Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Submission and Offering it Up (in Which I Don't Want Chinese Again.)

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." -Ephesians 5:21-24


We don't really like the "S" word, do we? 

Submission. 

It's a dirty, dirty word in our culture. And why should that be a surprise to us? Look at our culture- we've been taught that backing down is always weak and wrong, that our opinions and feelings matter above all else. 

Which, of course, is exactly opposite of what God says here in Ephesians. 

I'm a bossy person, generally speaking. Submission does not come easily to me. 

Trust me when I say this- submission is God's plan for marriage. My marriage runs much more smoothly when I make the choice to yield to my husband. We've only been married for two years, but I've learned that much already. Putting it into practice is another issue, of course. 

Submission is just that- a choice. You have to choose to submit to this man to whom you've linked your life. And honestly, it's hard.

Especially when you think you'll do something better than he can. Or when you have a big opinion about something. Or when you feel that he's putting his own desires first. 

When we try to control the men God has given to us, the men He's decided are best to lead our families, aren't we also trying to control God?



I've struggled with submission. I have a husband who takes charge of our little family- Zeke's a natural leader, and a good one. I know I'm blessed. But sometimes, can't I have things my way for once?!?! There have been plenty of times that I've been upset, and confused about why I'm upset, only to realize that I'm angry because I don't want to follow my Zeke's lead on something. 

I wish I had known, before getting married, how to submit.

Unrelated pretty flower picture.

Offer It Up

In Catholic circles, there's a practice called "offering it up." When faced with something unpleasant, or painful, or difficult, they offer it up. They deal with the pain or annoyance or difficulty by offering up the situation in prayer- an intention for someone or something else. 

Even the smallest of children can be taught that things are sometimes unpleasant, but it can be used for good. Hungry? Offer it up for those children who have no food- "God, I offer up my hunger right now- please be with those people who are starving, Lord. Provide for them." Simple. Powerful. 

And I never learned that. I deal with unpleasantness by whining and complaining and bearing it until it's over. 

I did that in my marriage, too. I submitted to my husband, but with rolling of eyes and becoming the whiniest of whiners. 

(To which you ask, "...And what's really improved, here? Adrie's still the whiniest of whiners!" True, friends, true. But His grace is good.)


After learning how to "offer it up," I've come to a stunning realization. 

Things don't always go my way. 

I'd like it if I didn't have to deal with that annoying work situation. I didn't want to get that cold sore. It wasn't in my plan to struggle to conceive.

Submitting to a situation that doesn't go my way- that's part of life. We can use it for good- to pray for someone else and be thankful for the blessings in our own lives- or we can allow it to make us miserable. Sort of like what we discussed in this post. 



Okay, that's all well and good, but what does that have to do with submission in marriage?

Submission sometimes means that things don't go your way. Whether it's going to the Chinese buffet for supper again, waiting on welcoming another life into your home, or deciding Christmas plans, you may need to accept a role of submission to that guy who leads your family.

You have a choice. You can complain and suffer for it and make everyone generally unhappy, or you can offer it up. Offer up your discomfort or disappointment with the intention that your marriage will grow strong. For those who are waiting for that right person and wondering where he is and would he just hurry up and get here, already. For those who have lost a spouse.

It makes that submission, giving up that bossy role, a little easier to accept. It helps me to trust God's plan- that He put this man (the one who always wants to go to the Chinese buffet) in my life for a reason. To trust that this man's decisions will lead me closer to God, to good things on this earth.


Right now, you don't have that husband to whom you submit. But you will, and you will disagree with him. Maybe about Chinese, maybe about something much bigger. When you do, you'll want to be well-versed in offering up your struggles.

So start doing it now. Hang-nail? Offer it up. Parking ticket? Conversation with a difficult sister? Demanding co-worker? The more you offer up your struggles now, the more natural it will become.






This post is part of a series- make your engagement a time of intentional growth to prepare you for marriage, not just a time of planning for a wedding!

"Like" A Little Wife's Happy Life on Facebook to catch more Intentional Engagement posts!

Other Posts in the Intentional Engagement Series:







Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Husband Paid All My Student Loans, and Accepting Grace




I graduated college with a degree in Education, a crisp teaching license, over fifty thousand dollars of debt, and absolutely no job prospects.

Yep. Laying it all out there today. 

I started paying off my loans early- a little bit at a time- all throughout college, and was dedicated to making payments every month, even if it was only $50 towards the huge principle balance.

But really, despite my diligence, my Ramen-noodle-and-apples diet, and only getting haircuts from a friend in the dorm, it was only a drop in the bucket.

Zeke knew all about my loans. I mean, how could he not? I did whine about writing checks toward 'em. He got to hear all about it every month.

I grew up in a family that did not talk about money unless it was to tell us girls that no, we couldn't have an American Girl doll because we couldn't afford it. I believe that my parents did the best they could, but as I got older, it became clear that my folks had made some bad financial decisions; ones that were affecting our family still.

So I went the opposite way. I was extremely cautious with money. I started working (fast food, but still) when I was fifteen, and quickly learned that the more I worked, the more money I could squirrel away. I worked around thirty hours a week all throughout high school, with babysitting jobs and odd jobs here and there thrown in for good measure. I didn't make much money, but I worked a ton, and the money I did make was saved and carefully guarded. My checking account never went below $100. Ever.

My habits followed me to college. I decided to attend a private school, which was expensive, but I truly loved the school, so I made sacrifices. I took a job on campus, and worked a lot- even doing double overnight shifts for a semester (and it was then that I acquired my coffee habit!), and the money I made was budgeted meticulously.

Even with all the work and all the caution and all the obsessive number crunching, I knew that I'd leave college with debt. And I hated that. But I told myself that I was better off than many of my friends- I'd started paying it off!

A year after graduation, still religiously paying those bills, I got married.

Zeke had worked all through high school and college as well, but he worked more skilled jobs, more physically demanding jobs, and he got paid a lot more. And he also saved and scrimped, and went to a community college for a few years before a state school to get his degree (and paid out of pocket for it all). And as quick as "I Do," his bank account, which had much larger numbers than mine, was now suddenly our account.

And one day, about a week after our wedding, Zeke sat me down and asked to see the loan information. I pulled out my detailed files with payment dates and plans and interest rate calculations and notes.

And then, he got out the checkbook and together, we paid them all.

As those envelopes were sealed and stamped, I felt a pit deep in my stomach.

Because I didn't make that money, but I had made that debt.


I have trouble accepting grace. Lots of trouble with it. Somehow it doesn't feel right to be given something that I didn't work for. That I didn't earn. Whether it's my husband paying off my student loans, or Jesus dying in my place, I don't accept it well.

It took me a while to be okay with Zeke's sacrifice for me. We're one person now, with one budget and one goal and one life. I know that not beginning our lives together in debt is good for both of us, that we don't have to pay thousands of dollars in interest. I know... but still- it was my debt, from my education. An education that gained me a teaching license... which I'm not using.

I did not expect him to pay my loans. But he did.

Who would have thought that Jesus would pay for our sins with his own life? It seems just far too good to be true.

All I know is that my husband gave me a very real picture that afternoon, sitting on the couch with a checkbook in hand. First, he taught me that, well, I still need to work at accepting grace. But he showed me something else, too. He gave me a small picture of what it is to redeemed.






Monday, July 28, 2014

Weekend Update 07.26.2014

So this weekend, was... well, it was interesting.

You know how Friday went down... I pretty much inhaled some chocolate...



so I was looking forward to a weekend away. I was really, really looking forward to it.


So Friday afternoon, I quickly shoved clothing and a toothbrush into a duffel bag and then jumped into a truck with Zeke to head back "home." We took a truck because he was getting rid of three couches for Camp, and by "get rid" I mean he was going to put them on his dad's burn pile at the farm.

We stopped for gas in town, and the gas station lady told us about a family whose home collapsed and ruined all their furniture, so then we took a detour to give the couches to that family. Which worked out great.

And on the way back from the detour, we saw these guys running across the road...


... without a momma in sight, so we thought maybe they'd have a happy life at Dad's farm. You know, since he wasn't getting the couches, maybe he'd want some ducks.

So after all that, we got back to our hometown around ten or so.  I stopped off at my folks house to beg a dress off my sister for the wedding we were heading to the next day... but nothing fit right, really, so that was a bummer. And then we went to sleep.

The next day, we got up and had breakfast, and then I went shopping with Zeke's mom for a dress for the wedding. It was so much fun. Really. It was great. I'm not much of a shopper, to be honest- I don't like trying things on or matching this with that... ugh.

But I had so much fun with my mother-in-law. I love her. And I found a dress that was comfy and that I'll wear again, so that was good.

Zeke and I met up again, headed to the city to look at a trailer (?) and start toward the wedding.

This is the last of Zeke's buddies to get married. It was a fun wedding- at a vineyard in South Dakota (yes, they have those- I was surprised, too), and at the end of it all, they got hitched, which, I'm told, is the point of weddings, anyway.


But, I don't know. There were lots of Zeke's buddies there, but Zeke hasn't really hung out with many of them in a while. And I haven't hung out with their wives very much at all. Apparently, they've all hung out with one another a lot, though.

They also all have children (minus the busy bride and groom), so most of the conversation centered around their toddlers. Which, okay, I get that. But I just felt so left out.

I know that I shouldn't feel this way, but it was hard for me to be around so many pregnant ladies and gals with babies. Why do their bodies work and mine doesn't? It doesn't seem fair. I tried to focus on contentment and joy, but it was tough. Zeke and I have been together for years longer than the majority of his friends, and many of them are already expecting baby #2. It was hard for me. I felt a little like I was standing still, watching them all speed past us. And there's nothing I can do about it.

We left pretty early- I was tired and not much in the mood for dancing.

On the way home, Zeke's dad called to tell us that the little ducklings had died.

I got all melodramatic and moody at that point. Because seriously? God couldn't just give me that one?

I was upset most of the rest of the night. We headed back home to our own home early Sunday, just in time to catch this eye catching parade...




What more do you need to cheer you up than miles of people on tractors?

I'm hoping that this week goes a little more smoothly, I guess. Pray for me when you think of it, will you?

Have a great week!



Friday, July 25, 2014

All The Grouchies Up In Hurrr

Fridays make me grouchy.

Correction. Most days make me grouchy.

Source


I know, I know. How can you be a big ole crank if you're surrounded by laughing children learning about God? And families finding their stride in faith and re-learning how to love each other? Don't get me wrong, I know that Camp is pretty awesome and powerful and life-changing. And I know, I know, that I'm blessed to be part of it.

But for the love of Pete.

My overly-organized perfectionist self doesn't deal well with all the flexibility.

All the "Oh, we also have another three people who decided to come to Camp with us! So we need different housing. Rightthisminute. And we'd like the most luxury housing you have available."

All the "Oh, actually, my child has a severe peanut allergy, thankyouverymuch. You'll have to remove all peanut products from the camp store. No, I didn't call about it in advance."  (They apparently didn't read this post.)


I like to be prepared. I spend hours making door signs and name tags and spreadsheets and invoices. And then the people show up, and it all CHANGES. 

So then I decide not to stress about it. To go with the flow. But the issue there is being flexible makes more work for me, too. And then more people are cranky with me because I didn't have accurate-ish numbers and we're running out of food and three families are sharing one counselor. Sprampfed if I do, Sprampfed if I don't.

But for the most part, I can overlook it. They're just people after all, and people make mistakes. I get that.

This week, though. THIS.WEEK. We gave a full scholarship to a family. That means they don't pay for anything. Not programming, not housing, not even food. They've gotten full scholarships for many years. I know, generosity and all, but really? They haven't paid anything ever? It's over $12,000 in free camp, all added up. That's a lot.

And then they came to my office the other day to complain. First, the counselor running the camp store "wasn't very nice" when they asked for a reduced cost on a t-shirt. And secondly, because they don't eat pork, and the chef didn't know that. So now the cook is providing an alternative menu for this family. (Can't they just not eat the pork and eat salad bar and rolls and green beans instead?!? Apparently not.) AND THEY'RE NOT PAYING FOR ANY OF IT, ANYWAY.

Saying little prayers up in this joint. Because jeez. I'm so far from the love of Christ with these folks, it's not even funny. I'm really trying to channel the "if he asks for your cloak, give him your tunic, as well" thing.

But the wind's a'blowin'. Crab.Bee.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Five Ridiculous Favorite Solutions.

Full disclosure- this post contains affiliate links. That means, if you buy anything after clicking the links on this page, I'll earn about 3 cents. And I like earning 3 cents per post- that's why I write this blog. 

Okay, that's a lie. 3 cents is not really why I write this blog. But the rest is true. 


1

So, I have this... trouble. I have "shy bowels." I don't poo in public restrooms. It's not that I don't want to, it's that I can't. Which made summer camp really fun as a kid. 

Well, and it's not limited to public restrooms. I didn't go #2 in Zeke's folks' house until we'd been married for 19 months (and yes, I remember the exact number of months. It was a little traumatic.)

It's gotten better over the years, but not much better. I can now poo in gas station restrooms, but only while texting or playing phone games or reading something. But still, it's a bit of an issue.

Feel like you've now learned way more about me than you ever wanted to? 

You're welcome.


Anyway. Solution? (Well, my problem is a little more complicated than just smell, but this will help. I just know it.)









Apparently, you "Spritz the Bowl Before You Go and No One Else Will Ever Know." So your poo will literally smell like lavender. What? I know. 




2

I pulled all the cushion covers out of our new camper (and I say "new" meaning "from the early 1980's, making it older than either one of us, but new to us") to wash them and then hang them to dry... and lo and behold, rain.

What's a girl to do? 

Well, you could either get one of these... 



...or, you could just set up a gorgeous cross-living-room laundry line system. You know. Whatever you prefer, really.



3

I've never really liked just biting into an apple. The juice goes all over your face... ugh. Not for me. 
I typically cut my apples before I eat them. Time consuming, yes. But totally worth it. 

Even more worth it with something as awesome as this...


I have a thing for turtles. 



4

Throughout my childhood and young pre-married adulthood, I thought I would marry a businessman. Like my dad. He'd wear suits to work, or on Fridays, a blazer and jeans. And he'd carry a briefcase and get a tie for Christmas and his birthday every year, just like my dad. Because isn't that what all kids think- that they'll marry someone a little like their dad? 

Cut to me marrying a man who's a full foot taller than my father, I've only seen him in a suit at weddings and funerals, and he carries this to work with him, not a briefcase. 



So what do you get a guy like that for his birthday? I've only seen him wear a tie three times ever! 

Solution? 



This. Every birthday, and every Christmas. Because two in the lake and one under a building somewhere.



5

After a long day at work (long, long, long! This week has been a little nuts), the best solution is a little of this... 



and money really can't buy something like that. 

Even if I'd earn 3 cents if you did buy it. 


Have a great weekend, all!



This post is linked to Five Favorites over at Mama Knows. Thanks for hosting, Heather!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Through the Roof: 4 Tips to Reduce Pre-Wedding Anxiety



My veins were filled with fire.

I just knew it. Fire or stinging ants, but at this point, did it really matter? I was panicked. And I was running.out.of.time.

Because my wedding was in only two days. And those two days were just... just terrible.


We've already talked about the fact that getting married scores super high in terms of stress. Marriage is a big change! But what about the wedding itself?


I'm a bit... controlling. And a little bit of a perfectionist, and I like things just so. But seriously? By the end of planning my wedding, I just didn't care. About any of it. And yet, I cared so very much. I just wanted the wedding to be over.

And you know what? With my stress level through the roof, my nerves completely ragged, after having slept all of thirty minutes the night before, and with a nervous stomach that just wouldn't go away... I got married. As soon as I held by beloved's hands in front of the altar, everything was okay.

But about ten minutes beforehand, nothing was okay. I was too much a bundle of nerves to even really enjoy my last few moments before my wedding.

Don't do that. Don't let yourself get so worked up and anxious that the days leading up to your wedding are just awful. This should be a time of happiness and joy, of celebration. Not of feeling like you're going to be sick every single minute.

(TMI warning: the morning of my wedding, I couldn't stop pooping. Seriously. I had the nervous poops.)

Delegate and Trust
You cannot physically do everything. There's no possible way to pick up grandma from the airport, get your hair done, and make sure the guestbook arrives at the church all in a span of fifteen minutes. You just can't.

Delegate things to other people. I'm sure you're rolling your eyes at me here because, duh, of course you know all about delegating. But for a control freak like myself, it was hard.

I wanted to do it all myself. But you know what? I alienated some people by holding on so tightly! My family and friends wanted to help, and here I was trying to keep the entire wedding under my thumb. When I finally gave up (it took me far too long- don't make the same mistake!) I was delighted to see that other people were actually excited to help, were actually interested in the wedding.

You can do it. Ask for help, and then trust that they'll do a great job. My sister-in-law set up the guestbook table, and you know what? It wasn't at all the way I wanted it. But it was beautiful and just fine. Because really, who cares that the angle of the book wasn't the way I saw in a magazine? No one noticed, anyway! It wasn't anything to be upset about.

Let it go. Everything will work out just fine, even if you're not the one doing it.

Love your Almost-Husband
The trouble with controlling my entire wedding, in my case, was that I sort of forgot about Zeke. He needed to get things ready for the wedding (mostly just making sure that the groomsmen were there on time), but micromanaging his responsibilities was really all the attention I gave him.

And it was his wedding, too.

I was so focused on the wedding and on what I needed to do that I acted rather selfishly. Not a great way to start out a marriage.

A hint: When your future hubby says, "Please, let's just talk about anything but the wedding. Please," it's a good sign that he feels neglected. 

Do something nice for him.

And no, I'm not saying this to add to the ever-growing list of things that absolutely must get done before the wedding. I know it may feel that way.

It doesn't have to be a big thing- maybe a back rub, stop by with a box of sundae cones, ask him how his day was and actually listen to the answer (I wasn't so great at that one). And turning your mind toward serving him will help you get your mind off of everything else- off the wedding nerves, and off of yourself.

Pray
Yes, you heard me. Pray. Pray about the wedding, pray for the things you're nervous about, pray for that man you're marrying, pray for your friends and people who hear about  on the news... just pray. 

Prayer will put your attitude in the right place. I thought I could control everything about my wedding, but really, are we in control of anything at all? I had to let go. Trust God. 

And just like ^ that one, praying about other people and other concerns will take your mind of off yourself (because let's be honest, planning a wedding is often about what I want, I need, I want this to look like...me, me, me.)

Take Time to Relax
You're saying, "Adrie! I'm getting married in four days! There is NO TIME TO RELAX!" Or maybe you're not saying that at all because you're calm and peaceful and not nearly as neurotic as I. 

But honestly, I really wish I'd done more of this. Take the time to relax. You need it. Think of it as wedding planning task- you're planning and preparing to be a pleasant person on your wedding day instead of a complete mess. 

Some suggestions:

-Take a bath, preferably with some kind of lavender going on. Breathe, read a light book about something other than weddings, or hey, even bring your laptop into the bathroom and watch a funny movie.

-Listen to soothing music. You can search "relaxing music" on YouTube and just listen to bunches. No words, just soothing tunes. (Don't listen at work, though. I made that mistake once and almost fell asleep at my desk at 1:30. But very relaxing).

-Let yourself feel things. Overwhelmed? Angry things aren't going the way you wanted? Emotional because you're getting married and things are changing? Give yourself time to feel it. Blocking out your feelings will only lead to more stress and anxiety. 
-Do something fun. Something non-wedding related. Something that you enjoy or that thrills you or that makes you feel worthwhile. Create something. Find art in your world. Do something you've never done before. Try to do something active- ice skating or bowling or even just taking a walk down your favorite path and taking photos. The exercise will help to ease stress, too.


When you think of a bride before her wedding, the ideal "perfect bride," is she frenzied and stressed? She shouldn't be! Crunch time before a wedding can really crush your spirit and make you anxious and unpleasant. Don't be a bundle of stress and nerves on your wedding day.

Any other suggestions or tips, ladies? How do you reduce stress in your life?


This post is part of a series- make your engagement a time of intentional growth to prepare you for marriage, not just a time of planning for a wedding!

"Like" A Little Wife's Happy Life on Facebook to catch more Intentional Engagement posts!

Other Posts in the Intentional Engagement Series:







Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Potter


We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us." - Romans 6:7-10 

I like to be in control.

I think my sisters have called me "bossy" more often than I'd like to admit- of course, looking back on my childhood, "bossy" seems more than kind given some of the things I forced upon them!

And unfortunately, I didn't really grow out of it... I'm just bossy in more socially acceptable ways (let's hope).

It steals my peace and pulls me further from Him. I struggle against trusting God, shouting "No! I can do it!" like a two-year-old trying to put on her own shoes. And, like that two-year-old, I eventually learn that giving up and letting my heavenly Father take care of me is what I should have done all along.

Well, I learn it until next time, anyway.

I'm breakable and fragile and yet I hold this amazing gift- the life and salvation of Jesus. I can't understand why Jesus would want to make a home in me. I'm limited and weak. My body doesn't always do what I would like it to do. My mind doesn't hold on to things for very long. I can only handle so much.

But glory, glory- He's with me always! Patiently waiting for me to get frustrated, broken down, and disappointed because doing it my way doesn't work. And when I'm ready to finally surrender to Him, to trust Him to know what's best for me, He's there to shape me and guide me.

I find such peace when I stop fighting, and simply enjoy the safety and love in the Potter's hands.