Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Holding My Tongue

If you search the word tongue in the Bible, it is enlightening to read up on what God has to say about them. Most often we read about how malicious our tongues are, and how much hurt they cause. Sometimes we read about our tongues confessing the glory of God! But more often than not, in life, we experience what pain our words and voice inflection can cause more than experiencing how wonderful they can be in professing God's goodness... or in lifting people up.

Recently I've had it bashed into my heart quite often how careful I need to be with my words... Whether it be one-on-one conversation where voice inflection is heard, or whether it be through technology where no voice inflection can be heard. I've found that taking away voice inflection and the look on a person's face by reading text on a computer or cell phone can cause even more confusion and misinterpretation... and controversy.

Yesterday was the most recent of times when this lesson was being taught to me. But for the first time in a while, I listened to the Holy Spirit's promptings on my heart to hold my tongue, control my emotions, and wait. Ooooohhhh how every fiber of my being did NOT want to do that! I wanted to say something that would show how hurt I was, that would put on a guilt trip (whether I truly realized that's what I'd be doing or not), that would prove my point, that would PORTRAY how I was feeling (because I used to think that was the most important thing)... and yet, I did not. I felt deep in my gut God whispering to me, No... don't do it. Just wait. WAIT? For what? I was thinking... but I waited anyway. And the reward was great. I realized later that my feelings were branching from misunderstanding, ignorance of the situation, and well, PMS.

I believe that our feelings are completely valid EVEN when our horomones or whatever else it may be, are against us. But I do not believe that we should justify pasting our ugly feelings all over the place by claiming that we have the RIGHT, the opposing party DESERVES to know, I need to VENT, I'm just plain MAD... because in the end... you're the one looking like an idiot that chose not to utilize any self-control.

Personally, I have recently made a choice to stay away from all technology when my emotions are awry. I believe this will spare me and others of the pain of miscommunication, misinterpretation, slander, and will grow me some self-control claws that I can dig into the ground when I'm slipping off the cliff.

For some reason, I've proved to myself that that's pretty hard for me. I could go on telling all the reasons WHY I think it's hard for me, but really, it's irrelevant. We all have our certain struggle-areas, and this is one of mine. And I'm determined to do better. But only with God's help. Because I'll fail if I try to do it myself.

I'm not gonna talk about "it" unless I'm one-on-one with my husband, or the other party that it involves. I'm not going to Facebook or Twitter about it. Not going to text or email about it. Going to put down my phone and stay away from the computer until the intenseness subsides and I've prayed about it.

Society tells us otherwise. "You're entitled!" "It's no dig deal!" "It'll make you feel better to get it out!" ... but this is not the way God would have us deal with our emotions. He wants us to bring them to Him. After we've written about it on all our social networking sites, texted all our messy emotions to the person we're upset with, written an email or two, and gossiped to a couple people... do you really feel like praying about it after that? No... and you've probably calmed down by that time anyway and you're probably feeling the sting of wanting to clean up the mess you made. But God wants to be who you vent to. God wants to hear about all the details and be the person you share your pain with. He wants to be who you lay out all your messiness to. Because he can handle it. And others can't. Even WE can't.

I have a prayer journal that I scribble out all my messy emotions on. It seems like every time I write an entry about how upset I am about something... the very next entry is one of clarity and thankfulness to God. I feel like this is what he wants me to continue to do. Write to him. Not on Facebook, a blog, a text message, or go blabbing to anyone about it... Not yet Mindi. Just wait.

My dad raised me with the saying, This too shall pass. And when it does... after all the pieces of your body have come back together and your brain isn't a steamy pile of mush anymore... you realize what your next step should be. And usually it's as simple as... Trust God.

I know that for me, when I get that crazy, it's just because I'm not trusting Him.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Joy

My love, oh how God has given such a passion to me for you
How my eyes light up when I see you
How I'm drawn to jump into your arms
How things you say are extra funny to me
Mostly because I know who you are

My love, oh how God has given such a passion to me for you
That even when your dirty socks are on the bathroom sink
I don't gripe, but just put them away
That even when I'm irritated
I calculate to hold my tongue and think words through

My love, oh how God has given such a passion to me for you
That I think of how blessed I am that you make our dinners
And all I have to do is clean up afterwards
That I feel such thankfulness when you ice my sore body
And how your servant's heart won't want anything in return

My love, oh how God has given such a passion to me for you
I don't mind completely sparing you of the chores of the house
I don't mind driving us around when you're tired
I don't mind forgoing cuddling because you need to prop up your knees
I don't mind when you have bad days because I delight in the challenge to ease your pain

My love, oh how God has given such a passion to me for you
You're my most favorite person to pray for each day
You're the face I see most in my mind
Yours is the heart that I strive to know every part of
Yours is the soul that I most desire to inspire

My love, oh how God has given such a passion to me for you
How being in your arms feels more like Home
Than walking through our front door
How kissing your lips feels more like comfort
Than the softest texture and perfect temperature
How being in your care feels more protected
Than a lock and key or alarm system
How being your wife is more security to me
Than what being a millionaire could ever provide
How living an ordinary day with you is more desirable
Than a day at Six Flags or a day in Hawaii
How being your helpmate is a bigger delight to me
Than 1,000 gracious hugs of my neighbors...

My dear, your love touches the deepest parts of me.
You are my joy. The kind only a husband can supply.

Oh how God knows. Loves.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blessings Blessings Everywhere - Part 3

We are blessed by our Lifegroup.

It is very likely that if it weren't for our Lifegroup, Bryan and I would not be together today. We probably wouldn't have made it through one of our big pre-engagement era fights. The pressure of it all probably would have crumbled us. Our immaturity and lack of vision for the future condition of our hearts would have prevailed over us. The Devil's lies would have been heard, listened to, believed, and bought into.

Bryan and I knew we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives after only speaking over the phone, oh, probably that very first night. But there was much we would have to face. There was much we would have to learn. As much as we wished we would have just gotten married immediately and not 'wasted time' in limbo as boyfriend & girlfriend, daily, no moment to moment, struggling with lust and temptation and longing and overwhelming desire for each other not only physically but for the oneness of each other spiritually... we see now that the amount of time it took for us to get engaged, 2 & 1/2 years, and get married, 6 months, that that was God's plan, set aside, as a time for us to learn and be refined to where we needed to be to be ready to be married to each other.

We would not have relied on sound mentorship to help us had it not been for our Lifegroup. If it wouldn't have been male/female differences, it would have been finances. If it wouldn't have been the way we were raised differences, it would have been California vs. Oklahoma. If it wouldn't have been personality differences, it would have been the inability to choose battles and let certain things roll off our backs. If it wouldn't have been past relationships, it would have been preconceived notions. Something, I am almost 100% convinced, would have ended us, if it weren't for our Lifegroup. It took I think about a year of Bryan living in Oklahoma before we finally became a part of a Lifegroup. And it was not by chance that this certain one seemed perfect and that we instantly became a part of the family.

Certain people were a part of our Lifegroup at one point, that no longer are, and it was not by chance that they were. God had a divine appointment for them and us... and we learned something from each person; each couple. Now our Lifegroup is smaller than ever between Bryan and I, Russell and Cissa, and Chris and Haley... and we'd have it no other way. We are open to others joining, but the current smallness of our group has been good for us too.

Bryan and I have benefitted so much from our Lifegroup personally, and in relationship with each other, and with it's beginning and maturation... to set the foundation for a healthy life-long marriage... that it's hard to even put into words. I knew joining a Lifegroup would be good for us. But I had no idea how essential it'd be. I knew it would help us get into the Word on a regular basis. I knew it would form friendships. But I had no idea how deep and vital those relationships would become. I had no idea how much we would need them, rely on them... I had no idea what I was missing before. How much I had thirsted.

I know I've said this recently in other posts, but I just have to say again, because it constantly amazes me how God knows what we need to the most minute detail; how he provides them for us in ways we can't even fathom; how he cares so deeply about the smallest desires of our hearts. Oh, how He provides! As an overflow of his rich, unconditional love for us, he provides.

He sustains. He enriches. He strengthens. He provides. He loves.

He uses us, little earthly human beings so flawed, to enrich each other; feed into each other's lives; teach each other; invest in each other; help each other; LOVE each other.

Oh, what we'd be without our Lifegroup, without our God, I don't even want to know.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blessings Blessings Everywhere - Part 2

So many financial blessings have come Bryan and I's way since we've been married (and even before) that it'd be impossible to try to list. But during a talk with Cissa about how little (and big) blessings are popping up in our lives all the time, she suggested that we keep track of every little blessing we have. Count your blessings. 1...2...3...4...5...

Someday we'll look back at this time and remember how God took care of us and how people loved on us with each little thing. The surprise apple juice and kit kat bar that were left on my desk, the surprise gift of a necklace and prayer journal, a bag of cotton balls given to us the day I had only one left that I'd been rationing for a couple weeks, all the lunches that have been bought for both Bryan and I (especially the surprise ones), all the dinners that have been provided for us... things like my coworkers/friends refusing to let me buy my own lotion, and to use theirs until it runs out, getting to go shopping in Cissa's closet for clothes, getting to inherit lots of picture frames from Cissa, as well as table place mats, kitchen hand towels, and pot holders. Times like when Cissa decided to buy each of us this beautiful necklace we were both eyeing at the store. All the times my dad has paid the ticket for Bryan and I's brunch (not to mention my sister's and her boyfriend's too). Times like how mom and Jim paid for us to go bowling, eat pizza, and have drinks. Like how Shelby and Barrett slipped money into a can of cappuccino powder she was giving me, with a note that said they wanted us to go to the movie theatre and enjoy a date night. And to not fight them. Like the surprise check in the mail of a substantial amount from our sweet brother and sister Kelly and Jason. How Jim refers Bryan to friends of his for work. How Crossfit lets us exchange work for our gym membership. Oh me oh my.... I could go on and on and on...

I hope that people who know me through social networking (Facebook & Twitter & even here) don't think I'm trying to brag when I note that this-or-that has been given to us. Quite the contrary. I am only noting what God is doing in our lives. We are being blessed because of our faithfulness. We are being blessed because of love. This is what gives us that extra spark of hope for our future... and our present! This is what makes me float on cloud 9 because I feel like so many people care so deeply for us and want us to succeed... because God first loved us! We don't do it on our own merit. We don't do it to show off to the world. We do it to give God ALL THE GLORY!!!!

Lord, thank you for all the amazing people in my life. My husband. Beyond words. My daddy. You knew what I'd need for my whole life. My family. My best friends. My mentors. My co-workers. My church. My gym. My Lifegroup. Every single person in my life LORD you are GOOD!

I LOVE hearing others' stories of blessings in their lives. I love hearing what God is doing. Never hold back these stories of testament to God's work. Shine His light to all the world. Financial blessings make a huge impact on our world, but ALL blessings are to God's glory! No matter what struggles, obstacles, wants, wishes, or uncomforts any of us may have and be going through... there is hope in the small things.

Hope in the small things. Hope. In the small things.

Even in the smallest of things.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blessings Blessings Everywhere - Part 1

Bryan and I haven't been able to pay the last 3-4 payments to my dad that include my car payment of $340/month. He and I had been talking for about a week about the best ideas for getting rid of my car. We had to come to terms with the fact that we just couldn't afford it.

I had to come to terms with it.

Well it wasn't easy. I wrestled with it for days. Finally, I talked to Bryan about it one day and said that maybe my dad would take it back because he'd been talking about buying himself a car that would fit a lot of groceries and luggage and would be safe for driving on bad road conditions. His Miata just doesn't cut it in that area. Besides, the car is in his name and he bought it for me my Senior year of high school as my graduation gift. Just like he did with my sister with her Honda Fit. He'd probably take it back. It seemed like the best option considering I wrecked it last year and the rebuild probably made us upside down on what it's worth vs. what we still owe on it. Selling it to a stranger wouldn't be a wise financial move most likely.

Bryan and I talked about how we'd have to be a one car family for a while. I totally dreaded that part. I fought it. I didn't want to be stranded if he needed to be somewhere that I couldn't go. I didn't want to have to stuff myself into an already chuck-full mini-van that's being used like the bed of a truck full of dirty stinky tools and materials all the time. There's usually not room for more than just the one driver in there. I played the What If Game... What if we got pregnant? What if the van died? What if we wrecked it? What if what if what if... I felt like my freedom, my adulthood were being taken away.... my luxury....

I knew we'd have to scrimp and save to be able to afford another car for cheap and not have to owe anyone any money on it. I didn't know how long that'd take. I didn't know if we'd even be able to do it. I hated the idea of having to trade in my 06 Civic for something crummy or trade it for nothing at all. I was feeling so selfish..... my luxury....

But God...

I prayed about this for 2 days. As I was driving down the road, I began seeing cheap cars around me, and imagining myself in them. The warmth of the sun touched my face and I all the sudden had this huge longing to ride my bike! I started to get a spark of excitement in me! It would be an adventure! We'd save money! (We wouldn't owe money we don't have.) We'd have more to spend on other things like giving! OH how I LOVE giving! This was going to be great!!!

My selfishness had been refined into a sense of adventure! Acceptance.

So...

I call my dad. Going to talk to him about the options for getting rid of my car. I say, Well dad, we're finding out that we really can't afford to keep my car. He replies, Well how about you come up with the insurance payments, and I'll pay the car payments?

What?

Really?

Yes, really.

He said, That's what dads are for. You guys need a reliable set of wheels.

Yes.... really.

See, that's how cool God is. He waits for my heart to get in the right place. He waits for me to accept it. He waits for me to cut my emotional ties with a thing that I can't take past this life anyway, a thing that doesn't matter, a thing that's just a luxury, a thing with nothing to offer me that any other car that can get from A to B can't offer me.... He waited for me to let go.

Then! Oh then! He drops this amazing blessing into my lap! OH REJOICE!

I cried for 20 minutes.

I had no idea so much emotion was built up behind it. I had no idea I had so much to release.

God cares about even the smallest and most insignificant desires of our hearts.

I cried because God loves me. I cried because my dad is so giving. I cried because I don't deserve it.

We are so so blessed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

I grew up as a United Methodist at MUMC - Mustang United Methodist Church. As a child, I remember Ash Wednesday being the day that our church would have a service where the children got the opportunity to walk down the center aisle waving palm fronds. I was always excited about that, wanting to stand next to my best friends, feeling important somehow that I got to walk down the sanctuary aisle during a service and wave around my palm fronds. I had no idea what it meant, I just knew it as The Palm Fronds Day at church.

I don't remember what was said, I don't remember if my church, or I, or my family, ever gave anything up for Lent. In fact, as most things in church as a child, it was pretty meaningless to me except for the opportunity to do something fun with my friends. Which isn't a bad thing when you're a young'n... that's just the way it is. For all I know, I might have grasped part of what were we doing back in that time, but just like what happens in the movie Baby Genuises, I grew up, and now have no recollection.

These days I know that Ash Wednesday is a day signifying our repentance. When you're young, what do you repent from? Stealing candy out of the cabinet, breaking a bowl on the tile floor, smacking your sister, screaming while your mom's on the phone... I have a lot more to repent for now. I don't celebrate Ash Wednesday anymore the way we did at MUMC, but I can still acknowledge this significant day by thinking back to all of the times I've asked for forgiveness and my sweet merciful Lord not only forgave them, but wiped my slate clean - having no recollection of the sins I've committed.

Oh how beautiful that is. How loving. He loves each and every single tiny insignificantly significant one of us - that much. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Sweet 1st Married Valentines Day


Our 1st married Valentine's day wasn't what I thought it'd be. I'll just be blunt - I'm on antibiotics... so married-such-and-such-activity had to be postponed. I was admittedly quite bummed out about that. But Bryan made it special anyway. Of course!

Because I am a silly one, I didn't wait until Sunday to give Bryan his Valentine's Day gift - a burned CD with 20 songs that are both significant and insignificant of our little life together. Some lovey, some not. I think his favorite is an acoustic cover of Gnarles Barkley's song Crazy. :) I ended up giving it to him in the car while we were driving to my work's banquet Friday night. We were running late and in a hurry and red lights and silly-Oklahoma-cell-phone-distracted-slow-moving-cut-off'n-drivers were adding to the stress a bit. So I pulled it out and said, "This'll cheer you up!" It did.

On Sunday after church, Bryan announced that my gift would be a closet organizational shelf and hanging bar, bought and installed by him. Not romantic, but indeed practical, which I can truly appreciate. I am glad to have more closet space and organization! That day, I also gave him his 'card' which was actually just a letter scribbled out on yellow legal pad paper (scratched out words and all). I wrote it with the intentions of making him a sweet card later and writing the message inside, but instead decided to give him the original copy because it portrayed my raw real feelings from the moments I was writing it.

That evening, we did the classic 'Dinner & a movie' date backwards. We first went to the movie theatre and watched Valentines Day which was quite entertaining. Then went for a late dinner at Sumo for clear soup and Snow Mountain sushi. No raw meat this time because we didn't feel like having nightmares that night. Ha! The restaurant was pretty emptied out by the time we got there and it was pretty nice to have it mostly to ourselves. We sat in the sushi section which is right by the bar where there were 2 TVs nearby with the Olympics on. Figure skating to be exact, and my oh my do I love to watch me some figure skating. Bryan always turns it on the TV for me when it's on because he knows how much I like it. We sat there and I blabbed about how much I love it and how beautiful it is... And then we talked about how much we appreciate each other. It was really nice.

We got home and sat down at our dining table with some paper and pens. Bryan read me 1 Corinthians 13 from his Bible. Then he had the idea that we should make lists of 'Things we want to do for each other between now and next Valentine's day'. Those things are secret. But I can tell you they're superbly awesome! This is now a pronounced tradition for every Valentine's Day from here on out.

We folded up our pieces of paper and put them in our treasure box - which is where we put all our most special cards, pictures, and letters from each other and closest friends and family.

It was a great Valentine's day. Things often don't pan out the way we plan it in our minds... and that's a good thing... because our plans don't leave room for anything unexpected and delightfully surprising. Not to mention, God has a lot more in store for us than we could EVER imagine.