Monday, April 11, 2016

My Husband Is Not Jesus

{Elissa Ewald Photography}
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” - Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Well y'all, we are officially nine months in to this marriage thing. When I type that out, it seems ludicrous. Exactly one year ago today, Rory asked me to be his wife. Then, three months later, we promised to love each other unconditionally as we walk side by side together for the rest of our days.

There are a lot of things that I expected when we got married. I know that I expected things to not be that hard. Don't get me wrong, I am super duper happy and glad that I am married to Rory. But sometimes...I am selfish. And it really sucks.  I expected that since we were told in our premarital counseling that we had great communication skills, we wouldn't really have much of an issue communicating. Um. Not true. Get real, Jessica.

I think that the biggest thing that I expected when we got married is that Rory would be able to fix everything. I never said it or thought it explicitly, but the thought was is still there subconsciously. There were (and still are) so many broken pieces of my heart and life that I just knew he was going to make all better. After all, I had a fresh start with him, and now that we were together, everything was just going to be good. Right? Not so.

My husband is incredible. He is a servant leader. He loves me so well by being tender, patient, and kind. Always. He listens to me, he leads me, he makes me laugh, and he encourages and challenges me when I want to give up. But. He is not Jesus. Well, uh. duh. That's probably what you're thinking. But let me explain.

{Elissa Ewald Photography}
I could take the previous paragraph and insert the name Jesus where I wrote "my husband," and all of the accolades would still be applicable. Hmmm. Interesting to note that while my husband possesses many of the qualities of Jesus, he still isn't him. So where is the problem?

The problem arises when I expect Rory to fix things. The problem arises when he cannot meet all of my needs all the time in just the way that I want him to. The problem arises when I look to him to fulfill me and make me happy.

When Rory is sweet to me, I often say "Thank you, my prince!" or "I love you, my prince!" I say that because to me, he is my Prince Charming. He is my fairy tale on earth. But there is One who is greater, and His name is Jesus.

The fairy tale of marriage can be misconstrued to paint a portrait of a perfect life with no conflict or trial. There is an idea purveyed within our culture that says that when you are married, you have arrived. But friends, that just is not the truth. The truth is that Jesus is our real fairy tale. He seems too good to be true, and yet His story of unending love and faithfulness is the greatest story ever told, and it completely changes our lives when we let it.

Every time I look to Rory to meet all my needs and satisfy me, I will ultimately be disappointed. He just can't do it, y'all. He is by far the greatest gift I have ever received. But Jesus is better. He is greater. When I run to Him, He holds me in His arms. He gives me the peace that passes all understanding. He tells me I am loved and made pure and righteous in His sight. He grants me good standing with the Father, not because of anything I've done or haven't done. He gives me a seat at the table and welcomes me into His family without reserve.

The love of my husband has taught me so much about the love of the Lord. He is so patient and full of grace, so when I look to the Lord, I am able to know that He will not chastise me or cast me out of His presence. I do not have to live in fear of His judgement or wrath. Because of my husband's love for me, I know the love of Christ in a way I never have before. And for that, I am deeply grateful.

But y'all, my husband is not Jesus. He never will be. I pray his love continues to point me to Jesus, and that I do the same for him. But thank goodness, we weren't made to meet every need in the other's life. Only God can truly satisfy me, and I want to rest in Him. He is my real fairy tale. Too good to be true, yet He is The Truth that will never fade away.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April Goals

{Image via Lara Casey}

Goals, schmoals. That's sometimes how I feel about making progress towards things when I so badly want to execute my goals with perfection. But alas, I am a human being with frailties and flaws. In all seriousness though, I cannot believe that it is April, and we are already 1/4 through the year 2016. Cue shock and awe.

Here's what the goals looked like for March:

finish reading Hands Free Life
spring cleaning- deep clean the apartment (ew ew ew)
submit a writing piece to (in)courage 
plan for Easter weekend

work out 3x a week
talk to at least one family member on the phone (not just text)
meal plan
plan blog posts
social media free Saturdays

read the Word
encourage Ror
encourage someone else
give thanks
drop the jar (more on this later)
quote James

I was able to accomplish all of my monthly goals except for reading Hands Free Life, because I decided to read Looking for Lovely instead (great choice). Easter weekend was a really sweet time spent with family for our niece's first birthday party, and both sets of parents were able to attend church with us that day, which was so special. I did submit a piece of writing to (in)courage, but it was not chosen (womp, womp), so I submitted it to Glow: Live as Light instead! Just making some lemonade out of lemons, friends. 

Weekly goals have been ok; I haven't worked out hard, but I have been walking a lot since the weather has been so nice. Meal planning has been made much simpler with eMeals, and while I haven't been blogging as often, I have a lot of thoughts in this ole head of mine that will eventually make it to this little corner of the internet. 

My daily goals are the easiest ones that I find to be consistent with. I don't always quote James, but I am asking the Lord to bring the verses to mind when I need them, which is quite often. Here's how my April goals are looking:

finish reading Hands Free Life
finish reading Steadfast Love
finish reading Wild and Free
make a blog plan
budget meeting with Ror
finish Financial Peace University

walk at least once
run once!
1 gym class a week (already know I'm not gonna make the above goal or this one this week, just keeping it real)
declutter/clean up one room in the apartment
meal plan

same as March

What are you working towards, friends? How is the Lord teaching you discipline in the small (and not-so-small) ways?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Currently: April

It's said that April showers bring May flowers, but I'm hoping that we can skip the showers and go straight to the flowers. Anyone else? I am so glad that we made it through this winter without too much cold, and I am extremely grateful for this light and airy weather we've enjoyed thus far this spring. :) Here's what's happening in these parts:

making: I have been making lots of new recipes lately. We decided to try a three month subscription to eMeals, and it has taken the guesswork out of meal planning and made life much easier. Plus, pretty much all of the recipes have been quite delicious. :) 
wishlisting: Well, my birthday is a month from today (!!!), so I have been secretly  hinting about many fun new things I would just love to have. 
cleaning: My parents came into town for Easter, so obviously that meant that we deep cleaned the whole apartment. It was a lot of work totally worth it, though.
posting: I have been posting about new books lately, because there are some good ones out there, ladies! Wild and Free will be out in a month, and Looking for Lovely just released yesterday! Both are must-reads. 
tasting: Yesterday was my sweet sister-in-law's birthday, and when I picked up a cupcake for her from Gigi's, I also got one for Rory and I to share- Kentucky Bourbon flavor. It was super yummy, the perfect before bed snack. :)

What's going on with you lately?

Linking up with Anne and Jenna today!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#weread2016: Looking for Lovely Book Review

The older I get, the more tempting it is for me to lean towards fear and doubt of God's goodness. I have known so much pain- in my own life and in the lives of those around me. Some moments and seasons have left me dry, wondering if God really cared and whether He really wanted me. There have been times when there is literally nowhere to go but to Him as my refuge and comforter.

It is a rare thing to be so taken by a book and to be able to say, "What? Me too." on just about every page as you read, underline, and cry through the words that seem to have been written just for you. In Looking for Lovely, Annie F. Downs has given us a gift. She has written so vulnerably and honestly, inviting us into dark and otherwise lonely places, helping us to see where God sheds His light.

{Image via @mdez on Instagram}

Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments That Matter is not a self-help book. It is not a book in which the author offers ten steps to take when going through a hard time so that you can dig yourself out. Instead, this book points you to Jesus. Jesus, who said, "In this world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Annie so beautifully offers up the hope of Christ as she shares about her journey to find the lovely when there was nothing lovely to be seen in the midst of her everyday.

Annie explains that the anthem God has emblazoned on her heart is two-fold: 1) God made you on purpose and 2) God made you to be brave. With that battle cry, she explains how God brought her to a place in which He opened her eyes to His goodness in the valleys in ways that she had never seen before. She shares about the ways He spoke to her and helped her to see Him and know Him in ways she wouldn't have on a mountaintop.

Friends, I cannot over-recommend this book to you. It is one that you will read, re-read, and that will stick with you. As I have been wrestling and struggling with seeing the lovely in my own life, the Lord has opened my eyes and said, "Look for me. Seek me. I am not hiding." He is so good to use sister friends who are a little further along to mentor us through their writing and help us to see that He is, in fact, good, and that He is in control. There is freedom and peace in knowing that we are not alone in our struggles and fears.

Looking for Lovely releases today! So please, if you didn't pre-order it, get thee to Amazon and buy yourself a copy now! You won't regret it. :)


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