Marriage: This Is NOT What I Envisioned…

IMG_3350I don’t know about you, but the last few weeks have been a little chaotic around here.

There has been one massive NYC snow storm complete with 10 inches of snow and painfully low temperatures, 2 bouts of the flu, and an innumerable amount of diaper leaks… on my lap!

I have also – rather impressively I might add – gone through two boxes of Kleenex… of which the remnants are still scattered in and around my bed!

And if that wasn’t bad enough, I caught my hair on fire while trying to light a candle, my daughter saw a picture of an elephant and called it “Mama,” and I tragically learned that ALL Fruit Loops are the exact same flavor! Oh, the cruelty!

All that to say that after two weeks of making a permanent home in my sweatpants, ordering takeout, rocking the messy bun (with special emphasis on messy!), and spending many days sprawled out on the couch watching countless episodes of ‘Scandal’ on Netflix, I came to realize something…

I am not as cool as I once was!

6 years ago, I was tan & toned, and I wore high heels more regularly than some brush their teeth! I had aspirations of putting meals on the table that would make Mario Batali swoon, and I believed that every outfit would be best accessorized with a coordinating bow for my daughter and a flawless coat of nail polish for me!

All this is laughable considering that my current chipped nails are tinged with yesterday’s blue play dough, and my daughter is running around – without a bow mind you – but with only one pigtail intact that looks more like a growth on the side of her head! … And seriously, WHERE ON EARTH ARE HER PANTS?!?!

Sigh. I digress…

There is no denying that my life is in no way reminiscent of a Harlequin Romance Novel, and that my parenting style would be nothing to write a book about… which is what often leads me to question if THIS is what my husband knew he was signing up for when he said ‘I do’ all those years ago!

… if spit up, stretch marks, messy buns and sweatpants were even on his radar?

And now that they are, if I still have what it takes to make him happy?

Oooooooh shoot! It’s about to get REAL!

As a little girl I used to day dream about love and marriage. I can remember passionately kissing pillows as if they were Disney characters, poring over elegant wedding gowns in bridal magazines, and meditating on advertisements depicting romantic getaways where couples are shown tossing their heads back and laughing joyously, as they soak together in hot tubs in the shape of champagne glasses.

And yet it would seem that the romance-filled, passion-infused, lifelong commitments we dream of exist only until we are actually in one!

Sadly once you’re married, a “successful” marriage is often weighed merely by whether or not you are ‘still married’… ‘Still in love’ and ‘still happy’ with our spouse only seems to be an added bonus!

Recently though, while watching on old Barbara Walters interview she did with Ronald Reagan, I was caught by something he said that I will never forget…

Ronald Reagan’s marriage to his wife Nancy was always in the spotlight. Even to this day it is remembered by them always walking hand in hand, leaving each other love letters, and by the fact that they never stopped courting.

Reagan said his wife gave him “…a marriage that was like an adolescent’s dream of what marriage should be,” and then he quoted this powerful statement by Clark Gable:

“There is NOTHING more wonderful for a man than to approach his own doorstep knowing that someone on the other side of the door is listening for the sound of his footsteps.”

Usually I envision the moments before my husband gets home a little differently …timers going off…  me scrambling to retrieve dishes from the oven… chasing a pants-less child around and attempting to put a bow on her head…. and hurriedly changing out of my sweatpants and hiding the evidence before my husband walks through the door…

But like Clark Gable so beautifully communicated, it’s about the significance of truly valuing our spouse! It’s about offering the gift of welcoming him home each day just as he is.

It’s about desiring to be the first person to high-five your husband when life has worked in his favor, and being the sounding board he can rant and rave to when it’s not! Maybe even throwing in a curse word in agreement to reeeeally drive home the fact that you are on the same team! 😉

Our husbands don’t care if the kid has a flipping bow on her head, or, if on occasion, the sweatpants beckon (… though I speak from experience when I say finding kleenex in the bed might be a problem!) He doesn’t care what new shade of lipstick we are wearing, or what Pinterest-inspired feast we have slaved over; our husband’s want US!

They want our respect, our admiration, and our constant support!

So no matter what the climate our husbands are walking in from – whether they drag themselves in sopping wet from an impending storm, frazzled and disoriented from an especially turbulent day, or radiating big smiles and good news on the tip of their tongues – let’s remember there is not a more wonderful gift we can give the men in our lives, than to be on the other side of the door awaiting the sound of their footsteps…

… For as long as we both shall live.

Krista Signature

We Must Remember The Storm

Of all my most cherished photographs there is one that stands out.

There are pictures illustrating wedding day jitters, and another portraying a perfectly wrinkled newborn smirking in her sleep. There is one that captures the rare occurrence of me and my siblings embracing, and another of my daughter warily taking her first steps.

And then there is the picture I hold closest to my heart…

a picture of when I had nearly given up.

storm

The summer sun illuminating the smile I had purposefully painted on my face doesn’t fool me. At the exact time this picture was taken my husband had been sleeping on the couch for weeks, and the broken promises within our marriage easily outnumbered the wedding gifts we had received just two years earlier! We had run out of things to say and even worse, reasons to keep trying to make it work!

…And it was going to get worse!

At the time this picture was taken, I could have never known that there were more lies bubbling to the surface, more fits of tears in store (that were oftentimes so intense, I questioned whether my heart would physically give out) And even more difficult for me to admit, a bout of depression that would have me questioning whether I could endure any longer.

The picture that holds the most significance to me is one taken amidst a raging storm in my life. A storm that pains me to remember, but I am hard-pressed to never forget!

A storm much like what was described in the Bible…

“The waters of the flood came and covered the Earth…

All the underground waters erupted from the Earth and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky…

The rain continued to fall…

The floodwaters grew deeper…

As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface.”  

Genesis 7:10-12, 17-18

This violent storm that the Bible is referring to is the flood, and from the sound of its enormity it sounds much like the ’emotional storms’ I have found myself in!

…When bad luck seemed to fall ‘ in mighty torrents from the sky’…when my seemingly happy existence ‘erupted’ into something barely recognizable …When my trials got deeper… and deeper… and each new wave of trouble threatened to overtake me….

Yet, the Lord kept me safe.

After all I am here to tell you about it, aren’t I?

God tells us that our lives will be full of many seasons, “planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night…” but in Genesis 9:11 He clearly says, “… never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood.”

God made a promise to the world (via a rainbow) that He would never again destroy all life, and that picture of me smack-dab in the middle of my heartache proves He never did!

Even so, my heart will always break for the girl in that picture. When I look into her eyes I will always feel pressed to tell her there’s no need to disguise her pain because I know she cries every night in a heap in the closet. Oh, how I wish I could remind her that when she screams out in frustration like a raging lunatic, it’s not a direct reflection of how ‘awful she is’ but how hurt she has been!’

… And that no matter how unfair a hand life has dealt her if she can withstand the storm  just a little longer, the storm will settle ‘and she will not be destroyed!

Our God promises a life of varied seasons, so we can be certain that at times it is going to rain! Likely even that it will POUR!

But even when life seems most bleak… we will not be destroyed!

Even when we feel most weary… we will not succumb!

Because In God’s hands we will ‘float safely on the surface’ of every storm that comes our way!

Oftentimes it takes staring deep into the heartache of our past, to speak directly to the fear that is overwhelming us in the present. So this week: find a picture of yourself in the midst of the most turbulent storm in your life, and remind yourself that our God will overcome!

He did it before, He will do it again! ( and again!)

“[God] calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.” Psalm 107:29Krista Signature

God Doesn’t Need Your Help

255426_513338365444_1443986449_n

Growing up as a Pastor’s kid had many perks.

Empty wooden pews transformed into our playground. And it wasn’t uncommon for regular competitions testing upper body strength and physical endurance to ensue as we competed to see who could army crawl their way from the pulpit to the back row the fastest!

Vacant Sunday School classrooms (which we had access to, thanks to the master-key we were always able to get our hands on!) were always filled with endless entertainment thanks to glitter glue and infinite amounts of goldfish crackers.

And the day that was always sure to get this PK’s heart racing in excitement was the one in which we would take ‘The Lord’s Supper.’ More specifically, it was when the hundreds of people who had once filled the pews were now heading home with their families for the afternoon, and a little plastic cup with a shallow pool of leftover grape juice marked the place where they sat. It was there that I would wait. Wait for when my father was far too busy cleaning up and locking the doors, to notice me shamelessly walking the aisles and drinking the last remnant of juice…. from each cup… in every row…. until I had savored the last drop of each and every one! 

Sorry Mom, I do sincerely hope this isn’t the first time you have heard this.

But above all else, I am most thankful for the skill I have mastered over the course of my many years growing up in the church… the uncanny ability I possess to spot even the most subtle of judgements.

How did I acquire this gift you ask? Because judgement is as prevalent in church as fake smiles, panty-hose, and renditions of Amazing Grace!

Over the years, I have overheard the backhanded comments towards the ‘tattooed couple’ sitting in the back row of the balcony; I have sat at, then excused myself from, a table of people who had nothing better to do then to whisper about the same-sex couple in the booth behind us; and I have endured innumerable prayer requests shared ‘with a heavy heart’ that are laced with malice and gossip.

Sadly, even to this day, I have friends and family who at the hands of such judgement, seem to believe that one must “exude perfection, lest you be judged…”

But this last week, while reading the Book of Hosea, God spoke to the most superficial and judgmental person in me

Hosea illustrates both God’s uncontainable fury towards sin, and His passionate love and loyalty for His people in spite of it! It begins with the story of a man named Hosea, who is married to a prostitute named Gomer, and whose three children are the product of his wife’s unfaithfulness. A man, who if you were asking just me, had every right to judge! And to light some junk on fire, if you know what I mean!

But God had a plan to deal with Gomer’s straying when in Hosea 2:6,14 He says, “I will fence her in with thorn bushes. I will block her way with a wall to make her lose her way… But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. I will return her vineyards to her, and. transform the valley of trouble into a gateway of hope”

I found it interesting that never once does God ask Hosea to ‘grab her arms, while He grabs her legs…’ so-to-speak. Instead, He makes it very clear that He has a plan and, more importantly, that He’s got it covered! He will fence her in… He will block her way… He will win her back… He will lead her and transform her…

And that, ultimately, He doesn’t need our help. (GASP!) 

I believe many of us Christians begin to think a little too highly of ourselves. We start seeing ourselves as the ‘Robin’ to God’s ‘Batman,’ and we falsely believe that the Creator of the Universe needs our help rescuing lost souls…often times one “strategically placed” Bible verse at a time! We resort to pitchforks and engage in spiritual debates; yet in these verses it seems God never asked for the help we so free-handedly offer.

Kinda stings, doesn’t it?

But then God does ask something from Hosea! And what He instructs him to do is surprising…

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. THIS will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel.'” – Hosea 3:1 [Emphasis added]

You see – at this time Israel, much like Gomer, was full of wickedness with a tendency to fall back into its “unbecoming” ways. This was a nation whose people were far from God and indulged in every sin imaginable. But God’s most passionate desire expressed in the book of Hosea is to show the unrighteous and immoral people of Israel that He still loves them in spite of it!

(Now for the record, this post will in no way directly address cheating spouses. Nor is that my expertise! After all, like I said earlier, I lean towards lighting things on fire! 😉

I am talking about the epidemic Christians have believed for far too long! The belief that we are to embark on a passionate crusade against the way other people are living their lives. A journey, that the Lord made very clear to me this last week, I was never invited on to begin with!

My job, like Hosea, is to love.

To ‘go and love’ those who are the cause of my anguish… to ‘go and love’ the person I just don’t ‘connect with’ and who I avoid at all costs in the church lobby… to ‘go and love’ those who have been given too many chances and who are SO undeserving….

You see, there’s a man that stands every day in Times Square with a megaphone…

A man with a message, standing in one of the most prominent areas of our country to speak words he believes are of great significance. So he amplifies his voice loud enough so the 170,000 people walking past him can hear what he has to say.

But the message he has hand-selected to introduce our God to the streets of New York City is always one of condemnation, rage, and disgust with the sin of this city. Even worse yet, our hopeless future as sinners because of it!

And you know what? I don’t think he is a bad person.

I believe just as much as him, that the world … that WE – desperately need Jesus more than ever! Furthermore, I know that some could argue that the man with the megaphone’s fury against sin and alternative lifestyles, parallel much of the same outrage that God had for Israel at the time…

I fear however, that he is playing the wrong role.

In Hosea, we learn that it is God who can, and will, judge. And ultimately, it is only God’s perfecting love that can “transform …” 

But like Hosea, we are only asked to love.

So, we too must decide what message we are going to proclaim to the world. What will be our chosen words to the people who pass by us each day?

Will it be a message that arrogantly puts people in their place and, in doing so, broadcasts that the Almighty God we serve lacks the strength to fight for His people on His own? Do we truly believe that our God is so weak that He needs flawed human beings like ourselves to be His backbone?

OR…  are we going to remember the truth found in Hosea and believe that the Lord, in all of His power, will Himself fight for His people? And will we remember that the best thing we can do as His devoted followers, is to choose each day to speak a message that sounds like hope and feels like an outpouring of love to all of His people?

This is the message that beautifully illustrates the fervent love God has for even the most undeserving and unworthy, no matter how far they have strayed from Him!

Because I realized this last week:

It’s not about us as Christians standing by to do nothing. It’s about stepping to the side to allow God to BE everything!

It’s nothing personal, God just doesn’t need your help.

Krista Signature

If 2013 Broke Your Heart…

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it… 2 Corinthians 1:8

image

Each Christmas, my husband and I search the city over, in pursuit of an ornament that best represents the last year of our lives.

Our Christmas tree tells ‘our story’, displaying the likes of seashells from tropical getaways, an antique bassinet in soft hue’s of pink, and an ornament in the shape of a Chinese takeout box symbolizing our first year of our marriage (and more specifically, the frequent calls made to Choi’s Chinese Food, thanks to my many failed attempts at making dinner each night!) 

…and then there is a margarita glass.

One margarita-shaped ornament, that represents to us one of the most difficult years we endured. A year marked with heartbreaking tragedy, of death, of malicious lies, and cold-hearted betrayals… and the need for counseling and the occasional STRONG margarita!

I can still remember to my shock and bewilderment, when that same year was publicly declared as the “BEST. YEAR. EVER!!!” by all of my Facebook friends…

The very year that had left me broken!

New Years Eve was a blur, as I struggled to hold back tears as the ball dropped, and while all of my closest friends cheered and embraced each other somewhere in the background. I can remember struggling to pinpoint whether the tears were welling because I was so relieved to see that year pass… or because deep within, I knew that I would not be able to withstand another year of the same devastating magnitude….

Even more, fearing that I would have to!

But when it comes to sheer magnitude, it is In Isaiah 43:16, that the Lord reminds us that He did the impossible and made an escape for His people through the expanse of the Red Sea! By doing so, He reminds us also, that no matter the magnitude of the trials we are up against this year, that He has got it covered! (After all, the Red Sea was a HUGE problem for the Israelites! Roughly 1400 miles long, 220 miles wide, and 1600 feet deep if you want to be exact!)

But God doesn’t stop there! He goes on to say this…

” Forget all that – It is NOTHING compared to what I am going to do! For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland… so my people can be refreshed.”

Carving a pathway through the Red Sea, is arguably, one of the greatest things God has ever done! And yet, He is saying, “that is NOTHING compared to what I can do in your life!”

But just over a year ago, with a bout of rejection under my belt, a tragedy that had me gritting my teeth and bracing for what was next, and feeling emotionally ‘pushed to the limit’ just by having to get out of bed each morning, and paint on the fake smile needed to appease everyone around me, I can recall struggling to believe that I too, was worthy of this level of blessing in my life!

But as I packed up the last of the Christmas decorations this last week; reminiscing about the significance of each year’s ornament, and tucking each one safely away in its place, I came to my beloved margarita glass. And I smiled…

Because what I had failed to see the very first time I nestled my new ornament into the glow of our Christmas tree just a year ago, was that in that very moment, God was working to do something ‘new’ in my life! That the piece of glass hanging from the branch in the shape of an alcoholic beverage – which once, only humorously symbolized the turbulence of the previous year – now serves as a constant reminder of the overwhelming blessings we could have never known He had in store for us in the year to come!

I imagine God must have snickered to himself, when I asked Him with bated breath, to merely ‘survive’ that next year, knowing that in the very moment I made my request, that He was already beautifully orchestrating – not only the provision of all my needs – but outlining a journey that would make some of our greatest dreams as a family come to fruition!

Since then, He has traded what was left of my hollow existence, with a life overflowing with excitement! He has restored my family… my heart… and my laughter…. and replaced my broken spirit with a strength that I never knew resided within me!

I love how Beth Moore puts it when she says, “If Jesus gives us a task or assigns us to a difficult season, every ounce of our experience is meant for our instruction and completion, if only we’ll let Him finish the work. I fear, however, that we are so attention deficit that we settle for bearable when beauty is just around the corner!”

No matter how badly broken 2013 has left you, our God is a god who seeks to refresh. And He is not finished! He promises to make a pathway through the lifeless deserts you may have found yourself in, and provide a way out of the most trying circumstances you are up against. No matter the depth, He will be our guide through the raging sea that is currently standing in the way of the life we most desire.

And The Lord will do something ‘new’ in our lives…

Something more miraculous than anything He has ever done before!

We need only to take a look around, and wait expectantly for the beauty of it to unfold!

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it… but as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to only rely on God…we have placed our confidence in Him and He will continue to rescue us. 

2 Corinthians 1:8-10

Krista Signature