Monday, March 29, 2010

A little transparency never hurt anyone, right?

Well friends, I would like to share a bit of my heart with you, if you care to join me through this blog. I just finished a book. It's called "So Long Insecurity, You've Been a Bad Friend To Us" and it is by the (amaaazing) Bible teacher Beth Moore. I picked it up in February because she has shaped my heart and spirit and spoken straight to them both in a way that is (thus far) unmatched by another woman.

Plus, I have insecurities that I wrestle with on a daily basis. So do you. I don't like them (I'd probably guess you don't either...) They are frustrating and hindering and Christ came so that we may have FREEDOM and live life to the full (John 10:10)

Well, here are a few of mine:

1. I get super insecure when I find out someone doesn't like me.
2. I get super insecure if I think that I maybe did something that could potentially cause someone not to like me.
3. I am (always) insecure that someone close to me is, at any moment, going to die. Gone forever.
4. I am insecure about my interactions with men. I'm afraid they will think I'm flirting with them when I'm just being friendly. So sometimes I'm not very friendly. Or drop casually into conversation that I have a husband. Or tuck my hair behind my ear with my left hand so that my diamond and wedding band are in clear view.
5. I am insecure that I am (or am perceived as) vain because of things like #4 and being, generally, a friendly and confident person.
6. I'm insecure that #5 WAS vain. (I didn't meant it to be! See? insecure. bam! but I'm leaving it. That one is not getting deleted!)

Fortunately, God showed me through this book that in a lot of areas, I am very secure. Which was reassuring. Really, I could go on with that list, but I would like to put the spotlight on one particular insecurity that this book has helped me with. Insecurity #3. The ever-present fear that someone I love is going to die. It has plagued my heart for quite some time, actually. I have never really spoken about it to anyone until this book, when I finally let Josh in on how I have this constant fear and insecurity that my world is going to shatter due to his death, or someone very very close to me. It is constant. I think about it any time someone is driving out to our house. I think about it any time Josh and I are driving anywhere. I think about it when I hear ambulance sirens going off. ALL THE TIME, PEOPLE. (Josh was really shocked, actually, to realize the depth of this insecurity. That I have even pictured myself standing over his casket. I was equally shocked that he has never done it for me, that's how real this is)

In this book, in the second to last chapter (and ugh to think I almost didn't finish it!) Beth Moore wrote about my #3. She wrote about my biggest insecurity, my number one fear. She addressed my darkest fear with TRUTH.

She pointed out the fact that when I play an awful scene in my head, I never finish the story. I always end with the complete devastation I will find myself in, as I'm standing over my cherished ones casket. My life ruined. She encouraged me to place myself in that story, but to take it to the end.

Yes, my world would be crushed. Yes I would have to face very dark things and feelings and questions and why why why. But I know (deeply know) that my God is faithful. That He will not leave me during that time. In fact, He will come even closer. What's more, His word says that "All things work together for good for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:28). What that says to me is that He would even use it/me to bring himself glory. To bring others to Christ. and finally, since God is in the business of redemption, eventually my heart would not only heal (though scars will remain) but I would most likely end up helping someone through the exact tragedy or trauma that I myself had endured. I know this cycle is true because I have honestly witnessed it in people. It's incredible.

Simply finishing the story has given me so much trust in the Lord. I know His character and how much He loves me. I know this is true. Beth also shared scripture that she found in Psalm 112, verses 7 and 8. She changed the "he" in the Psalm to "she" to better apply them to her own heart, and has adopted it as her mantra (and so have I). Here it is:

"She will have no fear of bad news; her heart is steadfast, trusting the LORD. Her heart is secure, she will have no fear; in the end she will look in triumph on her foes"

That's something that I am clinging to. It's what my heart is learning, right now. It's a process. I'm still letting it sink in, believing it. Trust. Security. Well anyway, I just had to share it with someone else, anyone else. So thanks for listening, I mean that.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We like colors.


We have a very colorful house. When Josh purchased our home, it was a blank canvas with white walls in almost every room. We have had a lot of fun decorating and making our house our home. (There is a difference). Would you care to join me on a little tour?

Here is our laundry room. We JUST painted it red. Bright, bright red. We also added a small section of chalkboard to our wall (yay chalkboard spray paint!) It's the first thing most people walk into and it is a lot nicer with the added color.


Here is our television room. We decided that since we had 3 bedrooms and no children, we wanted to remove the tv from the main living area. The living room is for living and talking and relationships, so for now, we have the tv in its own room. The walls are a dark orange and the ceiling is black. The next owners of this house will either love us or hate us..





The last bedroom is a bit smaller. It is both our office and the room that I give massages out of from home.



The living room/kitchen/dining room...




This next picture is a painting our very talented friend Braden Williams made for us as a wedding gift. It is a painting of Jesus. We love it because it is actually a more accurate depiction of what a 30 year old Middle Eastern man, Jesus, would have looked like 2000 years ago. Interesting, isn't it? He doesn't have flowing long brown hair, blue eyes, or a six pack. (and neither did Jesus). It's one of our favorite things in our house, a great conversation piece, and also something to think about :-)

Finally, the bedroom. Josh decorated it himself. Our wedding colors were black, pink, and white. Hence his inspiration for the colors!

The door...


Not pictured: Wall to the right that is black with a pink striped. Also wall to the left that is pink with black stripe.

and on a funny note... right at this very second we have the house mostly dark except for the office/massage room. Chewbacca is standing in the window. It is hilarious. We walked down to the end of the driveway to see what a passersby might notice and cracked up. Here is the view from close up:



I really wonder what the neighbors think of us. We are the house that constantly has cars in the driveway, lights on late, toilet paper on the roof (a challenge we have posed to our teens that they occasionally take us up on), and tonight, chewbacca in the window.

I love it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Our Love Story: Dating and Falling in Love

That night, we went on our first date. It was a lot of fun (and accompanied by his sister, Julie, who was visiting from out of town) I wouldn't have changed anything about it.

A couple of weeks later, I didn't know exactly what we were so I finally said, "So, are you my boyfriend or what?". To which he replied, "Yes, of course I'm your boyfriend." and that kind of freaked me out a little. I was just so used to being single. Honestly, the transition to calling him "boyfriend" was a lot more difficult than "fiance" or "husband". I know that seems strange, but it is the truth. I was perpetually single and kind of at a point where I was actually liking it, but there was this man who was sweeping me off my feet and, well, I let him.



Two or three weeks into our relationship and actually, the day of our first kiss! Aw...



We approached dating differently than a lot of people do, I think. We both were waiting for the person God had for us, so we went into our relationship very open and very honest and with the understanding that if either of us felt like this wasn't what was supposed to be happening in our lives, that we would quickly tell the other.


Another aspect of our dating relationship was our commitment to physical purity. We both were saving sex until marriage and weren't intending on compromising that for anyone. It defined a lot of boundaries in our relationship and at times was... hopelessly difficult. (I've written about this before, so I won't go way into it right now. If I ever had a soap box, this would be it though. Even today, Josh looked at me and said, "Leslie, thank you so much for waiting for me.")


Dancing. We were the youngest couple there by approximately 40 years.
Probably a month or so into our relationship.


The first time he told me he loved me was at midnight on New Years Eve in New York City...



Hello 2008!

We both started to feel rather quickly that we were perfect for each other and meant to get married. Except for the fact that a huge desire on his heart was to be a missionary. (Josh spent the year before we met in Azerbaijan as a missionary) I had never really considered that one before. We talked (and talked and talked) and prayed (and prayed and prayed) about whether or not we were supposed to be together. Whether or not I could actually be a missionary, and whether or not Josh could not be a missionary. Eventually, our plans and dreams came into line (that's an entire separate blog) but I must tell you that missions is definitely in our (3 year plan) future.

An evening with friends

Riding in the back of a truck after a canoe trip!

Eventually, we started talking seriously about marriage. We went and looked at rings once (or twice) but only on his suggestion. One day in early May, we went shopping and I found a fabulous pink dress. Oh how I loved this pink dress! I ended up buying it that day and as I checked out he said, "Who knows... maybe this is what you'll be wearing when you get proposed to...."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Things!

Lots of wonderful things have been happening this week. Which is good. Because last week was a big ball of stink. So, I'm happy that this week is going much better :)

First, we had a retreat with a group of our high school students last weekend. The theme was "Chase the Lion", referring to Christ as the Lion of Judah. The Lion and the Lamb. You get it. Anyway, it was all about having courage to believe and follow Christ. At school, at home, at work, at play. It can be hard to be a Christian in a public high school. We talked about persecution (did you know that Christianity is illegal in 51 countries? and that 2 weeks ago 500 Christians were killed in Nigeria by machete? Yeah. This Christianity business is the REAL DEAL, folks.) It was seriously such an awesome weekend. The kids really grew close to each other, closer to Christ. They got along quite well and actually played games! Which, a year ago, was a very difficult thing for our teens to do. To have the freedom to be silly and fully engage in games... it takes time to build that kind of trust. It's exciting to see that it is (finally) happening.

Josh and I at the retreat:


Josh leading worship at the retreat:



Second, it has been beautiful outside. It makes everyone quite happy. More importantly (ha), it makes my car warm. I have not had heat in my car since..... mid December-ish. To be honest, it has been quite miserable. Also, because we keep our house at a toasty 56 degrees, it would be easy to say I have been cold since December. (We got an electric blanket though in January and ohmygosh it changed my life!) ANYWAY. I park my car in the sun. Always! Even just a few minutes ago, we got home and it was in the shade of our house. So I backed it up 15 feet. It will make my drive into work that much more pleasant! yay sunshine!


Third, I talked to a telemarketer yesterday. She said I was the first pleasant person she had talked to all day. (It was only 10:30am, but still made me feel good and reaffirmed my previous post)


Fourth, as of yesterday, Joshua and I are (outside of our house) COMPLETELY DEBT FREE!!! And that is a wondeful, fabulous feeling.


Fifth, I got to wear my new 50's looking dress that I got for $10 at Plato's Closet yesterday. Complete with red lipstick and 40's hair. I felt sort of silly, and sort of awesome all day long.


Sixth, Josh has been telling me since last week that he had a surprise for me on Tuesday. The surprise ended up being so fun! We went out to eat at Olive Garden with Kenny and Nicole, and Matt and Cassie. Then, each couple got a seperate room at the Amway Grand Plaza downtown Grand Rapids. We walked down to the museum and got to do some swing dancing (I chose a great day to dress vintage!) and we taught Kenny and Nicole some moves. We explored the hotel and retired for the evening AND as Josh and I laid in bed flipping through channels we stumbled upon Moulin Rouge! 'twas a great end to a great day.


See? Six happy things! Six!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Telemarketers.

I would love to share some thoughts with you, if you have a moment. Thoughts about everyone's favorite caller: the telemarketer.

So last week, a telemarketer called our house at 8:30pm. I answered. She was apathetically polite. She was asking about whether or not we would like to become customers of direct tv. I explained to her that my husband and I don't watch much tv, we prefer netflix and that we're not interested in it at all. She understood, I told her to have a good night, and then we hung up.

Now, I know that it is common to be very rude to telemarketers. To hang up on them. To prank them. To make them feel terrible. To tell them how rude they are.

BUT

I would like to say that I refuse to treat them poorly. Because the person on the other line is a person. I would imagine that the woman I talked to and myself have something in common. Maybe she's crazy about Nutella too? I bet that even she would agree that it's sort of rude to call at 8:30 at night, or during dinner. I would guess that she probably doesn't really like her job, atleast, not more than spending time with her friends or family in the evening. And I have a hunch that at the exact moment of our conversation, she would rather have been at home, reading a book to her children and putting them to sleep.

Instead, she found herself talking to me about something she didn't actually care about (the tone of her voice told me so).

The next thought I had, after the conversation, was about myself. I want to be the kind of person who consistently treats everyone with kindness and compassion. Even if they are annoying and rude. Even if they are mean. Even if I can't see their face. Because who a telemarketer is and whether or not it's right that she is calling my house has nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, to do with who I am and how I am going to treat people.

I have always been challenged by the quote, "What type of world it it be if everyone in it lived just like me?"


Consistency of character, friends.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clothing With A Cause

A couple of weeks ago we had an overnighter with the junior highers.
The goal was to raise awareness among the teens about orphans and their plight.
(So we slept without blankets or pillows. 'twas a long (but worthwhile) night!
We gave the kids a lot of different options to actually do something to help.
You know, instead of just talking about it.

One of the options was to purchase shoes from Toms Shoes.
For every pair of shoes you buy, they give a brand new pair to an orphan.
Josh and I bought some :-)


We went with the color red. We figured, hey if we're going to do this, lets get a noticeable color so we can tell other people about it. They had lots of colors and cool designs though.


These are mine!


These are Josh's!

They are really comfortable and look great with jeans!


Check it out. A lot of our teens have purchased some, too, which is really exciting!

Something else I'm passionate about, is freeing women from the sex slave industry.
The best way to get involved locally is to purchase products made by women and young girls who have been set free and are in safe houses. The organization I love and support is WAR (Women at Risk) International. They teach women different trades so they can earn a living on their own. Recently, I went to a store in Rockford called "War Chest". Every bit of merchandise in the store is handmade by women who have been freed from slavery. They are beautiful pieces. Each one comes with information about the woman who made each piece.

I bought this scarf!


Isn't it lovely?


Blizzard, with my scarf.

Check out their website, and if you can support them in any way, please do! They are lovely gifts with a purpose. It is a worthy cause... rescuing women. I would love to own a store some day that only sold these products. That is definitely a dream of mine.


Oh and on a completely unrelated note, Houdini is sitting here right now and he says "Hi!"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Taking the Dive

Being in youth ministry has its challenges.
(Lots of them.)
But it has its rewards.
(Lots of them)
They come in the shape of teenagers whose lives are
transformed
by the Living God.
and then, you get to be a part of things like this:



Lexie being baptized.




Hugging her Mom and brother, Donnie, who were also baptized.



Emily being baptized last year.



Josh baptizing Miki and Tyler.




Me, watching!


The horribly sad thing is that... I used to get annoyed during baptisms at church.
I would think things like, "ughhhh now we're going to be here late"
(I have come a long way, my friends)
Last weekend, I was trying not to cry
the entire time.
It's such a beautiful picture.
(and a commandment from Jesus)
Of being washed clean.
Dying to the old, sinful life.
Raising to new a new life, fully surrendered to Jesus Christ.


Have you been baptized?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prom Dress


The other night I was going through my closet
looking for things that don't fit anymore...
When I stumbled upon it.
My Prom Dress.

I haven't been able to fit into it for years.
I ::ahem:: gained 25 pounds a little bit of weight after high school.
But I always hung on to it for several reasons.

#1. It was just such a great night for me.
#2. I really, really loved the dress
#3. I was in denial and unwilling to admit it would never fit again.

Well, I decided to show Josh what it looked like, ya know, to give him the general idea of how hot I looked at my senior prom...
so I slipped it on.
Then I zipped it up..
and up
and up
and up!
all the way to the top!

I then proceeded to jumped up and down all excited and asked him to take my picture!

It fits! Yay!