Monday, September 22, 2014

A trip to France and approaching a year of marriage

When we got engaged, my wonderful French friend invited us to spend our honeymoon in France. She owns a small cottage by the sea and a home in the mountains there, as well as a wonderful little condo in Chicago.

I've been to France several times, even living there for a semester during college, and I really wanted to bring Ben to visit this country that I love. But, I knew that we would be far too exhausted to enjoy a trip to France just after the feat of planning a wedding. So, I asked my friend if we could use her Chicago condo for our first few days of marriage and save our trip to France for this summer. She graciously accepted.

We spent a little over two weeks in France at the beginning of August. It was absolutely delightful and oh so romantic. It was truly a second honeymoon and we felt extremely blessed that the Lord had given us a double portion because our first honeymoon was also so lovely.

I found myself comparing this trip to my trip to France for my 30th birthday. It was easy to do because I was staying in all of the places that I had stayed in before and I was able to visit my friend again. It was also very different because I was with Ben and no longer single.

Reflecting on this trip and making comparisons led to revelation about things that have been changing in me during this year of marriage. My experience with the sea offers a wonderful example.

When I came to France 3 years ago, I took my towel to the beach and found a place in the midst of everyone else. I swam in the roped off section because that is the place designated for swimming. It is supervised by a life guard and felt safest.

When I came to France with Ben, he climbed over all the rocks, explored the length of the beach and found hidden spots with room for two towels. We changed spots almost every day and swam in the sea just in front of us. I don't think that I swam in the roped off section once. I did hike further than I had before. I did take risks as I climbed up and over rocks after my husband. I did delight as I sat on a huge boulder, with the waves crashing below us, and watched the beautiful horizon, snuggled up against my love.

Ben is wild and adventurous and I am too, when I am beside him. He inspires me to take more risks and to push the limits of my creativity. Ben sees the beauty in me, even when I am ugly towards him. He reminds me to say, "Yes" to God and he helps me to believe that this is something that I usually do even though I actively struggle with sin and imperfection. Ben enjoys me when I'm silly and releases me to be myself fully, even when that includes stormy feelings and passionate reactions.

As we approach our one year anniversary of marriage this weekend, I am so thankful for my husband, Ben. This has been the best year of my life. I have cooked more, made more music, been more goofy, thrown more tantrums, enjoyed more adventures, loved more deeply and been more authentically myself than ever before. God has given me such a wonderful friend and husband and I cannot wait to spend more of my life with him.

Happy Anniversary My Love!

Still Counting Gifts:

  • #1015: Another cool morning run 
  • #1016: Time and energy to work on our home (organizing, moving, changing things!)
  • #1017: my good friend Jessi Fisher is coming to visit this weekend
  • #1018: I get to make cupcakes for my niece's birthday party
  • #1019: Sunshine on my face
  • #1020: Baked oatmeal
  • #1021: A whole day at home to rest and recreate
  • #1022: Our house of prayer community
  • #1023: God is pursuing all of me, every single part, with love

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beautiful Tension

In my life and my work, I experience a lot of tension. I usually find it where things are not as I would like them to be.

September has seen lots of extra space in my work week. My beautiful tension is found in receiving these gifts of time in the midst of my desire to have a busy practice. I spend some of the time catching up on tasks that need done, while other moments are spent more leisurely.

So many of the people that I see are suffering from painful experiences, past and present, and my challenge is to help them find joy through relationship with God even as they wait for Him to shift their difficult circumstances. There is sadness and anger toward God for allowing them to experience such distress. There is also real comfort as He connects with them in their aching.

I want to use my gifts to produce and create even as I experience fatigue and desire rest. I love the work that God has given me to do and still prefer to be on vacation. I want more and I want less.

I have been taking piano lessons for almost a full year and am excited by how God has been developing my abilities even as I lament the dramatic decrease in my writing. The beautiful tension is accepting that every time I say yes to one thing, I am saying no to others.

Being married has meant weighing more than I ever have before. My beautiful tension is in learning to receive God's declaration that I am beautiful at this weight even as I recommit myself to pursuing healthy eating and exercise so that I can live at a healthy weight. I can believe my husband when he tells me that I am beautiful and really feel beautiful even as I make plans for healthy changes.

I take great delight in consuming delicious foods and recognize that my body does not respond well to some of them. I experience tremendous tension between the desires of my mouth and the healthy operation of my body.

I love the feeling of my body working as a strong machine when I run and I would rather stay snuggled in my bed than head outside. I love to experience God's nearness in worship and prayer and I still regularly choose other forms of entertainment and relaxation outside of connecting with him.
My goal is not to rid myself of all this beautiful tension. I desire to appreciate it for the richness that it adds to my life. I want to recognize that my ambivalence and strong feelings are all a part of my unique experience in this world. I want to learn to move graciously between different opposing positions and to find my home more in the balance of the middle.

Still Counting Gifts: (Today's gifts are inspired by Ann Voskamp's Joy Dare: Gifts Paired)

  • #1008: Coffee and cream
  • #1009: Cool weather and running
  • #1010: Fall and apple cider donuts
  • #1011: Sunday night and Foyle's War
  • #1012: Darker mornings and stronger desire to sleep in
  • #1013: Mondays and new beginnings
  • #1014: Free time and opportunity