why we can actually love our stories: a poem

why we can actually love our stories…

…and maybe trust that the Author loves us, too…

 

a poem, written by a heart that doubts more than I’d care to admit:

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You are faithful when I rest

You are faithful when I work

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You are faithful when I’m happy

You are faithful when I’m hurt

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You are faithful in the evening

You are faithful in the day

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You are faithful through the night

You sing melody at daybreak

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You are faithful when I’m right

You are faithful when I’m wrong

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You are faithful when I can’t

find the words to sing Your song

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You are faithful to the animals

You are faithful to the trees

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You promise to come back

and take the pain from them and me

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You are faithful when I weep

You are faithful when I dance

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You are the author of joy

You call us home in true romance

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You are faithful when I know

I need you all the time

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You are faithful when I say

“I’ve got this. This life is mine.”

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You are faithful every season

You are faithful in all Your plans

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You are faithful to me always,

for I am always in Your hands.

 

“Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.” John 3:35

Blessings and peace to you,

Robyn

the time i cursed at God and He didn’t leave me

I’ve had an injured knee for about two and half years.

I had surgery for it in October (after years of exhausting all other options) and supposedly should be able to run right now.

I can’t.

At least, not yet.

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And it’s not like I was a crazy, hardcore runner before – I wasn’t. In fact, I didn’t “do” anything to injure my knee. It just started hurting one day – and then it never stopped.

I promise I’m not whining. I’m not. Maybe I am.

But hear me out: I’m extremely thankful for my overall health, the use of my limbs, the food on my table, the roof over my head, the health of my family – it’s all abundantly more than I could have ever asked for.

And I’m so thankful for it.

But chronic pain….it does something to a person after years go by. Especially when people keep telling you “it will get better in X number of months” over and over and over and months go by and it doesn’t get better and you’re left wondering why.

And chronic pain…it never lets you forget. It’s there when you turn over in bed, it’s there when you walk down the stairs, it’s there when you wake up and it’s there when you go to sleep. It’s there when you can’t dance at weddings. It’s there when you watch people play frisbee. It’s there when you fall trying to sit on the floor. It’s just there.

And now I really am whining. Sorry. Over now.

Two weeks ago, recovery for my knee took a bad turn, and not only did it scare me, it absolutely brought me to my knees.

I’d spent so much time trying, trying, trying, praying, praying, praying, hoping, hoping, hoping…

And I was just finally done. Done. Done. Done.

Done.

And I told God as much. I’m all for being real, so I’ll be real: I yelled at God. YELLED at Him. YELLLLLLLLED at Him like I don’t think I’ve ever yelled at anyone before in my entire life. (I was alone in the house. I might have scared the cats, though. I haven’t asked them.)

My angry, tear-filled rant sounded something like this, but only after I chucked my bible study onto the ground for dramatic effect:I’ve been faithful to You. I’ve done everything every doctor has ever told me to do. And all the while, I’ve read the Bible and I’ve tried to trust You and I’ve stayed positive and I’ve looked for the bright side in this whole thing and I’ve prayed and I’ve asked You for healing EVERY DAY FOR YEARS and I know you CAN heal but YOU WON’T ANSWER ME! WHY WON’T YOU HEAL ME?!”

Then I cursed. At God. With my finger pointed all crooked and accusing in His direction. Again and again. 

I know. My whole face burns with embarrassment as I write this. See my sin in all its ugliness: I cursed at the face of my Creator. At the One who loved me before I knew love. I cursed at Perfect Love Himself. At perfect Holiness and Purity. I cursed at the one I’d already nailed to the cross.

I did.

But then something even crazier and more scandalous happened.

He met me there.

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I didn’t scare Him away. He wasn’t angry at me. I wasn’t struck down by lightning. I wasn’t given an “F” on my Christian Report Card.

Instead, over the next few days, I felt Him bending down nearer and nearer, leaning in, gently whispering, “Thanks for being honest with Me. You can trust me with all of you. I love you. I want all of you. I want intimacy with you. I don’t want your mask. I already know what’s underneath. I knew every word you’d spoken to me before you spoke it. And I still love you. I always will. You can’t change how I feel about you.”

It absolutely scandalized me. And confused me. I was slightly offended, in fact.

Because I hadn’t been good. I’d been ugly. But He didn’t punish me. Things aren’t supposed to work that way, right? Not in the economy of perfectionism.

Perfect Love tends to do that to perfectionism – exposes it for the fake security that it is.

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, emphasis mine).

Can I fast forward to today?

Two weeks later from when I cursed at God and walked out on Him and called Him names?

Today, Michael and I walked 4 miles. Outside. In the sunshine.

And it felt ah-mazing!! Did you just read that?

I WALKED 4 MILES.

It didn’t hurt! At all!

I literally can’t remember the last time Michael and I have been able to do that together.

In fact, over the past two weeks, my physical therapist has been amazed at the sudden spurt of growth and progress I’ve had in my knee.

I’ve done more in the past two weeks than I’ve been able to do in the past two years – all with little to no pain.

All this outpouring of blessing. All this answered prayer. And all….after I failed God. After I cursed at the Healer Himself and accused the Faithful One of being unfaithful. After I walked out on Him.

Y’all.

I’ve never been more in love with Jesus. And not because my knee is doing well. I do love that, but that’s not why I love Him more.

It’s because when I let Him see me, really see me, He still liked me.

I let Him in on the good, the bad, the ugly, and He didn’t turn away.

He welcomed me, anger and all. I was fully known. Fully accepted. Fully loved. Fully hemmed in, behind and before.

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He didn’t punish me for spewing anger His way. He didn’t make my knee worse. (Yes. I was actually afraid of that.)

On the contrary, like David said, God actually blessed me in the weeks that followed:

“When I was beleaguered and bitter…in Your very presence…I’m still in Your presence, but You’ve taken my hand. You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then You bless me” (psalm 73:21-24 msg version, emphasis mine).

I did apologize for treating God badly – for being mean to Him. That’s not how I would have talked to a friend. To my dad. To myself.

But He “made me lie down in green pastures…He restored my soul” (psalm 23 v. 2-3).

He made me lie down. He brought me to my knees.

And then He raised me up.

I’ve never felt more secure or loved…or calm. All of a sudden, I’m praying all day. I’m not trying to, I just am. I’m just talking with Someone who already knows and already loves.

Y’all. With confidence: we can trust Him. We can trust Him. We can trust Him.

You can’t scare Him off. And you certainly can’t out-perform Him.

Perfect Love won’t punish us. He punished Himself for us.

Mmm. Yes.

It’s scandalous. Scandalous grace.

 

Blessings, sunshine, fresh air, and long walks to you,

Robyn

the tearful, messy, magnificent now

Full disclosure?

I’m sitting down to write this because it’s hard to focus on the research I’m doing for my new book.

It’s hard to focus because I feel like I’m perpetually waiting on something.

And, sorta, I am.

I shouldn’t feel that way (because it’s totally unproductive), but I’m honest to a fault. So I’ll be honest: right now I check my email more times a day than should be socially acceptable.

A great literary agent has my full manuscript. I started the initial process with her in October, and in the publishing world, October to February is basically a blink of an eye. Really. It’s hardly any time at all.

And she’s been awesome this whole time.

Yet, still…I find myself wandering through the desert of doubtful waiting just like the Israelites did. You know, the people who doubted God after like a day or two of not knowing what’s ahead? The people who were given a dry path clear across a huge sea and a few days later decided the same God who’d parted the waters must have forgotten them?

Yeah. I’m like them.

I’ll own it.

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Stephanie Leight

And it was in this moment of owning it, of telling God that He’s taking too long and I wouldn’t do it this way…in this raw pouring out to God that I felt the gentle tug at my heart to look around.

So I did.

I saw two cats sleeping, a drippy sink, a warm lamp, well-lived-on couches, chocolate for days, a knee bandaged with physical therapy tape, silence and a ticking clock, and still the dream of sharing my words beat deep inside.

But I closed my eyes and simply stilled in the faith that my God is here.

Right now. Right now is a gift.

Right now – when I don’t have everything I want – is a gift.

The sink is dripping and I love its familiar rhythm. I won’t always have this cozy starter home, I found myself realizing.

Thank You God, for right now.

Bandaged though I am, I won’t always have my health.

Thank You God, for right now.

I won’t always have this glorious silence which lends itself perfectly to writing.

Thank You God, for right now.

I don’t have a published book yet. I don’t even have my agent yet.

Maybe the best things take time.

Thank You God, for right now.

The dishes are messy and the washer is full and the day might come when I’m older and brittle and can’t unload it by myself.

Thank You God, for right now.

And yet…tears well up in my eyes as I write this because…publishing my stories is such a desire. And it hasn’t happened in my timing.

And like the Israelites, when things didn’t go just as they wanted…

…I find myself doubting in a puddle of honest tearsdoes God really have the best plans for me?

You do, don’t You? I ask.

I look around again.

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Stephanie Leight

And I soak it in. The sunlight through the windowpane and the dust on the floor and the coffee in the pot.

The magnificent now. The messy, beautiful, wildly merciful gift of right now.

Gratefulness to God is a balm to my doubting soul.

And the desire of my heart still beats strong…yet through the tears, through the fear of the unknown, through the impatience, I know Who holds my heartbeat.

I know Who holds my now.

And there is this:

“This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.” Exodus 12:11

Here, the Israelites hadn’t been freed from the Egyptians yet. But they were instructed to eat this meal in haste, which demonstrated faith and readiness for the deliverance the Lord had promised but had not yet been seen.

Amazing.

So I’ll write my books and wait hopefully for that email, all the while with my cloak tucked in and with my sandals on my feet.

And if I don’t get the email I want?

Mmm. That will hurt. More than I’d care to admit. But I pray to let gratefulness be a balm to my soul, music to my heart, and a fragrant offering to Perfect Love Himself.

And I pray for the faith to keep going.

Blessings to you and peace to your own precious heart,

 Robyn

dear twenty-somethings

Dear twenty-somethings: it’s okay to live in your apartment.

And it’s okay to buy a home.

It’s okay to pay rent

It’s okay to pay a mortgage.

It’s great if you’re married.

It’s great if you’re not.

It’s okay if you want to have a baby.

It’s okay if you’re still trying to keep the front door plants alive (me).

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It’s okay if you can’t go on a big vacation this year.

It’s okay to splurge on a big vacation this year.

It’s okay if you still drive your car from high school.

It’s okay if your beloved SUV from high school named Sally broke on the way to Auburn and so you were forced to buy a new car. (But hey, Bruno Marzda is a pretty cool replacement).

It’s okay to go to bed at 8.

It’s okay to stay up way too late because you’re enjoying the people you’re with.

It’s okay if you want to go out to eat on a Friday night with a bunch of people.

It’s okay to spend Friday night in eating easy mac and watching Full House reruns.

It’s okay to actually stop working at 5.

It’s okay if you have NO PLANS for the weekend.

It’s okay if you don’t have your dream job yet.

It’s okay if your home is one big (or small) IKEA showcase.

You’re still valued even if you weren’t invited to that thing.

And you’re a real champ for attending the 3 wedding showers you had in one weekend.

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Wedding shower champs

It’s okay if your friend makes more money than you do.

And you should totally celebrate your bonus!

It’s okay if the person in the next office over doesn’t seem to like you very much.

And it’s okay to be nice to the person in the other office whose lunch stinks up the break room.

It’s okay if nothing big is happening.

And it’s okay if you’re dealing with something really big.

It’s okay if you lost touch with that friend. It doesn’t mean you love each other any less.

It’s okay if you stay at home with your baby every day.

It’s okay if you don’t.

It’s okay if you work odd hours and weekends.

It’s okay if you feel like a mombie every day because Baby. Doesn’t. Sleep.

It’s okay if you’re totally over first dates.

It’s okay if sometimes you wonder if you’re keeping up. Because social media makes it nearly impossible not to wonder.

On that note, it’s okay if you get 3 likes.

It’s okay if you get 300 likes.

(Who came up with “likes” anyway?! Facebook? Congress? The Goonies? I can’t remember.)

It’s okay to slow down.

It’s okay to relax.

You know, recently I’ve noticed it’s so easy to compare myself to other twenty-somethings without even realizing it….

…other accomplishments, other homes, other vacations, other adorable baby pictures, other really fun-looking parties

Maybe it’s just me. But goodness. In the age of social media, I suppose it’s a part of life: this navigating the emotions of celebrating with our peers while somehow thanking God for the reality of our own here and now.

So….twenty-somethings? Thirty-somethings? Sixty-somethings?

I think we’re doing great.

And I feel like if Jesus could say something to us about comparison, it’d sound a lot like what He told Adam and Eve when they first discovered they were naked and became ashamed, or what He told his disciples when they noticed the crazy huge waves all around them instead of looking at the Creator of the waves right in front of them:

 

Dear one, who told you you weren’t good enough? Who told you you were naked? Unworthy? Oh you of little faith, let Me build you up. Look to me and I’ll tell you who you really are: valued by Me, a royal heir, perfectly glorious in My image. I love you. More than every grain of sand on the earth I love you. You don’t need to look at other people’s waves; look to Me, simply hold my outreached hand, and I’ll guide you through each of your days which are unfolding into the most perfect story I’ve written especially for you. I’m more than excited about your own special story. I’m so joyful about you and your story that I sing over you every moment, hoping you take the time to hear my song just for you! Take heart, child. Friend. I’m with you. Always. And forever. Into eternity, I am with you.”

-(Gen 1:27, Gen 3:11, Matt: 8:26, Matt:28:20, Psalm 139:16, 18, Rom 8:17, Ephesians 1, Zeph 3:17, Isaiah 41:10).

Blessings to you and your tiny apartment or to you and your 5-bedroom house, blessings to you and your spouse or to you and your roommates, blessings to you in your cubicle or to you and the baby in your lap,  

Robyn

Those Ugly Stepsisters: perfection & fear

Dear friends, a few nights ago I froze at my computer.

At the keyboard, more specifically.

My brain turned into a blank piece of paper and the words wouldn’t come.

I felt anxious.

And so I prayed and I read Ann Voskamp (highly recommended) and I wrote in my journal and I ate chocolate and I watched a rerun of Boy Meets World.

Then, I told Michael about what I was feeling. He said, “You need to write about this. About how you took on something big and you’re nervous but – God’s in your court.”

And I said, “…Okay. Done.”

Because Michael knows me better than I know myself a lot of the time.

And when that logical, loving man tells me I need to write, I know he’s right.

Now, the “something big” I’ve taken on is becoming a writer professionally.

More specifically, writing books for children.

That’s a big leap.

It’s awesome, it’s scary, it’s for such a time as this, it’s blessed, it’s my dream, and its biggest adversary is this:

Perfectionism.

Ugh.

Even that word is pointy and ugly and harsh, isn’t it?

Back to the moment when I froze at the keyboard.

Perfectionism does that, doesn’t it?

Makes you freeze.

Paralyzes you.

Ever heard the phrase, “paralyzed by fear?”

Yep.

Fear and perfectionism go together.

They are like the mean, ugly stepsisters in Cinderella.

(I relate most things to Disney movies, by the way.)

Like the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella, fear and perfectionism see beauty and hope and creativity and boldness and God’s glory – and they don’t like it.

So they try to sabotage it.

Remember when the mean, ugly stepsisters see Cinderella in her mother’s dress, getting ready for the ball, and they rip the beautiful dress to shreds so she can’t go and display all her God-given beauty?

Terrible!

Horrible!

Putting that moment in writing is even worse than watching it happen.

It also makes me want to go watch Cinderella again.

Can’t you see that’s what happens to us, dear friends, when fear and perfectionism attack?

Let me put it in non-Disney terms for those who don’t see things quite like me:

Perfectionism is:

  • When you’re afraid to start something – simply because you’re afraid you won’t be good at it. If you procrastinate, then there’s no opportunity to fail, is there?
  • Quitting something because it’s harder than you thought and you were supposed to be good at it, right? But you weren’t perfect right off the bat. So you stopped.
  • When you’ve worked for hours on a presentation and you’re smart and you’re ready, and then you get to the front and start sweating bullets and wondering how you look to the people in the room. What if they don’t like what you’re saying? What if you get something wrong? You get distracted and you fumble your smart words.
  • When you’re teaching, and you teach every day with those kids in mind and you plan for hours and your heart is all in and yet the minute your principal walks in your room to observe, you doubt. You fear. Are you perfect enough in her eyes? What if she sees you make a mistake? What grade will you get on your evaluation? You get distracted and you forget what you were even teaching in the first place.
  • When you don’t want to go on that date with the nice person or agree to a relationship with the nice person who has given you no reason to doubt, simply because you don’t want to get hurt if it doesn’t work out.

I think all these examples can be summed up in this one kicker of a paralyzing lie:

“I want to do everything perfectly, I want to be perfect — so I don’t get hurt or disappointed” (in your job, in your marriage, in your friendships, etc).

Dear hearts, this is no way to live.

Perfectionism isn’t living.

It’s striving. It’s frustrating.

It’s also impossible.

And yet, perfectionism and fear are so commonplace we don’t notice them for what they are most of the time.

But they’re there.

And like the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella, they will rip to shreds our beautiful gowns of creativity, beauty, intelligence, success, and any God-given glory we have if we let them.

Dear friends, perfectionism does not protect. Fear does not protect.

Rather, they stifle.

I am glad Thomas Edison was not a perfectionist.

He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I like him already. Refreshing, isn’t it?

He’s not saying he doesn’t ever fail, he’s just saying he uses those failed attempts to keep trying.

And I’m glad he did! (He invented light bulbs, for those of you who are scientifically unaware like I am).

Isn’t that what God tells us to do, dear friends? (Not to invent light bulbs, ha!) – but to keep trying?

We cannot pick back up and try again by our own strength, but here is why we can pick back up and try again:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

His mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23, emphasis mine.

You see, He picks up back up each time. And so we can try again.

Because like the rising of the sun each morning, so does the Lord’s grace fall upon and bless and strengthen the hearts of His children.

And so, we try again.

Because our Father separates our sins from us so far as the east is from the west, we try again (psalm 103:12).

And then, we try again.

We are loved as high as the heavens are above the earth (Psalm 103:11). And so we pick back up and try again.

And when a group of Pharisees (a.k.a perfectionists, if you ask me, because I see my own weaknesses in their flawed perceptions) ask Jesus why He is eating with the “screw-ups” of that society, if you will, he responds with this:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17.

I suppose that is why Paul says to boast about our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9). Because when we are real about our weaknesses, about our imperfections, the humble sacrifice of realness sets a beautiful backdrop for Christ’s light to shine brightly into our weaknesses and into the hearts of others, setting hearts free to abide in His love.

So let’s do this, dear friends.

Let’s love Christ without fear. Let’s love others without fear. Let’s stop trying to be good enough for God.

Because we never will be.

But because He sent His Son, we are.

We are.

Take a breath.

He’s got you. And He loves you.

“Relax! Be silent and stop your striving,

and you will see that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10, passion translation.

So go put your Cinderella dress back on.

Let the God who loves you most stitch it back up.

And don’t let those ugly stepsisters Fear and Perfectionism sabotage your ball anymore! 😉 

Peace, blessings, and fresh mercies to you in Christ,

Robyn

Behind the Christmas Card (the one with the crazy cat…)

Greetings! Here is mine and Michael’s Christmas card for this year:

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And here is a more accurate representation of our family: (Tucker trying to escape, and us trying to smile while also making sure he doesn’t run and hide under the bushes just to be difficult while we wait with treats as people drive by and give us questioning looks because we’re outside in church clothes crawling around in the pine straw attempting to grab our furball like what happened last week).

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Sometimes the holidays can be like that, can’t they?

We want the first picture. The perfect one. The Christmas carols are playing and the candles are lit and the tree is bright and so shouldn’t everything be perfect, just this month, if no other time?

And if things aren’t perfect for me at Christmas, am I alone in that?

Is everyone else having a way more normal and sugary and wonderful experience as meanwhile Michael and I work through newlywed lessons only learned and planted beautifully in the heart while forged in the heat of challenge?

If your holidays, dear friends, at times resembled crawling in the pine straw (probably not, but you get what I’m saying) instead of decorating Christmas cookies, you are not alone.

And I don’t mean things were negative or bad all the time this Christmas.

Lots of times this Christmas season, things were wonderful.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, dear friends! I am so thankful for all those good times!

I instagramed about our tree and cookies and presents, and we drank hot chocolate and sang carols and snuggled and laughed and watched the Polar Express and stayed in our pajamas all day.

But also lots of times this particular Christmas season, things were hard.

Michael and I were (and are) in the process of setting boundaries in respect to how we spend our holidays, based on what is best for our marriage – our marriage, the sacred beginning of our own little family.

Someone didn’t like – didn’t respect — the boundaries we needed as a young family, and it hurt.

Really hurt.

The kind of hurt where you choose to genuinely thank God for His Son while you string the Christmas lights because you must choose joy when the emotion isn’t easy to find in the moment.

The kind of hurt where your husband sits on the couch and prays and wants peace with someone he loves but it’s just not in his control anymore because people have free will.

This was our Christmas, dear friends. Our second Christmas as a married couple. Our second Christmas as our own family. As one flesh. And I am so thankful for it.

It was a beautiful time. It was sacred. It was also messy.

But isn’t beautiful and sacred and messy the story of our lives?

And isn’t beautiful and sacred and messy why we needed Christmas in the first place?

Because who could rescue us from sin so messy, but the God who made us beautiful and sees us as beautiful despite the mess? Who could rescue us but the God who chose to come in the most sacred, pure, loving way: as a newborn baby?

If your Christmas was hard, I know it’s disappointing. It’s frustrating.

Especially if you wrestle against perfectionism (you’re in good company here, folks) and your Christmas wasn’t like the picture, it’s confusing, even.

Please know Jesus didn’t come for the perfect.

Christmas didn’t happen for the perfect.

It’s so much better than that.

Like a fresh breath of air, Jesus came for you and me. He came because we’re not perfect. And our situations here on earth will never be perfect, and so we can celebrate Christmas because He came!

Hallelujah, He came!

And so now, because He came for you, He promises when there is pain, there is purpose (Rom 8:28).

When you hurt, He is near (Psalm 34:18).

When you trust in Him, you will live with Him forever in a place more perfect than we can imagine (John 3:16).

Maybe this Christmas was wonderfully peaceful and bright and joyful for you. I pray it was! Michael and I have had those simply sweet Christmases, too, and I know we will again.

Praise God for those Christmases! They are gifts.

With a humble heart and by the grace of God, I echo this: Praise God for these hard Christmases, too. They also are gifts. They are. And you are not alone in them.

This is the promise: everything that happens will be used for the good of those who love God. The hard Christmases will be used for good, and the peaceful, easy Christmases will be used for good.

What an incredible God we serve.

Dear friends, I don’t yet see the purpose in our pain from this Christmas. I don’t.

But I do see little glimmers of hope, like little surprises in the tree: the smile Michael gives me when we pray together, holding hands more lately because we’re a team and we need each other, praising God with hearts freshly bowed at the Christmas Eve service because we can see more clearly now in the pain how He truly is our Comfort, Shield, Savior. The moments where we share hearts because we have to lean on each other instead of watch TV. The moments when we look at each other in difficult situations with eyes that understand and we just know. We’re in it together.

These things are all the little gifts God softened my heart to receive this Christmas.

I pray whether your Christmas was easy or hard, peaceful or chaotic, that God gives you eyes to look back and see the gifts He gave. I pray we’ll all have eyes to see the gifts He gives today.

And I pray we all have fresh eyes to see, and hearts to know the greatest Gift we’ll ever receive in Christ Jesus.

Peace and blessings to you and your family,

Robyn

Dear Newlywed Wives, Before Your Next Argument

Dear Newlywed Wives,

During disagreements with your husband, you probably want “your way” sometimes. Probably a lot of times.

I know this, because I want “my way,” too.

Maybe you want pizza for dinner instead of Chinese, you want to vacation at the beach instead of the mountains, you want to watch Love it or List it instead of baseball, you want to do Christmas at your parents’ house instead of your in-laws because it’s much more comfortable for you, you want to paint the room “Fawn Brown” instead of “Charcoal Grey” because who wants a room painted with a name like “Charcoal Gray?” You like the name James instead of Matthew for your future child who isn’t yet in the works, you want to buy a new piece of furniture to make your little house a home instead of a new remote control for the TV with the spending budget. You don’t want a budget, but he wants a budget. You don’t want to clean the litter box, because you did it last night.

You want “your way” a lot of times because you are human, and your husband is human, too, so a lot of times he will want “his way.”

 Clearly, this will create tension.

My husband and I are very different people (praise God!) We balance each other out and we love our differences. I am so thankful for how Michael’s logic and even-keeled head brings my anxious heart to a steady beat, and he loves the way my creative mind and sensitive heart create fun and warmth in our lives.

But there have been times in our 1 year and a few months of marriage when our differences have caused us to want very different things. Then, we have disagreements. Arguments.

Our conversations during these times can start to run in circles because neither of us is budging and Michael gets tired because I like talking and analyzing situations WAY more than he does and then I start to get frustrated (Why doesn’t he understand where I’m coming from?! Let’s talk about this for another 5 hours until I get my way, please.)

Andrew Strickland Photography (33 of 53)

Fellow Newlywed Wives, I was given a piece of advice from a wise woman married much longer than we at this point. Her piece of advice sat in my heart for about a week, waiting for its moment to reappear when I was ready to fully hear it.

God decided I was ready this morning, and I awoke to this piece of advice knocking gently on the door of my heart and I immediately grabbed a pen and my journal.

The advice is this:

The one thing I wish I’d done better all these years is to be kinder to my husband in our disagreements.”

Oh.

Are you sure your advice isn’t, “Just keep pushing till you get your way?”

Because during disagreements with Michael, kindness toward him is not usually at the forefront of my mind.

Transparency, folks: getting “my way” is oftentimes at the forefront of my mind during arguments.

But, ah! The freedom, the goodness, in this wise wife’s advice. Not for its ease, by any means. But the goodness in this advice, Newlywed Wives, is rich.

You and your husband will disagree. He will want to do different things with money, you will want to vacation at a different spot than what he has in mind, he will not always understand your feelings, and you will not always understand his.

Yet what God gently impressed on my heart this morning is this:

What matters is not that I get my way, but that I am kind to my husband.

 And when I really think about it, at the end of the day with Michael, it’s not things that do or don’t go my way that I remember. Instead, I remember how I treated Michael in the moment. In tense moments. In the moments when I do get “my way.” In the frustrating moments when I don’t get “my way.” If I treated Michael unfairly or with an angry heart, it hurts me later when I remember. And I know it hurts Michael.

I apologize, yes, and Michael is forgiving, but I would much rather choose the path of life initially.

It’s how we treat each other as husband and wife that builds memories, strengthens, blesses, and builds our little family.

It’s not what we decide in a disagreement, it’s how we come to it. Am I giving Michael “his way” in love, or in anger? If I do what he wants in this situation, will I be cheerful about it? Or am I holding this situation nearby as a way to bring up later and get my way then?

Or am I showing my husband grace and sacrifice in love, as The Lord has done for me with His very life?

Andrew Strickland Photography (49 of 53)

On “getting our ways,” Newlywed Wives, God doesn’t have a scorecard keeping track of how many times we have wronged Him (Praise Him!), and marriage shouldn’t have a scorecard keeping track of when we did or didn’t get “our way.”

Modeled after our Father’s relationship with His children, marriage should have only opportunities to show grace and love and willing sacrifice. What is sacrifice if it is not willing out of love, or if it is kept track of? (Writing that sentence is more convicting than I would like to admit.)

We will not always give this loving sacrifice perfectly. Again, dear Newlywed Wives, we are human. So are our husbands. They will not do this perfectly, either. Praise God we have Jesus on our side, showering new mercies upon us and our marriages each morning! (Lam 3:22-23).

Praise God Who also knows the deepest joy and ache of sacrifice for those He loves, and Praise Him for giving us opportunities to show sacrificial love to our spouses.

And yet, regardless of who gets their way in an argument, dear Newlywed Wives, regardless of who sacrifices, I urge you in humility as one who makes this mistake too many times, make sure you were kind to your husband.

Make sure you spoke fairly. Make sure you disagreed with a respectful heart toward your husband’s thoughts and feelings. Make sure you spoke words that breathe life and not hurt.

The decision you both come to will be a fleeting moment.

Your words, however, will last.

 Make sure, fellow Newlywed Wives, you are kind to your husbands in disagreements.

I will prayerfully ask God to help me do this alongside you, dear friends, as we praise the God who gave the ultimate Sacrifice for us, that we might give the sacrifice of gentle words to the men we love most!

 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship…Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:1,10).

 Blessings to you and kind thoughts and gentle words,

 Robyn