Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankfulness

This post is one year in the making. Some have taken to posting what they're thankful for everyday on Facebook and it's fun to read what everyone is thankful for but I have to be honest, I'm not very good at getting online every day or putting up a status update every day or even every week so when I contemplate what I'm thankful for I know exactly what it is.

I start with The Lord Jesus who washed me clean when I was 16 years old and has since been in the process of sanctifying me as I grow in Him. I am not a perfect person but I am His and in Him I am redeemed; without that none of what follows matters because He is the one who makes all that follows beautiful.

This year I am thankful for so many friends and family who held Jared and I in your thoughts and prayers over the course of 4 years of infertility. When we were broken and feeling isolated in our 'struggle' you held us up and encouraged us and gave us hope that no matter how it happened our dream to be parents would someday be a reality. Thank you.


Then when we finally found out that we would be parents you were there to scream and cheer for us, showering us with beautiful gifts and blessings beyond what we deserve. In addition, you cooked, cleaned, and again prayed us through 13 weeks of bed rest and in and out of hospital stays as we brought our little gifts home. Thank you.


I am thankful for the birth of my beautiful babies. Joline Alyse, you are spunky and smart and so full of life and I am so grateful for the energy that you bring to life.


Anders James, you are sweet and heartfelt and all boy with a curious spirit; I love watching you discover things.


I am thankful for my husband, who is always there, strong and steady and always willing to listen when I fall apart, which sometimes this past year was a lot! :) Oh how I am thankful for him! He is such a great dad and loves those kiddos with everything he's got and it is such a joy to watch him with them!


After we brought our little blessings home the help of friends and family didn't stop there you have continued to love, cook, pray, and support us as we fight through my battle with Epilepsy. Some of you have driven us many miles here and there and some have been listening ears when we needed to 'vent', some have watched babies while I had to have special tests done, some have even come over in the middle of the night to sit with the babies because I needed medical attention and not a word was said about it ever being a burden. Thank you doesn't seem adequate here. Jared and I have no words to say how much love we feel from all of you who have supported us through this past year.


 Today I can say that I am thankful for the struggles and the joys, the sleepless nights, the ups and downs of this past year. I am thankful because without it all I wouldn't be growing as a wife, mother, daughter & friend. I am a slow learner so thank you for your patience with me! ;) God gives us what we need every day to make every day count and some days I do well to make the most of that and honestly, other days I struggle to stay thankful but I am reminded all the time of the song "Lord I Need You" and the words...'I need you, every hour I need you, my one defense, my righteousness oh God how I need you.'

So I may stumble through this life and have ups and downs in this journey of thankfulness but I have so much to be thankful for and that is undeniable. Just this morning at church I was reminded of the verse in Hebrews 12:28 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." 
I do believe that God allows our lives to be 'shaken' here to remind us of the fact that this is not the kingdom we long for and we are not to get too comfortable here. We are to cling, by the strength He gives us, to the unshakeable in the midst of being shaken here; we will receive that unshakeable kingdom with Him in glory. I am so thankful for that. 

Tomorrow we celebrate the babies 1st birthday and what a beautiful day we had yesterday with friends and family. Here's a sneak peak:


SO as you celebrate thankfulness with your family this week and enjoy yummy food remember to be thankful for the trials that make us strong in addition to the victories that make us shout for joy! 

Blessings! 
-CW

*Thank you to all of our talented friends behind the camera lens who have helped us capture this past year so that we will always remember these days no matter how crazy fuzzy the memories are in our brains! ;) Vision of Beauty, Stacie B. Photography & Kety Studios 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Marriage Challenge Day 11~ Hedges


What do you think of when you think of a hedge? Hedgehog, a bush, a barrier? Did you ever think about putting up hedges around your marriage as one of the most important things you can do to help your marriage survive and thrive?

Webster defines Hedge in many ways one of which I find particularly helpful in explaining what a hedge in marriage is.

Hedge: "The act of means of preventing complete loss of a bet, an argument, and investment or the like." 

Now, let's focus in on the fact that our marriage is an investment. It is something we put our whole self into seeking the greatest. We don't get married saying.... "I take you so that we can fall on our faces and choose not to try and fail completely." No, we say, things like "I take you in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad."

So what does it look like to put up a hedge around our marriage? First, we must believe that our marriage IS a valuable investment and it is precious. Realize that your actions to build strong hedges to protect your marriage is pleasing to God and he will bless it if you invite Him to lead the process!

Maybe you find yourselves running in opposite directions often, you don't eat dinner together anymore, life seems to be a constant fight, you or your husband work full time jobs, you watch too much TV, you are human! All of these are good reasons to think that we need hedges. (Especially that last one!) No marriage is immune to temptation so hedges are always necessary and always a good investment.

Here are some examples of hedges to get you started:
-Choose to stay away from movies/TV shows that encourage you or your spouse to lust after another.
-Make an effort to eat dinner together at least once or twice a week. (Start there and see if you can expand it as you go along)
-Share your thoughts and feelings with one another and choose not to share personal and emotional struggles with a person of the opposite sex unless it is with your spouse in a counseling setting. Women especially have to be careful not to become emotionally attached to other men. Sometimes we feel it's easy to share with a co-worker, someone at school, one of our kids teachers etc. but the truth is when we  share our hearts with these men and not our husbands we are putting our marriage under attack and we are conveying to our husband that he's not worth talking to. Maybe you've felt shut down by your husband in the past; pray first that his heart would be open to hearing what you have to say in a non-threatening way. Men often hear our problems and assume we're asking them to 'fix' something when sometimes all we really need is a listening ear-convey that to him.
-Making financial decisions together and not having 'his & her' money. Talk about your finances and become a team in handling the family's budget. Both sides may need education in this area there are wonderful resources for this. Dave Ramsey's tools are a great place to start.

'That's great, but my husband won't be on board with this!' If you feel like this is you then you can still make a plan to put hedges up on your end and tell your husband of your plans to protect your marriage then pray. Pray for yourself, that you would have the courage and wisdom to live out your faith and love for your husband in spite of obstacles and then pray for your husband that his heart would be softened by God's spirit and that he would see God's love for him and your love for him through your words and actions and get on board.

Verse: Proverbs 18:9-10
"One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. The Name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."

Yes, marriage is work sometimes but it is the most beautiful kind of work. If we are not willing to work at it we are destroying it. But we have hope that our God is our fortified tower, strong, never failing, and he will help us in the journey!

Blessings as you protect your marriage!
-CW

To see the full marriage challenge go to: http://theberenblog.blogspot.com