8 Months of Matrimony

Today makes 8 months of marriage for me Steven! Can I just say it has been the most wonderful while simultaneously the most difficult 8 months of my life. Marriage is grand, and marriage is hard. It stretches and grows you, slowly changing you into someone who is a little less selfish and a little more righteous. Marriage is one of those things that shines a light on all your insecurities while also shining a light on all the best parts about you. It’s amazing and a gift, and yet… sometimes we drive each other bonkers. Bless. If you’re married I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, and if you’ve been married for a long time I’m sure you’re thinking, “JUST WAIT!”

So to celebrate 8 months of awesome I’m going to share 8 things I’m learning about marriage and my handsome husband (see picture above for reference.)

1.) I am very very selfish. I want what I want when I want it, whether he’s busy doing something else or wants something different, it don’t matta. I want it. The end. Needless to say this selfishness causes conflict, so I’m learning that if I want to see my marriage thrive and if I don’t want both of us to start pulling our hair out in sheer frustration, than it’s time for me to bite the selfless bullet. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let  each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others.” When we serve each other and look out for the other’s interest, things just go better. Trust me man.

2.) SNUGGLING IS THE BEST. Nothing deep about it, I just love snuggling. You know that verse about love covering a multitude of wrongs? Snuggling basically works the same way, just saying. Morning snuggles? There ain’t nothin’ better. Judge away friends, I don’t even care.

3.) I can’t expect Steve to understand all of me all the time, or to read my mind. It just doesn’t work that way. That’s a big one that I need to learn. Steve is not a psychic and he is a male which means he no habla female. When I take that pressure off of him to understand me 100% of the time, then it seems that we can walk in more freedom in our marriage. When i don’t put my expectations into his area and expect him to be responsible for my feelings, things are just better.

4.) Laughter really is the best medicine. It’s kind of like snuggling, in that it also covers a multitude of wrongs. I love to laugh, I love hearing other people laugh, and noone makes me laugh like Steven Combs can. Gosh, he’s hilarious!!

5.) Communication is more important than I ever could have imagined. It keeps our lines from being crossed, and when our lines do get crossed it helps them get fixed a little faster. Sometimes if Steve and I are disagreeing about something we have to stop and say, “how did we get here? Are we hearing each other, or are we misunderstanding what the other is trying to say?” When we do that more times than not, we are able to form a solution to the problem. When we listen AND hear each other and seek to understand where the other is coming from… man oh man it just changes the whole thing!

6.) Life is hard, thus having fun is a must!! Steve and I are intentional about having fun together. I mean just being together is fun, but it makes it extra fun when you take road trips, and record music together, and try new restaurants, and go on bike rides, and drink coffee together. Like this past weekend we tried this restaurant I’ve had my eyes on, watched the Hobbit, went to the farmer’s market, went to church, went to life group, and went on a mini road trip to NC to visit PA schools. SO FUN!

7.) Sharing money has been both good and annoying. Good because my husband is very frugal and speaks wisdom into my purchases. For example, “Sarah do you really need that 10th purse?” But then again it’s annoying because YES I NEED THAT PURSE! Bless. I have a purse problem. But the bottom line is, I’m not always careful with spending money and so Steve keeps me accountable by ensuring that my purchases are wise and needed. God knew I needed that otherwise I’d end up in the poor house.

And last but not least…

8.) The love I have for Steve and receive from him is unlike any love I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve felt love before, love for friends and family. But love for a husband is just a different ball game. I don’t know how to explain but it’s wonderful and hard and I’m just so grateful for it. Everyday when I wake up next to that man of mine I just breathe out praise to the God who knew we needed each other. The God who knew I didn’t need someone who would encourage me by feeding my insecurities, but instead encourages me by calling me out of them and into freedom. God knew I needed his smile, and mad coffee making skills. God knew I needed him, because he helps me be better, and he helps me look more like Jesus.

Marriage. It isn’t always sunshine and roses, but it is wonderful. I know I’m a newlywed… I know I still have a lot to learn, and I am dedicated to being a life long student of marriage and Steven and God.

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An Ode to Grace

Grace. There is no other five letter word that is quite so sweet. And no other five letter word that is quite so hard to receive for myself and extend to others. I understand rules and regulation way more than I understand forgiveness and freedom. But then I remember that I’m called to live in the upside down kingdom. The strange place of already here but not quite yet. The kind of kingdom where those who mourn and are poor in spirit are called blessed. Where the meek, not the prideful inherit the earth. Where the merciful are shown mercy and the pure in heart see God. Where the peacemakers are regarded over the peace breakers. The kingdom that makes no sense. And yet it’s the place that we want to live in. A world that goes against the condemnation and the chains that we’ve been walking in. A God who welcomes us just as we are, wherever we are. It’s the kind of kingdom where when the word who became flesh for us died for the sins of the world on a wooden cross He looked at his accusers and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” When the thief next to Him on the cross believed in Him, He welcomed him into paradise. Grace upon grace upon grace. Grace for the crucifiers, and grace for the crucified. It makes no sense sometimes and yet it feels too good to be true, but friends I am learning it is SO true and it is more revolutionary than we think.

The bible is a story with common theme of grace. It’s the story of how God made people, and these people sinned against Him. This put a serious kink in the story, but God had a plan. This plan broke His heart, but He knew there was no other way. There had to be a permanent and pure sacrifice that would cover the sins of the world. This sacrifice would mean unending grace with out exception. It would mean closeness with the creation that He loved. So He sent His only son to earth to be like one of us. Walking and talking and teaching and weeping. He came to us full of truth and grace. He preached a way we had never heard before. That He was the way, the truth, and the life. He performed miracles, healing the sick, raising the dead. He set the standard, breaking down the cultural walls, welcoming in those who had been cast out. Grace for the adulterous woman, grace for the tax collector, grace for the leper, for the blind, and for the lame. Grace for those with diseases, for the gentiles, for the marginalized. He lived out this grace everyday, and then the time came where He would give up His life for our own. He died the death that we deserved on the old rugged cross. And now friends we get to walk and live in this upside down kingdom of grace for us and grace for our neighbors and grace for the thieves and the murders. Grace that makes no sense but saves us nonetheless. Grace that allows us to walk in freedom.

I write all these thing, and my head understands, but my heart is having a hard time catching up. I look at all the mistakes I make, all my sins, all the ways I fall short and I wonder how in the world this grace could possibly be for me. And yet Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” and 2 Peter 1:2 says, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men.” There is so much grace and yet it’s so hard for me to receive it. And this inability to receive grace doesn’t just affect the way I see myself, it affects the way I interact with others. When I can’t understand the depths of my sin and that Jesus paid for it all, then I can’t truly show that grace to other people. Luke 7:47b says, “he who is forgiven little, loves little.” It’s not that I don’t know that I need forgiveness, because I am very aware of that need, it’s that I don’t believe that I have it. When you don’t experience love and grace and forgiveness for yourself, how are you supposed to show it to others? But that is what we are called to do, to receive and share abundant grace. And that begins with remembering that grace is for you and it’s time to walk in it.

Grace for the people pleaser, grace for the perfectionist. Grace for the depressed, grace for the anxious. Grace for the poor, grace for the rich. Grace for those who look in the mirror and don’t like what they see, grace for those who compare themselves to others. Grace for the heart broken, grace for the down trodden. Grace for all because of the one who gave it all for us.

He Weeps

It’s been raining here since Friday. I don’t mean a little drizzle, but more like a downpour. I miss the sun and vitamin D that it brings along with it, but today the rain is comforting.

I’ve been feeling a little heavy lately, worn down and burdened by the woes of the world around me. Ebola in Africa, war in Gaza and Israel, and ISIS taking over Iraq, brutally murdering anyone who gets in their way, whether they be Christians or even Muslims. Airplanes are falling out of the sky. Recently the 15 year old son of a pastor who used to work for the University I went to, committed suicide. Yesterday the great and hilarious Robin Williams committed suicide. The world is feeling extra broken, and I’ve been feeling that brokenness extra. I was beginning to feel that God was very far away, and that He was looking down from heaven watching our world self-destruct and He didn’t even care. Doesn’t He see us down here? Has He forgotten us? But then I remembered the rain.

I’m a sentimental person, romantic to my very core. When I look at the rain, I see God. In my grief, the rain reminds me that God is grieving too, He does not leave me us to mourn on our own. He does not look at the world and say, “Well they really messed up this awesome thing I created, guess I’ll leave them to it.” Isaiah 63:9 says, “In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.” In our suffering, He suffers. In the death and violence and the sadness, He suffers. The bible is full or reminders that God does not forget us in our pain and suffering. He is present. Psalm 22:24 says, “For He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, and ever present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” He is our safety in a world that feels so unsafe, and He does not forget. Isaiah 49:14-16 says, “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.’ ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.’ ” Our world is not forgotten. Our hearts are not forgotten. Our pain does not go unseen. His compassion never fails, and His mercy is renewed each and every day. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted by the God of comfort. He doesn’t tell us to just suck it up, He doesn’t say to get over it. He mourns with us, He mourns for us… for the whole world. He doesn’t ask us not to grieve and to just be happy all the time, but instead He joins us as we adopt the posture of lamenting.

The rain reminds me that I am not alone in my grief. That He who made the world weeps with me. In this time of chaos and death and violence and pain He brings the rain. He weeps. He is Immanuel, God with us. The God who sent His son to die for us. The God who mourned for Israel is the same God who mourns with us today. May we not be afraid to join Him in His grief.

Tomorrow the sun is supposed to finally show it’s face. The ground will dry, and the birds will sing. But I will not forget the rain, or the God who brings it.