Their 40-Year Love

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset Last Sunday my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. I had the privilege of helping my mom put together a photo video collage thing for my dad as a gift, to reminisce over all that the past 40 years has blessed them with. As I scanned and scanned and scanned, I felt a stirring in my heart--the last 40 years of their marriage has been made up of a lot of the same kind of days, conversations and feelings that my 5 year marriage has been made up of.

I was brought to last weeks argument with T, or the seasons we've spent apart due to the military.

I was reminded of the adventures we captured on camera in our courtship days and the way he makes me laugh like no one else.

All of this is how it is with my parents, too. They have days where nothing seems to fall into place. Where one says something hurtful to the other. Where life and all it's demands seems to take a major toll on the romance in their marriage. They have days where they laugh till it hurts. Where they feel full and happy. Where they can't wait for the other to come home just so they can simply give them a kiss. There are two consistent factors in a marriage like theirs, regardless of what kind of "day" (or season) it is, and I believe they are the following:

they always show up for one another.

and

they would never choose anyone else.

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When you're young and in love you just expect those feelings to always be there. When someone bursts your bubble and tells you that it won't always be easy, you tell yourself, "yeah, but that's not us. We're solid." Unfortunately, and I can say this because I had that exact sentence run through my head a number of times in the past, the truth is that it is impossible to avoid pain and hurt when putting two broken and sinful people together in the most intimate of relationships. Real depth of love is not found in the early days where little work has been done, but after years and years of digging deep into commitment. Remember when you stand on the surf at the beach, and with each wave that crashes your feet sink a little deeper into the sand? To me it seems sort of like that. You stay put, let the waves hit, and feel yourself growing more and more solid in your footing. And before you know it, you are immovable by the waves because you're far deeper than you were at the start.

My parents were the ones "destined to fail." And on March 22nd they rang in year 40.

Their story, along with so many others, is the kind of story that newly married (or not-so-newly married) should lean into and take note. To remember that you don't just say "i do" on day one, but every single day that you have breath.

He's being a little too selfish for your taste... "I do."

She's being controlling and a bit overbearing... "I do."

We get to live our lives one time, which means we get to live our love one time. So we must choose to love with abandon. And by that I mean choosing to show up for your spouse, day in and day out. Work through the hard stuff together. Celebrate the blessings together. And always, always remember that its choosing your love, one day at a time, that builds a beautiful and lasting legacy.

I can't think of a better way to live.

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Thanks, mom and dad, for leaving us such a beautiful legacy. I'm so thankful for you.

laura b

When You Come Together Changed--A Post About Reuniting

I've been MIA. This post will shed a little light as to why.

He came home. Like, home home. FOR. GOOD.

Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!

For weeks I had been preparing, cleaning, ready-ing, organizing and anticipating. Then he came home, and since then we've been embracing, unpacking, relaxing, adjusting, moving and just overall figuring this thing out. Because as wonderful and blessed any reunion is, there is always adjustment--and those are the feelings that aren't talked about much.

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Do you know how wonderful it feels when I look over at him and breathe in deeply the truth that we don't have a set number of days? Those moments when I choose to forget all the things and simply embrace the truth of today are invaluable. There isn't much like it, I must say.

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Then there's the moments where my mind begins to gear up for the usual routine (rest, write, blog or practice yoga during naptime; grab a bowl of cereal and netflix to hunker down before bed) and I'm reminded that life has changed. And it hasn't changed in the sense that now we must both revert back to life as it was before our year of separation, but changed as in we have now entered an entirely new land... and I don't know how to begin the journey of exploration.

You see, we've both changed. A lot. Our God brought us each to a new place in our intimacy with Him. Most days I marvel at what He brought us through and how He must've seen it as necessary to bring us through separately. It's a wonderful, glorious blessing. I'm so utterly grateful for His willingness to show us the parts of ourselves that needed to be left behind, and for graciously showing us how to shed those layers and break those chains.

But what do you do when you come back together?

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There has been a lot of pull to go back to those old habits, because they are what we have always known of life together. "Laura and T" life looks like this ______. But there are pieces of that picture of the past that I don't care to bring with us to this new place. With simple, and seemingly harmless habits like eating dinner while watching tv, or baking a batch of cookies and eating a solid half of the batch before they are even fully cooled, comes deeper strongholds and ways of life that I know neither of us want to continue in. In them lies joylessness-- a settling of sorts. And yet, while our desires to make changes now that we know will bring us joy are so present, our minds and bodies seem to want to go into autopilot.

In enters our will.

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The word "will" means, "Diligent purposefullness; determination: an athlete with the will to win." "The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action."

A mind or body on autopilot doesn't often dance with the will. They seem to keep to their corners of the room. But when I step back and I look at the two, square in the face, I unabashedly choose the will. There is so much more work, humility, face-planting and friction with that choice, but there is also so much reward.

Jeremiah 25 shares the story of Jeremiah trying, yet again, to knock some sense into the people of Judah. For years and years (23 to be exact) he had been trying to get them to turn from their evil ways of worshiping false gods and in doing so be able to live in the bountiful land the Lord had given them.

"Turn now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell on the land which the Lord has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever;" (vs 5)

I taught in my class Saturday that the word "evil" used here doesn't merely represent malignant, wicked things but also means "sad", "unhappy" and  "miserable". The times when I struggle with depression, sorrow and overall listlessness are at their worst when I am living life on autopilot. In this understanding of our present circumstance, that we are on the cusp of choosing a land of bounty at the price of greater effort, or a land of sorrow at the cost of little effort, every day, all day, I will deliberately choose the way of greater effort. I may need to breath heavier and at times might feel the strain in the deepest parts of me crying out for the days of old, I know that truly living and loving doesn't happen comfortably. It takes hard conversations. It takes sore muscles. It takes falling into bed at night because while the day might have taken much from you physically, it has filled your heart to the brim with all the goodness that comes from living it. It might also take laying face to face, heads on pillows, and humbly expressing wrong choices made and attitudes held--and voicing that sometimes living life together is hard and weird and we aren't always very good at it. Do you know how much freedom is held in those honest conversations? Mountains upon mountains.

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I'll take conversations at the dinner table over mindless Netflix binges.

I'll fight for evening family bike rides over cookie baking.

And I'll have the hard conversations, when I feel I've been misunderstood in this mess of figuring out how to live and love together, over closing up inside because "how could we possibly be arguing already?"

Life is arguments and feelings and romance and adventure and nothingness all wrapped up and happening at the same time. It never stops. It's always moving.

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We will change some more, and we will figure out what life looks like then too. But for now, every day is a day of small battles against our flesh so that we may live in this bountiful land God has given. Somewhere we were told that life should be joy-filled and effortless. What I'm realizing is that we need to see the joy in working hard for the life we've been promised. A life of contentment-- a life of completeness in Christ.

So that's what we are doing. And the best part is we are doing it together.

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Lonely So Long- A Rainy Day Post

Husband and wife. Meant to be together. Sometimes when I daydream about our new not-approaching-quickly-enough chapter, or book rather, of life I imagine him by my side always. I think this is due to so many days running solo and so many nights hugging lifeless pillows. But immediately after that thought comes the reality that, well, that's unrealistic.

Here's why:

1. We can't spoon on the couch all day. We'd get fat and our kid would be left to fend for himself. Not a good plan.

2. He needs to work. I need to teach. We need to move and live life separately while still being completely wrapped up in one another.

3. Nature calls. And sometimes it's smelly.

and

4. He'd drive me crazy. I'd drive him crazy. In the absolute best sort of way. The way that says I love EVERY. SINGLE. THING. ABOUT. YOU. Which is why I'm ok with telling you that you're being annoying. And also why in the next breath I will lay a big fat kiss on you and go and read by myself, with my heart warm knowing you are just in the other room.

For me, that's the "togetherness" of marriage. That entanglement of heart, mind, body and soul. It's both of our hearts beating in the same rhythm, whether their miles or inches apart. I'm so ready for that.

Today it's rainy. Like really rainy. Like, hydroplaning across the interstate rainy. This doesn't help my mood. We are nearing the end of this season of physical separation and while I could write a book of all the ways God has blessed it and shown His faithfulness, I'd much rather bad-itude my way to the end of July when he's in my arms for good and the big bad military can't take him away anymore. One of the countless gifts I've been given in my marriage to T is the solid belief in the blessedness of marriage. There is nothing more sacred, more intimate, and more humbling than marriage. While raising a kid is a close second, their is nothing harder than marriage. And without a doubt there is nothing worth fighting for more than marriage. It is the picture of our faith. Of our Savior and the love He has for us, His church.

So on this rainy day I'm thinking about togetherness, both in marriage and in faith. Sometimes there are seasons of separation-- reasons why you must go it alone. A woman I very much look up to once taught on Jesus in the garden and how he left the disciples behind because He had to go further into the garden alone. He and His Father had work to do that needed to be between them only. There are reasons, above my realm of understanding, why we needed this season of going alone. Walking separately with our God. I may not know until He can tell me face to face but I choose to accept this time of separation in obedience.

But it is not meant to go on for ever.

This photo was taken by my insanely blessed friend, Jade.

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Do you see what it captures?

Zero distance between he and I. After months of separation, we could finally experience with our lips the closeness that was ever-growing in our hearts.

M. He is a gift we do not deserve. One we'll never deserve. But he is not the focus or the worship of our marriage. We will always love him well by loving each other first. He will be protected and nurtured by the strength and steadfast faith of his parents in their God, and the devotion and care to their union.

Separation. While this photo was taken in a joyful reunion, his uniform serves to represent the uncertainty of the future. The picture that only God can see and understand and know. For some, it may not be a uniform that separates you, but rather a distance of hearts. In the adventure of marriage one thing is certain, there will be times of inseparable closeness, and times of monumental distance. In those seasons of distance, as a partner in that great and blessed adventure, we must choose to fight for togetherness.

We must go to sleep, alone again, choosing to cling to the hope that there will be an evening coming where their eyes will be the last thing we see before we drift off to sleep in a world where everything is right again.

We must open our mouths to have the conversation that will reveal the fragility of our hearts, knowing that our God is the One who heals those wounds, and our partner is the one who needs to see them. That another day of silence is another mile between two hearts that were made to beat as one.

God created a life partner for man because he saw that it was not good for him to be alone. But He didn't just create her out of the dust like man, but from man, from his very being. I didn't come from T's rib. That would've been weird. But I was created for him. I was created because God knew that it would not be good for T to go without me. And because I was created for him, it goes against my purpose to be without him. Guys, this is so much more than lovey feelings in courtship, or hot bods and bedroom fun in your youth. This goes to the deepest parts of ourselves. We are made to be together. To go forward in our work, our parenting, our ministries, with tightly tangled hearts, sometimes physically separated but always close in love.

So fight for it. As I fight to not bad-itude my way to his arms in a month, I encourage you to fight in whatever way you need to for togetherness in your union. It's worth fighting for, because in it we see how we need to fight for closeness with our God. So many things get in the way of our intimacy with our Creator. Where have you stopped fighting? Where have you settled for second best, in both your marriage and your faith? Ask yourself these hard questions because this actually is a really big deal. These are the things life is meant for. Not pretend lives showcased on the internet, but real lives, with warmth in your hearts and laughter on your lips and fingers intertwined at every possible opportunity.

Choose togetherness. Fight for togetherness. Even if that means you have to fight your own self.

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** T and I are huge advocates for marriage, especially in the beginning years. It's awesome and hard and definitely not something you can go at alone. If you are finding you feel alone in your union and don't know what else to do, we encourage you to reach out. Pray with expectation for someone who can help guide you both to a place of reconciliation. God has been faithful to bless us through a few different seasons of support and we've grown in love and intimacy because of it. Find a pastor, a mentor, a friend, to pray with you and help you lift your hands in obedience to God when you feel you can no longer. We can't do this life alone, and we can't be victorious in our marriages on our own. Ask God to bless you and provide aid through your community. He will definitely do so.

Day 20: The Foxes In The Clefts - A Look At Intimacy

Image-1 (5) "Oh get up, dear friend, my fair and beautiful lover- come to me! Come, my shy and modest dove- leave your seclusion, come out in the open. Let me see your face, let me hear your voice. For your voice is soothing and your face is ravishing."

"Then you must protect me from the foxes, foxes on the prowl. Foxes who would like nothing better than to get into our flowering garden." -Song of Solomon 2:13b-15 MSG

Intimacy. At times I find simply saying the word leaves me in an adolescent state, snickering at the very idea of it all. But doesn't that sort of ring true to the female side of intimacy- the timidity and bashfulness so many of us can find ourselves in? I can't begin to figure out why this is, because really, I think there are so many factors that bring so many of us to that place. I do, however, know that there is one common piece here that most of us, if we are honest, have known more intimately than we would want to admit.

There is an epidemic in our society, and I fear for the minds of the sweet young boys in my life who will inevitably be faced with it.

Pornography.

The reasons why pornography truly is a poison in our society are countless, and truly, that is not why I am here today. The heart of my husband is the reason why I am here today, and with regard to this subject I will fight to the bitter end for him.

There are countless ways that pornography, and the sexual ideals of our culture in general, affect intimacy. There is one very specific aspect that I want us to dig into a little bit today, and that is brought up in the above passage in Song of Solomon. Let me just paint a very vague picture of this passage for you. (You can also scroll all the way to the bottom to read it in the Amplified version.)

They have traveled to the mountainside, to the back where they are secluded and alone. (This could be representational of the intimate setting of a marriage relationship. Those spaces in your physical and emotional selves that are just for the two of you.) He is asking her to come out, knowing that she is timid, and show him her beauty. That she does not need to hide, for it is just the two of them, and he desires to delight in her. She responds by saying that "he must protect her". That there are foxes on the hunt to try to destroy their beautiful garden.

Ok, so I don't know about you but we don't live near the mountains, we (thankfully) have no foxes roaming around, and we definitely don't have a garden (even underneath the 4 feet of snow). People, open your hearts to this! Men, you cannot fully understand the vulnerability that is experienced in being asked to let down that veil and let you truly see. It is ugly scary. Please hear me when I say, that this is not because of any one thing you personally have done. This is the fragility of the woman's heart. She desires to be protected; to know that all is safe before she comes out from behind the rocks. And can I just let one fox out of the bag right now?

Your viewing of pornography is like the Daddy fox of the whole bunch.

The time spent adoring the ladies in your wife's Victoria's Secret catalog leaves a trail riddled with fox poo. (By the way ladies, really? Stop getting that catalog and any others sent to your house. If you love their stuff so much go online or to the mall. Please.)

If she, the woman you see with such love in your eyes, were to unveil herself and give you full access to the depths of her being, you wouldn't want anything to do with those nameless faces anyways. Because the beauty that God has placed in there, in that woman who, by someone else's standards may not be much to look at (ahem, check verses 3-4 of chapter 1- this lady wasn't apparently much to look at either), will allow you both to experience an intimacy that you will never be able to describe.

And let me be clear on something here: that intimacy-the tears streaming down your face kind when you experience a taste of eternity- is not because she is so special. She is a human just like you. This dynamic, this relationship, is a tangible example of how we are to approach and experience our God.

We cannot approach the throne of grace with a heart and mind full of filth. As Paul tells us, we are to renew our minds (Ro. 12:2), we are to set our minds on things above, the things of Christ (Col. 3:2) and intimacy with your spouse is not an exception to this! That secret place-where it's just the two of you and God- is holy ground. Do not come to it with dirty feet.

If I were to go about my day, fully aware of the sins being committed, with a heart unwilling to repent and turn away, there is absolutely no way that the King would unveil Himself to give me a glimpse of His heart when I went to Him. It just wouldn't happen. I would not value it- I would trample it underfoot and continue on in my sin. It is when I am willing to run, not walk, myself and my sin to the foot of the cross and unabashedly ask Him to change my course, that He will begin to lift the veil.

Husbands, it is when you are willing to believe, with your entire being, that intimacy with that woman is immeasurably more valuable and beautiful than any other momentary pleasure a nameless woman could give you, that she will come out... and let me tell you, she will radiate. The garden of your marriage, of your union in Christ, will reap an incredible harvest. And as fruit is made to, that harvest will travel out to your children, your grandchildren... in each moment of intimacy, you are building a very counter-cultural legacy that your children will long to follow.

So, my dear wives following on this prayer journey, today we pray against the foxes. We also pray that we would have the faith to come out from the rocks and allow that vulnerability to be filled with the intimacy of the Spirit by the protection of our men. They may need to run back to the cross, time and time again. We may need to allow the Spirit to heal our wounds. And in the end we must both delight in seeing the beauty in two broken people worshiping the creator in this secret place.

-Laura

Lover of our souls,

How gracious you are to have given us a tangible way to work out this relationship with you. God, this is not a friendship or a work relationship-this is intimacy that we share. It is vulnerable and paved with broken pieces of our hearts, but Lord your beauty radiates through it all. I want to pray very specifically for the "garden" of our love. Lord, show him how to protect it. Give him the strength to call a fox a fox and take it captive. Father God, the enemy will continue to unleash these temptations on him as long as we are on this side of heaven, but I beg you, Lord, to grow him in his strength to fight. Let him be defeated no longer, but be willing to rise up against the enemies schemes! The world may say it is not possible to live outside of this temptation but I proclaim in your name, Jesus, that ANYTHING is possible with you. You did not design the intimacy of this marriage to be a place of fear or timidity, so I ask you to work these things out in us that we may find it to be one of the safest places. Give me the strength to love him freely and to be loved freely in return. Lord, in these secluded moments show us your heart. Show us your intimacy. Show us how deeply you love us. There are billions of people coming together daily, but Lord what you have given in the bonds of marriage is so far above what many of them experience, and I praise you for giving us such an incredible gift. Open our eyes to this reality, allowing us to cherish this gift like the most precious of jewels. Broaden our understanding of it's value that we would be like the man who buried the treasure and then spent all he had to buy the whole field! Our marriages are worth all that we have! So show us what needs to go; what needs to be left behind, so that we might grow in our intimacy with you by growing with each other. Thank you for your deep, holy love, Lord.

It is in the mighty name of Jesus Christ I pray these things.

Amen.

If you so desire, as you soak in this word, enjoy this song. Let it bring joy to your heart that He is so beautiful. That your marriage is so beautiful. That your union is so beautiful.

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Song of Solomon 2:14-15

[So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in the seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. [My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom."

Day 17: The God Of All Comfort

Image-1 (3) "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Sometimes, being a woman is just plain dumb. Well, the emotional side of being a woman, anyways. I can't help but think that, on my very worst day, T might think the same thing. The emotions of women are dumb sometimes. When I think back to some of my worst days (ahem, the nightmarish months following the birth of our sweet boy) I praise God for showing T how to comfort me through the ways that he himself has been comforted.

Tonight, as I myself wrap up a stellar day of emotional highs and lows, let's pray for our men to have sensitive spirits to our ever-changing emotions. That they would have patience, and know when to speak and when to just listen. And above all of that, to know that this too shall pass. And may we have the sensitivity to show them comfort when it is needed and how it is needed.

Happy Sabbath, dear women. Enjoy some chocolate today in honor of yours truly.

-Laura

Oh Father God,

Your patience is boundless. I can't wrap my mind around it for I have nothing in me that is even worthy of comparison. I am so grateful to you for always showing up to comfort both my husband and myself in our weakest of moments. The doubly beautiful thing about it is that it has allowed us to learn how to then comfort others. Your storehouse never runs dry, you are always there to show us more compassion, more comfort, more patience, more love... allowing us to work beyond ourselves and show those things to others. I pray specifically for that in our marriage today. Please give us both a sensitive heart towards the other. A willingness to put our needs aside for a moment, when the other really just needs a hug. Give each of us the ability to see that those moments where comfort is needed are of much greater value than any task or distraction calling our names. These working-life-out-together moments are what this marriage and this God-glorifying life are all about. Please don't let us forget that. It is when we are able to accept one another in our weakness and show the love that is needed that we give you such glory, which will in turn radiate to those in our lives who will witness our marriage... our relationship... the support that has been foundational because of you. And Lord, even if I'm being irrational in my momentary hormonal hurricane, give him the patience to wait the storm out alongside me, offering your words of kindness and truth that can sometimes stay locked in his heart. Grow and stretch our communication Lord, and open our eyes to see the fruit of it. Thank you for the beautiful, complicated and ever-changing love that we share. May it bring you glory, Lord Jesus.

In your mighty name,

Amen.

Day 15: Relinquish To The Relentless

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8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire     and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy     and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” - Isaiah 55: 8-13

God is God. Period. His will will be accomplished regardless of any of our resistance, timidity or reserve. But how much more of a ride could it be if we were to just relinquish to the One who is unyielding? If we let Him have His way with us? As Isaiah 55 states, His word will not return to him empty. It will accomplish what He desires.

Today, can we pray that our husbands would truly understand what's waiting on the other side of their resistance?The Message paraphrases verse 13 in this: "All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines..." Choosing to believe that what He has could be and is better than what we have chosen for ourselves will produce a different, more bountiful harvest of joy. Like comparing a thistle to a sequoia- who in their right mind would choose the thistle when there's a sequoia waiting for them?

He is chasing after that man today. He wants his heart, and He will not relent until His plan has been fulfilled. May they see, as vulnerable as it might be, that He will not back down because He loves them that much. He knows what He wants to do in them and through them for His glory and purpose.

May you see that today too, dear sisters. He's after you.

-Laura

Mighty God,

You are my strong tower. There is never a moment where you do not know where I am. Even in my weakest of moments when I want to hide my face from you, I find comfort in knowing your love is relentless even then. Father, you love this man. You unabashedly and adamantly love him. You have his heart and in the end, you will have your way with him. But Lord, I pray that he wouldn't wait until the end, but would rise up and choose to answer your calling. That his life wouldn't be a series of Jonah moment's but of moments where he feebly and boldly stands up and goes forward, knowing full well just who the God is that has called him. That, like young David, his knowledge of your might would leave no room for fear of man. God, while your love is tender and merciful it is also absolutely powerful and absolutely strong. Show him that, Lord. Maybe even for the first time, show him the mighty force that is your love, and that it will never back down, no matter how hard he protests. Show him the joyful procession that awaits him, if he would only choose to join in. Your name is praised today, Lord God! May the reality of your love wash over both of us like the wind and rain of a hurricane.

In your holy name I pray.

Amen

If you'd like a great sound track for your day today check out "Relentless" by Hillsong United found here.

Day 13: A Higher And Deeper Calling

Image-1 (1) "My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:20-23

I'm feeling a bit amped  and I believe it has to do with one or all of the following: the medium light roast with white chocolate I just drank (mmmm), the excitement and spiritual whirling in my heart about Holy Yoga Instructor Training beginning tomorrow (eeeeeeeek!) OR  the Spirit  flipping the switch to all kinds of light bulbs in my head over the passage on my heart today. Whatever is causing it, I ask for your patience and grace as I share... this girl has got some major excitement happening on this side of the screen.

On the subject of what our lives look like and who we live them for there's one thing that comes to mind, specifically with husbands, and men in general, in mind. Something that irritates me beyond belief are the stereotype actions, responses and attitudes that men buy into in our society.

Don't show too much emotion.

Make a joke at someone else's expense to look tougher.

Keep your thoughts, musings and whispers of your heart to yourself.

In a conflict with your wife? Just don't say anything at all. She's just going off and being a woman.

I realize that men are different than women. The "whispers of the heart" is a bit of a stretch, but I for one will say that the moments when T has shared his heart with me are ones that I keep very close. I go back to them often because I believe that is a major facet of the intimacy that God designed in marriage.

I read Proverbs 4 today and if T were here with me, you better believe I'd be preaching from the mountaintops to him on the whole chapter. Wisdom, wisdom, WISDOM! I won't make you read the entire chapter if you don't have time, but I do encourage it. If you can read it in the amplified version, please do.

Verses 14-16 say, "Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go your way. For they cannot sleep until they do evil, they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall." The amplified version says, in verse 16, that they cannot sleep until they have caused trouble or vexation. That word means, "the act of annoying, irritating or vexing." Men are so vexing towards one another! I can't help but wonder if this can leave them fearful of stepping out, taking the right path in each moment they are presented the opportunity, and walking away from people who push them into the stereotypical "man" corners.

So today, can we pray for our men's hearts? That they would take and guard wisdom in their hearts with vigilance? Because I know I've seen my man get backed into that corner far too many times, choosing to fall into the stereotype rather than standing up in wisdom and knowing the value that it has for him in this life.

Be blessed today, beautiful daughters.

-Laura

Lord,

Your wisdom is more valuable than the most precious of jewels, which is why the thought of choosing the labels of this world seems so foolish in comparison. I desperately pray your words of Proverbs 4 over him today. Lord, there are men all around him that buy into the lies and the labels... who can't seem to rest until they have caused unrest in his heart and the hearts of others around him. Please, Father, ignite in him the revelation of the value of your wisdom. Allow him insight into the beautiful reality that you have given him another road, a higher road, that he can travel in each and every instance where someone desires to tear him down. Lord, you have given him the tools, so show him how to guard his heart with vigilance and to step out in bravery. It is in these moments that he can actively choose to live out his life in a worthy manner, honoring you with his speech and his actions. Moment by moment, Spirit, remind him that he has been called higher and deeper than cutting words and "manly" power trips. He has been called to kindness, where more power is found than in any snarky retort ever muttered by the lips of the ensnared. Release in him the freedom that can be felt in acknowledging this truth. God you are so good! May we always remember how much more worth is found in you than any of the emptiness this world has to offer us!

For your glory God!

Amen

If you desire to, here is Chapter 4. Let me know if you feel amped after you let the Spirit settle it in your heart, because I know I sure did.

Proverbs 4 (NIV)

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. 3 For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. 4 Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. 5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom. Though it cost all you have,[b] get understanding. 8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. 14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. 16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. 17 They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

And in the Amplified to really just hit it home:

Hear, my sons, the instruction of a father, and pay attention in order to gain and to know intelligent discernment, comprehension, and interpretation [of spiritual matters].

2 For I give you good doctrine [what is to be received]; do not forsake my teaching.

3 When I [Solomon] was a son with my father [David], tender and the only son in the sight of my mother [Bathsheba],

4 He taught me and said to me, Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.

5 Get skillful and godly Wisdom, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation); do not forget and do not turn back from the words of my mouth.

6 Forsake not [Wisdom], and she will keep, defend, and protect you; love her, and she will guard you.

7 The beginning of Wisdom is: get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)! [For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing.] And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation).

8 Prize Wisdom highly and exalt her, and she will exalt and promote you; she will bring you to honor when you embrace her.

9 She shall give to your head a wreath of gracefulness; a crown of beauty and glory will she deliver to you.

10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life shall be many.

11 I have taught you in the way of skillful and godly Wisdom [which is comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God]; I have led you in paths of uprightness.

12 When you walk, your steps shall not be hampered [your path will be clear and open]; and when you run, you shall not stumble.

13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

15 Avoid it, do not go on it; turn from it and pass on.

16 For they cannot sleep unless they have caused trouble or vexation; their sleep is taken away unless they have caused someone to fall.

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day [to be prepared].

19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

20 My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings.

21 Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.

23 Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

24 Put away from you false and dishonest speech, and willful and contrary talk put far from you.

25 Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you.

26 Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright.

27 Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil.

Day 11: What Your Life Looks Like

Image-1 "As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you: Walk as Jesus walked. Live a life that is worthy of the calling he has graciously extended to you." Ephesians 4:1-The Voice

A reality about life and God that I will never understand is that not all will spend eternity in glory with the Lord. There are so many aspects of this that I could get into and begin to ask questions about but that would get me way off the topic at hand... the one on my heart. The fact of the matter is, as we have discussed earlier in this journey, God orchestrated quite a lot to get each of us to this place where we love and worship Him. The clincher is that the degree of which we worship is completely dependent upon us. How much of ourselves that we give to the Lord is our choice, as Caitlin showed us yesterday. But regardless of what and how much we choose to worship the God of the universe, one fact still remains: we have been called. He has anointed us. He has anointed him.  He has placed a seal on my husband, that he may be set apart in this world to do His good work. If your husband is not yet saved, he has still been chosen in that God has placed you very purposefully in his life... To be his help-mate; to show him Jesus. So whether his journey with the Lord has already begun or has yet to, God is at work and desires for all of our lives to be set apart. The way his life, my life, and your life, look to the outsider is each of our own decisions. God will not do the worshiping for us. If he only desired to worship Himself He wouldn't have needed to create us in the first place.

So today, as you pray over him and over yourself, keep this passage in your mind and on your heart: "In the light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk - better yet, run! - on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline - not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences." Ephesians 4:1-3 The Message

-Laura

Father,

We both need you so desperately, whether we choose to recognize that or not. Lord I will never understand why you choose some and not others but I am humbled that you have chosen me and that you have chosen my husband. Lord, let our lives be a worthy sacrifice to you. Father, show him when his life is beginning to go down the path that leads nowhere; when it's beginning to look just like everyone else's. Lord, while I thank you for the tools you've given us in our western Christianity, I pray that his faith, and mine as well, would not depend on jumping from one bible study or small group to another, but that it would be a steady pouring out of ourselves to you. Lord, show him how to display the truth of your character through the way he works out his faith in this life. Spirit, nudge him in the moments when you know a difference in attitude or a little extenstion of grace could reveal your heart through his actions or words. And most of all, Father, deeply implant in his heart and mind the magnitude of the calling you have placed on him. That he is not just another face in a sea of believers but that you have set him apart, and because of that his life aught to look different. As I pray this Lord, I confess the ways that I have not been living in a worthy manner too. Please right me where I am wrong, take my hand and show me how. You are worthy, Jesus, and it's in your name I pray these things. Amen.

Day 9: Awaken Pure Joy In You

Image "And David danced before the Lord with all his might, clad in a linen ephod." 2 Samuel 6:14

Let me just get this out of the way right off the bat: I'm not about to suggest we pray that our husbands dance around in ephods. At least not in front of any other eyes than our own. But I do think we should pray that they would  unashamedly dance. Allow me to elaborate.

Today I found myself listening to some old music that T and I used to enjoy in our youthful courtship days, making silly videos on my so cool macbook, lip-syncing ourselves silly. I like thinking on those memories, how it felt being so young and free of the weight of worry and adulthood and responsibilities. I would not, however, care to go back to that woman, nor would I want T to go back to that man. With trials and hardship comes wisdom and I would take that over macbook lip-sync videos any day.

In reading about David today, I am drawn to the above verse. David had recently conquered Jerusalem,  defeated the Philistines and was now transporting the Ark of the Lord (talk about a high pressure task). Take a minute and think of David in real-life terms, not just a person in a book. He was real; his emotions, levels of stress, and inability to handle said stress well were just like ours are. And yet he, "danced before the Lord with all his might."

Wives, our husbands carry so much in leading, providing, caring and loving. Today, let's pray that the Lord would wake within them and allow them to dance before Him in praise of all He is, all He has done and all He has promised.

Laura

Father in Heaven,

You have placed quite a task before this man, and you have done so knowing full well that He is capable of not only accomplishing it but giving you glory at the same time. Lord, you have placed so much joy inside of us in giving us the Holy Spirit. Please awaken that joy in him. Even in the most stressful of days, let loose the freedom inside of him to sing and dance for you, for himself and just for the pure joy of it. Thank you, that even in the most stressful or uncertain of times, you have not taken your joy from him. You know the plans that you have for him, to prosper him and give him a hope and future, so free him of the chains of worry and show him how to dance. Give him a heart like David, that is unashamed of the joy bursting inside of him because of you. Rid him of the desire to "cover up" with the stereotypes of this world and to vulnerably and unabashedly love you and in turn love me, our family and those around us better. It's in your worthy Name I pray. Amen.

P.S. I highly recommend doing a little dancing of your own to the song "Wake" by Hillsong Young & Free. You can find it on Spotify.

Day 7: The Greatest Commandment

20140219-233732.jpg "'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one: so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself. There is no other commandment that ranks with these.'" Mark 12:29-31

There are so many elements of love, and I feel on our human level we are not fully cable of grasping them all in unison, let alone giving them all to one another. But God not only understands them, He's created in each of us an ability to give these things to Him, in whatever form that may look like for us, and in them He is pleased.

The second tidbit in this passage is one to think on for a minute because I think it can get passed over to usually mean one thing. How well does your husband treat himself? Do you think, in those moments within that he is as nice to himself as he may be to others around him? Is it easier for him to show kindness or mercy to others but not to himself? We all have our moments when we doubt ourselves, our worth or our place in this world, but I don't think we spend much time thinking of others in those terms. So as we pray for our husbands to love God richly with their entire beings, let's also pray for them to see the love they can and deserve to give themselves. There is grace in every new day so whether they are on a mountain top or in a valley, God's desire is for them to see the love they can have for themselves. That by leaving behind self doubt and insecurity they could love God fully, with all their passion, prayer, intelligence and energy.

Laura

All deserving God, You have equipped me to be capable of giving you so much, and yet I give you so little of myself. You are a merciful and patient Father, and I come to you today with a heart beating with gratitude. Lord, the pride you have for him will never be comprehended on this side of heaven, but Father, please help him to see the moments where there is room for him to show himself grace. In the moments of disappointment or self doubt show him how to love himself well, the same way you've shown him how to love others well. In this Lord, grant him the passion to love you with all of his heart. Show him how to love you with an undivided soul. Clear his mind of the meaningless clutter and guide him into loving you with all that it is capable of. Father, you have made him strong. Show him what it looks like to love you with the strength of his physical being. Show him where care needs to be taken and where love needs to be shown in the body you have given him. I ask you to do these things in him that he would be able to live a long, passionate, prayerful, intelligent and energetic life for you and for our family. I am filled with such joy knowing that I can expectantly ask you these things because I know you have shown us both how to love you through your Spirit and your Word. Oh Lord how we desire to love you more and more. You are perfection, sweet Father. In the Almighty's name I pray. Amen.

Day 5: A Spirit Of Unity

Image-1 (1) "Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself, but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:2-7

It's a well known fact that, for nearly everyone, there are certain people who we just don't get along with. (If you are one can argue that this is not true of you, well, then you must be Jesus. We all know that's not possible so you must be lying to yourself and to me.) One of the bajillion reasons why Christ is so beautiful is that He continues to give us such an example of this, every single day. The Prince of Peace, patiently showing us how we ought to bear with one another, not for our sake but for theirs, that HE may be glorified. Today, let's pray for our husbands to know the encouragement and endurance supplied to them that they are able to accept those in their lives that they can't accept on their own strength. Whether they are in the church or in the world, that the peace that comes from Christ would allow them to live in harmony with others for the glory of God.

Laura

Prince of Peace,

I sit here in such humility at the thought of Your acceptance. Neither myself, my husband or any others who walk this earth are deserving of it and yet You gave it to us that day on the cross and every single day thereafter. Thank You. Father, thank You for loving him enough to show him how to accept others. Thank You for not just telling him to do so without guidance or instruction but for tangibly showing him how and why he can do it. That yes, there will always be those who challenge unity and peace but that your encouragement and endurance is supplied in excess daily. Touch his heart in those moments when pride is setting in and gently guide him back to Your way and Your truth. Allow those around him to see Your peace in him, that they would know there is something uniquely different about his spirit... about his life... about his aim. Let love overflow, not for his own gain but for the benefit of those who desperately need it, that YOU would be glorified. That your love would be recognized in their life, maybe even for the first time. Lord, in your mercy let lives be won by the way his life is lived. Fill him with joy and peace as he trusts in You, so that he may overflow with hope by Your power, Holy Spirit. In and through and for your mighty name, Jesus! Amen. (Pieces of this prayer taken from Romans 15. Definitely take a peek at the whole chapter and let it come alive in your prayer.) 

Day 3: Trust In The One Who Answers

Image-1 "I don't fear; I'm confident that help will come to the one anointed by the Eternal: Heaven will respond to his plea; His mighty right hand will win the battle. Many put their trust in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God. Soon our enemies will collapse and fall, never to return home; all the while we will rise and stand firm." (Psalm 20: 6-8)

In an uncertain time, in an uncertain world, we need a God that will answer. We need to know why we choose to place our trust high above the things of this earth. There are millions of distractions daily, tiny little greedy tentacles of a scaly, slimy enemy, vying for our attention. I once heard that the enemy isn't necessarily aiming to turn us 180 degrees away from God, but even just one degree. Just enough to eventually get us off track and our eyes far from Heaven. So today let's pray for our husbands to look intently towards the Lord. To have strength to turn their backs, even if just for today, from the pull of the temporary... the "chariots" and "horses" of our day. That their focus and the depth of their heart could be deeply rooted on the Eternal One. So that, even at the end of today, they will be able to stand firm amongst a sea of souls who have chosen the things that will never love them back.

Be blessed today, wives, for you are so deeply loved by your King.

Laura

Eternal One, Your beauty is matchless. There is not one thing in this entire world that compares to even a glimpse of you. How gracious and loving you are to allow me to know and love you, even in my ever present state of sin. Thank you for promising to listen to my prayers. Thank you for giving me the gift of confidence in your answering. Lord, I carry him to You, knowing that Your love for him far outweighs the love in my heart for him. I pray that You would bring contentment to his heart, allowing him the freedom and desire to turn his back on the things that draw him to this temporary world. Spirit, fill his entire being with such peace and satisfaction in You and all that You have given him that he feels no need for the idols of this place. Open his eyes to all that You are, allowing him to go forward in this day with the confidence that his God is the one true God who tenderly listens to him and fiercely moves for him. God, You are unbelievably good. Please remove the scales from both of our eyes today so that we may see a bit more of who you truly are. We love you, and so long to love you even more. Show us how, Lord Jesus. It's in Your mighty name I pray. Amen.

Day 2: The Lord will hear

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As I took a breath this morning waking to a day of new mercies and apart from my husband, I found myself turning to Him. Having a husband in the military, I am no stranger to being apart from the love of my life on earth. But the saving grace of that thought is that apart means nothing to my Father. He will do great things despite time or distance, near or far. He gives us new love every morning.

Last year, I attempted 40 days of prayer for my husband, and I didn't finish. I felt defeated, unworthy, and a failure. After all, as a wife pursuing the great love of Christ, prayer for my husband should come naturally. But it doesn't. At least not for me. So I turn to the word in my bumbling thoughts of prayer, and God answers: "The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer." -Psalm 6:9

My friends-- may I encourage you today as we begin this journey to simply offer your heart to Him, even if your prayers are bumbly? I believe that if we authentically pour out our hearts in love for our husbands to the One who ordained us to be together, He will hear us. He will honor our heart and pour out a beautiful grace upon our marriage. I love The Message translation of this verse as it tells us: "At last God has heard my sobs. My prayers have all been granted, my prayers are answered."

He WILL answer us friends. It may not be in the ways we expect, but our marriage will become beautiful because we will be showing respect to our husbands as God calls His bride to show him.

I encourage you to pour out your hearts today wives, even if you aren't sure how or where to start. Simply start as God will hear and do the rest.

-Caitlin

Marriage Maker, we thank you for a morning of new mercies and a chance to simply come. As I start this journey, please hear my prayer for my husband. God, my heart is so full of love for him, I pray that you will hear the cry that calls to You. Grant him new mercies this day as he moves and breathes, and prepare a way for You to move in him. Thank you Father for this marriage you have given us. May we honor you whether we are near or far from one another. Amen

40 Days of Prayer...

40 days of weak knees and tear stained Bibles... this is what I am hoping for and believing in these next 40 days. God is so awesome. Not the "awesome" you may hear from the mouths of tweens but what you would read from the dusty pages of your Webster's Dictionary (or dictionary.com, either way). Awesome: causing feelings of fear and wonder: causing feelings of awe. Extremely good.

Did you catch that? Extremely good. Man, isn't He?

I can't wait for these next 40 days, and I also hope they pass slowly, that I may soak in the essence of each day. The time spent with my Dad, talking intimately and deeply about His very precious child. I know that He has quite the agenda for it, and so I will strive to leave myself at the door and proceed in the Spirit alone. Laura really has nothing of value to share. She is grumpy and selfish and generally a bit too emotional as a whole. But her God is beautiful, powerful, gentle and so wise. So let those things be what you take from this experience... His goodness and His goodness only.

The God that we kneel to on behalf of our husbands, ourselves, our children, is a mighty God. His name alone has the power to make the ocean rise and fall. So as you go before Him these next 40 days, begin so by making your heart and mind right before Him... by acknowledging that this is not a chore but a privilege. Loving that man, and being entrusted into his care and love is a privilege. Being the one who allows him to feel strong, to feel a need to protect and provide, is a unique and beautiful honor. There is so much beauty in these roles as husband and wife.

image

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derive it's name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph 3:14-19

Let's  back up a bit first to verse 7 where it says, "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power." That man I love was not just born into a Christian home. God purposefully and powerfully worked. He selected him for a purpose and did so with more intention than I could ever begin to wrap my mind around. The man you love isn't yours because you both went to the same University and fell for each other, or because you made some bad decisions in your youth and tried your best to make it right. God powerfully placed you together. He is not a God of chance or lackadaisical effort. He is a God of purpose. You are his wife for a purpose.

These men, they are made in the image of God, which means they have the capacity to experience the same emotions you see God experience in the pages of His Word, as well as the emotions you yourself feel. Granted, some are experienced on a microscopic level compared to ours but they are there nevertheless. So the same difficulty you have relating to the good that you are and that you have been given because of Christ is also present in them as well. Which brings me to this passage from Paul. In order for our men to grasp just how deep the love is of the Father, the Spirit of God must be home in their hearts. I find it of no coincidence that Paul first prays for them to be strengthened, before he speaks of the Spirit dwelling in their hearts. It takes strength to open yourself up to truth. The Spirit residing in their hearts produces what the Voice translation calls "the rich soil where their lives take root."

It's such a domino affect. If we can pray them through this passage, in this order, I believe we will be thoroughly praying them into a place where they could begin to catch a glimpse of the depth of His love. So today, He has made things easy for all of us by giving us His very word to pray. With a few slight textual changes on my part, pray this over your husband and yourself. Let it soak into your soul and then let it soar. Allow this to launch your prayer into whatever you may know he needs specifically. And allow yourself the freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to determine your timeline of prayer... because it could go further than you may have allowed it on your own.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your son. Fill his soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Liberating King will reside in his heart. May love be the rich soil where his life takes root. May it be the bedrock where his life is founded so that together, with our family, we will have the power to understand that the love of the Liberator is infinitely long, wide, high and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through his entire being. (From Ephesians 3:16-19 in The Voice. Changed for these purposes with an effort to keep the original message.)

In life we are ever surrounded (usually just from ourselves) by the "should" and "shouldn't" but tonight let yourself soak in the good that you are doing as a wife. Your Father is so very proud of you. Even today, in this very moment with the very emotions you're feeling and the sins you're battling. So rest in His gleaming pride for his daughter, while you spend some time praying for the man you both love so dearly.

Laura

Side note: if you are familiar with the yoga posture "Child's Pose" might I recommend a prayer posture for you? Find a quiet space and bring yourself down into child's pose, with your bible placed in front of you. As you stretch your arms out before you, allow your forehead to rest on the Word and your hands to face heaven. With each breath let your body sink deeper as your heart opens wider. And if you're anything like me, you will soon have a very tear stained Word of God beneath you.

Today, I've been romanced

and it was in the most unexpected of ways. We started our morning with an outing to the farmer's market. After grabbing a 1/2 peck of Honeycrisp apples (thank you, U of M, for creating such a deliciously crisp apple) we got in the car to head home. But I faced a dilemma of sorts. You see, I have a thing for a little place called Caribou Coffee, and she and I have been separated these last three years. So as you can imagine, I take advantage of most opportunities to indulge myself (I say "most" but what I really mean is "each and every"). Here in lies the dilemma... the farmer's market shares a parking lot with Caribou. Shares it. So you can see why I really basically had no other choice. And they have a drive-thru, a.k.a. I don't have to take the baby out of the car seat. Double-whammy. Before I even realized what I was doing I was already sitting at the speaker listening to the cheerful lady ask what she could get started for me. After discovering that one of my favorite drinks (a vanilla rooibos tea latte) had zero caffeine I quickly adjusted my course of action and asked for a medium light roast with white chocolate... the cheap girls version of a frou-frou drink. *Let me pause and adjust your visual here. My parents just got a new vehicle and I have been blessed enough to cruise around town in it. It is by no means flashy but definitely new and definitely an upgrade from our already "good and gets the job done" Endeavor. As I drive it I enjoy pretending like I actually could own a car with satellite radio and a back-up camera. It's fun and I'm enjoying it while I can. I also, personally, don't believe that young people should be able to have such nice things. There's a reason why the older you get the nicer your stuff gets. You work hard while your young to enjoy your harvest when you're older. So I enjoy little glimpses to the future. Or maybe even the never, who knows.*

As I waited for the car in front of me I counted the dollar bills I had with me and talked a bit with M in the back in an effort to keep him awake until we got home so he could lay down for his nap without interruption. We pulled up and I waited. A lovely young girl carrying my precious coffee greeted me with a grin and said, "The person in front of you already paid for you coffee and wanted to tell you to have a great day!" So, naturally, I quickly adjusted myself and lifted my chin from the dropped position and began to smile so wide and asked, ever so awkwardly, "What? Are you serious?" To that she said, "yes" and more smiles were exchanged and even more stutters and stumbles (all from my end). All in all the exchange lasted a little longer than probably necessary considering I didn't actually have to give her anything at all, just had to take the cup from her. After I took it and drove away I began to really realize what had happened. You see, I've been making a significant effort to spend M's morning nap doing my BSF study as well as spend some time in prayer. These last few days have been pretty busy, making today the first day in a while I've had to set the better part of his nap aside to spend with my Lord. Knowing this, I was all the more anxious to get him in bed for a full nap because time was of the essence. As I pulled away with my coffee I made the realization that I was, in fact, being romanced by the Man I was about to have a date with.

And He treated.

Talk about romantic. There was always something special about going out, even for coffee, and having T offer to pay. I felt special. Taken care of. Worthy. This morning, He showed me that I am those very things to Him. He needed me to know that even though I cannot go on a coffee date with my love, my Lord and love will join me on one every day of the week. And He will romance me in a season that could be considered very romance-less.

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Another thing I realized upon receiving this coffee was the power of obedience, which coincidentally came up in my study time. The person in front of me could have seen a young girl in a nice new car and thought, "pssh... she obviously isn't in want. I'm sure she has no problem affording a cup of coffee. I'll seek out someone who I think is more deserving." There was no way of them knowing that I am actually an Army wife who is not in want but does not necessarily have excess. He has provided for us all that we need, but it is true that sometimes a cup of coffee is a luxury and I am more than okay with that. Or that my husband, and the father of my child gurgling in the back seat, is across the world and we will not see his face, except for a blurry skype call, until the beginning of summer. But they did not judge. They did not assume. They just blessed.

How often do I just bless? Without asking questions, or making assumptions. Just do as I'm asked. I have to say, not often. I always just know that I know what's really going on. Who people really are. Reality is, I have absolutely no idea. Repeatedly I am surprised by the kindness of people around me, most of which are the most unsuspecting. And yet I still walk around like I know all. It's pure madness!

Obedience is the lesson of my romantic encounter with my Lord today. It's pretty tough to be obedient in an very disobedient world. But it's something I will always need to be brought back to.

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And that He delights in romancing me. He knows my heart. He knows what makes me smile. He knows I'm worth far more than a $2 cup of coffee. And He will forever show me that in beautiful, unsuspecting ways. How sweet is my Lord.

P.S. Can we just take a minute and look at how cute my honey is? *He's the one with the killer smile and smiley eyes*

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My heart melts.