Tag Archives: love

Senseless Indulgence

Photo above is of Zeke’s First Birthday Cake

Tea ~ Clean Sweep, a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law

For the last 2 days, I have literally been unable to taste or smell anything. Even sticking my head over a bowl of hot water with peppermint and eucalyptus (which Greg said was like being punched in the face with peppermint), nothing. I feel the burn, but cannot smell it. We considered going out for a nice-ish dinner last night, but why? What’s the point?

It got me thinking about how much of our eating is indulgence and purely done for pleasure. Of course, God created our senses to enjoy and find pleasure (or displeasure) in the things we see, smell, taste, touch and hear. Our senses are used to tell us if there is danger, like the heat and smell of a fire where there should not be one or the sound and vibration of a glass that has fallen and broken. And they are used to bring us gratification and delight through a hug or kiss from a loved one, or the sound and sight of your child giggling. I ate a bowl of ice cream last night based on the memory of what it tasted like, trying to recreate the same experience I’ve had hundreds of times before, but was left with disappointment and calories I probably didn’t need.

Even drinking this tea right now, I’m disappointed I can’t taste it and am drinking it purely for the health benefits and because I should. How would our food choices change if we could not taste or smell? Even Subway pumps that fresh bread smell out into the air and on to the sidewalk as you stroll by. It’s like they know we will indulge if we could just smell how good it is and much of our taste is from smell, so then we would have gratification with our 6-inch (ok….footlong) veggie delight (ok…meatballs with extra cheese…aaaaand bacon). What a sales tactic! The Blommer Chocolate Factory in Chicago smells amazing when the wind is blowing just right in River North, but on some days, it smelled just as close to chocolate as it did to poo. I’m sure that was just a hybrid mixture of Blommer and the Chicago River. Ew. But to prove my point, our indulgences can make us feel as awful in guilt and sickness as they do in pleasure and enjoyment.

I pray that we can make healthy choices with our minds, bodies and senses, and will indulge in God’s Word and plan for our lives in 2015. I want to recreate the love God has for me with the love I pour out on others and I want to experience the joy and peace that only comes through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Be encouraged!

…Then Comes The Baby in a Baby Carriage

Tea ~ White Silk Earl Grey

Greg & Sarah sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love. Check. Then comes marriage. Check.

Then comes the baby in a baby carriage.

I think I’ve always thought that if I play by all the rules and do all the right things, that nothing bad could ever happen to me. No one could touch me because I would be so ahead of everyone else that it wouldn’t matter. I march to the beat of my own drum regardless of what other people think of me. Rarely, if ever, have I given in to peer pressure. Never smoked, never been drunk, never did drugs. Instead was the designated driver. Graduated high school and college in the top of my class, played division 1 volleyball on scholarship. I did all the right things and said all the right things. I married a man that gives of himself, who is strong where I am weak and who is constantly reminding me that my worth is so much more than what I do. I love Jesus and His love for me is more real today than ever before.

In July of 2011, as we were packing up our house to put it on the market and make the move up to Chicago, we wanted to obtain more knowledge of adoption. God had put adoption on both of our hearts long before we met. It was the only thing we were sure of, we weren’t sure if we wanted our own children or not. So I found the National Adoption Conference in Washington D.C. and thought it would be both informative and a fun getaway for us, especially since Greg had been “commuting” up to Chicago during the week with his new position for 3-4 weeks already and we only saw each other on weekends. I sent him my flight itinerary to get into D.C. around the same time and he took care of reserving our rental car. I had to wait about an hour for his flight to land around 9:30pm, so I found a seat at a table at the Dunkin Donuts in the airport right outside his terminal. Then my phone rang.

Greg – “Hey, where are you?”
Me – “Sitting at the Dunkin’ Donuts outside your terminal.”
Greg – “What Dunkin Donuts? I’m getting on the train.”
Me – “What train? There’s a long hallway here, but no train.” The realization set in…”Wait, what airport are you at?”
Greg – “Dulles.”
Me – “I’m at Reagan.”
Greg – [nervous laughter] “Oh no! I’ll get the car and come get you.”

By this point, all of the restaurants at Reagan had closed while I was waiting for Greg so we could get a bite to eat together. I was hangry (a term we’ve lovingly coined to describe my hunger-induced anger and tendency to blow situations out of proportion that normally would not bother me) and would be waiting for at least another hour before eating, probably more and I had already eaten all of my snacks. When he finally arrived (even that was an ordeal with the confusing signs around the airport), he apologized and was truly sorry, but I couldn’t speak, nor did I want to for fear of saying something I’d regret. Instead, I just started bawling. “I’m so hungry! And so tired!” Maybe in that moment, a slight mistake on Greg’s part with a detail like which airport to fly into somehow made me feel unloved…completely ridiculous, of course. I said we weren’t allowed to talk until I was stuffing my face with a double quarter pounder with cheese. Then, I was fine. We still laugh about this story.

While at the adoption conference, we arrived earlier than the prospective parents to get a little more information with the process of adoption that was intended for social workers and agencies. This ended up being our favorite day because of the glimpse into the world that these agencies and social workers see on a daily basis. The next day, we felt like pros. We waltz into the session all excited to be there and something felt…different. Heavy. The expressions on the faces of some of the couples (especially the prospective fathers) was not one of excitement and joy, but of disillusionment. Maybe even entrapment. I looked at Greg and asked “Do you feel that?” “Yeah, what is that?” “Infertility,” I said. I couldn’t imagine some of the roads these couples had been down to be at this conference. The losses, the doctors visits, the hormone treatments.

Little did we know, we’d be starting down our own road of infertility a month later. With unexplained amenorrhea for nearly a year and now numerous doctors visits and specialists, the frustration has set in. My body is failing me…us. What’s it like being a 29 year old in menopause? Well, you don’t get the hormonal ups and downs and no pms, which is nice until you know that it means your body isn’t functioning properly. And with that your sex drive plummets and you start to think it’s your fault and that you’re not trying very hard. Then the doctors ask questions that don’t seem insensitive to a “normal” person (even to other women struggling with infertility whether from loss or just not being able to get pregnant for whatever reason) like, “How long have you been trying?” What is considered “trying?” They restate the question in a different way that is more offensive than the first, “you know, how long have you been trying to have a baby?” I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that if you are not menstruating at all that you won’t be able to get pregnant.

I used to be one of those people who would ask a married couple, “So when are you going to have kids?” And I’ve been asked that question dozens of times by friends and family, especially now that our 6 year wedding anniversary is coming up on May 25th. But now I know how insensitive that question can be. Not just for the couples struggling with infertility, but for a God who created us to seek the fullness of Christ. As if the answer to that question should define us and define our worth as human beings. As if we are not whole or complete without children in our homes and lives. Children can be idols just as much as career, money or relationships. Those things in and of themselves are good, until our lives would no longer be complete and we would be devastated without them. That is the threshold of an idol. A substitute for God.

So where am I? Trying to wait patiently for the Lord. If it’s not in the cards for us, that’s ok. We will go back to what we do know and adopt or foster a child. Do I want a baby that has Greg’s rugged good looks, compassion and intellect and my athleticism and heart for the lost? If God wills it, we will welcome that child with open arms. What I want more is for my body to function properly and for these hurtful symptoms to go away and to bring glory to Jesus in the process. What have we been thankful for during this 1.5 years of trial? I am thankful for a marriage that gets stronger everyday and for a husband that is more understanding and encouraging than I could have ever imagined. I am thankful for friends and family who try to be supportive (even with unsolicited advice, their intentions are good) and may not have any idea how to do that. I am thankful that my worth is not defined by being a parent, or not, and that God is still working things for my good. I can trust in that.

Be encouraged!

Fruit of the Spirit: Honesty

Tea ~ Decadent

Right now you are thinking 1 of 2 things:  1) “What in the world is a Fruit of the Spirit?” or 2) You are trying to recall the song that you learned as a kid that helped you remember the 9 Fruits of the Spirit that include:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in Galatians 5:22-23.

“Wait, honesty isn’t one of them!” You’re absolutely right. It’s not. I should really just quit there and call it a day, but have you ever thought about why honesty is not a Fruit of the Spirit?

I used to take pride & joy in being honest and have often been described as an honest person. But what does that really mean? The definition of honest is “Free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere.” A synonym of honesty is “integrity.” Integrity sounds lovely, I’ll take a scoop of that (*adds feather to cap*)! Oddly enough, Scripture mostly uses the word honest in terms of weights & measures. Being measured fairly and accurately. And then a couple of places referring to spies or honest men, or honest men posing as spies. But there are a couple of versions that praise honesty:

“Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.” – Proverbs 16:13

“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” – Proverbs 24:26

And that’s about all there is to say about honesty in the Word. Was I surprised that honesty was not more elevated? Yes, but then again, God has been doing some major surgery on my heart and motivations in 2012, and I’m so thankful He is revealing this one to me. The way I have seen honesty manifest itself apart from God in our culture has been based in judgement (see confession #1), pride (see confession #2) or both.

*Confession #1*:  When I was in Middle/High School, I decided I was going to be honest with a friend of mine and tell her that a part of her body looked chubby…and then try and save myself by saying that it was cute. Was I honest? Yes. Was it hurtful to her? Absolutely. She was rightfully mad at me and I’m pretty sure our friendship was never the same again. (If you’re that girl and you are reading this, again, I am SO sorry!)

*Confession #2*:  I played volleyball in college and was a stupid freshman once just like all freshmen are, but don’t think they are. As a freshman athlete, we were required to do a certain number of hours in a room in the Academic Services building each week. Volleyball players were required to do more hours per week than any other sport at our university:  15! That’s as many hours as I spent in a classroom! I think the next number of hours for another sport was 10 and the average was probably 8 or so. Then again, our volleyball program had and I believe still has the longest streak of the American Volleyball Coaches Association GamePlan/Team Academic Award of any Division 1 program of any sport in the country, 14 years. Being a self-motivated, 4.0 student, I HATED “study tables.” They were mostly distracting because no one else wanted to be there to actually study and it easily turned into social hour with the other athletes.

One particular week, I happened to be 15 minutes short on my study table hours because I didn’t realize that the Academic Services building closed early on Fridays my first semester. PANIC!!! If you were short on your hours, there were serious repercussions in our program, including getting benched. 2 of my teammates were also short and we were going to get our last 15, 30 and 45 minutes of study hours done Friday afternoon, until we got there and the doors were locked. I called my advisor, apologized and asked what we could do to finish our hours. Could we go to the library and have the librarian sign off that we were there studying? My advisor was not nearly as frantic about the situation as I was, it was an honest mistake. She ok’d my plan and we all breathed a sigh of relief…or at least we thought so. Until Sunday came around and our coach examined the study hour logs and did the math. He called us into his office after a long road trip and sat us down to discuss the situation. I wasn’t nervous as I had received permission from my academic advisor to correct our mistake and still finish our hours.

Unfortunately, our coach did not see it the same way. I don’t think I had ever seen him so angry. At the time, he felt that we had not only made a mistake, but that we tried to cover it up. It was my idea, so I received most of the heat. And then… he called me a liar. I’m not sure what came over me at that point. I looked him square in the eyes, raised an index finger of disagreement and said: “Do NOT call me a liar!” He may or may not have had steam coming out of his ears, again, rightfully so. Any grace or mercy that might have been extended our way for our mistake was gone in that moment because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and the pride in my integrity and honesty got the better of me. All 3 of us were suspended for 2 matches, were not even allowed to be on the bus with our teammates for that road trip, had additional study table hours on top of our 15 the following week and we had to run 1 full court suicide for each minute we were short:  15 for me, 30 and 45 for my teammates. It was a rough week. One of my fellow suspendees and I still talk about that day in coach’s office and relive the moment in laughter. I’m glad it’s funny now because it surely wasn’t then, though I certainly appreciated the weekend off to go home and recalibrate my attitude.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15-20

Scripture is so clear that if we are filled with the Holy Spirit, there will be good fruit in our lives. A good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Do people around you recognize you by your fruit? Some of those bad and good fruits are outlined in Galatians 5:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (*law of the Old Testament; you are free in Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit).

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5: 13-26

The Fruits of the Spirit are listed below and in how many verses they are mentioned in the Bible (NIV):

Love or Loving — 517 verses
Joy or Joyful — 225 verses
Peace or Peaceful — 239 verses
Patience or Patient — 34 verses
Kindness or Kind — 163 verses
Goodness or Good — 582 verses
Faithfulness or Faithful — 137 verses
Gentleness or Gentle — 23 verses
Self-Control – – 6 verses

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If we were to rank these in order from most important to least (though they are all important!) based on repetition, they would be:  Goodness, Love, Peace, Joy, Kindness, Faithfulness, Patience, Gentleness and Self-Control. In many of the verses that include the word honest or honesty, goodness is right alongside it. Goodness and Love dominate them all as we are first and foremost called to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. If we are doing that, we are experiencing peace and joy:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

If we have these Fruits of the Spirit in our lives, honesty will follow. We cannot put the cart before the horse. As I have learned the hard way (and can almost guarantee we have all wanted to put our foot in our mouth multiple times!), honesty is without merit if it is not accompanied by goodness, love, patience, kindness, gentleness and even self-control. Just because something is true or honest does not mean we are supposed to say it or share it with someone, revealing their flaws, faults or sin in their lives. If we are truly seeking the Holy Spirit, He will be faithful in using us and giving us discernment in what comes out of our mouths. We need to seek God in prayer before getting into a touchy subject or your honesty may not be received well, even if what you are saying is true. Scriptural TRUTH trumps honesty and worldly truth, every time. Honesty can easily be self-seeking and come from a place of pride or envy to poke or prod others into submission. And what you are really doing is elevating yourself and putting yourself on a throne that is only worthy of our GOOD and LOVING GOD.

So why does our culture hold honesty in such high esteem? I don’t really know anymore. For me, I’ll be looking for Fruit of the Spirit in my life as honest weights and measures of my heart and relationship with God instead of our world’s judgemental measure of honesty. I refuse to trade what the world and people want and expect me to be for who God has made me to be and who He is molding me to be. It’s not worth the expense. Honest.