The Marriage Triangle

I just finished watching the movie, “Marriage Retreat” for the millionth time.  I really enjoy this movie because it hits topics that I feel are common in different marriages.  It all comes down to your relationship with God and if you have God as the center of your marriage or not.  I picked two quotes that I like most from this movie and have shared them below.

Quote Marriage Retreat:  “I want to be closer to Him, because if we’re closer to Him, we’re closer to each other”

Quote Marriage Retreat:  For you and me to get closer, we need to get closer to Him. (See triangle below)

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The triangle illustrates how a husband and wife who are focused on the Lord will naturally grow closer together. For more, read To Uphold Our Marriage in Prayer.  I love this marriage triangle.  I have never truly understood this triangle until recently, and it’s true.  I’ve heard people say, “you can’t love someone else until you truly love yourself.”  I think in order for you to love yourself you have to love God and understand the love God has for you.  You can’t expect your spouse to love you 100% if you, yourself, don’t even love yourself 100%.  This is just my opinion, of course.

I have found two articles online that relate to this topic and decided to share them with you as well.  The first is Walking With God in Your Marriage and the second is Is God the Center of Your Marriage?

Now, I understand you may not agree with me or the articles above and that’s okay.  We all have the right to have our own opinions.  I just know that for me and my marriage with Jason, I want to work on loving myself more and growing closer with God and understanding his love for me.  Every relationship has room for growth, whether it’s a relationship with your spouse, parent, child(ren), siblings, friends, or even with God.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen the Marriage Retreat movie?  What are your thoughts on the marriage triangle?

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Faith Rebuilt

When I was younger, I believed in God, but never had a close connection.  I didn’t talk about my faith or share it with others.  In a way, I was partially embarrased of going to church or talking about God.  I didn’t feel comfortable praying in front of others, especially when out in public.  I can honestly say that a lot has changed over the years, and you will fully see that with this post.

I don’t know about you, but I am not the greatest at reading my Bible every day like I should.  I usually get into a good routine of reading my Bible and doing devotions or reading a Christian self-help type book, but eventually life gets busy and I lose sight on how to manage my time and what’s important in life .  This is not something I’m very proud of, but I’m here to be honest with you all.  I am very far from perfect, but I do strive to do my best in life (with the help of God, of course).

Have you ever noticed, that when times get tough and obstacles get in my way, you turn to God in prayer and start reading his word with hope to find answers to your problems?  Sadly, I do this often.  Why is it that when bad situations arise, we turn to God but when life is going well, we don’t dive into his Word?  We have this decorative sign hung up on a wall in our living room that says “Happy Moments, Praise God.  Difficult Moments, Seek God.  Quiet Moments, Worship God.  Painful Moments, Trust God.  Every Moment, Thank God.”  (pictured below) I love this sign because it is a daily reminder how in every moment, God should be our focus.  Jason and I have praised God during our happy moments, prayed to God during our difficult moments, and we thank God daily for everything he has done for us and continues to do for us. Trust… now that’s another story, sometimes.

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Now, I can’t speak for Jason, but for me, I will admit that trusting God is oftentimes a hard thing to do.  Life has always been a challenge, whether it had to do with my schooling, my health (mentally or physically), family life, friends, near death experiences, etc.  It almost seems like every time life would be going well for me, there is always something that takes place to tear me back down.  There have been many days/nights that I have cried to God to fix whatever is taking place in my life or asking why he allowed these things to happen to me/us.  Life just wasn’t being fair to us.  I went through the whole “why me?” or “why us?”.  Does the story of Job come to mind?  If you’re not familiar with this story, I encourage you to read this book in the Bible.  Anywho, back to what I was saying.  After eight months of being sick with a vestibular disorder after the miscarriage of our twins, I was praising God for making me close to whole again.  That was short-lived, as we learned of Jason’s diagnosis of his Leukemia the very same month I was able to walk again.  More tears were shed, and more prayers were said.  We did everything we had to do to help each other get through the next new battle in our lives.  Sometime last year, I threw in the rag; I officially gave up.  I decided I couldn’t be strong enough anymore.  I was defeated and I needed help.  I cried and gave everything to God.  I decided I needed him more than anything.  Infertility was of the past.  My vestibular disorder was of the past.  The miscarriage was in the past.  Jason’s cancer was in the past.  Everything was in the past and out of our control.  This does not mean we will not speak of these things or that we will forget.  No, this means we will learn from these situations and we can use them to share God’s word.  I strongly believe God was trying to use us as his examples.  No matter what was thrown at us, we still held onto our faith and believed God had a purpose.  There is a reason for everything.  Yes, we have stumbled and lost our sight along the way, but with our faith, we found our way back to God, again.

The many years of infertility we went through was one of the hardest things we’ve had to go through as husband and wife.  All the doctor appointments, tests, medications, schedules, etc. It was exhausting and it definitely tested our marriage.  Instead of becoming a team and praying together, we kind of drifted apart.  There were many days, months, or even years, filled frustration and wondering who was at “fault” for us not conceiving a baby.  Many hurtful words were said on both sides, followed my quick apologies and tears.  If you haven’t been through infertility, you will never fully understand the struggle.  You may want to roll your eyes and may think to yourself, “just get over it already”.  But, honestly, it’s not that simple.  Those years of infertility were a huge part of our lives.  It’s a chapter in our book that we can’t erase.  After we had officially “given up” with trying to conceive, we relaxed more and actually enjoyed each other’s company again.  We didn’t have the stress and pressure on us anymore.

Do Jason and I have a “perfect” marriage?  Absolutely not.  I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect marriage.  I can say that we are the best of friends.  We enjoy spending time together, whether it’s building LEGO sets, putting together a puzzle, playing board/card games, or going out playing minigolf or bowling, etc. All of our struggles have brought us closer together.  After the miscarriage took place, and I got sick, then Jason got sick, we knew a few things for sure.  We were each other’s rock and foundation.  We knew we could depend on each other no matter what.  We re-learned how to communicate and to be the strength when the other one was needing it most.  Most importantly, we are learning to pray together and follow our faith in every aspect of our lives.  We’re coming up on our 15 year anniversary of when we met and starting dating.  A lot has taken place in these 15 years, but I am most excited for what is yet to come (with our adoption and all).

There are two songs that come to mind, that played a huge role in my life during all these hard times.  One is “Praise You in This Storm”, by Casting Crowns, and the other is “Through All of It”, by Colton Dixon.  If you haven’t heard these two songs before, I definitely recommend them.  ( YouTube videos are posted at the end of this post)  If you have heard them before, I suggest you re-listen to them; close your eyes and listen to the lyrics.  If you’re ever going through a hard time, the lyrics to these two songs may be very helpful. I still cry every time I listen to these songs.  The words, to me, are just so powerful and remind me to be thankful to God and always praise him.

If you are feeling alone or lost and need someone to talk to, we are always available.  We can pray with you/for you, or offer a listening ear. 🙂

 

Amazing – Fundraiser Results

I don’t even know where to begin with this post.  This past week has been a chaotic, stressful, exhausting, and challenging time for us.  We worked for three months sorting, pricing, packaging, planning for our fundraiser event.  We had no guidelines to work with.  We started with a simple rummage sale in our driveway to a bigger rummage sale at our church.  Then it expanded to serving foods/drinks, and then expanded again to having vendors sell at our event.  Which then expanded to a silent auction.  One simple idea kept getting bigger and bigger.  This whole journey has been incredible.  We have met some of the most gracious and amazing people.  When we asked for donations, we were provided with well over 100 families that had donated to us.  We asked for baked goods for our bake sale and received well over our needs.  When I reached out to vendors, so many perfect strangers were excited and willing to attend our event, donate silent auction baskets, donate their commission (or a portion of it), donate their time, share their excitement for us and the journey we are on.  Also, we received such amazing support from our church.  Everything we needed, they were there to help.  We give our many thanks to our pastor, to the church secretary, and anyone else who made our process successful, and for all the help they provided to us.  We made plenty of new friends throughout the past few months.

Now, don’t think this past few months has been sunshine and rainbows.  Haha.  We have been beyond busy.  This past week was a challenge, to say the least.  We had eight days to pick up over 50 tables to set up, so many boxes and items to transport (lots of larger pieces of furniture, too), sorting, pricing, planning where to set up the tables, what categories to have, etc.  We were blessed to receive help from our parents, some close friends, Christi’s boss and coworker, etc.  There were plenty of arguments due to lack of sleep and frustrations.  We started early and didn’t usually get home until close to 10pm most nights.  We functioned on eating one meal a day because we forgot to eat or were too busy to take a break.  We did share some laughs, too.  We got goofy at times, sometimes simply just from being over tired.

Then the fear kicked in.  Are we going to have enough room for everything?  Are we going to have enough tables?  Are we going to have enough room for all the vendors?  Will enough people show up?  What are we going to do with everything once the event is finished?  Are we going to receive enough helping hands during the event?  Are we going to receive any help to clean up?  Are we going to have good weather?  We prayed and prayed over every one of these questions, trying to hold onto faith that God is in control.  He put this desire in our hearts to adopt and have our family.  He has helped us every single step of the way as we went through this planning process.  Everything has worked itself out every single step we took.  The night before our event, we didn’t get to bed until after midnight, just to wake up a couple short hours later.  Trying to function when you are running on empty is, well, exhausting.  Running through our lists of things that still needed to be finalized… visit the store for last-minute items, making sure we have enough ice, getting our cash boxes ready, prepping the foods, packaging the bake sale items that were donated, setting up the silent auction, planning the spots for the vendors,  assisting the vendors in any way we can, etc.  You get the idea.

Then the event had officially started.  We saw so many new faces as well as familiar faces.  We had folks from our childhood show up; many we hadn’t seen in years!  We received so many donations for our adoption.  We met people who had also adopted or had been adopted or have known someone who had been adopted.  It was neat hearing the stories and about their experiences.  We received so many encouraging words.  It was so overwhelming, but in a beautiful way.  It is incredible to know how much support is out there for us; so many that are praying for us and are excited to follow us during this journey we are on.

Remember me saying that God has been there every step of the way?  He had provided for us.  He answered every single prayer; every single fear we had were taken care of.  We had plenty of room for everything.  We had just enough tables.  We had room for all the vendors.  We were blessed with more customers than we could have even imagined. We had friends and relatives show up and volunteer their time.  They helped guests load items to their vehicles, answer questions, assist us in ever way that we needed.  We had the most amazing weather both days of our event; not too hot, sunny, light breeze, etc.  Simply perfect.

During the first day of our event, we met this group of three individuals who were shopping for this incredible organization, Nation of Visions.  Nation of Visions Annual Summit is aimed at providing individuals, communities and organizations with inspirations, in-depth Leadership professional development workshops, networking, and community service opportunities.  They were looking for items that could be packed up and taken to Africa to help those in need there.  You can find them on Facebook by simply searching for “Nations of Visions”, and you can learn more about them on there.  Any who, we told them that if they were interested, they could come back at the end of our event and take whatever they needed for their mission.  We were already blessed with the donations, we wanted to share our blessings with them, too.

During our last day of our event, during the last hour, we saw this elderly couple going through everything, filling boxes upon boxes of stuff.  Out of curiosity, I went up to them joking around about how they “really like to shop”.  They explained to me, that they like to go to rummage sales and purchase items to donate to local shelters to help the women with children and the homeless.  They are such beautiful blessings from God, with hearts of gold.  We couldn’t even imagine charging them, since we ourselves planned to donate to charities as well.  We had them take whatever items they needed for their donation, and their faces lit up.  We received so many thanks, but it was us that should thank them for being such incredible examples of how people should be.

We had this little girl show up, shopping with her mother.  She found this toy carousel and was in love with it.  My mom was talking to her and this girl asked, “how much is this?”  My mom loves children and gave her a price.  She noticed the girl was paying with her own “hard-earned money” and pulled out some coins.  My mom didn’t have the heart to charge her the true value, so she said it was a quarter.  The girl was happy and paid that quarter and carried her new toy around while she watched her mother shop.  She came back a little later with another item and asked my mom how much this new item was.  My mom told her it was a quarter.  The girl was digging through her little bag and pulled out a quarter and handed it to my mom saying, “Here’s a quarter, but it’s a little dirty, hope that’s okay!”  The sweet innocence of this child, melted our hearts.  Jason went up to this girl with two bags and told her to put any toys she wanted in this bag, and it would all be free.  She asked him if he was serious, and of course he said he was.  She was thrilled!   After all, we were blessed with all these donations, why not share our good fortunes with those that may be in need?

When our final day of our event was coming to an end, it was time to clean up.  We looked around the room thankful that so much had sold, but there was still so much that still needed to be packed up and removed.  Our good friend who had been there to help during the week and both days of the event, offered to help stay and pack things up.  Then, before we could even stand up to start packing up, a friend of Jason’s, a fellow dartball player, showed up saying he was ready to help us clean up and take down tables.  Moments later, the group of three we saw during the first day from Nation of Visions showed up ready to go through the items and pack things up for their mission.  We shared stories about our journey through infertility and adoption. They prayed over us and shared their stories and more about their program.   We had my dad’s best friend’s take all the clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. to donate to the homeless shelter they volunteer at.  I guess recently they have run out of or are close to running out of the clothes they have available, and are in great need.  What incredible timing, since we obviously needed to get rid of the clothes we had left over.  We helped them load up so many garbage bags full of these items, and hope their needs are now met. The whole experience was amazing.  With the help we received, we had most of the gym all packed up and tables put back to their rightful places before we left for the day.  We ended our night with a wonderful, inspiring, amazingly powerful prayer that was prayed over us and the journey that is ahead of us, by the pastors from Nation of Visions.  We exchanged our contact information, so we could keep in touch and follow each others adventures.  We can continue to follow them and their program and they can follow us as we go through this adoption process.  Our Lord is amazing, and has provided for us in every way we needed.  Even ways we didn’t know we needed him.  He brought these individuals into our lives for a reason.

So to conclude, Jason and I had a monetary goal that we hoped we’d reach at the end of this event.  We are beyond thankful and happy to say that we not only reached this goal, but we went over this goal.  We still have other donations that have been coming in and still need to receive money from silent auction baskets and other vendors that said they would donate some of their commission to us from their sales.  We still have a ways to go to reach our ultimate goal, but we couldn’t be any more thankful for the outcome we received from this adoption fundraiser event.  Thank you to everyone that has helped us.  Whether you donated your items, donated baked goods, donated silent auction baskets, donated your time, donated money, prayed for us, etc.  Thank you to my retired bosses church for their donation of items, to our old church for their donations of items, to our church, to friends and family, and even strangers.  If we are forgetting to list anyone, we still thank you, too! We couldn’t have done all of this without you, and we could never thank you all enough!

God’s blessings to you all.

P.S.  As I am typing this, it is raining outside.  I even heard a couple rumbles of thunder out there.  Thank you God for giving us our two beautiful days and bringing the rain AFTER our event.  How amazing is that?!

Here are a couple pictures from our event that were shared by a good friend of ours.

 

National Foster Care Month

In case you didn’t already know, May is National Foster Care Month.  Have you ever looked at the statistics of foster children?  It’s very heartbreaking. This is an image from 2012 that I got from https://www.fosterclub.com/article/statistics-foster-care.

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Here is another image from 2014 that I found at http://trinitykids.org/TheirStory/FosterCare/tabid/101/Default.aspx.

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These statistics are eye-opening and very sad.  Our hope is to adopt older children and quite possibly a sibling group.  We are not adopting in order for us to be “praised” about how selfless we are or giving or whatever.  We are not doing this to look good.  We are passionate about helping children in need.  And of course we want a family.  We do believe we have a lot of love to give to these children and we hope that us showing these children that they are loved and wanted will help change their future.  We can only imagine what they have gone through and what they continue to go through.  We want to help in every way we can.

I currently have my eye on a specific sibling group, but all will depend on our how fast we can fill out a ton of paper work and how our home study goes.  We’ve been reaching out to a couple of agencies gathering information.  I have a list of things that need to be done for the home study and to help speed up the paperwork process.  I have sent the bio of the sibling group I have my eye on to a couple of people, and they have all said how these children would fit in perfectly with us. It seriously couldn’t be a better match for us.  Now, it’s in God’s hands.  He knows our what hearts desire.

If you’re the praying type, please pray for us and our journey that we’re on. It’s honestly a bit scary not knowing what will come of all of this.  We have a couple concerns, which we will share a little later on, but for now we are just holding onto faith that everything will work itself out.