (became sin for us) we have committed to once and for all atone, (pay the price) so the wrath of God would be no more. As God is a just God, justice needed to be satisfied in order for God to still be just. It was necessary for those who sinned to be punished, and the only alternative to each person dying for his own sin, was for Gods only Son to die in our place. The price Jesus paid, His very own life, is SO much more costly than anyone can imagine.

Now through His sacrifice, we are able to have restored relationship with God the Father. This newly restored relationship, through Christ alone, is extended to us as a GIFT. Ephesians 2:4-9 says we are credited this righteousness and that there are no works or deeds we can do to make this restored relationship happen; it is merely handed to us as a gift. Through Gods incredible GRACE, we are saved by grace when we believe.

Good works in the Christian faith are not a basis for salvation, not even a qualifier, as with some world religions. Works are good by themselves, but salvation through Jesus Christ is handed to us with absolutely NO strings attached. We are to accept it merely by faith. Romans 3:27-28 speaks about humanities ability to be accepted by God.

27 Where, then, is boasting?It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the “law” that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

There is nothing we can do to gain the acceptance of God, the Creator of the universe. It is based on faith as we are made right in the sight of God because we have faith in Jesus Christ. His grace is truly free and undeserved, as we see in Romans 11:6, where Paul defines what grace truly means.

And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

There is no devise or human conduct that can bring us into right standing before God. We are sinners and a just God cannot tolerate that. Jesus, going before us, now hands us the biggest gift of all, life eternally with God the Father. This is so incredible!

Now the only right response to God’s grace is one of acceptance and acknowledgment of His Lordship. We must acknowledge we are spiritually dead and that there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. We have to come to terms that there is truly nothing we can do to merit Gods favor. We have to trust that the work Jesus Christ did for us on the cross is God’s provision for our salvation. We must receive this by repenting of our sins and embracing it by faith in the person of Jesus Christ.

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”
― Billy Graham
 
Receiving the grace of God, His love, acknowledging His sacrifice, and being fully conscience of our standing in His sight is literally – life altering. There is no other way to put it. What Jesus has done for us is and will forever be THE most incredible act towards humanity. Now, as Billy Graham says, it is a daily process of reminding ourselves of this!
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Belated: why I’m thankful for my mom…

I have never met anyone like my mother (or ‘mum’ as they say over here in Kiwi country). I dont think I will ever meet anyone like her, or that compares to her, in my lifetime. I am SO blessed, to have a mother, but especially one as great as her. This one’s for you mom.

My mother is the first to look at the bright side. In the good, the bad, and the ugly; my mother will pull something good from every situation. Now this is uncommon, I find in today’s world, where we don’t just dwell on the negative or the depressing bits about the given situation. My mother will not only mention, but highlight the good. Raise a flag to accent the good. The parts we should be thankful for. The parts worth celebrating. The parts worth thanking our Creator for. This is what my mother does.

My mom is always pointing to Jesus. Not like the statue in the park with his finger pointed towards the heavens. No, she is praying to Jesus. She is thanking Jesus for the good and the blessings He has given us. She is directing our attention to His words, whether it be writing a scripture down or voicing a reference. Not only is she pointing to Jesus, but she is quoting the words of Jesus. Whenever I think about a ‘silent witness’, I think of my mom. She is constantly pointing to Jesus. This is who my mother is.

No one knows the Bible like my mother. I have never met, nor known anyone who knows so much scripture off the top of her head. I wish, oh how I wish, I had her memory for scripture. After 28 years, I am still amazed at how much she knows and remembers of the written words of God. Whenever I get a card, an email, or have a brief conversation with my mother, she is quoting scripture. She is referencing scripture or parables or precepts. It is literally like “times of refreshing’ as Acts 3:19 speak of, when my mother quotes scripture. This is what my mother does.

No one knows long-suffering like my mother. Since I can remember, my mother has had numerous health issues. She has been in and out of doctors offices, under gone more tests than I can count, and had many good days and many bad days.  Amidst all this, my mother has never complained or dragged anyone else’s spirits down due to her pain. My mother knows long-suffering. After years of dealing with pain, and injuries, and more pain, and discomfort; my mother is the most upbeat and ‘look on the bright-side’ type ever. All the while, never ceasing to thank Jesus for breath and life and family. Continually thanking Him for each day. I have never known anyone to under-go what she has had to endure, and have the outlook she has everyday. My mother is amazing. My mother knows long-suffering. This is who my mother is.

My mother is the most selfless person I know. Whether at work, at home, on a good day, or a bad day: my mom is all about everyone else. She has taught me, whether spoken or observed, everything I know about being a servant. About being others focused. She has shown me what a true servant to others truly is, without any motive or request for something is return. Complete selflessness. She is a role model and a saint. This is what my mother does.

My mother is the strongest person I know. Now if you know my mom or have seen her, well, she is quite petite. So im not talking about the brawny-strength. Im talking about character and a ‘present’ strength like no other. Her strength of heart, in loving at all costs. Her strength of purpose and determination to finish well in everything. A present strength that permeates the room. A strength that makes you not want to leave the room. This is who my mother is.

And lastly, I have never known someone who can encourage like my mom. She always knows when to say and what to say, just at the right time, to speak the words I needed to hear. I have encountered it so many times. Many times it doesn’t even hit me till we are off the phone and I think about our conversation. I remember her words and how timely they were. It is a blessing. Its prophetic. Its my mothers gifting. This is what my mother does.

I love you Mom. Thankful everyday that you are my mom and that I am your son. Loving you from a far.

your son

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Lessons learned from Simon says…

Servanthood is essential because Christ demonstrated its purpose and communicated its power.

Has Jesus ever asked you to do something you didn’t understand, and you had no idea why He was asking this of you?  I remember a couple of times He asked this of me and I had no idea what He was doing.  One of the bigger requests God had of me was while I was in high school, nearly ten years ago.  It was the beginning of my senior year and one of the elders in my church asked me to pray about going to Croatia for three months after I graduate.  I told him I would, out of a ‘good Christian response’, because I felt like I would be offending God and him if I said no.  I had never given missions a second thought nor did I have any clue where in the world Croatia was.  For a matter of weeks I really did not even pray about it because I had no desire to go.  Three weeks later the elder asked me again and I confessed that I had not even given it a second thought.  I began to pray about it for a matter of months and I was still unsure about the whole trip.

I had no idea how I could even be used in Croatia.

I was reading in Hebrews one night and a verse came alive.  It was Hebrews 11:8, “…and he shall go and not know why he is leaving.”  Immediately after that I said, “Okay, Lord I will go,” and through that simple act of obedience, I had an amazing peace that I had made the right decision.  It took me awhile to understand what He was calling me to do, but when I understood, I felt extremely blessed.

Hebrews 11:12 says, “After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table. Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you?”.  He wanted to make sure they understood what just happened.  His question was a rhetorical one; not aimed at merely rebuking the disciple’s pride, namely Peter’s, but giving them an example of true humility.  The discernment of the disciples seemed to develop very slowly.

It took them a long time to comprehend the intensity of Jesus’ love for them and the nature of his humility in dealing with them.

I can only imagine being in the place of the disciples and watching my Master and Teacher wash my feet in the most humbling of ways.  There was so much internal conflict happening and pure confusion in the minds of the disciples, culturally Jesus was breaking many rules.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 13, “You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am.”  Jesus was restating the title his disciples called Him.  The disciples actually believed and held Him to be ‘the Master’ and ‘the Teacher’.  Jesus declared that He was exactly what they held Him to be.  His title was something a well-accredited teacher received and only the most respected teachers had this double title.  Jesus as the Teacher was referring to the divine words He spoke and being the Master refers to the divine power manifested in Him.  In both of these specific titles lies Jesus’ deity.  This title put him above the disciples as a superior.

For a superior to serve an inferior was culturally unacceptable. Jesus liked to play this cultural curve-ball often in the Bible.

His status hasn’t changed as Hebrews 13:8 says; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  Jesus was demonstrating through his actions that it did not matter who you are, who you think you are, or what your social status is to serve others.

Verse 14 says, “So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet”.  It is interesting how Jesus inverts the word order and puts Master in front of Teacher.  Other translations use Lord instead of Master. Jesus was reaffirming His greatness by first stating He was the Lord and then secondly the Teacher.  Jesus as fully Lord and fully human lowered himself so much to demonstrate to the disciples that they ought to learn by imitating their Teacher.  Just as ‘Simon says…’and we follow the leader, we also need to follow the example laid out for us.  Jesus was emphasizing the fact that His actions as their leader should set the pattern for humble service to others.

Verse 15 goes on to say, “I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do”.  Here is Jesus’ own explanation of His action and the key to understanding it.  It was so much more than an example of humility; it was an example of love.  He was wanting to guide his disciples and us, in what to do for each other.  By washing one another’s feet we practice genuine love toward one another.  Philippians 2:3-4 says, “…but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others”.  We learn this love only from Jesus himself.

He wants us to follow after Him in the footsteps of the pattern He set before us.  This is a call to serve others.  Jesus went through washing all the disciples feet to show them that they need to serve others humbly only out of love.

In the time of Jesus, it was a necessity to wash their feet often because they wore sandals everywhere and their feet became filthy very quickly.  Today all we might have to do before a meal is wash our hands.  So what does it mean to wash one another’s feet?  I think Jesus wants all of us to serve one another in a way that is humbling, and really putting others before us.  When serving others, see them as the number one priority.  It’s doing those things we don’t want to do for people we may not want to do them for.  It does not matter our status or wealth.  Washing one another’s feet is a picture of humble servanthood.

He has already shown us how, now we are to follow His lead and serve one another.

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the Raiders, LEGOs, and a Segway…a post about [dreams]

I always laugh to myself when I think of dreams because I NEVER remember them. Its probably because I sleep so hard at night that I don’t remember them. I have no doubt I dream every night, but I just rarely remember them. When I do though, its usually worth sharing. This is the case with the following dreams.

Dreams are a wild and crazy thing. They can be vivid and nearly like-reality. Or they can be the closest thing you ever have to a straight-up acid trip. Dreams are funny and make for good stories later. Dreams can be scary and make you literally feel like your falling out of a building. I have fallen out of several buildings, in dreams that is. I have had people try to kill me. And I’ve even had a dream once where someone stole my prized black and silver, embossed lettered ‘Raiders’ lunch-pale in grade school. Believe me, I never had one, but now that I recall that dream, I’d rock that to work now-a days. Nobody cheers the Raiders anymore, but hey, I’d do it. Maybe Ill even get a sweet polyester black jacket – RAIDER NATION!

Totally kidding BTW.

As a kid I used to play with LEGO’s all the time. By the time I was eight I seriously had 4 containers the size of suitcases full of LEGO’s. It’s probably worth some money now. I would build police stations and ships and roads and: cars. I would build every kind of car, truck, SUV, minivan, jacked-up hill-billy, mudding-off road vehicle you could think of. Im not gonna lie – I was good at it. I had a blast with LEGO’s all the time growing up. One of my favorite dreams, that I remember as a kid was involving LEGO’s. I still remember it vividly. I had received a fairly large police station set, maybe for Christmas or a birthday. You know the one with the real garage doors that slide up and down. With the jail cell and the police dog. It was a sweet set. Anyway, I just remember that in my dream I was the police man of ‘LEGO-town’ and me and dog named Kaiser ( im totally telling the truth here…his name was Kaiser) well, we kept law and order in the town of Lego-opolis. I swear in my dream we through that criminal in jail like three times. It was a good ole’ time.

I will have to say that my all-time favorite dream ever has to be this next one. It is so random and absolutely everything that I am not. Its truly awesome. Here’s the setup…it involves chewing gum, a not-so-official-feeling-of-entitlement, and a Segway. So in this dream I am what I like to think of as a cross between a rent-a-cop and someone on Neighborhood watch. But my agenda for the night: to fine people who spit there gum out in public. IM TOTALLY SERIOUS HERE. This was for real. I cant remember how many fines I gave out that night, but I was the administrator of gum-chewing-justice riding on a Segway! Now if anyone knows me, I seriously think Segways are the dumbest thing ever invented. You look dumb, there not cool, and there not even that fast. I would never be caught dead on one. And yet, in this dream, I was riding of all things motorized and movable, a freakin Segway. But in hindsight, I was a pretty B.A. gum-chewing enforcing cop !!

I’de like to hear what your most random and funny dream was?

_________________

JOIN the link-up on Lindsey’s blog:  thoughts, words, stories, poems, and paragraphs all about DREAMS.

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MARRIAGE LETTERS. PART THREE. About fortifying our walls and outside influences…

To my wife,

I quickly think of many things on this topic. On how life gets busy, and at times feels like a roller coaster coming off the tracks. How work can be stressful. Some days are great, and some are just whatever. And some days are the most migraine-inducing worst day of your life sort of stressful. How family can be ever so wonderful and yet sometimes difficult at times. How money can be a wedge driven between two people quicker than almost anything else in relationships. How politics can make people so passionate about certain issues. How current events, especially of late, can strike fear and worry so quickly. How waking up late on a saturday morning next to you and Bella in our king size bed makes us feel like we have wasted the entire day. I think of how a sale item gets you every time when we are out shopping and in your words; “…its happening again to me…”. I think about how the glimpse of a menu or an advertisement gets us excited about what’s for dinner. All these things; of life, and love, and moments together, they are all influenced by outside forces, wants, and desires.

Many are awesome. SO many are absolutely the best thing in our life. Our friends and family influence in our lives is simply the best. We are so blessed to have the family we do surrounding us. Although, living in New Zealand, I do wish they were closer. But the good influences are not what we need to focus on. We enjoy these, we laugh at these, we cherish these every day. I am not worried about these. I am worried about the influences that we either, don’t speak about or the ones we don’t even notice. These are the things, that together, we need to focus on.

As I was thinking about this topic I realized how distracted we can easily become. Whether we are doing something pertaining to work. Or uploading pictures from our last venture to Instagram. Or checking our Facebook timeline. Or writing an email to family. Our lives are very easily distracted by technology. I am probably more guilty of it than I even know. All of the influences in our life have both good and bad to them. Example: Ice cream is very tasty, but it will also make us fat. The moral is that we just need to be constantly aware of what IS influencing us and our marriage.

I was thinking over the last two days about what our days and evenings look like. We go to work, go to the gym, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up after dinner, do laundry; and before you know it, its 11:00 pm and we are nearly falling asleep folding clothes. Of course not ever day is as cut-and-dry as the last sentence, but my point is, we don’t have that many moments in a day of un-interrupted and non-distracted time with each other. Now the weekends can be different, but are honestly almost equally distracted as the work days. In doing this, I had another thought. Not to get to0 Jesus-ey on you, but I really thought it was ‘inspired’, if you know what I mean. I kept thinking about stories in the Bible where they would fortify the walls of a city to protect it, and the Lord would promise them protection for their obedience. In a very similar way, we need to fortify the walls of our marriage to protect us from these counter-productive outside influences.

This topic has made me realize that, of all the ‘influencers’ in our marriage, whether they are particularly good or bad, that its only when we are not aware of them that they control us. Its when we let a lot of things get in the way. Its when we let a lot of things come between us. Then communication and moments together and feeling secure with each other becomes so clouded. This is what we must protect. This is what we must fortify. This is what we must fight for.

I have thought for a longtime that one of the first places Satan tries to attack is amidst a relationship, especially within marriages. I have seen several of my long time mentors become divorced in the last year. Heard of others splitting up or having affairs. This has made me realize that no matter what kind of person you are, what vocation you hold, or even what political party you stand for; we are all equally susceptible to having failure in our marriage. It truly is just that easy.

Fortifying the walls of your marriage is not simple. Among many things, it requires obedience to the Lord’s call to rebuild. With the Israelites, the Lord would call them to build up the wall, and in that act of faith and obedience, the Lord promised to protect them. The Lord is a covenant-holding God. In this same way, out of obedience, and in the knowledge of what happens if we are not pro-active in this, I commit to a daily act of protecting and rebuilding the walls in our marriage against the outside influences.

I believe that spending time with each other will be the key to intimacy within our marriage. We must constantly look for reasons to come together rather than excuses to remain apart. A daily striving to protect those things that matter, with us, and the things that tear us apart, on the other side of the wall away from us. A daily recognition of the unconscious acts and habits that slowly take our time from each other. And a daily commitment to make every moment, long or short, truly count with each other.

Committed to loving you,

your huz

Lindsey’s not-so-serious letter this week:  On outside influences… (Marriage Letters)

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Marriage Letters. PART TWO. Enduring loss together….

To my wife,

Maybe Im just a fat kid at heart, but the first thought that pops into my head is…you know those moments when the ice cream is melting too fast, and it drips onto the ground…(and there is that moment where all time stands still and you have a mini freak-out inside as what to do but nothing happens quick enough). That is a lost morsel of ice cream goodness. Or when you are eating, maybe a little too fast, and the salsa on top of your tortilla chip falls to the ground, never to be recovered again. And no, the 5-second rule does not apply here. Its lost into the nasty, dirty floor. Yah well, I might seem shallow in this first paragraph, but well, those moments where my taste buds should have ______(insert your own here)…those are moments we had too endure loss together.

Now yes I will go back to my first sentence, because well, lets be honest, once a fat kid, always a fat kid (at heart). Or should we say it better, at stomach. I may not be nearly the GI-GANT-OR I used to be (thank-goodness) but my stomach will forever think its an endless abyss, continually hungering for its next victim. Now my job, as the recovering food addict, is to keep myself in check. Now (I know what your thinking, isn’t this supposed to have a point about relationships and loss and…us) I promise I do have a point.

That whole keeping myself in-check part, well, I have good days and bad days. Now I do slip up, occasionally…like when its my idea to have ice cream three nights in a row. Although, side note to my readers, this ice cream is seriously the best ice cream you will ever have IN YOUR LIFE. Hands down. No questions asked. This, in hindsight was not a good choice, however, one of the most beneficial things done over the last weekend to my mind, and well, my soul too. But, the sad part is, that when I go to get ice cream, and they are out of our favorite flavor, AGAIN….well, this to me, is enduring loss together.

Its that shared moment, whether life altering or just an unfortunate moment in time, that together, we share in the loss of something that is important to us. And well, two nights in a row, the most recent loss we shared, they were out of our favorite flavor of ice cream. Ya, I do know what your thinking, this guy is really shallow. AND addicted to ice cream. Well thats ok cause Im on the 2-scoop program. Its changing my life. Seriously.

Well, what can I say, our friend Giapo and his amazingly good flavors of ice cream…its been some of my favorite moments spent with you recently.

I look back on our relationship, and we always find something like this that we are literally boarder-line addicted too that we absolutely love. Some are shorter lived favorites, and others we consistently enjoy for years. Think back; 21 Choices, Toi, Kabuki, vacations on the beach, Disneyland, The Old Spaghetti Factory, The SunBreak Cafe, your cider and my beer…and most recently homemade burritos. One of my favorite things that you have consistently loved, is the bathrobes in hotels when we are on vacation. Every time we are in a store and there is a robe, you always tell me how much you love them. Our last hotel stay, we picked the place simply because they were the only hotel to list a bathrobe as an ammenity. Maybe one of these days, I will get the hint, and buy you one of your own. All that too say, I love these little things about you.

This has been from day one, something that we have enjoyed, and in those moments, thoroughly enjoyed eachother. So whether we are missing our yorkie, Bella and loosing out in the precious moments spent together with her in our lap.  Or experiencing a lost moment of joy when it comes to ice cream, these moments in our life, I love sharing with you.

Love,

your husband


Read Lindsey’s letter this week: Enduring loss together… (Marriage Letters)

a paper full of research….

Computers are a love/hate relationship. Some days they are your best friend…and others well, you might feel like chucking it out the window. My tired old Macbook that I have had since my early days of college, has well, reached its full capacity. In that day, I purchased the largest possible hard drive that Apple offered, which was all of 100 gigabites. That too me sounded like a lot then, but now 6 plus years later, full of my very, very large digital music collection, all of our wedding and honeymoon, and family pictures, tax documents, and old research papers i wrote in college; there is no more room. Period.

Its sad when you try and download something little like a menu for a restaurant, and your computer tells you that it cant because it is clinically obese from all of the files you fed it for the last 6 years. Long story short, this is an essay I wrote in my first year or two of college that after wading through old files and deciding what to delete and save, this was a good read that I thought was worth sharing. I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear some thoughts on it as well.

THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD:

The study of theology is the study of the doctrine that we as Christians base our lives on. Unfortunately, the emphasis on learning theology has grown far less important to believers. As believers we should devote more time to learning and understanding our theology and theology of others.  It is vitally important that we as believing Christians know exactly what we believe and the reasons why.  In Systematic Theology I, we have been exposed to many Pentecostal doctrines such as the doctrine of God, Christ, Man, and Sin.  The more we studied the doctrine of God, the more I became interested in the attributes of God. These attributes are important to our theology, because without knowing what makes up the God we serve, we really have no reason for serving Him. Without knowing what makes our God different than our President or other great leaders, it is easy to fall trap to false gods.   His many attributes such as His numerous names and their meanings, the many characteristics that make up His nature and how they affect His role as God, and just coming to a clearer realization of God’s nature both fascinated me and made me realize how majestic and mysterious He really is.

The knowledge of God is a very extensive and difficult topic. God is the only one with perfect knowledge called omniscience.  This is the divine attribute that is truly only God’s for “He has known for ages” (Acts 15:18). Though many of us believe we know everything, God knew everything before the world was created. He knows every breath we breathe, every thought we think and nothing escapes Him. In 1 John 3:20 it says that

“For God is greater than our heart’s, and He knows everything.” Even in our wildest attempt we will never possess the divine knowledge that God has. We have to trust, as Christians, that God is in control and will take care of us. We are like squirrels. We see the acorn and that is as broad as our spectrum goes. But God is the creator of the oak tree and He sees the big picture because He created that big picture.

“He knows everything: everything possible, everything actual; all events, all creatures, God the past, the present and the future. He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven, in earth and in hell.  His knowledge is perfect. He never errs, never changes, never overlooks anything” (Pink  34).

We can trust Him to know what is good for us because He is the one created us. “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me, you know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar, you discern my going out and my lying down, you are familiar with all my ways, before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord” (Psalm 139:2-4). Nothing can be concealed from God because we are beings made of Him. Does the potter not know every fault and chip in his vase, or a baker not know every ingredient that goes into his bread? Does our Heavenly Father not know everything about us? We cannot conceal anything from Him. “For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” (Ezek. 11:5). Though He is invisible to us, we are not hidden to Him. Neither the darkness of night, the closed curtains, nor the deepest dungeon can hide any sinner from the eyes of God, for  “He knows what is in the darkness” (Dan. 2:22).

The word “Eternal” in Greek is “Aidios” which means to be ever enduring, always existing, Everlasting…To be without beginning or end. Not only is God eternal, but also He is “Uncreated.” The word “Uncreated” is a summary of some scriptural declarations about the eternal and everlasting God. What can it mean that God has no beginning or end? Our greatest efforts over the centuries to comprehend this have been at best educated guesses. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Psalms 90:2 says that “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou has formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God!” Scripture has numerous references about God the Creator and Him being eternal, although we will never understand how.

God is not subject to the essence of time as we know it, for He created it, but does not fall slave to it. He is changeless! Plain and simply, God is and forever will be!  His time is perfect and everything is accordance to plan. Although we will never be able to grasp His time spectrum, we know that because He created it, we can be sure His timing will be right, at the right time.

To understand God as the Creator and understand His omnipotence, we have to understand His place as the sovereign God.  God has all power in this universe. He has unfathomable control over every microscopic detail of this earth.  A popular license plate cover states, “God is my co-pilot.” What a mix-up theology that is. The sovereign God takes the wheel of our lives and tells us to hold on.

“The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy. Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can hinder Him” (Providence Baptist Site).

His own Word expressly declares: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:10); “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand” (Dan. 4:35). Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things “after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11).

There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the worst circumstances, and during the most severe trials, Christians believe God’s mightiness and power will heal, forgive, sanctify and renew their brokenness. God is the pilot; we are in the back seat trusting Him to get us to our destination safely.

Though God is sovereign and we are not worthy to receive anything from Him, God is not stingy with His grace. He shows us grace in both big and small ways though we do not deserve it. “If I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash each others feet. I did this as an example so that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).

“Jesus washes our feet for two reasons. The first is to give us mercy; the second is to give us a message, and that message is simply this: Jesus offers unconditional grace; we are to offer the same unconditional grace. “The mercy of Christ preceded our mistakes; our mercy must precede the mistakes of others. Those in the circle of Jesus had no doubt of His grace, those in our circles should have no doubts about ours” (Lucado 22).

God shows us grace so we can show grace to others and as results be more like Him.

Christians are all called to live pure and holy lives as Jesus did. The Greek word for “Holy” is translated to “Hieros” which means- “Sacred” or that which is determined, filled or consecrated by divine power. We must imitate Jesus, this is to live as He lived, to think as He thought, to conform ourselves to His image. “That is what our duty in life is, to imitate Jesus” (Pratney 222). “And one cried to another, and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty: the whole earth in full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). In this verse, the Son, the Father and the Spirit are all called “Holy!” Christians are meant to be mirror images of Christ and to achieve that, we must be withstanding in purity and righteous and have love, grace and integrity be the ingredients for every word, thought and action.

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). For all eternity we shall ponder the love of God, and never will we fully comprehend it. “For His Love is infinite” (Biblical Studies). We know that God loves us because we are His creation and His undying, forgiving love that He shows us, though we do not deserve it, is the perfect example how we are to love ourselves and others.

The best examples of God’s love for us is that God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die an unjust death on a cross to save us from eternal damnation. Love comes at a high cost, and the one who truly loves is willing to pay the price. Jesus’ life was the ultimate price paid for we who do not deserve it.  God’s love is also very personal and individual that He sent His most precious possession, His only son to die so that an intimate relationship between God and us could be established and maintained. His love will meet us right where we are at any time in the course of our lives. In the book Knowing God, J.I. Packer defines the love of God “… an exercise of His goodness towards individual sinners whereby, having identified Himself with their welfare, He has given His Son to be their Savior, and now brings them to know and enjoy Him in covenant relation.”

God possesses many attributes that are difficult to understand. His love, holiness, grace, mercy, righteousness and the countless others that make up God are far beyond our human understanding. Thought the attributes are many and their contents extensive, they are all eternal and birthed out of an intimate love that God has for us. His love for us is what makes Him have grace and mercy on us. His love for us is purified by righteousness and makes Him holy.  He will never quit running out of these attributes, He will never get tired of pouring them forth on our lives. He is eternal and will never change His relationship with us. As Christians, it is important for us to at least try to grasp why we worship God, not because of His good attributes but because His attributes make Him good.

Works Cited

 Humphreys, Fisher. The Nature of God. Hashvile, Tennessee: Broadman P, 1985.

Lucado, Max. Who is this God? Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 1998.

Packer, J I. Knowing God. New York: Fortress P, 1993.

Pink, Arthur W. The Attributes of God. 8 Dec. 2003  <http://pbministries.org&gt;.

 Providence Baptist Site. Comp. Anthony Hanson. 10 Oct. 1992. 9 Dec. 2003  <http://providencebaptist.org&gt;.

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Marriage Letters. PART ONE. I trust you because….

To my wife,

Preface:

This is going to be sort of a new thing for me. To write my inner-most thoughts to you, more than on just a love note to make your day or on an anniversary or birthday card. I am not sure I feel this is going to be difficult, because well it’s not, it’s just going to be new and different. But I want to do this because I know two things; it will help me process things and get my thoughts out to you, and it will help you understand me. If ive learned anything recently, its that we need to understand each other and really open up about what we really think and feel. And understand each other means many things, but its the gateway to a better us; and thats all I really want.

I TRUST YOU BECAUSE….

I trust you because….deep down I know you truly want what is best for me, as an individual, as a husband, and for us as a couple. I cant help but think about our marriage vows we said a year and a half ago. When I think of trust-I think of our vows that we wrote together for each other.

“I promise to you perfect love and perfect trust…”

I love this line. This was one of the last lines we said several times in our vows to each other. We promised each other our lives, our souls, our love, our commitment, and our trust from that day forward. A vow and a promise is a weighty thing. Its not to be taken lightly-not that I think we have in anyway, Im just saying its a big deal. And these things we promised to each other on that day.

Perfect trust. We are not perfect. I am no where near perfect. I think I can safely say that when we wrote these words, we did not mean perfect as one hundred percent and zero failure is allowed. Perfect trust and perfect love meant that in all situations and at all times, we are striving, with our whole-self, to perfect trust. Our actions, our words, our thoughts, our life should exemplify this constant striving. This reach to be the best person. To be the best spouse we can possibly be. This is what perfect trust is.

When I look at our relationship, our marriage, the good times and the bad; you have consistently been trustworthy. You constantly want the best for us. You want and strive to be the best for us. When we are disconnected and not seeing each other eye-to-eye, you have proven to me that I can trust that in all situations, you are atleast striving for the best. Thats what you want. Even though we may say hurtful things, be rude, yell, be silent and not talk, avoid each other; this still does not break my trust with you. Because even in those raging arguements and extended periods of silence, I still know that all you really want is what is best for us. In the long term and right then at that moment. That to me is perfect trust.

In all the rough times we have had, all the arguements, and all the disagreements; there is one thing that I know deep down even amidst the anger and frustration and hurt feelings; its that I can trust you whole-heartedly. Honestly, when I think about it, there really isnt anything you have done to break my trust with you. I many times think you are being rude, or un-caring, or un-loving in a situation, but in terms of trust, I feel I have been able to consistently trust you in all things.

You always want the best for us. I trust you because you have proven this to me and you have not broken this trust and promise as well. Situations and actions and words change, but at the heart of it, you show me every time that you still just want the best outcome for us as a couple and for us individually.

I don’t ever have to worry about your actions, your words spoken or un-spoken, or the places you go with co-workers or friends in regards to the opposite sex. There is nothing you have done to make me feel threatened or concerned about this. This is a huge relief that maybe I have never shared with you. You are beautiful and attractive. You are successful and smart. Why wouldn’t any guy not be interested if you. My point is, that in all situations I have been with you, you have proven to me that I am your one and only-and that you are not wavering in this. This allows me to fully trust you in the times when I am not with you.

You strive for us to make good life-direction decisions.You are not hasty in decisions. You have well thought out ideas and your reasons are not all emotion based, but have good, sound reasoning behind them. I desire for my wife to be someone who makes good decisions, with or without me. Sometimes I may not agree with the decision one hundred percent. In these times, you have shown me that you have good reasons for what you are doing or why you think that way. I wont agree with every choice or decision made, but what you have shown to me, and all that I want, is that you have good reasons for it.  Sometimes it may just be a personal decision for you, but I still can trust that at that moment you are making the right choice. The best choice for you and for us now and down the road. This proves to me that you are trustworthy.

You want to be successful in your job and career and strive to do your best. You have proven to me that you make wise choices in regards to your work ethic, your quality of work is always good, your professional, and your ability to produce at such a high rate and caliber always amazes me. These things all prove to me that I can trust you.

In my career choices, even though I am super easy going, especially when I am frustrated at work, you have always pulled something out that is good. So that at the end of the conversation, I can atleast say, “…well thats true, I should be thankful for that.”You prove to me that regardless of my job situation, you want what is best for me. You want me to be able to see more good in the situation than dwell on the negative. This you have proven to me over and over.

I think a big thing with trust is that you are consistent. In these things you have proven to me that I can trust you. You truly have shown me perfect trust.

Love,

your husband


Read Lindsey’s post on her blog: I trust you because… and more Marriage Letters from other couples on the Runamuck blog.

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