It’s all how you look at it…

When I was fresh out of my parents house about 12 years ago, I had big dreams of having a beautiful house, a nice car, and fancy furnishings. I figured since my parents had all those things, it was only natural that I’d have them too. Immediately.

What I didn’t realize at that time was how much work, and even character building, went into attaining them.

Ten years ago, I remember getting into a rut of being dissatisfied with everything. At that time, I didn’t have my dream career, and my very real worry was if my car was going to get me to work and back, or if it would leave me stranded yet again. I was drowning in debt, and doing everything possible to not sink deeper. Looking at some of our peers during that time was simply discouraging – they seemed to be light-years ahead of us with their beautiful homes and fancy vehicles.

But what I learned is that we have the choice to embrace what we have and make the most of the journey.

In Exodus 20:17, we’re commanded not to desire what our friends have. This commandment says,

“You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”

What caught me off guard was the part where it says, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. I was doing fine at not desiring my girlfriend’s husband, or her servants or livestock (because she didn’t have any). But that last bit…?

Why? Why would God command us not to desire what our friends have? The answer is pretty interesting the more you think about it. If you don’t have something you want, what does that lead to? Disappointment. Ungratefulness. Unhappiness. Resentment. Bitterness. Anger. Contempt.

The fruit of coveting your neighbors things goes downhill fast. None of it is good, for you or anyone else.

But what if we were thankful?

One of my most memorable rentals was in this small community of town houses in Fort Collins, Colorado. Off the second bedroom, we had this teeny, tiny balcony with just enough room for two little chairs. The view was not desirable, as it looked out onto a busy street. You couldn’t even see the mountains. It was kind of noisy and busy. Other people in this community hardly used theirs because of these reasons. You could pass it off as useless.

But as I chose thankfulness, I saw something different…

It was walled-in on three sides, making it a safe, private place. Although it looked out over a busy street, it didn’t look into anyone’s back yard or windows. We got the beautiful morning sun in the summer, and it was cool in the afternoons and evenings. It had a roof so I could sit out and enjoy the rain. I even added a cute little flower box to the railing so I can grow some of my favorite flowers. And the best part of it all, Luke built me a custom fit L-shaped balcony couch, to which I added comfy cushions and pillows.

It became a safe haven for me during the time that we lived there. I spent hours out there reading and journaling. I loved every bit of it, and to this day it remains one of my most favorite outdoor spaces.

I say all this to encourage you to look at your life, and make the most of what you have – get creative and turn it into something you love. Don’t be in a hurry to have it all. Learn to live with less. These hard fought lessons will carry through the rest of your life.

Begin to see things through eyes of thankfulness. Your dream career won’t be the key to your happiness. And although a new car will solve some problems, it will still break down. But right now, use this time to appreciate the little things that make life so rich.

This is how you can have it all, without having it all.


9/11/18 | Leaving and Cleaving

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
Genesis 2:24 NLT

Disclaimer: I know this won’t resonate with all my readers, but I hope it might be an encouragement for those of you who are engaged, married, or hope to be someday. I also realize that not all couples are equally yoked, meaning that you may be a Christian but your spouse is not. Some of you have Christian parents and some of you don’t. I pray that you’ll seek God in your marriage and that He’ll provide in all the ways you need. This is by no means all the information out there on this topic, but I hope it can point you in the right direction.

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume you didn’t marry your spouse based on physical attraction alone, but also based on what they bring to the table. You enjoy their humor and the way they talk. You have a lot in common and get along great. But you also found their morals, opinions, thought processes, life experience, way of doing things, and reasons for doing things appealing as well. You enjoyed how they differed from you and how that made you a stronger person.

But for whatever reason, once you actually married that person, all of a sudden their strengths and the things you loved most about them when you were dating became direct opposition to your own way of doing things. Meaning, they come into conflict with the way you were raised and with the way your parents did things. All of a sudden the very things that so attracted you to them become points of disconnect between you and can even cause arguments.

Instead of leaving the family we grew up in and forming a brand new family with our spouse, we run into trouble when we begin treating marriage like an extended sleepover. We like that person, it’s fun to be around them, but when push comes to shove it’s going to be our way (or rather our parents way) or the highway.

We need to see marriage as what it’s supposed to be: the joining of two into one. Men were not meant to do life alone, so God created women to come alongside them. And the two became one, both lending their strengths to the marriage. In a very real sense, your husband or your wife is your other half. God created man and woman so that they would leave their parents home and create a brand new one.

My husband doesn’t think the way my dad does. I don’t do things the way Luke’s mom does. And that’s to be celebrated. My husband is at his best when he has my trust and support. I’m at my best when I have his.

You weren’t meant to remain in your parent’s family, just as they weren’t meant to keep you in theirs. This means that your parents no longer have the final say over what decisions you make for your family – it’s up to you two to make the call and then live with those decisions. This means that the two of you decide which house you’re going to buy. The two of you decide when you’re ready to have kids of your own – no one can make that call but you. And so on and so on – down to things like buying a lawn mower or changing your diet.

Your relationship with your parents changes dramatically when you marry. This can be a very painful and confusing time for all parties involved. But your goal is this: to put your spouse first and foremost, and then to honor your parents in the process. One of the ways we honor our parents is by continuing to hold them in high esteem, respecting them, and understanding that they have a lot of life wisdom to offer. What a blessing we have in our parents, especially if they’ve been a Godly example for us!

These are difficult waters to navigate. I am only beginning to understand what it looks like to have an adult relationship with my parents and my in-laws. I would strongly urge you to seek out biblical counseling to help walk you through it so that you honor the Lord, your spouse, and your parents and in-laws – this has been one of the best things  my husband and I have done together. No matter if you’ve been married 1 year or 60 (we’ve been married for 9 years), you both need to learn to walk through these waters as a team, and seek God for the answers. Begin praying with your spouse and ask the Lord to show you how to build and establish this new normal. He’ll help you.

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