Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, July 27, 2009

On Marriage and Commitment

Due to a lot of things happening with people we know, Lisa and I have been talking a lot about marriage and relationships lately. Obviously, when talking about marriage, the conversation is completely intertwined with the concept of commitment. Even when you aren’t using the word and might not even be thinking of commitment as being the topic of your conversation, there is no real way to extricate it from a conversation about marriage. (I suppose this can also be said of other relationships, but with marriage it is taken to a different level.)

And so, today I would like to explain just one of the many reasons why I am committed to Lisa in our marriage and relationship. What follows is by no means the only reason why I am committed to Lisa, nor is it the only reason I choose to stay faithful to her, but it does factor in to my decisions and behavior with regards to our marriage.

I’m all in.

That’s it. There’s no easier way to say it. When it comes to my commitment to my wife, I am holding nothing back. I’m playing for keeps. I don’t have a Plan B. There is no escape hatch. I’ve burned my ships and am committed to surviving in this world of marriage.

I’ve told Lisa that if she were to ever cheat on me with anyone else that I don’t think I could deal with it and would probably have to run away, never to return. While I don’t believe that Lisa would ever do such a thing, it helps me to reflect on how I would feel if it were to happen to me. And so, because I have thought about how I would feel on the receiving end of such terrible treatment, I am able to better avoid the snares that Satan sets before me to steal, kill and destroy not only me but my marriage as well.

Since I am not holding back anything in reserve, I am forced to make sure that I behave in such a way that prevents me from hurting Lisa in such a way. I find that it is a good way to approach being married. In thinking about the effects that sinful behavior would have on our marriage, I am less likely to consider pursuing such avenues of thought and activity. This is not to say that pondering the results of the action is enough to keep me from doing it. The fact remains that I must rely on God’s strength to allow me to remain fully committed to Lisa every day.

I must choose to love her today in everything I say and do. Do I fail at this? Unfortunately, yes. But I am striving to eliminate those areas of failure as God continues to work in me. I believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me that I can be changed and transformed into the husband God not only wants me to be but commands me to be. And that is just another reflection of the Christian life being lived out in a marriage.

Marriage is two sinful people setting aside their individual identities, acknowledging that God has made them one, realizing that God is still working to make them better suited for each other and choosing to love one another for who they are and forgive one another for where they fall short.

And so, I’m all in.

Lisa sees the worst of me more than anyone else. My goal is to make sure she also sees the best of me as I strive to be the husband that God wants me to be and that she deserves to have. I know I will fail and Lisa knows it as well. But she is forgiving and loving me through my mistakes, praying that I will allow God to work in me and through me.

You can’t hold back any part of yourself. You must selflessly allow your spouse to have the ability to know all of who you are, opening yourself and being vulnerable.

It’s not enough to merely say “I do”. You have to choose to follow through every day with proclaiming “I will.” A spouse that does not remain committed every day of the marriage has failed to honor the promise and vow that began the marriage. This foundational element is often glossed over, but the realization of that initial promise is lived out every day in bedrooms, kitchens and phone calls of marriage. There is no down time. There is no vacation from that initial commitment. It is binding. It is a lifetime promise. It is the reality that every day is another opportunity to renew that vow or crush it and destroy the union that God has created.

Let us not think casually about the fact that marriage is God-ordained and, in doing so, allow ourselves to be deceived into allowing our marriages to crumble due to a lack of commitment. Let us capture every day as another opportunity to grow our marriages stronger, to develop our relationship with our spouse further and to pursue becoming the person God wants us to be. If we focus on our marriage as a relationship that matters, perhaps we can stem the tide of Christians who are discovering that their marriages have crumbled around them due to a lack of effort and commitment by one or both members involved.

To my beautiful bride, Lisa: I look back with amazement to how far we’ve come from when we said “I do”. I’m thankful that we’ve both been willing to say “I will” when it comes to not only choosing to love each other each day, but also in forgiving each other. Know that you have my heart and I am fully committed to you, Lydia and our marriage. My identity is wrapped up in you and I am a lesser man without you. I pray that God will continue molding and shaping me into the man and husband that you deserve and I am thankful for how far He has brought us.

I’m all in!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How He Loves - Tuesday Tunes

How He Loves by David Crowder Band

How He Loves (Lyrics):

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reducing Our Debt, One Diaper at a Time

My wife and I live fairly frugal lives, which is helping us in our attack on eliminating our debt. So far we have paid off our car debt 3 years early and are working towards getting rid of our student loan debt in the next 2 years. (If you want some good advice on how to get out from under your mountain of debt, I'd recommend dropping by DaveRamsey.com for starters.)

Obviously, trying to get out of debt and having our first child at the same time would probably not be the ideal way to go about things, but here we are pressing on and living on the cheap as much as possible. With a little mouth to feed and small body to clothe, some things are just plain expensive. Recently, Lisa has begun making some of the baby food at home, which has saved us a bunch of money.

One other way we try to save money is when we purchase diapers. When Lydia came home from the hospital, we tried using cloth diapers for a couple of weeks. While we were fairly pleased with this endeavor, we quickly realized that this method of diapering was not very travel friendly. I mean, what do you do with all the diapers when you are out of state for a week? So we switched to disposable diapers for our Christmas trip to Michigan and decided on our way home that the cloth diapers had to go.

Since that time, we have been purchasing disposable diapers and have been enjoying their convenience and wicking ability. We primarily have been purchasing the "Up and Up" Target brand disposables and have been really pleased with them. They were cheap, strong, absorbent and didn't leak very often for us at all.

A month ago, Lisa and I were at Walmart buying some baby food and other various necessities and we needed some diapers, so we grabbed a pack of the "Parent's Choice" Walmart brand disposables and tossed them into the cart. This is a mistake that will not ever be repeated in our house. Since I noticed last night that our stack of these diapers is almost gone, I am celebrating this fact today by informing you all of the nightmare you are signing up for if you ever purchase "Parent's Choice" diapers for your little one.

To say that these diapers do not fit well is kind of an understatement. It would be a bad thing if they were tight around the legs and loose around the waist or vice versa. The reality extends much farther than that. In fact, these diapers are lose in the legs and do not fit around the waist well at all. This dastardly combination inevitably leads to having huge problems keeping all of your sweet baby's "presents" wrapped and under cover.

In addition to any smelly mess that might come from this powerful tag-team of inability to contain anything solid is the diaper's seeming refusal to hold much more than a few ounces of liquid in its "absorbent" fabric construction. This soggy development will undoubtedly lead to numerous opportunities to see how fast you can not only change your baby's entire outfit but also the crib sheet as well. I understand that a baby might overwhelm a diaper from time to time and I won't hold the rare failure to retain against any brand of diaper. However, when you have to change your child's outfit every other time you have to change a diaper, it can begin to seem like a pattern. And when you have to change your little girl's crib sheets twice in a day because her cheap little diaper wouldn't keep her rear end dry let alone the rest of her outfit and crib safe from the moisture, then you will find yourself feeling something akin to how I felt yesterday afternoon.

I do not want to be unclear in this at all. I know that I am not buying the highest quality of diaper for my child to scoot around on and some of you might try to shame me for it. Talk to me in 6 years when my kid is doing fine in school and we are debt free and able to go on some really fun vacations - at that point I am sure Lydia will forgive me for wrapping her tush in cheap diapers.

A cheap diaper does not need to be a poorly designed diaper. Whoever thought that the idea of having the Velcro tab come already attached to the back of the diaper has either never actually changed a diaper when a child is screaming or just plain hates parents. There is no good reason for why the diaper is designed in such a way. It causes you to first open up the diaper in its entirety and then attempt to unlatch the Velcro so that it won't be stuck under the baby's rear end when you slide the diaper up under them. I found that most of the time these best laid plans fall short of flawless execution and I end up having to go hunting for the Velcro tab that is now attached to the back of the diaper somewhere behind my little girl. It also seems that the tab lengths can vary a bit from diaper to diaper, which really makes it hard to get used to the insanity of the design and packaging.

So, the moral of this long tale is this: Buying cheap diapers is fine, but don't buy "Parent's Choice" diapers from Walmart. Unlike some people, I do not believe Walmart is the devil or anything like that. However, I do believe that whoever designed the "Parent's Choice" diapers for Walmart may very well indeed be the spawn of Satan or one of his minions.

Thankfully, we are almost finished using these little white misshapen nightmares. I'm looking forward to getting back to using the "Up and Up" Target brand diapers almost as much as I was looking forward to using the disposable diapers over the cloth diapers.

It's okay for us to be cheap and save money and work on reducing our debt. In fact, that's a great thing to be trying to do, especially in the current economy. However, I beg you to learn from our mistake: Do not use the "Parent's Choice" diapers from Walmart. It's not worth your time, frustration and numerous laundry loads that will result from attempting to use this diaper for what it will supposedly do. If you need a cheap, solid, practical disposable diaper, I'd recommend using the "Up and Up" Target brand.