only help my unbelief


Walking away from the heap
March 19, 2009, 10:11 am
Filed under: Posts

The closer I get to our wedding day, the more I go to Bible study on what it means to be an excellent wife, the more sessions of pre-marital counseling we have, the more I realized that I really am a mess. I’m a sinner. I don’t meet God’s standard of holiness. I don’t love Christian the way I should; I don’t love my family the way I should; I don’t love my friends the way I should; I don’t love those who don’t know the Lord the way I should.

A few weeks ago we had a guest pastor at our church, Dr. Joel Beeke, who has written a number of books on various topics of theology and such. I wish I could remember the exact quote or even who said it, but there was a Christian man (I think a Puritan) who was dying, and, when asked if he was ready to die, he said that he had taken all of his evil deeds and placed them in a heap. And then he had taken all his good deeds and placed them in the same heap. And then he had fled from that heap into the arms of Christ. So yes, he was ready to die.

I’ve been thinking about that almost every day since then. It’s such a vivid picture for me, because while I am quite aware of my evil deeds, I’m also quick to recall to mind all the good things I’ve done. And yet the truth is, in the end, they’ll all go into the same heap that has a big sign next to it: “Won’t get you to heaven.”

I am finding that if I want to give the Holy Spirit a chance to cultivate peace and joy in my heart, I have to leave everything behind. That heap isn’t just something you pile up before your death. It’s something you pile up every single day as you die to self and sin.

Lord, let me never glory in that heap.

Advertisements


Test post
March 16, 2009, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Posts

Trying something new – we’ll see how it goes.

DSCN2539

I downloaded Windows Live Writer and I’m trying to decide if it’s easier to use it than to just publish straight through WordPress. So far… it’s pretty awesome.



38 days
March 11, 2009, 12:43 pm
Filed under: Posts

In the midst of a crying Betsy who just wouldn’t calm down, I burst out with “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” She stopped crying. I immediately continued into “How Great Thou Art,” and I quietly shut her door as I breathed the last lines. In addition to truly praising Him for His greatness at putting her to sleep, it also occurred to me that there are few things sweeter than singing about the Lord to your babies as they fall asleep. I know that John Piper chose a hymn for each of his children, which I think is a great idea. What a legacy with which to grow up!

*****

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the actuality of getting married to Christian mirrors heaven, when we as part of the Church are united with Christ. This is biblical, and it’s why we’re having Revelation 19:7-8 as our “wedding sermon.” But as I think more on it, there are more similarities. For example: When we got engaged, I got my engagement ring as a sign of Christian’s promise. Just like the Lord gives us the Holy Spirit when He saves us.

But the biggest similarity? Maybe that wedding planning feels like death. ‘Cause that’s what happens before you go to heaven. Every day I have to die to something someone else wants, something I wanted that we can’t afford, something that just isn’t going to work out.

And just like death, the only thing that makes it worth it is what happens at the end. Getting married. In 38 days. But no one’s counting.

*****

My best friend Emily (or Birth Control Emily, as some of you may know her) got married Saturday. It was surreal. It’s slowly starting to hit me that I’ll be doing the same thing in, oh, 38 days or so. And really, 38 seems kind of long, except for I remember when it was 95 days, and that was 57 days ago, which is 19 more days than we have left, and that feels like yesterday. Does that mean I’m getting married tomorrow?

*****

I’m learning how to say no to things. I’m learning that it’s better to undercommit than to overcommit, because you can always find something else to do.



The 55-minute run playlist
March 5, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Posts

I have gotten into somewhat of a routine with running, in that I go several times a week. I don’t always go on the same days, but most weeks I can go at least three times.

We live near an area that has lots of trails nestled back behind neighborhoods, and if you leave from our house and head out on a certain loop, it’s about 3.6 miles total. I always walk the first .3 miles and last .3 miles because our neighborhood has a huge hill. That takes about 10 minutes. And so it takes me about 45 minutes to go the 3 miles, but that’s mostly because 1) I’m still getting back into shape, 2) I can’t run the whole way and 3) there are tons of hills.

But I pretty consistently take between 50 and 55 minutes to do it, and so I decided I’d put together a playlist just for those runs, so that I could look forward to some of my favorite songs. This means my favorite songs are toward the end, and some of the more motivating ones are toward the beginning or in the middle where the run is difficult.

My first time trying out the playlist I made was OK, but when I got home I realized I wanted to take a few songs out and switch some songs around. Now, I think, I have the perfect playlist of my favorite music that is just long enough to get me home, with pump-me-up tunes in all the right places.

1. Vida la Vida – Coldplay
This one’s great for my speed walking warm-up through my neighborhood. It’s catchy, not too fast, and I really like it.

2. Go All the Way (Into the Twilight) – Perry Farrell
This is from the Twilight soundtrack, and as dumb as it sounds, the movie actually had some pretty good songs (as you’ll see later). By the time I get to the start of where I run, this one has come on, and it has a fast beat that’s great for the first big hill I have to run up.

3. Feel Good, Inc. – Gorillaz
This is an old favorite running song. Somehow, even after five years of listening to it on runs, I’m not sick of it. Even if I’m running slow, when this one comes on, I start running faster.

4. Full Moon – The Black Ghosts
Another one from the Twilight soundtrack. It comes on when one of the guys in the movie who eventually turns out to be a werewolf comes out. By this time I’m back in the woods and so it makes me think of werewolves running around in the woods. I only run in the day so it’s not as scary as it sounds.

5. Suckerpunch – Five Iron Frenzy
I’ve liked this song since the beginning of high school, and it’s another good one for punching through a rough stretch of a run. At this point I’m still plugging away through the wooded trails.

6. Superman – Sister Hazel
Probably one of my favorite SH songs. I always smile when it comes on.

7. Dead Man (Carry Me) – Jars of Clay
This one starts right before I start to go up an enormous hill. The title is fitting.

8. Tremble for My Beloved – Collective Soul
For a while, I was just running to the Twilight soundtrack, and this one always came on during a long stretch after running up the huge hill I just mentioned, so I stuck it in a place where it would come on at the same point.

9. Hey Ya! – Outkast
Another one of my favorite running songs. I actually stopped to walk when this one came on, but I’m hoping to get to the point where I can run through all of it.

10. I Caught Myself – Paramore
Another Twilight song. Catchy.

11. Follow You Down – Gin Blossoms
This is one of Christian’s favorite bands, and it comes on when I start running the last mile. I don’t want to go too fast, because I want to finish strong, so it’s the perfect tempo.

12. Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) – Beyonce
I know I’m not a single lady, and, as Christian reminds me, he already “put a ring on it,” but this song is still super fun to run to. It comes on when I get back out to the main road and have to run up yet another hill.

13. Supermassive Black Hole – Muse
My favorite song on the Twilight soundtrack, and my favorite song on this playlist. I have it set to start playing right at the very end of the run when I’m climbing the last hill. It’s perfect for motivating me to sprint toward the finish.

14. Spotlight (Twilight Mix) – Mute Math
As I think you figured out, I really like the Twilight soundtrack. This one fits in perfectly at the end as I’m walking back home.



46 days
March 3, 2009, 11:30 am
Filed under: Posts

Ever since there were 95 days left until the wedding, I’ve been reading the corresponding psalm each night before bed. Today that means I’ll be reading Psalm 46, and when I thought about it this morning I remembered what comes at the very end of that psalm: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

We’re just over six weeks away from the wedding, and God knew that I would need that gentle reminder when we got to this point.

We’ve known of several couples who have broken off the engagement as The Day drew closer, and that always flabbergasted me. Christian and I haven’t even come close to that point, but I think I know how it can happen.

For me, the thing that keeps me sane is remembering that at the end of this, I get to be married to Christian. When the details overwhelm me, that is a comfort.

But then in the midst of making decisions, Christian does something that irritates me. Remembering I get to be married to him isn’t really much of a comfort at that point, because why would I want to be married to someone who irritates me so much?

And that’s when Jesus has to enter the picture, although I probably should have brought Him in a bit sooner. Because I know that these things will happen when we’re married, and they might not happen over such temporal things as what flavor wedding cake to have or who should videotape the ceremony.

One bright point has been that some of the decisions we’ve made have turned out to be good oness, even though some people were worried. For example, the invitations. We got them very inexpensively, and we’ve received nothing but complimentary thoughts about them. As for the idea of e-mailing RSVPs, not only has it been quite easy to keep track of them, but I’ve been able to e-mail back everyone who has e-mailed us, just to tell them we appreciate them coming to our wedding (or not) and that we look foward (or are sorry not) to see them in April. It’s been a real joy.

It also looks like we might even come in under budget. This is something I’m praying that I won’t be surprised by, because I know the Lord knows how much money we have to spend, and  He knows that we are trying our very best to make wise and careful decisions about every penny that we spend.

More good news – instead of paying several hundred dollars in taxes, like I expected to, I’m actually going to get about $700 back. I was talking with Christian last night about what we would do with the money, and I think that for now, we’re just going to sock it away in a savings account to see what we might need it for. Then hopefully we can use it this summer to buy some bedroom furniture. God is so good to provide.

And so I think the thing really is just that I need to be still. I need to be still about the details. God has provided so much already; I need to trust Him that He will provide the rest.



Steady
February 25, 2009, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Posts

My mom once described my dad as a rock, in that when difficult things happen, they just roll off of him.

It weirds me out a little that Christian is so much like my dad, but it’s true. He’s steady as steady goes.

There have been times when I’ve wanted him to be a little more volatile, more like me. I’ve wished that he would express his emotions, whether it’s anger or joy. I’ve longed for him, just once, to do something really crazy.

But that’s not Christian. He’s steady. And even if sometimes I want him to be different, in these last several weeks, I’ve been so thankful that he is what he is. Steady.

Because I’m not steady. Not even kind of. I’m kind of the exact opposite of steady. I need Christian to be led by the Lord, and I need Christian to lead me. Desperately.

In other news, we’re moving quickly toward The Big Day, and I actually become less stressed out the closer it gets, because I realize that whatever doesn’t get done just doesn’t get done, and, oh yeah, all I really want is to be married. Our pastor has assured us that he will be there, and we’re both planning on it, and we’ve got the marriage license tucked away in a safe place. What else do we need?



53 days
February 24, 2009, 8:40 am
Filed under: Posts

In case you’re confused about me saying there are 54 days left, be advised that I started writing this yesterday (Monday), and then things came up. There’s a shocker.

Remember when I said I was going to write every day for the last 75 days before the wedding? That was three weeks ago.

Now there’s 54 days left. 21 days later. I have no idea where the last three weeks have gone.

Let’s just say that I’m glad that I’m only going to do this once, because even though it hasn’t been stressful, it’s kind of put me over the edge when it comes to making lists and staying on top of things. I need a list of people invited to the rehearsal dinner; I need a list of what else I need to do that’s not related to the wedding; I need a list of all the people who have volunteered to help with the reception. And then I think I’ll start working on a list of all my lists.

The one good thing about it has been getting to use Microsoft Excel to plan out every second of my life. There’s a spreadsheet for the budget; a spreadsheet for the guest list; a spreadsheet for the program; and now I’m working on a spreadsheet of the remaining days and what needs to be done on each of the days.

I had a minor moment of freaking out when I jotted down all the days where I don’t have anything scheduled, which indicates a day when I could work on wedding stuff. There were about five days. Insert heart attack here. Then I realized some of the days that had scheduled things were still days where I could work on stuff, because the scheduled thing was in the late afternoon or evening, or just in the morning. It did make me more thankful that I’m not working full-time, though, because I don’t know how I would be able to do anything.

And really, the big things are not really wedding things. For example: Packing up my stuff. I told Christian last night that I want to make a “clean break” so that I’m not driving to my parents’ house to get stuff after we get back from our honeymoon. Of course, I still want to see my parents often, but I truly do want to “leave and cleave.” He was all for this idea, but that means I’ve got to start thinking about what I really want to be a part of my new life and what’s really not that important. This is difficult for me. Another thing: My and Christian’s taxes. I still haven’t gotten all the forms I need, so I can’t start doing mine. I hope they come soon, because in case anyone hasn’t noticed, the date when taxes need to be filed and the date when my wedding is are only three days apart. And that’s pretty much not what I want to be doing the week before my wedding.

On the weight loss front, things are looking good. The last time I weighed myself (Saturday), I was down to 192.4 pounds, which means I’ve lost more than 10 pounds. I was trying to figure out how that was happening, since I didn’t feel like I ate that well last week, but I guess it was because I ran 4 times last week. I was hoping to continue that streak today, but it doesn’t look like I’ll have time to run until Thursday morning, and it’s so cold outside that I’m doubtful I’ll be able to go for very long walks with Betsy over the next few days.

One good thing is that I’m becoming increasingly blessed by the body of Christ in relation to the wedding. I can’t even keep track of how many people have offered to help me with things. One group of ladies is helping me with the reception, and I honestly couldn’t do it without them. When I look at my schedule and start to freak out, God is faithful to remind me that I’ve got people around me who are going to catch me if I stumble. And that’s a good thing.

And while there was a time a couple months ago when I understood why wedding planning can strain the relationship between the future bride and groom, that really hasn’t been the case. Christian has been faithful to listen and to take care of things that I don’t need to be a part of, like the honeymoon and finding us an apartment. I did go to look at the apartment, once, but he’s done everything else. And I don’t even know where we’re going on the honeymoon.

All that to say that this is a good time. I’m not necessarily enjoying it – I’d much rather be married – but it’s all going by so quickly that it’s hard to get discontent. Like our pastor said Sunday during pre-marital counseling: “Three years down to eight weeks? You can make it.”

I concur.