2

Looking picture perfect doesn’t mean everything’s picture perfect

Guest post by Whitney Kuhn

1425737_10202673563387267_604091435_nI have happily carried the title of wife for just about 6 months now, half a year. It’s a great feeling to be called wife. I am definitely still in the honeymoon season of my marriage, that year of newlywed where when we go out in public, you can still see that just married glow upon our faces. It’s a really fun time. Marriage is absolutely awesome! It truly is the time of my life. Let’s be honest, I’ve only been dreaming about these days since I was about, oh, six years old. And I’ve only been day dreaming about these days with my husband, Jacob, since I first developed a major crush on him in the 9th grade. Yes, we are “that” couple. That couple that met in the wee years of middle school, fell in love in high school, were high school sweethearts, were Prom King and Queen, that couldn’t seem to let go when college days came around. And now, here today, we have the privilege of saying that we made it through all those formative years of our lives, those years where we faced many challenges, many obstacles, a lot of immaturity, together, and now have the honor of being husband and wife for the rest of our lives!

It’s funny. People hear our story and how long we’ve been together, and they automatically think that we’ve got it made! They automatically say something along the lines of “I hope that I can find someone someday, and have exactly what you guys have.” We look picture perfect on the surface. And believe me; I am beyond touched by this reaction by others. But I have to admit something. It’s not all fun and games in marriage. I know, I am saying that even after only six months of marriage. But it is true. 425324_10201450881060973_2072547055_nMarriage is a blast, but marriage is also pretty hard. Our marriage is far from perfect. I think this is a hard thing for couples to admit to others, especially couples who are in the church. It is hard to admit, because we want to set the ultimate example for those around us. We don’t want to disappoint or let people down. Truth is nobody has marriage down perfectly. Nor will anybody ever have marriage down perfectly. This is because everyone has weaknesses. We are all imperfect, and we carry that into our relationships, and our marriages. Weaknesses are normal. That being said, we must have grace, forgiveness, and genuine understanding for one another. Colossians 4:6 (NIV) says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Maybe hearing that marriage is hard is discouraging, it shouldn’t be! The challenges1461095_10202673578227638_1377933885_n make us stronger, and together. They help us grow and be better. As we are being made better with the help and example of our Heavenly Father, we are growing closer to Him, and as we are growing closer to God, we are growing closer to each other. It is a beautiful thing. In the NASB version of the Bible, Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” And Philippians 2:5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

Believe me, we have our differences. My husband and I argue. In fact, we’re pretty good at arguing. Yeah, we’ve only been married half a year, but everyone argues, whether you’ve been married for a year, or 50 years. Arguing is normal and healthy even. It means you’re communicating with each other, and being open and honest. It’s good and healthy to share your emotions with your spouse. It’s how we do these things that will make a marriage healthy, or unhealthy. It’s a matter of learning how to argue right.

Some lessons I’ve learned so far in marriage:

Lesson 1: Good communication is how I communicate.

It is the nonverbal that takes place in conversation and communication383537_10201450894821317_1698823439_n that is perhaps more important than the verbal part. This is something that I have to work on and remind myself of everyday. My facial expressions are so important. This is something I don’t naturally and automatically pay much attention to. It is my weakness, but it is so crucially important. The way I carry myself in communication is very important.

Lesson 2: It’s okay that my husband likes to be alone sometimes.

This does not mean, I repeat, this does not mean he doesn’t love me1456647_10202673598468144_1799676549_n (or you) anymore. I must respect my husband. As his wife, I have to choose to support my husband, in everything. I have to choose to respect his space, to support his decision to make plans to do something that may not include me. This is okay, and this is healthy. Marriage is a new adjustment in life, an adjustment where a couple goes from seeing each other just sometimes when they make time in their single lives and personal schedules, to married life, where the couple sees each other all of the time. We have the privilege of waking up in the mornings together, of going to sleep next to each other every night. That being said, we experience each other’s company a lot in marriage. It is all going to be okay if he decides he wants to be alone every once in a while, it does not mean he loves me less, but it is something that I, as a wife, should embrace, respect, and support. I heard this quote once, that “blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.” My husband may make plans without me sometimes, it is not the end of the world if he does this, and how I react, or don’t react rather, speaks volumes to my respect for him. I should always be embracing the differences between my husband and me.

Lesson 3: Be reasonable.

74911_10202673600268189_1903000353_nI’ve learned how selfish I am after entering into marriage. I’ve realized it has honestly been all about me, and now it’s supposed to be about him? It’s so important to learn to be more selfless within marriage. Old ways won’t open new doors. I cannot automatically jump into defense mode when a disagreement arises between my husband and me. I can’t point a finger; it is not attractive by any means, and it means I am thinking about myself before him. I have to own my crud, and with no excuses. He will own his too, but I should be more concerned about him and his feelings, not myself. Change is definitely a process, and it comes little by little. Selfishness can be no more; there isn’t room for that in my marriage.

Lesson 4: Be the girl, let him be the man.

I have found myself trying to hide my emotions in a sense, in hopes of not 527336_10200462602394624_1599895718_ncoming off as too emotional, causing my husband to perhaps be overwhelmed with being married to such a girly girl. But he needs me to be the girl, so he can be the man, not having to worry about having to make up for my lack in the relationship. Sometimes it is hard for me to say how I feel, in fear of being rejected. He wants to know how I feel, and not later, but right now. He wants to know that even though I may be annoyed about him leaving the toilet seat up, that he is still my knight in shining armor, that he is the person that I look up to more than anybody else in the world. He wants to know how respected and appreciated he is.

Lesson 5: Look ahead.

575513_10201450901341480_1369569634_nLike I said before, it is normal to carry weaknesses, to have struggles, and to remember baggage you have carried in the past. Don’t look back though; you’re not going that way. Don’t dwell on past hurts or baggage. What good is that going to do? Look ahead, the future is bright! The future is exciting. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Like I said before, looking picture perfect doesn’t necessarily mean everything’s picture perfect. We’ve already faced some challenges, and it’s only the beginning. But, I’ve got to say, the challenges and new revelations that marriage brings only make it that much more sweet and more worth every single moment that we share, with God as our center. I can only imagine how much sweeter it gets over time. Thank you Lord for marriage!

Share
0

Confessions of a Pastor’s wife

Guest post by Lori Bradeen of City Life Church

When I was young, I remember how odd it felt to run into a teacher away from the school environment.  Somehow I thought they only belonged at school.  The image of them having a normal life like the rest of the world never occurred to me.  They were teachers, and that was the only way my brain wanted to see them.  A teacher friend of mine recently told me that she caught some of her kindergartener students giggling over the fact that they saw her, their teacher, eating lunch.  They thought it was funny that teachers actually eat.  So, I see the phenomenon is still alive and well today.DSC_0144 - Version 2

I experience this same phenomenon when while in a casual conversation, people find out I am a pastor’s wife. There is an invisible shift in the atmosphere of any given conversation once people learn I am “in ministry.”  A work acquaintance of mine used to send me funny emails, until that is, the day he discovered I was a pastor’s wife. Perhaps he is worried that I will take offense at something he sends.  I miss the unhindered candor that once existed when he still thought I was normal, like him.

Some of the myths people believe about me as a pastor’s wife include: my house is always clean, my attitude is always divine, my kids are perfect, and my marriage is always bliss.

So, in keeping with Kim’s current series, The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom, I thought I would spend this guest blog post sharing with you, my reality.

I will admit that as a Christian I have always wanted to live my life in a way that would honor Jesus.  But, that conviction happened the day I made him Lord of my life, not the day I became a pastor’s wife. I think most Christians feel the same conviction whether or not they are in full time ministry.

Let’s start with my house.  I have invisible Zones.  Zone 1 is what you see when you walk though the front door (like if you happen to stop by unannounced).  Zone 2 is the rest of the house.  Zone 3 is garage.  Zone 4 is yard and garden.  There was a time, 5+ years ago, when I was a stay at home mom that all 4 zones could be found show ready much of the time. Actually, that’s not quite true, maybe 50% of the time.  However, now, working full time, that just isn’t my reality.  A clean house for me today means Zone 1 is clean.  The rest of it ebbs somewhere between decent and disastrous.  Myth one, busted.

My attitude.  Some people think if you are a pastor’s wife you ought to always have a positive faith filled attitude.  I admit, I do feel a sense of responsibility to speak faith, courage and hope in people’s lives.  I do want to see them have faith to believe God is bigger than their circumstances. But sometimes, I find myself in the middle of my own pity party or even just a stinky attitude.  Today while in the checkout line, the checker called for a second checker.  I was relieved because I was in a hurry.  The second checker came up, ignored me and took someone who wasn’t even in line yet. The nerve.  I was irritated.  Myth 2, busted.  (I could render many more bad attitude examples but this guest post has a word limit). When I start fretting over my first world problems, which I do, I have a remedy that works every time.  It’s cheaper than a therapy-shopping trip, and healthier than over indulging in chocolate.  I will share this secret with you:  My remedy has been to keep the “Book of Martyrs” next to my bathtub, (my favorite place.)  I just read a few accounts of how real people have been persecuted and even executed for their Christian faith over the years and miraculously my perspective and attitude are humbly adjusted.  I will admit, sometimes I keep chocolate there too.

My kids.  I will never forget the time when we were on a leadership retreat with our pastor friends and our young boys (all pastor’s kids) were playing together.  Four little rough playing boys under 10, quickly turned competitive and became full on fighting complete with “I’ll kick your ass!” coming from one of our little angels.  I remember the college age babysitter saying to us with disgust, “I thought your kids were supposed to be Christians!”  Myth 3, definitely busted.  Our kids are all young adults today and, it’s fun to remind them of that story because now they are all close friends who follow Jesus.  Perfection has never been the goal.  I don’t expect my kids to make it through life without recognizing their own need for the grace of God.  In fact, that is why I feel so blessed, because the fruit of their lives demonstrate to me that they too have been touched by the amazing grace of God.  But it is a journey and every child of a Christian parent must meet Jesus for him/herself, otherwise all they have is empty religion.

My marriage.  I suppose that it is fair to expect a pastor and his wife to have a solid marriage.  Of all the above assumptions, this, I suppose is the most reasonable.  And yet, I am not sure even Christians agree on what a good marriage actually looks like.  Over the years I have had women share their disappointment as they compared their marriage to what they imagined mine to be like.  While exposing my marriages faults has never felt wise, in such moments, neither does allowing people to believe that real Christian marriage is somehow a life long scene from a chick flick romance.

Solid does not mean absence of conflict. Solid does not mean we enjoy the same movies or that we gush over each other on Facebook.  Solid means we base our marriage on something that is SOLID.

And so the Solid in our marriage comes from our commitment to walking out our faith in Christ together. That is a good thing because in my marriage, conflict is pretty normal. We are two very different people, passionate about what we believe God has called us to build.  The meshing of ideas and wisdom is work and sometime the sparks fly.  The good thing about conflict is that it demonstrates that we are both engaged.  I worry when couples check out, and stop communicating, not when they have conflict in communication.  I admit there is an art to conflict that leads to greater unity rather than dissention.  After 25 years, we’ve learned a few things along the way.   So I guess I’ll throw in one of my tips on marital conflict: Own your ugly.  You read it right. We are learning to “own our ugly.” It’s another way of saying,  “stop pretending to be more righteous than you really are. “  It’s actually very freeing to just be yourself, ugly and all, own it and deal with it honestly in the midst of conflict.  Sometimes what would normally turn into a fight can become a source of humor if we are willing to own our ugly, laugh at it and let our spouse laugh along too.

Learning to capitalize on the beauty of little opportunities can be the difference between a solid marriage and one where the grass looks greener elsewhere.   For instance, my husband and I rarely enjoy the same kind of movie so when I sit though his war movie or he sits though my educational documentary, it is an intentional act of love.  Such things ought not to be overlooked.  It is these intentional moments of kindness that keep our marriage mojo alive.

I share these snippets of my life with you not because I think my life is overly interesting, quite the contrary.  I want you to know that YOUR LIFE is noteworthy.  Your relationships, your struggles, your victories and even your failures all have redeeming value that can bring hope to someone.  Lessons of love, forgiveness, courage, strength, and compassion are only as far away as your willingness to look from another perspective.  Look at your life through the lens of God’s amazing grace. I promise, the view is beautiful.

If you’d care to hear more about our journey, my husband recently shared his own testimony and you can watch it at this link under “Van’s Testimony”  It is a great story of a normal man with normal struggles who gets ahold of an extraordinary God that changes him and calls him to a life of ministry.

Share
0

How to bake a cake

Guest Post by Taler Stanton (Each Day a New Adventure)

Let’s have some real talk. Girl talk. Real girl talk.

Wednesday nights are one of my favorite nights of the week. I attend a bible study with girls from on and off campus, along with an awesome woman of God, Shannon. We spend our nights being filled up with the Bible, being challenged in our faith and growing together as women of God.

In a random conversation with the ladies, my lovely friend Heather decided to share an analogy about dating and finding the right guy with us. Let’s call it, The Cake Theory. I decided to elaborate on this subject.

Ingredients:

Becoming a woman of God is a journey in itself, and for us girls we always wonder when we are going to be ready for Christ centered relationship? In order for us to be ready there are a few things we need to have in line first, just like baking a cake.

Having the right ingredients is the first step in the baking process and relates to us as women growing in Him. We each have qualities that we wish we could or hide or get rid of; on the contrary we also possess qualities and attributes that are strong, the ones that make our personalities distinct. In order for our ingredients to be correct, we need to ask the Lord to first search our hearts and reveal the things that we need to work on. No one is ever finished growing, but I whole-heartedly believe that there are certain qualities every woman should posses before entering into a Christ centered relationship. As we learn these qualities, there comes a point when the “ingredients” if you will, are at the right measurements.

Mixing the Batter:IMG_0929

To make a cake, all the ingredients must be combined to make a yummy batter. Just like batter, once we have worked on finding our identity in Christ we can begin to grow in our relationship with the Lord. Jesus gives us a fruitful spirits: love, joy, patience etc. Of course with anything it is going to be a continuous learning process. But the Holy Spirit helps us with the perfect ingredients. Let the Holy Spirit continue to mix in the perfect amount for your life.

Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  -Ephesians 4:22-24

Oven Time:

Putting the batter in the oven is one of the most exciting parts of the cake process. As the batter is in the oven, all of the separate ingredients that were mixed together, bake and form into one structure. It rises and becomes more firm. Just like a cake, our relationship with Christ is a constant uphill battle, but as we seek and know Him we will continue to be more firm in our faith. The awesome thing about a relationship with Jesus is there is always room for growth. As we grow in Him, different pieces of our personality and spirit develop and grow into something really beautiful.

Cooling:

When the cake is done baking, it needs time to set. We describe this as the waiting process. Although our cake is done, it needs to time to cool. This part is also the most difficult because it takes the most patience, and let’s be honest: patience for a girl is often very difficult especially when it comes to finding prince charming. But with patience comes perseverance and with perseverance comes blessings.

My mom continues to encourage me by telling me that I will be glad that I waited for the right guy to come along. I have been learning that it is important to take this “cooling time” and spend it with Jesus. As I wait, I have started to understand that Jesus first captivated my heart and is waiting for the perfect time to give you a respectful and Godly man that his precious daughter deserves.

Frosting the cake.IMG950230

There are many different flavors or types of frosting out there and we develop certain once that we prefer over others. This concept is the same when it comes to finding a Godly man. He should first and foremost love Jesus with all his heart and be the spiritual leader of the relationship. Only then will he be the best frosting for the cake. Once the cake is complete and the right frosting comes along you will have a beautiful Christ centered cake that lasts a lifetime!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!”

Special thank you to Sweet Frostings Blissful Bake Shop for the photos

To see more of Taler’s beautiful writing go to Each Day a New Adventure

 

Share