Jul 23, 2014

On writing about marriage and celebrating three years.

Today marks our three year wedding anniversary.

In thinking about doing a post for today, I realized I don't write much on the topic of marriage or about our relationship specifically. There are a couple of reasons: although I feel I have learned quite a bit in the last few years, I think that only three years of being married still places me in the novice category. I have much still to learn and I don't want to pour out advice when we haven't gone through any real struggles yet. Not to say that I haven't benefited from other newbies sharing about their marriages, just that I've never felt quite ready to delve into this in my writing yet. Maybe in the future!

The other reason I don't tend to write about marriage is I struggle with the balance of authenticity. Sometimes in the online world, we tend to share only the good and beautiful stories and pictures of our lives. Those are wonderful to share, but without meaning to we can paint a picture of perfection. Others who don't know us well might think we never struggle or have difficulties, and that's not helpful. On the other-hand, it can be difficult to write with honesty on the not-so-perfect parts while respecting another's privacy.

And perhaps one more reason why I hesitate to share - I remember when I was single I didn't mind seeing facebook statuses about relationships but sometimes there were so many and it fed into my discontentment. Of course, this was my heart issue, but in remembering that I want to be sensitive, knowing that when we have something great to post or want to brag about our spouse (or other things) there may be others out there who are struggling.

With all this said though, I think we live in a culture that loves to trash talk or look down on men (just look at most sit-com relationships). So as Christian women, it's important to set a different example of speaking about our husbands with love and respect, and one aspect of this can be praising them in a public way occasionally when we get the chance - not to put ourselves on display or show off, but to genuinely encourage and build up our husbands!

(an attempt to get these three in one photo...not sure what's going on in the expressions...)

So (with apologies for that lengthy introduction) that is what I've decided to do today as we celebrate three years of marriage - to share just a few things I love about my husband, Loris.
This is the first thing that comes to mind because it was the first thing that drew me to him: his love and pursuit of Christ. I love that he knows Scripture well because He wants to know Christ well (and to be like Him).  He is an example to me of humility - he is almost always the first to admit fault and seek reconciliation in our marriage (even when I may be more to blame). I probably can't count the times he has encouraged me to a deeper prayer life. I'm so thankful that our common faith is the foundation of our relationship - what storms in life can't we weather with this in place?
He balances me in many areas. A couple that come to mind: He is firm in his convictions and sees the world in a more black and white way than I do. Sometimes this can cause friction but most often I'm thankful because I can get too caught up in people-pleasing and long, confusing trails of thought. He brings clarity when I'm caught in a fog of questions.

He doesn't just love our children, but deeply enjoys them. I think in public he is more likely to stress out over our toddler's sometimes difficult behavior or to worry about him falling down the stairs or off the slide (safety police), but at home I get to witness how much he genuinely loves being their daddy. I love overhearing conversations between him and Joshua as they play in the living room or being called to come quick just to see "Miriam's amazing smile!"  I love being parents together - we honestly sit around talking about our kids all the time, re-hashing the funny things they do, convinced they are the cutest, coolest, most interesting humans to ever walk the planet (I'm sure you feel the same way about yours).

And just one more thing - he pays attention to the little things I like and tries to spoil me regularly, whether it's encouraging me to get myself a coffee or treat when we're out doing errands or to buy that shirt he saw me eye on the rack. He may not think it's a big thing, but I love being reminded that I'm his girl.

Thanks, readers, for allowing me to indulge in a little bragging today!

And to you Loris, thank you for three years of fun and friendship and growing together!  I am so thankful to have you as my husband. I love you!

Jul 20, 2014

Women of the Word interviews

Hi ladies, I was browsing on Crossway and stumbled across a fun campaign they're hosting over the month of July called Women of the Word (I'm a bit late but you can still sign up). I saw Jen Wilkin's book (by the same title) online recently and mentally added it to my to-read list, because I feel so strongly that we need more in-depth Bible study in our lives (and churches) and anything that can help us and give us encouragement towards this is something to be excited about!

Part of the Crossway campaign is a few video interviews from women talking about God's word - tips or ideas that have helped them in study, etc. I thought I would imbed them here for your listening ease, but do click the link above if you want to sign up for all the videos and other parts of the campaign!

Jen Wilkin on Staying Motivated in Bible Study from Crossway on Vimeo.

Elyse Fitzpatrick on How She Reads the Bible from Crossway on Vimeo.

Kristyn Getty on Coming Back to the Bible from Crossway on Vimeo.

Nancy Guthrie on the Miracle of Bible Study from Crossway on Vimeo.

Jul 4, 2014

For sale

Two years ago, after almost a year of marriage and several months away from having our first baby, we moved back to my hometown and bought a  little 100+ year old home that needed work but was in our budget. Deciding to move back was a decision that seemed to happen overnight - we found out we were expecting and our apartment was barely big enough for two and we didn't want to rent long term anyway, so why not move to where we could actually afford a home? (We might have been able to purchase a closet, living in Canada's capital city.)

So we worked until we moved and then Loris gave up his job and I went on maternity leave with the plan of not going back later on, both of us saying goodbye to full benefits and pension plans. It wasn't hard though - we were amazed that we were able to save pretty quickly and get approved for a home, and trusted that the Lord would continue to provide, which He really has - all through the renovations and trial-and-error projects and the births of two babies!

We've enjoyed the last two years in this home but at the same time, I've felt it as being a temporary stop for us. Part of that feeling, I'm sure, came from the limited size of this house - a good sized living room but a small kitchen and dining area and only two bedrooms, one almost too small to squeeze a couple kids into. So we knew this was just our starter home, but I've often wondered as well if this particular town was only something temporary for us.

We are still wondering this - there's a for sale sign in our front yard and we have an accepted offer on a house in another town less than an hour away...but we have to sell ours first. And fitting with the way we seem to roll, we don't really have a plan except that we found a house that would fit some hopes for the future (at an amazing price) and perhaps the Lord has something in store and why not move ahead and see what happens?

So that is where we are at, waiting. I am ready to move, ready (I think) for a change. But at the same time I'm keeping in mind that we might find ourselves staying here for some time yet if our home doesn't sell, and I want to be content with that too.

If you want to pray, thank you!

Jul 1, 2014

Book review: The Measure of Success

*edit: I've combined my initial post with the completed review.

I was excited to hear about a new book released by Carolyn McCulley and Nora Shank: The Measure of Success - Uncovering the Biblical Perspective on Women, Work, & the Home. When Carolyn was a regular blogger I followed her thoughtful, well written posts for years and highly recommend her two previous books. And bonus, I saw this title listed with B&H publishing and was able to get a free review copy.

As a fairly new stay-at-home mom (such an awkward title - shouldn't the opposite then be stay-away-from-home mom?) I enjoy reading about issues relating to the home and family. What drew me to this book is the authors' intent to explore the topic of women and work without applying hard and fast rules or taking sides in the so called mommy-wars. Already holding my own convictions, I was interested to see how the authors would cover this sensitive but important subject.

 Carolyn sums up the book's content in her preface:
"We believe there is much wisdom to be mined from the Bible to help us think about love and labor throughout the entire arc of a woman's life. Therefore, we have segmented this book into three sections: the story of work, the theology of work, and the life cycle of work. The story of work is the biblical and cultural histories that have shaped the way we work today. The theology of work is an exploration of four fundamental concepts of work. The life cycle of work is where we take what we've learned in the previous sections to explore how to apply wisdom principles to various seasons and stages of a woman's life" 
 I enjoyed The story of work chapters, as the authors looked at modern day as well as western and biblical history to see the various ways women have worked and how their lives, roles, and homelife have been affected by different cultural events. One quote I found thought-provoking:
"When the American home became a showcase for consumption, it altered centuries of productivity and introduced a number of present the process of demeaning domesticity, the culture neglects to validate the significance of the work done in the home to care for others. The private sphere remains a place where unpaid work has eternal merit. In accepting the culture of consumerism, homes become a monument to personal style and taste, rather than places of service to others." (pg 44)
I love the creative aspects of decorating and putting a home together and I enjoy spending time in a space that is lovely, but this quote was a good reminder of the most important purpose of our homes: to be a place to love and serve others.

In the second section of the book, the authors move through four concepts of work from a biblical perspective: Purpose, Rest, Identity and Ambition. These are my favorite chapters in the book because they are so practical. Whatever the tasks are that fill our day, it is good to remember God's purpose in giving us work, whether secular or sacred. In fact, the author reminds us that all work is a sacred calling. What we do is transformed as we serve as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

In thinking about identity, we are reminded that while our work is important to God, our job descriptions and titles can easily change over the course of our lives. Ultimately we find our identity in Christ and all that we have in Him, not in lists of accomplishments or titles.

The authors also address the idea of stewardship: that we are stewards of the various talents and opportunities the Lord gives us, and part of this requires being wise about what we choose to do and how much. For instance, children are a treasure given to us and mothering them well may require that we give up other things for a season. While no black and white answers are offered, I'm glad this thought was at least touched on briefly. It is simply a lie that moms today can do it all - or at least do it all well. We're encouraged to remember our eternal identity (and what's most important in the light of eternity) in order to "shape wise choices for today".

And then in the last section, The life cycle of work, the authors provide stories and examples to help us consider how to apply biblical principals of work to various seasons of life.

In summary:

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Again, I went into it thinking it would discuss more specifically the idea of moms and working outside or inside the home. While it does touch on this, I would say the authors intent was to provide a broader picture of women and work, an encouragement for women to work diligently and wisely with the talents and gifts they have been given in order to live a life well pleasing to the Lord.