Come On In! The Husband is Sharing.

(…And the thing you’re going to read about toilet paper? I promise, I really don’t use more than the average human being. I think.)

The “Hubby List” happened when Michael and I sat down recently with one of our favorite dinners: pasta, butter, and the all-fancy processed Parmesan cheese you can buy from the spaghetti aisle and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated before you open it. (Sometimes I get really sophisticated and add bread crumbs to the butter mixture, because clearly pasta needs more bread. Can you ever have too much bread? My mom and I would say no.)

And then I looked over at Michael.

He was warm and cozy with a blanket (we like to eat on the couch with about ten blankets each), Love It or List It was on and I was pretty sure they were going to “love it” (my favorite outcome…who ever feels satisfied when they list it), and I had extra cheese in my bowl and life was just – good.

Michael and Tucker in our favorite spot. Despite the slightly crazed look on Tuck's face, he really does love us... ;-)

Michael and Tucker in our favorite spot. Despite the slightly crazed look on Tuck’s face, he really does love us… 😉

And so I snuggled in and asked Michael between bites of buttered noodles what are the biggest or most surprising things he’s learned about being married for a little over a year and a half now.

He thought for a minute and gave me some answers. And then a gigantic-sized neon pink light bulb lit up over my head. Because clearly I had a brilliant idea!

And so then I squealed a little. And maybe spilled some noodles.

And I said, “OH WOW, HUBBY! This would be a good blog! YOU can help me write A BLOG POST!!”

And then Michael’s eyes got big and he paused his chewing.

And so then I came down a notch or fifty in excitement and also assured him he wouldn’t actually have to write.

Maybe he could just jot down a list of things he’s learned about being a husband in our humble year and a half experience.

And so then he smiled and said “Sure.”

So without further ado, Michael’s list: “What I’ve Learned as a Newlywed Husband”: (p.s. – you’ll notice Michael can say in like 10 words what takes me 300 words. But it’s totally cool. Can I get a “what what,” fellow female talkers of the world?!….No? …Bueller? …Bueller?)

What I’ve Learned as a Newlywed Husband

  1. Get her a cat. Don’t ask questions — just do it. (Well… maybe that’s just my wife.)
  2. When you buy said cat, make sure she cleans the litter box like she promised. Oh, wait…
  3. You will probably go through toilet paper at an exponential rate.
  4. You will have more baking supplies than you ever thought possible. Just let it all in. Good things will come from these items. 

    The Best Cookie Ever

    Life-Changing Cookie! Click on the picture. You’re totally welcome.

  5. Friday nights at home with your wife and a movie will probably become one of your favorite times.
  6. Do guy stuff with your guy friends. There is something healing about hearing things go boom.
  7. The more you lead her, the more she’ll follow. It’s an amazing gift how God designed it this way.
  8. Success at home is way more important than success anywhere else. If you are succeeding at work but failing at home, it is time for a long look in the mirror.
  9. Your growth in The Lord and your growth as a husband will be one of the most important aspects of your marriage.
  10. Don’t hide from arguments and conflict. More often than not, you both needed to shed those layers that were so uncomfortably ripped away.
  11. Your wife is a princess of the King. Treat her that way every day, and it will amaze you how she flourishes
  12. Your marriage will be the catalyst for the best and hardest things you will ever experience, but it is the best adventure God ever created. 

———————————————

He’s great. I love the man. 

And so now I figure, with Michael’s super mature and helpful advice to newlywed hubbys, maybe I should jot down some things I’ve learned, too.

Hear this: I. AM. NOT. PERFECT at always applying what I’ve learned about being a God-honoring and husband-honoring wife, but the lessons I’ve learned are worth mentioning because perhaps they will be helpful to you as they are to me on my good days when God helps me remember:

What I’ve Learned As a Newlywed Wife

  1. Unconditional respect is to my husband as unconditional love is to me. Clearly, we both need both from each other, but I’ve learned there are few things that build Michael up like when I believe in him and tell him I do.

  1. Just because he’s not doing things my way doesn’t mean he’s doing them wrong. We’re different people, so we’ll approach some things differently. Like loading the dishwasher. And emotions. And loud chewing noises.

  2. It means a lot to him when I recognize all the things he does for me, like make the bed. And it really means a lot when I turn around and do those things for him in return.

  3. Tell your hubby EXACTLY what you mean. Chances are, he will not pick up on the 3 million emotions in your head and then correctly translate them. Trust me. And on that note…

  4. He WANTS you to tell him what you mean! Because your husband wants you to feel loved! So if an extra hug or nice note would mean a lot to you, tell him! Otherwise he might not know. That sets him up for success, rather than confusion and frustration. 

    I told Michael how much I like when he brings me flowers. So then he knows to bring me flowers! It's like the best win/win.

    I told Michael how much I like when he brings me flowers, so now he knows! Win/win if you ask me 😉

  5. Pray with your husband. There is literally nothing more intimate. You’ll love it.

  6. Believe him when he says you look beautiful.

  7. When he hurts your feelings, always give him the benefit of the doubt: He didn’t mean to to hurt you. He loves you! Yes, he did hurt your feelings, and yes, you do need to talk it out, but approach the problem with a healthy and trusting perspective.

——————————————–

Now, if someone would like to volunteer to remind me about these things daily, that would be awesome. (Kidding, but, really.)

Happy Tuesday!

God’s Peace and Love to you,

Robyn

Fifty Shades’ Opposite: a love note

There’s a lot out there right now about Fifty Shades of Grey.

And I don’t want to spend my time convincing people how it hurts and misguides the heart.

We all know it does.

We do.

Deep down, the heart knows.

Instead, I want to sing, write, think about about the lovely things. The excellent, true, praiseworthy, admirable things.

I want to thank my husband for his safe, exciting, deep adventure love. His love that unclogs my toilet and yet still sees me as the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on.

And so through the easy days and hard days and blind minutes angry and soft moments happy and through the months and the years and all the while, my heart sings about this love:

Dear Michael,

I love how you give me the best slice of pizza and the scoop of ice cream with the most chunks in it.

I love how you’re patient while I learn how to be a wife.

I love how you enjoy being my husband.

I love how you’re not perfect. But you apologize.

I love how you forgive me before I even apologize.

I love how you’re logical.

I love how you love God.

I love how you pray. I naturally pray with emotion. You naturally pray with faith.

I love how you hold my hand.

I love how you make me coffee.

I love how I just say “fro-yo” and you smile and we’re out the door and in the car and I’m in my sweats and we’re getting fro-yo.

I love the way you look in your work clothes. In workout clothes. In pajamas. With Tucker on your legs.

I love how you bought me Tucker for Valentine’s Day.

I love how you tell Tucker not to bite me.

I love how he ignores you lots of times.

I love your arms. And your legs. And your face. And your hands. And all of you.

I love how you’re the most handsome man in the world.

I love how you put me first without even batting an eye.

I love how you’re an introvert.

I love how you sit next to me on the couch instead of the other room because you know I like being around you.

I love how you teach me things.

I love how you cook.

I love how you work really hard.

I love how you train for races.

I love how if you had it your way, I would run every race with you.

I love how you run better with me beside you. Even though my little legs slow your fast legs down.

I love how you tell me to chase my dreams.

I love how when I get tired, you help me chase them.

I love how you snuggle with me.

I really love how you snuggle with me.

I love how you date me.

I love how we have our own language.

I love your curly hair.

I love how you’re my best friend.

I love how you’re my lover.

I love how you know the Bible really well. Better than I do.

I love how you lean on God.

I love how any money you make is our money together.

I love how you call us a team.

I love being your team mate.

I love how when I accidentally spend more money than I meant to, you send me a winky face emoji and then sometimes you joke about how my purse and Target and The Loft are “where all money goes to die.” And then you laugh and you hug me and you tell me my new shirt looks nice.

I love how you’re proud of the money I make even though it’s not as much as you make.

I love how you’re proud of my writing even though it doesn’t make money yet, because to you it’s not about the money.

I love how you vacuum and clean the showers.

I love how you’re a strong sounding board for anxious thoughts. And I love how you help me take those anxious thoughts down.

I love how you’re strong in more ways than one.

I love your wisdom.

I love your intelligence.

I love how you’re good at your job.

I love how you do your job with integrity. Because to you, it’s not about looking good. It’s about doing the right thing.

I love how you work hard, but you always manage to put me first.

I love how when you don’t put me first, you fix it.

I love how when you hurt my feelings, you listen to me. And you care. And you apologize.

I love how when I’m wrong, you’re not afraid to tell me.

I love the way you look at me.

I love how I’m never embarrassed in front of you. Because you’re safe.

I love how excited you are to see me every morning when we wake up.

And every day when you get home from work.

I love how you’re taking me out tonight. Because it’s Tuesday and because I’m your wife, you said.

I love the roses you bring me.

I love the nights we play scrabble.

I love how I’ve only won once. Because you’re so dang smart.

I love how we argue. Because we do. And then we learn.

I love how you know me better than anyone else.

I love how God sees us as one unit. One.

I love how we move closer to that beauty every day.

All my love,

Your Wife

Safe, exciting, deep adventure love springs from Perfect Love (1 John 4:7-9). Perfect Love breathes life into our hearts, lives, and marriages.

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death…Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame” (Song of Solomon 8:6).

Happy Tuesday, Dear Hearts! 

Blessings to you,

Robyn

Kick Those Anxious Thoughts to the Curb!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition [humble and earnest asking], with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me [Paul, author of Philippians] – put it into practice. And the God of peace [contentment, fulfillment, security] will be with you.”

-Philippians 4:4-9 (emphasis and additions mine)

Goodness, I love this passage. 

And maybe you’ve read it many times – but I like to go back and read it with fresh eyes as though it is an official instruction manual for my heart and mind.

(Maybe that’s just the type-A, always-loves-a-good-plan part of me. But it works!)

I have this passage written down on an index card in the form of a checklist (type-A again, folks!):

  • Pray
  • Give the worry to God
  • Give thanks
  • Think about what is true.

Then, when I start to worry, I pull the card out and remind myself to give my worry to One who loves me most.

Or, in other words, I kick that anxious thought right in the pants! WABAM!!! (Also, can you tell I work with kids? I literally just did the slicing-the-air motion with my arm. I think I might be heavily influenced right now by the new ninja moves I’m learning).

Anyway, I’m not a very practical person – emotions are like, way better (kidding! sort of.) – but sometimes it’s good to have plain old practical advice. Here are two practical heart and mind “ninja moves” (I can’t get over this ninja theme!), that I like to use to kick worry to the curb. 🙂

1. The What-If’s and Worst Case Scenarios

Typically, if I have an anxious thought that won’t leave me alone and preoccupies my mind, it’s a “what-if” scenario.

I’m sure you know the thoughts well:

What if she thinks _______? What if they don’t like _______? What if I do something wrong? What if_______ happens?”

Clearly, these thoughts need a good karate chop.

So when I realize I’m playing a what-if on repeat in my mind, then I look back at my heart instructions from Philippians 4:8:

Paul writes, “Whatever is true…think about such things” (Phil 4:8).

Oh!

Because you know what?

“What-ifs” are not true! That’s why they’re called, “what-ifs” instead of “reality!”

So we shouldn’t even worry about them!

Whew! Praise God, right?

(Because what-ifs can be downright scary. Especially if you’re a creative type like me and think up scenarios for a living).

So why worry and focus on what-if scenarios as though they are true?

Because God, in His lovingkindness, has shown us what to focus on instead.

He instructs us to focus on “what is true.” Not on what we’re afraid might happen.

Karate chop number one, folks!

2. The Power of Giving Thanks

If you’ve read any of my posts, or if you’ve ever heard me talk… pretty much ever, then you know I love the writer, blogger, and photographer, Ann Voskamp.

God has blessed and used her book 1,000 Gifts to truly change my heart and my life.

1,000 Gifts beautifully illustrates the importance of giving thanks to God.

Voskamp says, “It is impossible to feel thankful and anxious at the same time. So we must choose to give thanks.”

Do you see the beautiful gift we have here, friends? That we can choose the path of life instead of the path of worry simply by choosing to give thanks?

And not only is a mindset of thankfulness an open window and fresh air for our hearts, but giving thanks is a command from our Perfectly Loving Father.

Looking back at our heart instructions, Paul writes:

“…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6).

How beautiful. That very sentence makes my heart sing! Not only are we free to give thanks, but we must give thanks! What a delightful charge.

And yet, how often do we all skip over the “with thanksgiving” part and head straight to the “present your requests to God” part?

…Yeah, me too.

Because when I’m worried, I am not in the mood to focus on things I am thankful for.

And so, I must choose. We must all choose to give thanks in those times of worry.

I also ask God for His help.

And then, quietly but surely, my heart and mind start to think calmly and hopefully while I give thanks.

If you’ve never prayed prayers of thanksgiving when you’re worried, I find it helpful to start off by telling God thank You for the truth about who He is.

We can thank Him for all these things because they are written in scripture, so they are the truest of true:

God is good and faithful (Lamentations 3:22-23),

He is all-knowing and all-powerful (Isaiah 55:8-9, Psalm 139: 1-6),

He is perfectly loving (Psalm 23:6, John 3:16, Psalm 103:8) .

He has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11).

And then, with a heart growing calmer and steadier through the giving of thanks, I love to move on to thank Him for fuzzy socks and cat purrs and then sometimes cat bites and space heaters and chocolate chip cookie dough and the small but beautiful gifts like those.

And I’ve learned through experience that a thankful heart opens the door to let God’s peace come in, displace the worry, and strengthen the faith.

Karate chop number 2! WABAM!!! (I felt the sound effect was warranted again. Thankfulness makes me so happy!! What can I say?)

Encouragement

Friends, if you are like me, and you get caught in the net of worrying way too much, you are in good company!

Remember how Jesus walked on water that one time, and Peter got out of the boat to walk toward him, but then Peter got scared – started to worry – and so then he started to sink? I love how even Peter, a man who is looking right at Jesus, a man who gets to touch Him and talk to Him in person, who is His very apostle, and who is called “Blessed” by Jesus in a conversation with Him, still struggles with feeling anxious. I also love how even though Peter became anxious, Jesus reached out and saved him. Jesus did not let him sink.

Perfect Love.

Perfect Love Who desires us to “Cast all [our] anxiety on Him because He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7, modifications mine).

Now, in a very serious conclusion, if you ever get stuck and are drawing a blank about something to be thankful for, hear this:

“And on that day, God made bacon and said, ‘Men, I love you.’ And then He made chocolate and said, ‘Women, I love you too.’” – Michael.

I like to think God laughs at our jokes sometimes. 🙂

There is ALWAYS bacon, chocolate, and the never-ending love of the God who loves you more than life!

Blessings, peace, karate chops, and bacon and chocolate to you,

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:

P1030795

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).

P1030792

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

When plans don’t go as planned.

My name is Robyn, I am type-A, and I am a planner.

Also, I have a 1 year-old cat.

But the cat’s beside the point.

(It’s just that he’s sitting next to me so cuddly and furry and green-eyed I couldn’t help but mention the puff of joy who likes to bite).

But, back to being a planner.

I plan lots of things, joyfully and meticulously, partnered with slow-sipped second cups of coffee and pencils freshly sharpened. (There’s just something about writing things down instead of typing, something freeing and creative and solid, isn’t there?)

I love to-do lists, grocery lists, big calendars, small agendas, lesson plans, outlines, iCalendars, automatic reminders, blank pages just waiting for words to come fill their spaces, and pens of all colors and sizes to further color-code and organize my well thought-out (and foolproof, right?!) plans.

The teacher in me is nodding an enthusiastic YES! ORGANIZATION! PLANS! Is there anything more satisfying in this constantly changing world? (Other than a perfectly crafted and baked doughy chocolate chip cookie, of course.)

But I digress.

Michael loves that I’m a planner. It helps us a lot.

Planning allows us the freedom to see friends because we carved out the time. It helps us organize finances. It helps me organize my writing into a finished piece. It picked out our wedding colors and turned them into a beautiful scene in which we became husband and wife.

I love that I’m a planner, because I think God made me that way for a reason.

But with all strengths come weaknesses, and this is one of mine: It’s easy for me to rely on my plans. In fact, I LOVE relying on my plans, because they act as my security far too often.

(Surely if we’ve planned it, we can’t fail, right?)

 But plans rarely go–ahem–as planned. Pun intended.

So then what, friends? What happens to the security blanket then – when plans don’t work out? When we get hurt or disappointed despite the amount of planning we’ve done to ensure our success and comfort?

I’ve realized recently when I stop using my owns plans as a security and choose to rely instead on the One who knows me and loves me the most, then I start to really live in the fullness of joy, success looks different to me, and comfort is not a necessity.

And yet, here is the most comforting news of all, dear friends! (Yes, even more comforting than an agenda that gets checked off with a brand new hot pink felt-tip pen.)

As lovers and followers of Jesus, we are held tightly together by our Savior, and not by our well-thought out plans (Col 1:17 “…in Him all things hold together,” emphasis added).

Note, this verse doesn’t say “in flawless plans all things hold together.”

Would someone elect to remind me of this every day? Thanks in advance, friends.

And truly, when I really think about it, how many of my plans have actually turned out the way I thought they would?

And yet, am I okay? Am I living fully?

Yes, and a joyful yes.

But, clearly not because of my own plans.

It took a recent change in my well thought-out career plans to throw me into the loving arms of Jesus and lead me to find my worth in Him, and not in my job title nor in my plans.

It’s humbling. It’s nerve-wracking. And it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

Not because of the event itself, but because Jesus had and has His careful hand in every aspect of my life, and when I look and see where I’ve been and what I’m doing now, there’s no doubt in my mind about His goodness and His love for me.

Isn’t it great, this grace? That when our plans don’t work out as we originally hoped, we are held together. We are loved.

And maybe that’s the bigger point of this whole thing than having perfect plans.

 Further, I’ve come to see in a more tangible way that God has His own plans for me – and they are good:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I don’t know what exactly these plans are for me at this moment in clear detail, but isn’t that faith, dear friends? Having the knowledge that God created our very hearts and thus the desires within, and has the loving-kindness to give us our hearts’ desires through His good plans for us?

So what then, referring back to Jeremiah 29:11, when we are harmed? When we are disappointed? When we are hurt? Certainly, these painful things will happen, even when we are smack in the middle of God’s good plans for us. Jesus tells us hurtful things will happen (John 16:33).

Could it mean God’s plans have gone awry? Does it mean that I should, indeed, fold and find security in my own painstakingly thought-out plans as an attempt to protect myself from being hurt?

That is the temptation, is it not?

You understand. In the midst of the plans God has for us and the plans we’ve made for ourselves, certainly we’ve been deeply hurt. We’ve been disappointed. We’ve been hurt by circumstances, by those who love us, by those in charge of us, and by those who hardly know us at all.

So what then, dear friends?

Beautiful news! As Christ’s children, we have a promise in those hard circumstances. This promise from our loving Father reveals even more of God’s good plans for us, and it assures us with a burst of light and hope and peace that nothing can change God’s good plans for us:

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

 What a deep sigh of relief. And yet, this verse does not say, “If you are following God’s plan, you will not get hurt.”

Oh, friends. I do not like pain. But the joyful hope and redemption is this: in His good plans, God has a glorious purpose for us in every hurt. Tears spring to my eyes with the joy of this Love.

Here, God not only promises to work all things for our good (meaning, not just the good things – but the bad and hurtful things that happen too), but He also reminds us here that we were chosen for a purpose. For a plan. So when someone hurts us, when circumstances disappoint us, when we get sick, when we feel lost, when our own plans don’t work, these disappointing things will be used for our good by the Father who loves us most and who also promises us a plan for our lives so great we can’t even imagine it (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Considering these truths, I hardly feel the need to rely on or find security in my own plans. I do not feel the need to plan myself into safety. In fact, doing so feels silly.

How could my plan even compare to the plan my Heavenly Father has for me? And since God promises to work all things together for my good, from what must I plan to protect myself?

This is great news, friends!

Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).

Paul did not say to rejoice when our plans work out. He said to rejoice always.

Perhaps it’s because he knew that which I am just now understanding: God’s plans for us are truly good and full of hope in every circumstance. And so, we rejoice!

Blessings upon your heart today. Blessings to you on a day planned just for you. Blessings to you who are made for a brilliant and grand purpose so delightful and lovely you can’t even fully understand it until you see Jesus face-to-face. Blessings to you who are safe in Him.

And praise to the God who loves us steadfastly, is faithful always, has good plans for us, and who also created big, blank calendars and multi-colored pens for His beloved planners 🙂

In His steadfast love and grace,

 

Robyn

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8).